Canon Maria Tjeltveit
Church of the Mediator
Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark.
Today is the feast of St. Mark. In the Acts of the Apostles, Mark is a companion of Barnabas and Paul. He had traveled with them on part of their first missionary journey. But, when they want to go back to the congregations they had founded earlier, Barnabas and Paul have a falling out over whether to take “John called Mark” with them (Acts 15:36-41). They go separate ways because of this disagreement; Barnabas taking Mark with him and Paul choosing Silas as his companion.
Is Mark the evangelist the same Mark from the Acts of the Apostles? No one is certain. If he is the same person, there are four qualities about Mark. He moved around in his ministry, he was in partnership with others, he had two names, and he proclaimed the gospel. Three churches in our diocese named St. Mark reflect these different qualities.
St. Mark’s, Moscow is a church that moved.
It started as a mission church in Dunmore, founded in 1889 by St. Luke’s, Scranton. It had its ups and downs there until the 1960’s when it purchased land and moved to a dwelling in Moscow. In 1972, a new
church and rectory were built in the North Pocono area. The parish draws members from the surrounding communities. It serves that community and shares the gospel by participating in Seasons of Love ministry to homeless people, and the Dry Goods Pantry for hungry families. Perhaps appropriate for a church that moved, their rector is also a car mechanic!
St. Mark’s, New Milford, was incorporated in 1817,
with the church built in 1827. Around 1979, St. Mark’s and Christ Church, Susquehanna, formed the Susquehanna County Ministry, and were served by the first woman rector in the diocese. That partnership continued for over 20 years. Although no longer officially in partnership, the two churches continue to work together. St. Mark’s is active in the New Milford community, with their parish hall serving as a kind of community center, and they share the gospel through a gift of hospitality.
St. Mark’s, Mauch Chunk (now Jim Thorpe), was established in 1835, with a beautiful church built in 1867. (I wrote in the blog on 4/9 about the Packer family’s generosity to the parish.) The Depression hit the coal industry, town and church hard. In 1947, St. Mark’s began a shared ministry with nearby St. John’s Church. In 1980, the two churches merged to become the Church of St. Mark and St. John, taking the two names of the companion of Barnabas and Paul. In addition to its other ministry, the church is a tourist attraction, provides concerts, and sponsors a cross country style race; sharing the gospel with people who might not come for worship.
The three churches named for St. Mark show different approaches at different times, adapting to promote the proclamation of the gospel: moving; official partnership; cooperation; and merger.
Are there new approaches that your congregation might consider to promote the gospel?
(featured image by Maria Tjeltveit)