The Spirit of the living God is breathing deeply into the lives of the people at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. In 2010, the Bishop along with the leadership of St. Mark’s embarked on a three year intentional redevelopment. Since the initiation of that redevelopment, St. Mark’s is grateful to God to be able to proclaim that we have nearly tripled in congregational size.
The people of St. Mark’s have worked tirelessly to foster growth in four key areas: evangelism, outreach, formation, and liturgy. They have dared to engage evangelism, a word that is unfortunately taboo in many Episcopal congregations. The people of St. Mark’s freely and unashamedly share their spiritual stories with others and invite them to church. This intentional evangelism along with St. Mark’s naturally hospitable atmosphere bring people in our doors and keep them at St. Mark’s.
The outreach team at St. Mark’s has become more organized and has widened its reach into the Erie community. They have developed an incredibly successful ingathering model, which has increased the annual outreach budget by thousands of dollars! Formation has also developed into a more sustainable model. We regularly explore different curricula and themes that we believe are beneficial to deepening parishioners’ lives in Christ.
Liturgy is the final area of focus for St. Mark’s. We acknowledge and respect the liturgical identity of the Episcopal Church, but are also willing to think outside of the box and explore the vast array of musical and liturgical options provided by the Episcopal Church which are often times forgotten or ignored – Lift Every Voice and Sing; Enriching our Worship; Wonder, Love, and Praise; Taizé, etc. One of the most important pieces to a Sunday at St. Mark’s is our full-text, full-music bulletin making our liturgy fully accessible to the newcomer.
St. Mark’s ever growing average Sunday attendance inspired the leadership to prayerfully consider the need to have a second Sunday morning Eucharist. St. Mark’s took the leap of faith this past September and now has two Sunday morning services, a decision which has also positively affected our attendance at worship. We are also regularly hosting Taizé evening prayer, which is developing a truly unique community of prayer around the orbit of St. Mark’s.
Finally, St. Mark’s has just completed a successful capital campaign in which we raised pledges of $600,000. We are currently in consultation with our architect to redesign our parish hall, worship space, and narthex to better suit our ever developing congregation and the ministerial needs of the wider community.
During this season of Advent, we at St. Mark’s are seated at the edge of our seats, preparing the way of God in our hearts, awaiting what God has in store for us next…
By Craig Dressler, Associate for Parish Life, St. Mark’s