Wednesday, July 8, 2020
Thursday, June 4, 2020
I am so thankful for the many volunteers and well-wishers who made Sunday’s parade for Pastor Mark such a success. It was a delight to be able to see even a few of you as we drove by in our car to congratulate him on his retirement from a long and fruitful career. I knew I had been missing you all these past few months, and Sunday was a reminder of just how deeply I long to be back together with you all in some capacity.
Some churches in Illinois have opened up, some following the health department’s guidelines, and some not so much. Smaller congregations in our own synod of the ELCA are resuming worship in some capacity by the end of the month. Every congregation is different, and every worship space brings with it unique challenges. Our strategy must reflect our own uniqueness, instead of simply following what others may be doing. We are a large congregation, and our sanctuary reaches near-full capacity every Sunday. Social distancing for St. Mark will be difficult, to say the least.
Our council is taking this matter seriously. We want to be back in worship, but we want to do it in the safest way possible. The council has continued to meet via Zoom during the lockdown, and this topic has been our major point of discussion. To that end, we are taking the month of June to write a detailed and specific strategy for returning to worship in our unique context. I cannot give you a date of when that will be, but I can tell you that things will look very different from the last time we worshipped in our building. Everything from walking through the doors to holding a hymnal will need to be given serious thought. We have guidelines from the county, the state, and the ELCA churchwide office to aid us in this process, as well as an excellent and compassionate group of council members.
By taking at least this month to strategize, we not only will be well prepared, but we also hope to be at a point where the virus is much less threatening than it is today. If we were to meet this very Sunday, the precautions we would have to take would mean that we could only have about 35 people in worship. That’s not a typo. Thirty-five people. For the time being, our online services are a much more meaningful way to worship together than anything we might be able to do in the sanctuary.
One thing the guidelines have made possible is that our office can now be open. Where possible, some of us have been in the building this week, wearing masks, sanitizing every surface, and staying six feet from one another. The staff has staggered which hours we are all in the building, and many of us are still working from home on some days. Because of this, the official office hours for the month of June are 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. You can always be sure to get a hold of someone during these times. I know this is a very small window, but as the summer months go on, those official hours will continue to increase. Access inside the building will be extremely limited, so if you need to come during those hours, please call ahead if at all possible.
Thank you for your patience, and for the many ways you continue to be the church during this difficult time. Our building may have been closed, but St. Mark has continued to be a community connected by our love for Christ and our commitment to one another. Please be in touch if you are in any kind of need, especially if you or someone you love could use a word of prayer. Pastor Chuck and I may not be able to make hospital visits these days, but we can still pray for and support you just as always.
Pastor Chad McKenna
Thursday, May 28, 2020
Tuesday, May 19, 2020
Thursday, May 7, 2020
Thursday, April 30, 2020
St. Mark COVID-19 Strategy & Guidelines Beginning July 2020 1. Though the individual hours of our staff remain flexib...
This month brings exciting changes at St. Mark. Specifically, we are beginning extensive renovations to our main kitchen and to our sanctu...
Dear St. Mark friends, 2019 is a year I will never forget. On January 13 of last year, my second granddaughter, Madlyn Olivia Hagen,...
I am so thankful for the many volunteers and well-wishers who made Sunday’s parade for Pastor Mark such a success. It was a delight to be ab...