Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Symbols of Hate and Love

Lately, I’ve been thinking about symbols; how they are displayed and the messages they convey. Some may be rather innocuous, like a smiley face or heart. Others are used to let people know something about us. It might be a fashion statement or convey a more important message. But, if we remove the symbol, does that change who we are? When should the symbol be more or less significant than the person’s beliefs or actions?

Much emphasis has been placed on removing the Confederate flag from public sites as it is seen by many as a symbol of hate and intolerance. I know that removing the flag will not eliminate the hate that many people feel and it will not stop some from acting on that hatred. Much more needs to be done to promote tolerance, understanding, and respect for others.

So, what about other symbols that we might think are positive ones? As Christians we display the cross and other Christian symbols in our churches, homes, and on personal and decorative items. The reasons we do so vary from person to person. They may provide a visual reminder of what we believe or serve as a source of comfort and assurance. We may feel that they are a way of sharing the news of Christ with others. What if we removed those symbols though? Would people still know we are Christian? By our words and actions, not merely symbols, we should be sharing the love of Christ with others.

As I’ve thought about this, I keep hearing in my head Peter Scholte’s song “They’ll Know We Are Christians.” I knew it was written by a Catholic priest in the 1960s, but didn’t realize how relevant its origins are to the issues confronting us today. Scholte was a priest in a south side Chicago parish and very involved in the civil rights movement. In trying to find an appropriate song for his youth choir to sing at ecumenical, interracial events, he ended up writing this one in less than a day. During a time of great unrest and acts of hatred, he believed that as Christians we should work together for unity and do so in love. Today, we need to be reminded that what is important, is not our symbols, but the love we show to others. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQyLHi_X83s

"They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love," by Rev. Peter Scholtes, 1966.
Copyright, F.E.L. Publications.

We are one in the spirit We are one in the Lord
We are one in the spirit We are one in the Lord
And we pray that all unity may one day be restored.


And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love.
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love.
We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand
We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand
And together we’ll spread the news that God is in our land.


We will work with each other, we will work side by side
We will work with each other, we will work side by side
And we’ll guard each one’s dignity and save each one’s pride


All praise to the Father from whom all things come,
And all praise to Christ Jesus, his only son,
And all praise to the Spirit who makes us one.


written by Julie Northrip

Monday, June 29, 2015

ABC Sale Donations

 St. Mark Presbyterian's ABC Rummage Sale will be held July 10 (8-1) and July 11 (8-12).  The money made from the sale will go to various local charities.  Here is a chart showing where the 2014 money went.

Additionally, the items left over go to several local charities.  Those charities have been Isaiah 58 Ministries, St. Vincent DePaul, Goodwill Industries, Assistance League and St. Louis County Library.   Volunteers will be needed to help pack up the leftovers to load the donation trucks which arrive at 12:30.  Please contact V. Chabot at volunteervc59@gmail.com if you can help with the clean up.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Worship June 21

In the presence of the God whose word called the stars into being
        we stand in awe.
In the presence of the Christ whose arms held little children and whose eyes sparkled with laughter
        we stand in trust.
In the presence of the Spirit who stirs within us and causes our hearts to thirst for meaning
        we stand in longing.
Before you, God, giver of life, in search of love and truth and wholeness
        we come in worship.
O God from whom all blessings flow:  Lead us by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit to think those things which are right, and enable us by the power of your love to do them.  We confess the ease with which we hurt one another; the ease with which we turn our backs on the hurt of the world.  We confess that so often we seek our own security over the common good.  Enable us to feel and know true sisterly/brotherly care within one family.  Encourage us to be the community of your people, the Body of Christ in the world.  For we pray in Jesus’ name.  Amen.
For the sermon, click here.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Red Cross Emergency App

Disaster Preparedness - in the Cyber World

Want first hand, real-time Disaster Preparedness lifesaving information, download the Red Cross Emergency App for access to weather alerts, preparedness information, safety tips and shelter locations.

The Emergency App provides expert advice on what to do during floods, tornadoes, wildfires and other disasters. The app also provides lifesaving information on emergency first aid for various situations such as what to do for heart attacks, heat-related emergencies and includes water safety tips. Pre-loaded content ensures that guidance from Red Cross experts is available anytime, anywhere – even without mobile connectivity. The Emergency App is available for free in app stores for smart phones and tablets and can also be found by searching for American Red Cross or by going to redcross.org/apps

2 Corinthians 5:1  For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Montreat 2015 This is Our Story

St. Mark Presbyterian Youth's experience at Montreat June 6-13 incorporated the theme of “This Is Our Story” using a daily theme that was threaded through the Keynote, Small Group, Recreation, and Worship. Ten youth along with Pastor Susan and Katie Sternhagen, ventured to the mountains of North Carolina for Montreat’s Youth Conference. We told our stories, along with 600 other students, advisors, and volunteers discussing what it means to be part of God’s story. 

