All we have to do is dream

Come to St. Mark’s – not just a Church but a Family!

That motto is how we have defined ourselves for the past ten or so years. And it is a perfect way for us to think of ourselves – as a Family. That has been our dream.

“Only trouble is – gee whiz – I’m dreamin’ my life away” goes the Everly Brothers’ song of the 50’s – okay, I’m dating myself. But the fact of the matter is that the Church Family has been growing smaller if for no other reason than the cycle of life. So how do we turn that around?

We have tried to draw new folk to us but to little avail. One of the reasons we have identified – church is unfamiliar and daunting to those currently – shall we say – unchurched. Perhaps it is intimidating to some – the rites and rituals – the ceremony – the formality of it all.

Our Vestry recognized this challenge last year when seeking a new “head of family” and determined that we need to lighten up and move in a different direction. After all, don’t they say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result?

(Enter Stage R.) – Rev. Gavin Tyte, Helen & Keir. We were delighted to welcome our new “first family” back in March but then quarantine, then lockdown, then no church allowed! It was a difficult time for everyone, everywhere but it allowed us time to get to know them and to enter into the 21st Century with an explosion of gifts, talents and techniques directed to our church family and friends via Social Media.

This has been both a revelation and a revolution. It is exactly what our Vestry envisaged and now that the world, in Bermuda at least, has reached some sort of uneasy plateau with the pandemic it is time to conclude our bi-weekly services with Holy Trinity – which has been a wonderful collaboration allowing us to worship again – and time to restart regular weekly activities at St. Mark’s.

So back to “our dream” and the problem of growing our Church Family. We have had some success already through outreach, the home visits, newsletter deliveries to the un-connected, the Lord’s Larder and our vibrant online presence all exhibiting a new energy. New shoots are starting to sprout and, like the gardeners that Fr. Gavin and Helen have proven to be, we now need to water them and nurture them into full maturity.

How do we draw in people who might find formal church intimidating? If we have learned anything in the last 6 months it is that Church does not need to be formal, does not need to be steeped in ritual. We have found that informal, casual even, works just as well if not better. It is surely more about What we do and less about How we do it. And this is the change that the Church Family needs if it is to succeed.

So for the rest of the year, from 4th October, we will seek to bridge that gap. Our Sunday programme will commence with light refreshments in the Parish Hall at 8.30 a.m. – an ice-breaker if you will. Then there will be a Worship Service in the Church from 9.00 – 9.30 a.m. for those who wish to participate. This will be live-streamed and, when we have the technology sorted, will be shown in the Parish Hall also. After the Worship Service it’s back to the hall for more refreshments and breakdown into smaller groups including groups for children and young people, eventually perhaps Bible Study or other activities ending, nominally, around 10.30 a.m. or so.

Meanwhile, Holy Trinity will resume weekly services at their normal time. But we have so enjoyed sharing worship together that we will schedule joint services on special occasions and thus keep those friendships and relationships alive and well.

In this way we can continue to provide worship for our current Church Family members whilst at the same time engaging with potential newcomers in ways which are less intimidating and more relevant to their needs. This will serve to encourage them and enable them to get to know us in a nurturing environment. We firmly believe that this will strengthen our Church Family and move us into a more secure future.

Please keep Fr. Gav, Helen and all our church leaders in your prayers as we embark on this exciting new journey together.