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