We started Sunday evening establishing that God is the Author of our stories, and we are named and claimed by God. Moving through the week we discussed our stories being messy, are intertwined, and our stories need to be told. Per the tradition, keynote starts with energizers, silly choreographed dances to secular pop songs, before exploring the scriptures. Small group was also a time for us to integrate the scriptures and the theme into our stories. This year was particlarly special, because four of our students helped with worship. Three of our youth elders and deacons served communion, and one of our students sang with the worship leaders. 

Our down time was spent hiking, “rockhopping,” hanging out at the “Huck,” playing soccer, ultimate Frisbee, cards, and of course, rocking in the William Black Lodge’s rocking chairs. Friday night’s worship concluded with lighting candles and encompassing Lake Susan. Many friendships were renewed, and many were forged, forever incorporating them in our stories.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

G-Force Potluck and Bible Study

Join your St. Mark Presbyterian family this summer for two more potluck meals, Bible study and VBS preparation. 
June 24  Pulled Pork
July 01 Hamburgers & Hot Dogs

Bring a covered dish and join us at 5:30p.m. for a night of fellowship and fun!

Barbi Smith will be leading the Adult Study using the G-Force curriculum.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Cancer Support Group

St. Mark Presbyterian has a Cancer Support Group sponsored by Stephen Ministry which is open to anyone in the church or our community touched by cancer.  They meet on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays at 6:30 pm in the Library.  The next meeting is June 24.  Any questions, call Bette Nuzum or the Church Office (636-394-2233).  Click here for more about Stephen Ministry.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Worship Prayers from June 14

THE TIME OF CENTERING:  Out of earth’s dust you have breathed us into life, O God.  You have made us and we are yours.  Enable us in this worship to sense your strong presence and accept with humility your gentle guidance in all our living.  Amen

Loving God, we come today to worship and hear your good news of faith, hope and love ringing out from your kingdom.  We know that doubt, fear and hatred can shake even the strongest among us.  Shape us into faithful, hopeful people.  Fill us with your love that passes all understanding.  We pray this together in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen. 

Eternal God, you love us steadfastly, but we have trouble loving in return; you call us, but we have wax-filled ears; you reveal yourself, but our eyelids are heavy; you lead us toward our neighbor, but we build walls around ourselves; you hate evil, injustice, and alienation, but we get used to them.  O God, we pray, help us to see ourselves both as we are and as we might be before you, and draw us by your Spirit’s tether into your forgiving, renewing, and loving grace, through the mercies of Christ.  Amen.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Summer Safety Tips

St Mark PCUSA Emergency Preparedness Staff and Leadership would like for you to enjoy your summer; but in order to do this please remember some very important Summer Safety Tips below from the American Red Cross.  Summer doesn’t just mean fun splashing in the water; you need to know the signs of Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke; when someone is in trouble and how to treat them. 

HEAT EXHAUSTION Excessive heat can lead to sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. If someone is experiencing heat cramps in the legs or abdomen, get them to a cooler place, have them rest, lightly stretch the affected muscle, and replenish their fluids with a half a glass (about 4 ounces) of cool water every 15 minutes.  If someone is exhibiting signs of heat exhaustion (cool, moist, pale or flushed skin, heavy sweating, headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness exhaustion), move them to a cooler place, remove or loosen tight clothing and spray the person with water or apply cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin. Fan the person. If they are conscious, give small amounts of cool water to drink. Make sure the person drinks slowly. Watch for changes in condition. If the person refuses water, vomits or begins to lose consciousness, call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
HEAT STROKE LIFE-THREATENING. Signs include hot, red skin which may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; vomiting and high body temperature. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately if someone shows signs of heat stroke. Move the person to a cooler place. Quickly cool the person’s body by immersing them up to their neck in cold water if possible. Otherwise, douse or spray the person with cold water, or cover the person with cold, wet towels or bags of ice.
Other important summer safety tips:  
Know that hot cars can be deadly.  Never leave children or pets in your vehicle.

