Transforming lives through meaningful relationships ? Transforming lives through meaningful relationships

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1St.MarksEpiscopalChurchTransforming lives through meaningful relationships with God in Jesus Christ St.MarksMilwaukeeisahealthy,diverse,andwelcomingcommunityofpeoplewhosupportoneanothersjourneyinChristianfaith.WeworshipGodthroughsharingliturgyandHolyCommunionduringchurchservices,andthroughministeringtooneanotherandtooursurroundingcommunity.Weareyoungandold;families,singlesandcouples;gayandstraight.Comingfromavarietyofeconomic,racial,andethnicbackgrounds,wetogetherrepresentadiversearrayofperspectivesandlifeexperiences.Manyofourmembersbegantheirreligiousformationinotherdenominations.ThevarietywithwhichGodhasblessedusispartoftherichnessofourlifetogether,andwesayinasmanywaysaswecanthatwewelcomeallchildrenofGodtoourchurchandtoourcommunionrail.WebelievethattheHolySpiritisatworkinourlivesandintheworld.Webelievethatwearecalled,bothasindividualsandasacommunity,toshareChristslovewithourneighbors.Wedothisbyofferingourprayersforthoseinneed,bysharingtheresourcesthatGodhasentrustedtous,bystudyingscripture,byencouragingoneanotherinthelifeoffaith,bycaringforcreation,andbyengaginginactsofloveandjusticeinourneighborhood,ourcity,andbeyond.OURSETTINGSt.MarksislocatedinalovelyurbanareaonMilwaukeesvibrantEastSide,aneighborhoodnorthofdowntownborderedbyLakeMichigantotheeastandtheMilwaukeeRivertothewest.TheEastSideisknownforitsculture,beauty,historicarchitecture,diversepopulation,andnightlife.Thechurchisjustoffthemainstreet(DownerAvenue)ofasmallretaildistrictofshops,restaurants,anartcinema,andthecitypropersonlymajorindependentbookstore.Afewshortblockstooureast,justbeyondahighlydesirableresidentialareaofhistorichomes,isabeautifulFredrickLawOlmsteaddesignedparkthatoverlooksLakeMichigan.Withinafiveblockradiusareamajorhospital,twofairlylargeseniorretirementresidences,themainUniversityofWisconsinMilwaukee(UWM)campuswith30,000students,threeotherProtestantchurches,andaCatholicchurch.LessthanamilenorthalongthelakeisthesuburbofShorewood,whoseschooldistrictconsistentlyranksasbestoramongthebestinWisconsin.AlsonearbyandeasilyaccessiblearetheMilwaukeeArtMuseum,downtownMilwaukee,MarquetteUniversity,theMilwaukeeRepertoryTheatre,theMarcusCenterforthePerformingArts,andmanyofMilwaukeesbestrestaurants.Weareonamajorbusrouteandclosetomanybikepathsconnectingustothecityandbeyond.Thisideallocationoffersampleopportunitiesforcommunityinvolvementandoutreach,anditpositionsuswellforcontinuedgrowth.OURBUILDINGOurgatheringplaceisacharming,centuryoldGothicstylebuildingsaidtoresembleanEnglishcountrychurch.Highvaultedceilingswithwoodentrussesandstainedglasswindowsdistinguishournave,whichseats220people,andanadjacentchapel.Cloistersencloseacourtyardmemorialgarden,apeacefulplacewheremembersofthecongregationaswellasthegreatercommunitycancometoprayorsimplyreflect.ThisgardenislovinglytendedbytheGardenGuild,agroupofdevotedparishioners.TheadjacentGuildHallhousesourThriftShop,locatedinthebasement;theofficeofaneighborhoodoutreachprogramcalledEastsideSeniorServices;androomsrentedtoavarietyofgroupsforactivitiessuchasyoga,AlcoholicsAnonymous,musiclessons,danceclasses,andUWMcookingclasses.23PARISHLIFEAtSt.Marks,wesupportoneanotherseffortstoreachinanddiscoverourspiritualfoundations,aswellastoreachoutanddoGodsworkinthesurroundingcommunityandbeyond.ReachingIn:OurWorshipLifeatSt.Markscentersaroundourworshipservices.AsaparishwevaluethedepthofEpiscopalworshipandattempttoexploreallthattheBookofCommonPrayeroffers.Atour9:30a.m.Sundayservice,averageattendancehoversnear80.SundaySchoolandyouthgroupactivitiesareheldduringtheservice,withchildrenjoiningthecongregationatthepointofHolyCommunion.Wevalueintellectuallyengagingsermonsbasedonthelessonsoftheday,reflectingontheworldaroundus,andchallengingustoexamineourrelationshipwithGodandourexperienceintheworld.Thesermonisoftendeliveredinthecenteraisle,inthemidstofthecongregation,andsometimesfromthepulpit,atthepreachersdiscretion.Ourlayleadersdotraditionalliturgicalwork:readingthelessonsandprayersofthepeople,ushering,andservingasacolytes,chalicebearersandaltarguild.AftertheserviceweadjourntotheGuildHallforfellowshipduringapopularcoffeehouragoodplacetowelcomenewcomers.Specialservicesandeventsaugmentourworship.WehostaSederSuppereachMaundyThursdaywithaEucharistandfootwashing.WeoftenorganizeawatchovernighttoGoodFriday.TherectorhasheldspecialchildfocusedservicesonGoodFridayandnearChristmas.SundaySchoolchildrencreateandsymbolicallyburyanAlleluiabannerasLentbegins.MusicMusicaddsimmeasurablytothebeautyofourworshiptogether.Ourmusicallyliteratecongregationandactivechoirappreciatemusicfromavarietyoftraditions,fromGregorianchanttomodernjazz.TheHymnal1982isusedasaguide.4Ourmusicdirector,aprofessionalmusicianandcomposer,shareshisgiftformusicaspartofhisministry.Hehelpsdevelopmusicallytalentedparishmembers,inviteslocalmusicianstoserveasArtistsinResidence,andcreatesopportunitiesformembersofourparishfamilytocontributemusicallytoourservices.ReachingIn:ChristianFormationSt.MarksisdeeplycommittedtoChristianeducationandthenurturingoffaithformembersandguestsofallages.SundaySchool/YouthFormationOurSundaySchoolisasmallbutvibrantcommunity,servingchildrenages4to17.Forelementaryschoolagedchildren,ourprogramisanchoredintheguidedBuzzcurriculumfromGroupPublishing,whichiseasyforourteachervolunteersandengagingfortheirstudents.Weaugmentitwithvariousprojectsthatteachyoungpeopleaboutservicetothechurchcommunityaswellasaboutsharingtheirfaithmorebroadly.Classesmeetduringthechurchservice,withchildrenjoiningtheirfamiliesforHolyCommunion.TheSundayExplorersprogramformiddleandhighschoolstudentsmixesDioceserecommendedmaterialswithserviceprojects.The20142015programyearculminatedwithanenthusiasticallyreceivedYouthSunday.Youngsterstookonmanyrolesthatlaityperform,fromflowerarrangingandlessonreadingtousheringandinstrumentalmusicevenahomily.Ourcustomaryprojectsinvolvingyoungstersthroughtheyearinclude Fallandspringgardening,whichteachescaringfortheearthandbeautifiesourentrancesandflowerbeds CollectingandwrappingChristmasgiftsforEastsideSeniorServicestodistributetoclients PerforminganannualNativitypageantforthecongregation CreatinganAlleluiabannerthatweburyonthefirstSundayofLentandbringouttodisplayoverthealtaratEaster Bakingpretzelsfromscratchandcollectingdonatedbakedgoodsforaspringbakesale,theproceedsofwhichsupportastudentinoursisterparish,St.Marcs,inJeannette,Haiti.AdultFormationAdultformationatSt.Marksisledbyacommitteecomprisedofmembersofthecongregation,ourrector,andourdeacon.OurmissionwithadultformationistoequipallbelieverswiththetoolstoshowGodsloveinourfamilies,ourchurch,ourcommunity,andtheworld.Withthatinmind,ourcommitteedevelopseducationalopportunitiesthatspeaktohowweliveasfaithfulChristiansinthemodernworld.ThecenterpieceofouradultformationprogramisMarksBistro,heldonThursdayeveningsduringmuchoftheprogramyear.Parishionersandtheirguestsgatherforameal,whichencouragesfellowshipandpreparesustolearnfromoneanotherasweshareourbeliefsaswellasourdoubts.RecentBistrotopicshaveincludedTheFirst100Years:TheChurchThenandNow;amultipartseriesonParkerPalmersHealingtheHeartofDemocracy;MindfulEating:Food&DrinkintheBible,whichincludeddiscussionoffoodpreparation;TheLifeandWritingsofDietrichBonhoeffer,andavarietyofAdventactivitynights.OtheradultformationoptionsincludeaweeklyBibleStudy,aWomensBookClub,anewmonthlyTheologyPub,amonthlyMensFellowshipBreakfast,andanannualMensRetreat.OurrectorshavealsoofferedanInquirersClassforpeoplefromotherfaithbackgroundsorthosewhoaresearchingforanewsenseofcommitment.Finally,ConfirmationclassesareofferedinpreparationfortheBishopsbiennialvisit.Ongoingadultformationopportunitiesareanimportantpartofourmembersspiritualgrowth,andweopenourheartsandmindstochanginganddevelopingneweducationalformatsasnewneedspresentthemselvesintheparish.Forexample,theparishalsosponsorstheEducationforMinistryprogramatSt.JohnsontheLake,oneofMilwaukeespremierretirementcommunities,locatedaboutamilesouthofourchurch.EfMprovidesfouryearsofinstructionontheOldTestament,theNewTestament,ChurchHistory,andTheologyandPhilosophy.56ReachingIn:FinancesandStewardshipOurmembersgivegenerouslyofboththeirtimeandtalent.Withadedicatedstewardshipteamandtheparishsstrongparticipation,St.Markssustainsfinancialindependence.Werecentlycelebratedanumberoffinancialachievements:Movingfromsignificantbudgetdeficitsin2011and2012toasmallnetbalanceattheendofboth2013and2014.Achieving95percentofourstewardshipgoalin2013Establishing,throughaparishionersgift,adedicatedorganfundEstablishingatrueendowmentfundwithanuntouchableprincipalToachieveourgoalsofaconsistentlybalancedbudgetandtogrowthenewendowmentfund,wecontinuetoencourageprayerfulconsiderationofproportionalgivingandincreasesincontributionsandpledges.OurfinancialteamincludesadetailorientedvolunteertreasurerelectedfromtheVestryandaparttimebookkeeperwhoistrainedasaCPA.Closeto75percentofourmemberspledgeregularly,andouraverageannualpledgetypicallyexceedsthediocesanaverage.Ourmembershavecomethroughduringspecialpledgerequests,suchasacampaigntocoverexpensiveroofrepairs,anadditionalspringasktohelpbalancethe2012budget,andtherecentreplacementofourkitchenscommercialrange.ReachingIn:TheRectorandthePeopleinPartnershipTheSt.Markslaitytakessignificantresponsibilityinpastoralaffairs.Withthepriestandthedeacon,Shepherdsdeveloponetoonerelationshipswithnewcomersuntiltheyfindtheirnicheinthechurch.Ourcommittedpastoralcareteam,withclergyoversight,keepstrackofpeoplewhomaybeingreaterneedatanygiventimetheteamwritesnotes,calls,andvisits.SeveralEucharisticministerstakecommuniontothehomebound.AveryactivemensgroupprayswiththeRectoreachSundaybeforetheservice,andholdsmonthlybreakfastsaswellasapopularannualretreat.Webuildfellowshipasweworktogetheronbuildingandgroundsprojects.Wemayshareamealaswedopastoralandformationwork.Wehaveanactiveprayerchainwithmemberswhocanleadthemonthlyhealingservicewhenaclergymemberisnotpresent.7ReachingOut:YearRoundGenerosityWeraisefundsforlocal,national,andinternationalcauseswecareabout.Weextendourselvessociallyinthecommunity.Weinvitemembersofthecommunitytojoinusforartsandholidayevents.Wevolunteerforeffortswebelievehelpcreatejusticeintheworld.ReachingOut:InvitingInMembersofSt.Marksreachintothecommunityinmanyways,withtheirtimeandtalentaswellastreasure. OurThriftShop,opentwomorningsaweek,offersmanyusefulitemsforveryreasonableprices. Weinvitethepublictofrequentconcertsgivenbyour