A Special Update – 18th of February 2021

New Services and a New Vision for St. Mark’s

Dear St. Mark’s members,

I am sure that you were glad, as I was, to hear that the 5-day lockdown in Victoria is being lifted from Thursday. I hope that you have been well and able to experience God’s peace during this time.

As the lockdown lifts I thought it would be appropriate to update you on our plans moving forward as a church after this interlude, so that in this confusing time you are clear on what we will be doing for the rest of Term 1.

The immediate information is that we will be back meeting in the church this Sunday (21st) at 9am. Our Kids Connect and Sparklers programs will resume. We will also be livestreaming the service from the building. As before the lockdown we will have a limited capacity for attendance, require check-in, and facemasks must be worn.

I would also like to share further information about our upcoming worship services and other activities.

A New Beginning – 9.30am Sunday Services & Livestreaming

When we reopened our public services at the end of 2020 we set up a temporary schedule of services to allow us time to reflect and plan for 2021. Now as we come to the end of summer we are going to confirm our transition to a new schedule of services in 2021, based on our experiences since reopening and our hopes for the future.

The Parish Council have decided that from March 7th we will move forward with a single Sunday service, meeting at 9.30am each week. We believe that in this season after COVID lockdowns we have an opportunity to build a fresh, intergenerational worship community at St. Mark’s that expresses what it means to gather as the Body of Christ. We also hope to leave space for other ministry priorities and to be sustainable in the way we spend our time together. As things develop in the future we may also add other services at different times of the day to meet new needs and opportunities.

We also recognise the importance of digital worship opportunities now and into the future, to help our diverse community engage in worship together. Therefore, we plan to livestream our 9.30am services each Sunday so that you can join online (via Youtube) during the service or later on at a convenient time. To make sure that you receive notifications when the service is streaming it is helpful to ‘subscribe’ to our Youtube channel. Other ways of worshipping online will come as we do further work on this throughout 2021.

Finally, we will continue holding a traditional Holy Communion service at the church each Wednesday at 11am.

We understand that this is a change from our previous way of scheduling worship before COVID, and that some of you may have further questions or concerns about this decision. Feel free to share these with me or members of our Parish Council as we are open to hearing about how the change will affect people. We are open to developing and changing our plans as circumstances change in this uncertain time. And please pray for our church and our leaders as we continue to reflect and plan on our priorities for worship in the coming year.

ReVision – Dreams & Visions Sessions

In our new season there is more for us to reflect on than just our worship services. We are also called to reflect on all the activities and values of our church.

Last year we began our ‘ReVision’ process, which gathered the prayers and comments of our members to reflect on what God is calling us to be and do as a community in 2021. Our leadership team has used this input to come up with a number of ‘words’ that we intend to use to inspire new activities, programs and initiatives at St. Mark’s this year.

We are inviting our members to join us throughout the year to share your ideas and to discern together what actions we might take based on these words. We trust that, as he promised, God is placing ‘Dreams and Visions’ into the hearts and minds of his people and that he has good works for all of us to do.

Our first ‘Dreams & Visions’ session will be this Sunday February 21st after the 9am service, at 10.45am in the hall. We will be guided through the process of sharing our ideas and discerning and affirming each other around what to do next. We hope that you can join us.

For more information you can go to our Dreams and Visions page on the St. Mark’s website.

The ‘words’ that will be used as inspiration during this process are:

  1. We are a community of believers welcoming, valuing and including all people; using our spiritual gifts in service to each other with as few barriers as possible, to create history with each other.
  2. We are a community driven to an authentic, intimate and continually transformed life in GOD.
  3. We are expectant that God is using us, as we grow together and equip each other. We are able to explore our part in the Body of Christ, in an atmosphere of grace.
  4. We are seen as a key part of the Emerald community, beneficial to and attractive to many groups/cohorts/individuals, because….we reflect the reality of a healthy relationship with God, through Jesus.
  5. We are a community that is listening, hearing and supporting.

Thank you for your support and encouragement during this difficult time, and I pray that we will continue to seek God’s will and share God’s love together as we move forward together.

In Christ,

Andrew Bowles