Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Looking Back

Dear St. Mark friends,

2019 is a year I will never forget.  On January 13 of last year, my second granddaughter, Madlyn Olivia Hagen, was born to David and Maureen Hagen.  It is a great privilege to visit them often, since they literally live just across the street from me.  I also embarked on a twelve-week sabbatical, including July retreat time at Holden Village in the Cascade Mountains of Washington state, where I began the writing of my forthcoming book, Tears & Triumph: A Journey Toward Resurrection. 

That sabbatical time was cut short in early September when I received news in Colorado of Naomi’s sudden downturn.  I rushed home the next day and spent three days at her bedside, along with my two sons, until she passed away in the early morning hours of Sunday, September 8.  Her September 20th memorial service at St. Mark was overwhelming...such outpouring of love and support to my family and me! 

My October 6 sermon was the most difficult, yet passionate, sermon I have ever preached.  Fresh from the events of the past several weeks, I struggled with my emotions that Sunday to describe my fractured sabbatical journey and the painful lessons of losing a spouse to the horrors of Alzheimer’s Disease.  Returning to work in late September proved to be cathartic, allowing me to gracefully re-emerge into the life of the congregation and its mission.

I was pleased to participate with the Council and Pastor Chad in making plans for the renovation of our main kitchen and the updating of our sanctuary video projector and video camera that records our weekly Sunday sermons for availability on our church web page.  Both of these large projects were begun in early January of 2020.  In addition, 2019 included the implementation of our new Instant Church Directory phone app, as well as our new St. Mark phone app, sponsored by Pushpay.  My special thanks to Pastor Chad McKenna and Jill Davenport for their major roles of implementing these two key technologies for our church.

We welcomed four new staff members in 2019: Julie Eshleman, Karen Osolin, Wendy Iversen, Chris Semmelroth, as well as Anya Hanson in the nursery on Sunday mornings.  I am grateful to all of our excellent staff members for their incredible service to St. Mark.  I am also indebted to our Congregation Council and to our many fine committees for the exemplary work they do on behalf of the church.  Finally, I thank each of our members for their prayerful support of St. Mark’s mission.  Together, we truly delight in “Growing in Faith...Sharing God’s Grace!”

Walking this journey of faith with you,
Pastor Mark Hagen

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Breaking News as We Begin 2020!

This month brings exciting changes at St. Mark.  Specifically, we are beginning extensive renovations to our main kitchen and to our sanctuary video technologies.  But first, some background on the inspiration and funding of these two major renovations.

One year ago, Larry Carlson presented St. Mark with a monetary gift from the Charitable Remainder Trusts of his late parents, Dave and Jane Carlson.  Thanks to their remarkable generosity, the Council has approved plans for the complete renovation of our kitchen and the replacement of our aging sanctuary video camera and projector.  Both projects began this week, the most visible being the gutting of our kitchen.

The current sanctuary video camera is a lower-resolution version that has allowed us to record Sunday sermons for use on our church web site for several years.  These recorded weekly sermons are an important tool in assisting potential guests to evaluate our worship experience while visiting our church web page.  They also offer our members the opportunity to watch sermons if absent from worship.  Such video recordings are perhaps the best tool we can offer “church shoppers” as they consider visiting St. Mark for the first time.  Thus, we are replacing our aging 720p video camera with an incredible 4K video camera, purchased with memorial gifts given in memory of Naomi Hagen. 

In addition, we are replacing our aging video projector with a new laser projector, which will offer much greater resolution and over 2 ½ time brighter light output.  Laser technology offers much greater reliability and lifespan, as well.  Several other pieces of equipment were purchased in order to operate these devices and provide upgraded recordings and projections for Sunday worship.  These items were all purchased with funds from the Carlson bequest and should be installed by the end of January.

The kitchen remodel will be done a few weeks later. Our committee has been working on this project since last May, and we cannot wait to see everything come together. Anyone who has used the aging equipment and space will be happy to know that virtually everything will be new. We will have commercial-grade appliances, including a warming cabinet to improve hot catered meals. A professional triple-basin sink will make it easier and sanitary to wash our new pots and pans. Under-counter dishwashers will enable us to quickly clean silverware and cups after luncheons. Best of all, the cabinets, countertops, and flooring will match the look of Common Grounds Café for a warm and welcoming space.

All of these improvements will enable us to better serve one another and our community, and we are so grateful for the generosity and dedication of everyone who has worked on these projects. The new year is off to a great start!

Walking this journey of faith with you,
Pastors Mark and Chad

Looking Back

Dear St. Mark friends, 2019 is a year I will never forget.   On January 13 of last year, my second granddaughter, Madlyn Olivia Hagen,...