Welcome to our website. We are very happy you are considering visiting us, so we want to provide you with a little information to make your visit more comfortable and meaningful.
Our regular Sunday worship services are liturgical, i.e. they follow a liturgy. A liturgy is just a pattern or format for the service. Like most ELCA Lutheran congregations, we choose to have a liturgical service because it provides a communal method for participation in the service. The pattern of worship, with its basic texts and actions, is like grammar. It is a vehicle for conveying the content of worship, and a reminder of the underlying meaning of each different segment of the service. The “vocabulary” of specific music, ceremonies, and styles can differ vastly from place to place and time to time. The grammar —the historic pattern of worship—is the framework that holds all the variety together and helps bridge the communication gap from church to church.
If you have previously spent time in a church with liturgical worship services, our liturgy will probably seem very familiar to you. If your background involves primarily worship in churches that have less structured services, or if you are new to church worship services, please be assured that the formatted nature of liturgical worship is simple and easy to pick up. By its nature, the format is very similar from week to week. After just a few visits, it will seem absolutely normal to you.
Our worship services do include what is affectionately called “Lutheran aerobics” – points during the service when people stand, sit, or kneel. These are not required movements; there are always people who do not participate in these position changes for a variety of personal reasons, so do not feel obligated. In general, the pastor will mention when to stand, sit, or kneel between elements of the service. If you wish to see the worship bulletin before coming, it is posted late in the preceding week on our “Friends of St. Mark’s” group page on Facebook.
We celebrate communion through the bread and the cup at every Sunday worship. All are welcome to communion. “This is Jesus’ table; he made no restrictions, and neither do we.”
However, there are certain traditions we follow at St. Mark’s. Because we believe that Christ is truly present in the bread and wine of Holy Communion, we also believe that the benefits of practicing communion are realized by those who believe in Christ. Also, we generally have a special First Communion service for our children when they are old enough to understand the special nature of communion, at some point before they start Confirmation (which is grades 6 – 8). Prior to having their first communion, the children who come forward will instead receive a blessing from the pastor.
We do communion in two different ways depending on the calendar.
Communion at the rail is celebrated by forming two lines down the center aisle, and then moving forward at the direction of the two ushers, one at the head of each line. When you reach the front, you go up to the rail surrounding the altar and kneel (if you are able; if not, standing is fine). The pastor will give you a wafer of bread (gluten-free if you ask) which you take immediately. The pastor will be followed by the communion assistant with a gold tray filled with cups, and an acolyte with a silver tray with cups. The gold tray contains cups of wine, and the silver trays has cups of grape juice. Chose whichever you prefer. Finally, a second acolyte will follow with another tray in which to place your empty cup.
For those who cannot climb the two steps up to the rail, you can proceed to the front row in front of the pulpit when it is time for communion. You will be served first, before those gathered around the altar.
Communion by intinction is celebrated by forming one line down the center aisle. The line moves forward as the pastor gives each person a wafer of bread (gluten-free if you ask). After receiving your wafer, please move to the side where the communion assistant and an acolyte will be standing. The communion assistant will have a gold chalice (cup) containing wine, and the acolyte will have a silver chalice containing grape juice. You will then dip your wafer into the chalice of your choice (the act of intinction) and consume them together.
There is no dress code at St. Mark’s – formal or unwritten. Most participants dress casually, while some prefer to dress in more business-like attire. It is entirely a personal decision, and neither God nor your fellow worshipers will be concerned about your choice.
Sunday school begins 15 minutes before worship, and ends following the pastor’s sermon. The children are then brought upstairs to join in the worship service. Sunday school is held in the “youth wing,” which is entered from the fellowship hall on the lower level. A nursery/preschool is available on the lower level, entered from the stair well.
Toddlers who need room for movement during worship have several options. There is a Family Corner in the northwest corner of the sanctuary, with quiet activities available for them to enjoy. There is also a live broadcast of the service shown in the Library, if you wish to move with your toddler there. We ask parents to supervise their children in these areas.
At St. Mark’s, we have a Hearing Loop system installed. If you switch your hearing aid to the ‘T’ setting, you will be able to hear the service through your device. In addition, there are listening devices available for broadcast of the worship service; please ask an usher for one.
Impaired Mobility Access
For those with limited mobility, there is a covered drop off at our main entrance and a wheelchair ramp from the drop off to the doors. From the parking lot, the covered entrance leads into our fellowship hall. Opposite that entrance, near the water fountain, is an elevator that can be taken to the main level where the sanctuary is located.
Comfort and Service Animals
For those in need of the assistance of one of God’s non-human creatures, they are certainly welcome at St. Mark’s. As we do at our Blessing of the Animals service, we ask only that you take whatever precautions are appropriate to protect your assistance animal from others, and other animals that may be present from yours – whether that means: a leash, a cage, etc.