Spirit and Service Sundays

What is Spirit and Service Sunday?

Spirit and Service Sunday is a time for us to gather as a church family on the first Sunday of the month for worship with communion, fellowship, and opportunities for service to the church and community. Ministry (known to some as committee) meetings in which all people would be invited to participate will occur on this Sunday. We see this as an exciting way for the congregation to practice our desire to be “a community of faith where Spirit and service come together.”

Why are we doing this?

Saint Mark’s ministry meetings have been held on weekday evenings. Many find it difficult to make it to church after a long day because of family and/or work responsibilities, geographic/traffic constraints, or the desire not to drive after dark. Rather than exclude those who aren’t able to attend ministry meetings for these reasons, we decided to search for a way that would allow members to more easily serve the church and community. As you may know, many congregations have a “meeting night” in which all of the ministry teams come together to meet. We discussed this option, but then decided to try something different that we think will work better for our busy, geographically spread-out congregation. Our hope is that the scenario we are testing will lead our congregation to directly connect our worship with our service as we come together to praise God, take communion together, and then invite all to learn about the work of the church and ways in which they can serve God, serve Saint Mark, serve our community, and serve one another.

It is important to note that there is no obligation to serve on a Saint Mark Ministry Team, but everyone will have the opportunity, and that’s what is important. Some will come for worship with Holy Communion and stay for fellowship, conversation and study. Others will leave following worship, while still others will participate in the work of the Church. Some will serve at Manna – extending the Lord’s Table to the tables of the hungry. Spirit and Service Sundays are an example of how we are trying to be creative about ways that allow all to serve, and to connect our service closely with our worship. As noted, this an experiment and we will assess its success at the end of next May.

What does the Spirit and Service Sunday schedule look like?

  • Spirit and Service Sunday will take place on the first Sunday of every month.
  • Worship with Holy Communion will take place at 9:30 a.m., and will be for all ages. In fact, our children and youth will be encouraged to provide worship leadership, either by ushering, greeting, providing music, or some other form of participation. There will be no traditional Sunday School during the 9:30 a.m. service on these days.
  • Childcare for children under the age of four will be provided from 9:30 a.m.-noon.
  • Following the worship service, at 10:30 a.m., light refreshments (such as bagels, pastries, etc.) will be offered by our youth for a donation. This will help them raise money for their summer mission trips which we have all enjoyed hearing about!
  • At 11:00 a.m., we all will be invited to engage in one of the several service, study, or fellowship opportunities offered.

What about visitors who come to Saint Mark expecting an 11:00 a.m. service?

At least one greeter/usher will be appointed for each Spirit and Service Sunday to scout out visitors to Saint Mark. Following the 9:30 a.m. service, the greeter will be stationed outside the sanctuary to identify visitors looking for an 11:00 a.m. service. The visitors will be directed to the Education Building where they will be offered a tour of our church and visitor materials, (including an explanation of Spirit and Service Sunday) and invited to visit with members in Fellowship Time or in the Adult Christian Education class. (Children will be introduced to the children’s service.) And of course, they will be invited to return the next week for either of our normally scheduled services!

What if I can’t make the 9:30 a.m. service but would still like to worship and receive communion?

Although we will not be having a formal second service, there still will be opportunities for people to gather for prayer and reflection on scripture, as well as other conversation, following the 9:30 a.m. worship.
And you can still receive communion! If you would like to celebrate Holy Communion on Spirit and Service Sunday but are unable to attend the 9:30 a.m. service, all you need to do is let a member of Session or Pastor Roy or Pastor Shelby know, and we will arrange for a service of communion for you. That service can be at the church or at your home, depending on your needs. We will also be considering other opportunities for more frequent celebration of Holy Communion throughout the year.

What if I am on two different ministry teams?

Will I have to give up one of them, even if I feel called to serve on both?

That will be up to each ministry team, but there are many possible options. One is to rotate among the teams that you are called to serve from month to month on the Spirit and Service Sunday. Another option is for teams to rotate their meetings from month to month, and a third option might be to stagger some of the meetings’ start times which could allow for multiple meetings to occur on that Sunday. These nuances will need to be worked out on a team by team basis. Our hope is that meeting on the first Sunday of the month (instead of during the week) will reduce time and travel constraints, allowing more members to serve on a Saint Mark ministry team. Having more team members might free some of us who are serving on more than one team to drop one and focus our time and energy on just one ministry team. But, of course, no one in no way will be asked to give up a team position, and we expect that additional creative options will be put into play.

So, what are our options again?

There’s something for everyone!

For Children…

  • Childcare for children under the age of four will be available 9:30 a.m. – noon.
  • Children ages four and up will be encouraged to attend worship at 9:30 a.m. and
  • provide leadership as often as possible (reading liturgy, ushering, providing special music, etc.) After that, during the 11:00 a.m. hour, children who are in preschool – 5th Grade will participate in enrichment classes, learning about key aspects of Christian formation that may not be covered in church school curriculum, and are explained in detail in the Church School Handbook.

For Youth…

  • Youth are encouraged to participate in worship at 9:30 a.m.
  • At 10:30 a.m. they will provide light refreshment for the congregation in Fellowship Hall with donations going to the youth summer trips.
  • At 11:00 a.m. the youth will engage in a mission service project, or alternatively, they are invited to join the adult DVD/discussion group.

Serve One Another in Love
-Galatians 5:13

For Adults…

Following worship and fellowship, adults will be invited to participate in one of the following ways. They can…

  • Participate in one of the ministry teams of Saint Mark. (The contact people and room assignments will be forthcoming.)
  • Join a DVD & Discussion Class: Elder Walla Dempsey will be leading a class entitled “Tackling Topics for Today’s Generation of Christians.”
  • Provide leadership for one of the children’s enrichment programs.
  • Provide assistance in the nursery.
  • Form a Small Group.
  • And some of you might have other ideas! Maybe there’s a book discussion you always
    wanted to lead. All suggestions are welcomed!

For the Friends’ Class…

Transportation and consistent routine are important concerns for the members of our Friends’ Class. Therefore, they will continue to meet in their usual room on Spirit and Service Sundays at 11:00 a.m. following worship and fellowship.

What can you tell me about the new Adult Education Discussion group?

Discussion of contemporary issues of Christian life such as forgiveness, prayer, perfectionism, love, past mistakes, life struggles, etc. and trying to understand God and what it may mean to be a follower of Christ in these contexts.

What is the format?

Following a centering prayer and reading of selected scripture passages, each session will begin with a brief 15-20 minute DVD as a catalyst for a discussion which will be led by an elder or pastor. The DVDs are presented by Rob Bell and address various topics.

Who can attend?

These are appropriate for any age from high school age teens up. They are appropriate for first time visitors as well as long time members.

Where will the activities at 11:00 a.m. take place?

The activities and meetings will be spread out between the Sanctuary and the Education Building. More details will be available in the coming weeks!

Saint Mark Presbyterian Church

10701 Old Georgetown Road
North Bethesda, MD 20852
301-530-0600 | Map