St. Mark’s Church was founded in 1942.
A Letter from the Rector on the
75th Anniversary of our Parish
“A Place to Belong,
A Faith to Believe In,
A Rule to Live By”
The 75th Anniversary of St. Mark’s Reformed Episcopal Church affords each of us the opportunity to offer our thanks to God for the many ways in which he has graciously protected and provided for our parish over three-quarters of a century.
Like a family who gathers around their table to tell stories of their shared past, rehearsing yet again the well-worn tales of a common heritage, our anniversary gives us the opportunity to be reminded of the history of our parish in order that we might more perfectly embrace our identity not simply as not a parish, but as this particular parish, situated in this particular place by the grace of God. In these ways we are being afforded the opportunity both to grow in gratitude towards God and also to consider together the calling that God has given to us as a parish.
As you will see in what follows, a central part of the founding vision for our church was that it might be a place from which the good news of the love of God, as manifest in the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, might be proclaimed in both word and deed. The parish was also established with a commitment to Christian education, in order that disciples of Jesus might grow in their knowledge of the Faith which we are called to believe. And from her very first days, this parish was established with a commitment to worshipping the Lord in the beauty of holiness and in keeping with our particular patrimony as Anglican Christians. Today, 75 years later, by the grace of God we are unmoved from those original commitments and vision.
As I have read through our archives and interacted with previous Rectors and Bishops, it has become apparent to me that our story is not entirely an exemplary one. There were seasons of significant darkness and difficulty. Some of this will be alluded to in the history that follows. The lesson for us to learn is that a parish is a fragile entity, ever dependent upon the Lord. When selfishness or other forms of pride and sin are allowed to fester and grow, a parish’s ministry is compromised. We must be on guard, for as St. Peter instructs and warns: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith …” (1 Peter 5:6-9a).
I do not share these sentiments out of a desire to cast a pall over our festivities, but rather to alert you to the reality that the presence of St. Mark’s Church today is a testament not to the greatness of men or the wisdom of pastors, but rather to the mercy of God towards a band of needy sinners who, though making mistakes along the way, were never-the-less ultimately protected and blessed by God. Learning about the ups & downs, and the strengths & weaknesses which are put on display in our history invites the question: “Why has God preserved this parish over the past 75 years?” In order that His love and power might be displayed, to the glory of His Name and the expansion of His Kingdom. In our anniversary festivities, as we not only contemplate the past but also plan and prepare for the future – let us persevere in our determination to humbly ask of God: “Lord, what would you have us to do?” and then, by his grace to obediently respond to his calling and direction.
It is a joy and a pleasure to have served you these past 6 years and Sara and David and I look forward to this next season of fruitful ministry here at St. Mark’s.
Send, we beseech thee, Almighty God, thy Holy Spirit into our hearts, that he may direct and rule us according to thy will, comfort us in all our afflictions, defend us from all error, and lead us into all truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with thee and the same Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, world without end. Amen.
Much love in Christ,
The Reverend Jason S. S. Patterson, Rector