Pastor Tim McKenzie’s 6.15.21 Email Concerning Worship Changes:

Announcement about Sunday – June 20, 2021

This email concerns two worship related items that St. Mark’s Congregation Council unanimously approved at its regular monthly meeting, Monday June 14th.

1) The singing of “Gathering” and “Sending” hymns will be added to the beginning and end of the current Sunday service. We look forward to being able to sing familiar songs of praise as we come together for worship!

2) Holy Communion will now be available in two ways from the center freestanding table at the Sunday service. Worshipers will have a choice of either receiving the Eucharist as a “Communion Kit” or by a more traditional method of a wafer and a small cup of wine. Communion assistants will wear gloves and masks during distribution to ensure the continued safety of the congregation during the service.

Though we are still not completely free of the pandemic, we rejoice at being able to restore these parts of the Sunday Service of Holy Communion. Please know that if you need or desire to wear a mask during worship, your are always welcome to do so. We want all members and friends to feel safe during the worship service.

I look forward seeing you in church on Sunday!

Grace and peace,

Pastor Tim McKenzie

6.15 email concerning worship changes

Pastor Tim McKenzie’s 5.24.2021 Letter:

May 24, 2021
Dear Members and Friends of St. Mark’s,
Greetings in the name of Christ Jesus. I write to you with some significant and joyful news regarding our worship and fellowship life as a church.

By the unanimous vote of St. Mark’s Congregation Council on May 20, 2021, the restrictions of social distancing and masks have been lifted consistent with the CDC and the order of Governor Roy Cooper.

With Executive Order #215 (effective 5/14-6/11) and following the CDC May 13th guidance “that fully vaccinated individuals can safely do most activities without a mask or the need to social distance from others,” Governor Roy Cooper has lifted indoor mass gathering limits, restrictions for social distancing and the requirement of masks for persons who are fully vaccinated. Additionally, the guidance of the NCDHHS reads, “People who are not vaccinated should wear a
mask and maintain distance in all indoor public settings and in outdoor settings when they can’t maintain six feet of distance.”

Congregation Council Actions
St. Mark’s Congregation Council unanimously voted to adopt these guidelines as written above, effective May 20, 2021. We are very pleased to be able to begin to re-gather with greater freedom, and hope that members and friends of St. Mark’s will also feel confident about re-gathering for Sunday worship and fellowship.

St. Mark’s Congregation Council continues to take seriously the safety and the health concerns of all members and friends. Therefore, if individuals need or desire to wear a mask during worship, the Council wholeheartedly supports the continued use of masks for those who desire to wear them. Regarding first two rows of pews, the Council voted that they remain roped off to allow adequate space between musicians, lectors, worship leaders and the congregation.

Regarding outdoor youth events at the church, the Council unanimously voted to make the wearing of masks optional for outdoor youth events, leaving the final decision regarding this matter to the parents of St. Mark’s youth.

Regarding Sunday Worship
These new congregational guidelines were introduced on Pentecost Sunday, May 23, 2021 and announced at the beginning of worship. Because capacity limitations and social distancing are no longer required, reservations are also no longer needed prior to attending Sunday worship. I look forward to seeing you in church!

For the foreseeable future, however, Holy Communion will continue to be offered using “Communion Kits” prepared and distributed in the manner currently under use. The return of mass singing and choirs are currently under review. Though spoken responses in the liturgy are fine, for the time being, we continue to refrain from the singing of the liturgy and hymns.

Regarding “Drive-Thru” Holy Communion
“Drive-Thru” Holy Communion has provided an important means of distributing the Eucharist, and I am grateful that so many have made use of this means of receiving the sacrament. We rejoice that we are able to gather in-person with freedom in greater numbers. Therefore, Sunday “Drive-Thru” Holy Communion will no longer be offered after the last Sunday in June. “Drive-Thru” Holy Communion will be available June 13th and 27th, and the times have been adjusted to 10:45-11:30 am. After that, if Holy Communion is desired by anyone unable to attend Sunday worship, please contact the pastor to arrange a time to come to the church to receive Holy Communion.

Regarding Sunday Fellowship
Finally, the Council voted unanimously to approve the restarting of after worship fellowship with drinks (coffee and juice) and cookies on the church patio to promote fellowship.

Therefore, it is with thanksgiving that I write to you knowing that we are making progress toward being fully free of the pandemic. Though we continue to be in a time of transition, and St. Mark’s “hybrid worship” of both in-person and online continues, I rejoice that a greater sense of freedom and confidence is being restored to the church and to society.

I pray for God’s continued protection and healing upon this congregation, its families, and our world as we seek to make Christ known in word and deed. May we remain steadfast to Jesus Christ who never leaves us, always walks with us, and gives us strength to be light and hope for the world.

In the grace and peace of Christ,
Pastor Tim McKenzie