  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
  • Avoid extreme temperature changes.
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.
  • Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.
  • Postpone outdoor games and activities.
  • Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat. Take frequent breaks if working outdoors.
  • Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.
  • Check on animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat. Make sure they have plenty of cool water.
  • If someone doesn’t have air conditioning, they should choose places to go to for relief from the heat during the warmest part of the day (schools, libraries, theaters, malls).

  • Click on this link for more Summer Safety Tips

    James 1:11For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away.

    Friday, June 19, 2015

    Reaching Out

    We all know about the reach of the internet----our blog, website, facebook page, twitter, pinterest pages and #discoverstmark on Instagram all being ways we reach out to the world and let people know we are an active caring congregation.

    Our new bus is also a great method of "spreading the word".  Last week it went with our youth to Montreat and Pastor Susan received this e-mail:

    Dear. Ms. Hayes,

    On our way to church this morning (in Knoxville, Tennessee), we passed the church bus for St. Mark's church! I'm not altogether sure why that was such an encouragement, but it was an unexpected blessing to me to see the presence of one of our sister churches so far from its "home base."

     I don't know what brought your folks this far East, but I'm guessing it was some sort of retreat or mission trip. In any case, I pray that the journey and its purpose will be a blessing, both to those within the bus and to those who greet them at their destination.

     If ever you or anyone else from St. Mark's finds themselves in Knoxville again, please let me know. I would love to break bread with you and enjoy to hear about what is happening within the congregation and in Baldwin [sic].

     May our Lord continue to bless you and the ministries of St. Mark. If you're serving as interim pastor, that probably means there is a PNC hard at work behind the scenes. I will pray for them.

     Your brother in Christ, Wyn BryantPastor, Spring Place Church (PCUSA), Knoxville, Tennessee
    What are some other ways we can use the church bus to promote St. Mark and its missions? What are some other ways we can use it to help our members and others in our community?  How important is it that we, also, reach out to other congregations in our denomination with words of encouragement and offers of prayer?

    Monday, June 15, 2015

    ABC Sale Volunteers and Donations Needed

    There are many ways you can help make the ABC Sale a success!
    1. You can help setting up (Monday June 29)
    2. You can donate your collectibles, books, jewelry, household goods, art, clothes, toys, linens, craft supplies----well just about anything.  We can't accept cribs, car seats, high chairs, encyclopedias, magazines, loveseats, mattresses, entertainment centers, televisions, computers, keyboards, cell phones or Christmas trees.  Sorry.
    3. You can help by collecting and sorting (July 5-9)
    4. You can donate food for the workers who will be offered breakfast and lunch (we need lots of baked goods---call Marie Holt)
    5.  You can work at the sale, collecting money, bagging, cleaning, serving food. (July 10 and ll)
    6. You can help taking down and cleaning up (July 11) Clean up will start at 11:30 when we start to consolidate and break down any empty tables. The donation trucks arrive at 12:30 so we need to get all leftovers out the door by that time. Additionally, the racks and remaining tables and chairs need to be put away. Many hands make light work and we can be done in a few hours if everyone pitches in.
    7. Finally, you can encourage your friends, neighbors and family to come to the best sale in West County will all proceeds going to charities.  Click here for more information.

    Contact V. Chabot to sign up to help volunteervc59@gmail.com

    Sunday, June 14, 2015

    Worship Prayers June 7, 2015: Summer Celebration

    Boy Scouts:  God and Country Awards

    To the God who creates, let us sing praises; To the Son who reveals the infinite, let us bring open minds; To the Spirit who makes all things new, let us lift our souls in worship. 

    Mary Beth, greeter and usher
    Pastor Gary Ferbet
    Fellowship Hall, Saturday 5 PM Worship
    Most loving God, we can scarcely comprehend the scope of your forgiveness; we can hardly believe your amazing care for us.  We confess that often we close ourselves off from your healing presence; and in our pride, we withhold forgiveness from other people.  Through the power of your Holy Spirit, grant us the assurance of your love.  May our hearts be filled with gratitude for your grace which overflows with love toward others.  Amen.
      Don't forget Summer worship is Saturday at 5:00 PM and Sunday at 9:30 AM

    Brunch Welcoming Summer

    Saturday, June 13, 2015

    Circle Of Concern Charity Golf Tournament Registration Brochures


    Circle of Concern St Mark Charity Golf Tournament Please save the date: September 14 at The Legends. REGISTRATION BROCHURES can be picked up at the Welcome Center.  Please visit the church web page at http://www.discoverstmark.org/events/charity-golf-tournament/  for more details in the coming weeks. If you can’t play, think about a financial donation as a sponsor or financial donation as “A Friend of Circle”. Bob Lienemann, Event Coordinator

    Hebrews 13:16    Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. 

