A Community of Christ-followers committed to being the continuing presence of Jesus in our community and world.
St. Mark's United Methodist Church
Friday, February 15, 2019
Come Follow Christ

State of the Church Report 2017

So, it has been a few years since we have updated our Church road trip through the various states, if you remember we had last stopped off in Missouri and have been venturing West through The Great Plains states. While they are not completely desolate, there is a whole lot of nothing but fields and fields of grain and corn – in a way it reminds me a little of the time Israel spent wandering in the desert. Can you imagine wandering through the desert for forty years doing basically the same thing day in and day out. I think about sometimes how we complain about the monotony of our days of work or school or church activities and how we can get bored of the same old things – and as a result may just fake it and go through the motions. Perhaps like Israel, do we struggle to see the beauty of the sunset across the fields of grain; or to see the giant rainbows that seem to fill the entire sky after the summer rain; or to see the immense mountains out to the West that just seem to burst straight up out of the flat plains we have been traveling across. Do we shield our eyes and focus only on our issues or struggles or fears; or do we look up and see God’s greatness? When we look at the mountains do we see a hard journey ahead or do we see undeniable examples of God’s greatness and remember those pinnacles are but His foot-stool?

Israel wandered through the desert because of their lack of faith and trust in God’s promise and God’s words – but God continued to remain faithful and provided for His children with the hope that they would learn to put their hope and faith in Him alone. How often are we as a church guilty of this today, maybe finding ourselves doing those things “we’ve always done” when God was asking us to do something new. As we continue driving West, we ponder that thought of trying new things…but “new” means change!

Amid our thoughts, we notice a chill in the air as we travel into Wyoming. Winter is upon us and the leaves have mostly fallen off most of the hardwood trees…but as we make the turn we are greeted by this brilliant sky of yellow from a stand of Aspen trees…and suddenly it makes sense…or at least a good word picture… Do we approach change like the various trees whose leaves just seem to turn brown and blow away – almost like the end of everything good…or do we see change like the Aspen tree – where it seems excited to see what God has in store and it just beams with joy and anticipation?

This past year we were challenged by our bishop to begin some discipleship programs; and our theme for Charge Conference is A New Thing. The members of St. Mark’s are shining brightly like the Aspen trees in their efforts to meet these goals. We have begun various Sunday School Classes and Small Groups studies to help build disciples and help people grow in their walk with Christ as well as to help let go of past wounds.

We are beginning a new Concert Ministry which provides an opportunity to invite members of the community to join in a time of praise and fellowship.

We are continuing with renewed energy in our Children’s ministries and VBS programs.

Our Care Team is working with our Youth Sunday School class in a new ministry to serve the elderly and shut-in members of our extended church body as well as a new Sandwich ministry to help feed the homeless.

We had several members of the church participate in our Community Garden debut season and had a bountiful season – both of fruits and vegetables…and lessons learned as well.

Our Trustees have begun a series of projects to refresh and renew the facilities and grounds to provide a safe and welcoming environment.

In the coming year, there will also be other new ministries as well as other enhancements to current ministries – such as getting our youth involved with technology to provide our members with video announcements; revamping our Family Movie Nights; and there is a renewed interest in restarting a fall festival and merging it with our Community Garden ministry.

 As we continue along in our drive together, it is my hope that we will continue to heed God’s word and direction and obey it – so that we are not wandering aimlessly, but rather moving forward with purpose and power and letting our light shine that God may be glorified!


Serving Christ Together,


B. J. Bookwalter