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 At our March Church Council meeting, we discerned our 2017 budget after much input and prayer, and at the same time, realized that, though bare-bones, we also will not meet this budget based on the present projected giving. At that meeting, we also felt that this can be addressed and that there was an important need for transparency for our church family regarding this. Your church leadership does not want you to be surprised, and in any way to feel, “we didn’t know. No one told us…”

What is truly needed is a shift in mindset, (even more so, “hearts”) to fulfilling St. Mark’s vision. This shift will enable us to move away from a church that sometimes doesn’t meet its bare-bones budget, to a church that thrives financially, reaching more people for Christ, serving God more abundantly and in all ways pleasing our Lord. As leaders, we also strongly believe this shift to be not only possible, but achievable when we considering the amazing people of all ages and giftedness here, our beautiful family of God, the bountiful SOUL and PASSION our wonderful church has, and the SPARK of the Divine that God has blessed us with here.

At that same Council meeting, we decided a full-church effort is needed now, and through a powerful movement of the Holy Spirit, members of the Council raised their hands to volunteer to be on a task force for the purpose of communicating the importance of this need, raising church-wide awareness, and effectively determining the path forward to address it. From that original task force, a Team with a new name, called the SPARK Team (formerly “Sizzle team”) has been developed with the plan to offer a SPARK initiative in our church through the focused month of May and into June.

That team has met and is now under the capable leadership of Mark James. We announced the 4 sub-committee leaders this past Sunday: Communications (Bill Papierniak, Dennis Monroe, Gunnar Bartels), Prayer Support (Donna Seward), Leadership (Jane Davis, Banks Buchanan, Jim Mallory), and Celebration Event (Martha Seitz). From this initial group, we now have an expanded SPARK TEAM of already 30 persons dedicating their time, effort, and energy toward this important initiative.

Our SPARK Chair, Mark James, offered inspiration Sunday with some primary components of this campaign.

Here are highlights of Mark’s gracious presentation last Sunday:
First, SPARK comes from the song, “Pass It On.” “It only takes a spark to get a fire going.” Our symbol is the Methodist cross and flame. Our leadership team does have common ground, starting with gratitude. So many of you madeour first 50 years as a church possible, spreading the Good News to so many. Humble thanks to you pace-setters and church leaders who “pay it forward” with abundant service and support, never expecting recognition. By spreading the Good News, you have blessed my family + so many others!Could we all pray daily for St. Mark’s Church? May God’s guidance and wisdom inspire all of our 386 active families. May we each examine our hearts as we listen to Him, for it begins as a private matter between God and us. The overarching prayer focus in May is: Pray for our church – that we might respond to God’s grace with unlimited sparks of individual support… for all St. Mark’s endeavors.Mark continued:
I have not been a financial pacesetter. So the chair position is undeserved, humbling. Whether you identify with me – or you have been a pacesetter for years (and thank you) – I am blessed to be on this faith journey with you. In the book of Genesis, God blessed Jacob – a rogue, a scoundrel, a rascal…So there’s hope for me! Therefore, so much more hope and grace for you…and all of St. Mark’s.Our best years are still ahead of us!Coincidentally, our Campaign work will be fun. We are celebrating, even as we build toward the Big Celebration/Consecration – ONE SERVICE – on SPARK Sunday June 4 (10 am) – just 5 weeks from now.Leading up, we will be communicating in all kinds of ways…email…website…upcoming schedule…worship notes… and SHARING DESSERT! At several meetings starting this Wednesday night after the mission dinner (6:15 pm in the Dining Room), we are serving lots of PIE. The acronym PIE means Prayer… Information… Encouragement. These will be 30-45 minute sessions with groups…offering literal and figurative pie…all kinds of PIE!So far, we have a team of 30 campaign workers (from young families to Silver Streaks). We are still recruiting. We invite even more of you to come aboard, STREAKS of all ages! Please join us! Many hands make light work!Please contact me, Pastor Fran, or any Committee Chair if you are being called…!
Stay tuned to 
learn how to add your spark to the flame that is St. Mark’s. Please be on the lookout for much more information to come, in THIS WEEK, the bulletin and special emails.

As you consider God’s will in your life and family, here is a Prayer for the SPARK in our church for this season of opportunity and growth.

Lord Jesus, as you brought the Holy Spirit to us through the flame at Pentecost, make us the spark that gets the fire burning inour church. Help each of us to show others the love you show us everyday. Create in us, O God, the warmth of your love so that others feel it as well. Enable us to provide the tools to “Pass it On” in both new and old ways. Thank you Lord for the flame that is so many things to us: Holy Spirit, Methodism and now the SPARK at St. Mark’s. Amen.