    Friday, June 12, 2015

    Ballwin Days Parade

     Children's Ministry enters a float in the Ballwin Days Parade each year to publicize Vacation Bible School.  Thank you to all of the volunteers who make this out reach possible!

    Claymont Preschool also had an entry!
    Click here for more on Claymont Preschool's entry.
    Click here for more information on Vacation Bible School which will be July 20-24.

    Thursday, June 11, 2015

    Alphie the Caterpillar and Ballwin Days Parade

    Alphie the caterpillar, who just might be friends with Eric Carle's Very Hungry Caterpillar, put on the Fredbird hat he made in the Pre-K class, and crawled off Claymont Preschool's wall to play ball in the Ballwin Days Parade on Saturday.  We followed behind St. Mark Presbyterian's VBS float, and were able to introduce Alphie to many of the parade watchers who had not met him before, since he just recently appeared on the Preschool wall and many parade watchers are already in elementary school.  Alphie is very good at numbers, especially 1 to 10, but he is confused about how his ERA is calculated.  He is very skilled at the alphabet.  He said he had a lot of fun with the large motor activity in the picture (Camaro convertible) and looks forward to being back on the hallway wall, helping lots of preschoolers learn their alphabet.

    For more information on Claymont Preschool at St. Mark Presbyterian, click here.  To see Alphie back on the wall, click here.

    Wednesday, June 10, 2015

    Summer Midweek Potluck

    Join your St. Mark Presbyterian family this summer for three potluck meals, Bible study and VBS preparation. 

    Barbi Smith will be leading the Adult Study using the G-Force curriculum.

    June 10  Fried Chicken
    June 24  Pulled Pork
    July 01 Hamburgers & Hot Dogs

    Bring a covered dish and join us at 5:30p.m. for a night of fellowship and fun!

    Tuesday, June 9, 2015

    Where do you find Jesus? Or does Jesus find you?

    Bellefontaine Cemetery, St. Louis
    On Facebook a few weeks ago, J. Boyd asked, " Where do you look for Jesus, and where do you find him? Any surprises? (I.e. when or where do you look for him and NOT find him? When do you encounter him when you least expect it?) Your thoughts are welcome..."

    I thought awhile before I responded to her question---where was a place that most people wouldn't think of?  "Cemeteries" are my place of peace and comfort.

    Visiting cemeteries and "decorating the graves" has always been a family tradition.  Even on vacations, my parents would visit historic cemeteries, reading the stones, finding inspiration, history, art and sometimes humor. Click here for some of my favorite cemeteries.  Of course, there was sadness, whether we knew the individuals or not.  But we would always say silent prayers for the families and the individual that they found peace.

    When I was in college, living in dormitories was sometimes overwhelming. I would often walk to a nearby cemetery overlooking the Mississippi River.  There I found the peace and calmness that I couldn't find in the chaos of communal living.  There I could find comfort---as if God was wrapping His 
    arms around me.  There I could sort out my thoughts and think clearly.  

    Last weekend, Pastor Gary gave a sermon called "The Impossible Possibility".  He said, don't try to find God---He finds us.  But that doesn't always mean we are aware that he has found us.  That moment when we know God is with us, is an epiphany.  Sometimes the pace and demands of life keep us from feeling God's presence.  We often need places where we can meditate, block out the noise and confusion to hear the voice of God.  Kim Skilling introduced me to the term "Thin Places" which is what cemeteries are for me.  According to Celtic Tradition, "Thin Places" are where Heaven and Earth are only three feet apart, but they are far more than that. For more on "thin places", click here,  Another view of what they are and are not click here.
    Bellefontaine Cemetery, St. Louis

    Where have you had an epiphany?  Where is a "thin place" for you?  Do you think we should look for Jesus, or does He find us?  Or, back to Jill's questions, "Is there a place where you did not find Him?  When do you encounter Him when you least expect it?" 

    Psalm 139:7-10 New International Version (NIV)

    Where can I go from your Spirit?
        Where can I flee from your presence?
    If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
        if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
    If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
        if I settle on the far side of the sea,
    10 even there your hand will guide me,
        your right hand will hold me fast.