musicdirectorandourtalentedArtistsinResidence. ExhibitsofartworkfromparishionersandlocalartistsgracethehallwaysandwallsofourGuildHall. OnthefirstFridayinDecember,wejointheDownerAvenueMerchantsFestiveFridaybyholdinganopenhousethatfeaturesSt.Nicholas,music,craftsforkids,andasmallmerchandisefair. WehavearegularrelationshipwithTheGathering,anonprofithungerrelieforganization(foundedinourEpiscopalDiocese,butnowindependent).Ourmembersservedinnerto150200hungrypeopleonselectedSaturdays.AtThanksgiving,ourparishionersroastandcarveturkeystoprovideatraditionaldinnerfortheGatheringsguests.Thisyear,theSundayExplorerscollecteddoughduringcoffeehourtomakepumpkinpiesforthisdinner.ReachingOut:AnnualFundraisingSomeyearsago,weremovedtheoutreachlinefromtheparishbudgetandinitiatedneweventstoraisefundstosupportavarietyofnonprofitorganizations.Theresultshavenearlydoubledourexternalgivingfromanaverageofapproximately$6,000annuallytoalittleover$11,000in2014.CertainoutreachfundraisingprojectshavebecomeannualtraditionsatSt.Marks.InSpring,weholdaplantandflowersaleforhomegardens.8InSummer,theparishparticipatesintheDownerDayscyclingracesbysellingfreshroastedcorntospectators.Thatdaywealsorunasmallfaironourgreenspaceforchildrenandsponsoramusicalstageonwhichlocalmusiciansperformrock,jazz,pop,andclassicalpieces.InFall,wesellpumpkinsandgourdsonourfrontlawntoparishionersandneighborsalike.OurOutreachCommitteedistributesthemoneyfromallthesesalestononprofitorganizationswithmissionsthatourparishionerssupportandareinvolvedin:feedingthehungry,shelteringthehomeless,aidingyouthfulrunaways,treatingandshelteringvictimsofdomesticviolence,supportingpeopleinaddictionrecovery,tutoringchildrenfrominnercityschools,andworkingwithsenioradultswhoseekindependence.Eachcausehasvolunteersfromourparishwhoknowitsworkintimately.ReachingOut:SupportforSpecificCausesSpecialeffortstoraisemoneyforspecificcauseseachyearincreasethetotalgivingthatisdistributedthroughthechurchorinthenameofthechurch.In2013,forexample: OurSundaySchoolheldanannualbakesaletoraisemoneyforschoolsuppliesforayoungstudentatSt.MarcsEpiscopalChurchinJeannette,Haiti. ThecongregationrespondedtoappealsfromEpiscopalReliefandDevelopmentfortyphoonreliefinthePhilippines. TheofferingfromourEasterVigilwassenttoTheGathering. WeconductedanannualfundingcampaignforCommonGround.CommonGroundSoutheasternWisconsinCommonGround,Inc.,isaspecialcauseforusbecauseanumberofourparishionersareactivelyinvolvedinoneormoreofitsinitiatives.CommonGround(CG)isacommunityorganizingnonprofitaffiliatedwiththeIndustrialAreasFoundation,whichtypicallyoperatesthroughchurchnetworks.CGsmembershipincludesabout50churches,synagogues,nonprofits,schools,andsmallbusinessesworkingtogethertobringcreativesolutionstopressingsocialproblems.9 CommonGroundsrecentmajorcampaignsinclude Establishmentofanonprofithealthcareinsurancecooperativeofferedonthefederalhealthinsuranceexchange.Morethan37,000peoplehavebeenenrolledsinceinception. Acquiringandrehabbinghomes(morethan50todate)inMilwaukeesShermanParkneighborhood,thenputtingthembackonthemarketusingaclusteredapproach In its FairPlaycampaign,opposinguseofpublicmoney tofunda$500millionarenafortheMilwaukeesNBAteam,advocatinginsteadfortaxdollarstobedirectedtowardexpandedandimprovedathleticandrecreationalfacilitiesforMilwaukeeparksandpublicschools.Asamembercongregation,wesupportCommonGroundfromfundscollectedforoutreachinanamountequaltoatleastonepercentofourannualpledgedincome.Ourparishionersalsogiveoftheirownmoneyandtime,withseveraltakingleadershiprolesincurrentissuecampaigns.OURGROWINGEDGESInOctober2014ourmembersgatheredtoidentifyourstrengthsandtodiscernthequalitieswemostdesireinanewrector.Overwhelmingly,memberssaidtheyappreciatedthefriendliness,thewelcomingspirit,thehospitality,thesenseofcommunity,thespiritofbelongingwithoutcliques,andthediversityofourcongregation.Theyappreciatetheworshipexperience,includingthefinepreachingandthewonderfulmusic.Andtheyappreciateourcommitmenttojusticeandthelessfortunate.TheylikethatwereachouttotheneighborhoodandtogreaterMilwaukee.We,ofcourse,wouldlikearectorwhowillsupportusinthesestrengthsandhelpusfindnewwaystoapplythem.WeknowwecangrowinoureffortstoserveGodandourneighbors.Anewpriestmustcometoknowourtalentsand,combinedwithhisorhertalents,helpuschoosemissionsthatwe,together,canaccomplish.Hereareafewofourhopes,gatheredfromthemembership,thatserveaspossiblegrowingedges. ArobustandconsistentSundaySchoolprogram.St.Marksischallengedinthisarea,mostlybecauseofthecurrentlysmallnumberoffamilieswithyoungchildren.Weseekwaystoattractthisimportantdemographicthroughnewideasandactivities.10Commitmenttodiversity.InourneighborhoodliveasignificantportionofMilwaukeesLGBTpopulation.Whilearainbowstickeronthechurchsignillustratesthatallarewelcome,therehasbeenlittlefocusedministrytotheLGBTpopulation.EnhancedrelationshipswithUWMilwaukeeandMarquetteUniversity.Anumberofstudentsandfacultymembersfromthesenearbyuniversitieshaveworshippedwithusovertheyears,butaconcertedefforttointroducethechurchtoUWMandMarquetteisneeded.Intherecentpast,membersvolunteeredforatwiceyearlychilifeedincollaborationwithUniversityChristianMinistriesatUWM.Thereisadesire,however,toservethestudentpopulationinamoreconsistentandproductiveway. Developingadeeperrelationalculture.OurassociationwithCommonGroundencouragesustodeveloparelationalculturewithininourchurchandwithourneighbors.Thisentailshavingoneononeconversationstodiscoverourfellowparishionersonapersonallevelandlearnwhatismostimportanttothem.Ourconversationsatchurchareoftenjustscratchingthesurface.WeneedadeeperunderstandingofoneanotherifweintendtoliveGodswordandserveourneighbors. Adultformation.Ouradultformationeffortsneedagreaternumberofparticipants.Wewouldlikestrongdirectionandparticipationfromtherectortobeassuredthatthemesandgoalsareconsistentwiththoseoftheparishsspiritualdevelopment.IntherecentpastourrectorpresentedanInquirersClassaswellasaconfirmationclassforyoungpeopleandadultsinanticipationofBishopMillersbiennialSundayvisittotheparish(nextin2016). Useofalternateliturgies.WhileSt.Markshasofferedavarietyofservicesandtypesofmusicinthepast,thereiscurrentlynoLiturgyCommitteethatmighthelpexpandourministriestoaccommodatetheneedsandconcernsofourchanging,largelyunchurched,metropolitanneighborhood.OurpreviousrectorexperimentedwithaSundayeveningTableGraceservicethattookplacearoundpreparationofacommunitymeal.Whilethisserviceisnolongeroffered,withtheleadershipofournewrectoritmaybeprudenttohelpcreateothernewministriesandservices. 11LetUsGoForthtoLoveandServetheLord...Nopersoncanorshoulddoalltheworkthatissometimesexpectedofonechurchanditscongregationalleaders.NochurchcanembodytheentireChristianmission.Witharectorwhopossessesthevision,leadership,flexibility,andabilitytoshareherorhisministrieswithus,andwiththecommitmentandcollaborationofourparishioners,St.Markswilldoitselfproudinourcorneroftheworld.