How quickly things change! Last month I wrote, enthusiastically, encouraging you to be ready to receive your new pastor starting on July 1st… now I almost feel like apologizing that you have to get used to having me as your pastor for another year. For me, this was completely unexpected, and it is a very rare event in our United Methodist appointment process for a retired pastor to be appointed back to the church they have been serving. I will be with you until the end of June 2022, but, strange as it may seem, I will have officially retired as of June 30, 2021.
The year ahead is going to be a great challenge for us all, and the redefinition of church needs for everyone to be involved. There is no going back to our pre-COVID pattern of church life. How does the church need to change and grow to be relevant to the world of 2022 and beyond? Everybody must accept a role in charting this future. I sometimes feel as though some people are waiting for me to tell them what they have to do next. Please stop waiting! Everyone needs to be redefining your ministry and how we work together as a congregation.
On the positive side, my continuing presence means that a new pastor won’t have to engage the transition from COVID shelter in place to a more open pattern of church life, hopefully with at least some in person worship sometime before the end of this year. The post-COVID church will look significantly different from the church both before COVID as well as during the pandemic.
The future St. Mark’s will continue to have the same commitment for mission and service beyond its four walls. It will also continue its great tradition of providing loving, supportive community for both its members and people beyond the church membership.
We’re still not sure what will happen with worship services. We will certainly have to continue online and on TV for the foreseeable future. When in-person worship will resume is not clear… and probably when it does happen, things will be different. For the foreseeable future there will be no hymn-singing or choral singing.
Some people are saying that they don’t want us to return to the sanctuary before everyone is able to do so, so that nobody is excluded. That may not be realistic, and it may be helpful for us to start small and build back to something approaching our pre-COVID attendance.
It is clear that our committees, teams and fellowship groups will be spending at least some of their future life on Zoom. UMW is blazing the trail for us all, having restored most of the programs and groups by sharing on Zoom.
We are not clear about when the church office will re-open. Staff job descriptions have changed, and it isn’t clear who will be staffing the office on a day-to-day basis, especially before our team of volunteers return to staffing the reception desk.
So… I need as much help as I can get. Please share ideas, but better still, offer to do the work needed to bring your ideas to reality. Proactive Christian commitment is needed at this moment of history. You are a team member not an observer.
As I said in last month’s article, I believe that St. Mark’s greatest years are still ahead of us. God is leading us into a future that will bring transformation to people’s lives, and to Sacramento and to our nation. So, please be in active prayer and reflection discerning where God is leading you and us.
May God bless us all on this great shared journey of ministry we call St. Mark’s.
from Rev. Alan Jones, Pastor
There is much in the teaching of Jesus that warns against separating the life of faith from everyday community realities. Jesus warns people of faith against digging our heads into the sand and ignoring the world’s violence and immoralities. Clearly, the story of the Good Samaritan is a rebuke to the religious leaders of his time, who kept their noses firmly in the air, and kept as far away as they could from a suffering victim, who might complicate their religious norms.
Jesus invites us to engage the world where it really is. When Jesus says Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God, he is not saying that you should keep your civic life separate from your life of faith. No! Repeatedly Jesus challenges his followers to build a Kingdom of Heaven rooted in compassion and proactive relationship. The least of these are the priority of Jesus. Some scholars believe that this saying was a tongue in cheek comment by Jesus who taught that all life belongs to God, and Caesar is at least a distant second.
When the political process leads to violence and to abuse of poor people or minority groups, I am confident that Jesus would be in the front lines of protest. He wouldn’t be interested in who called themselves Republicans or Democrats, or whatever else; instead, he would be measuring each human being against God’s standards of compassion and justice.
A pastor friend recently shared with me the story of a parishioner asking to meet with her in person. The woman was in her late seventies and an active lay person in her UM congregation. Imagine the pastor’s shock when the woman began by saying that everything the pastor was teaching was a lie, and that the QAnon movement is God’s voice speaking to the American people. QAnon is a wide-ranging, completely unfounded conspiracy theory that says that President Trump is waging a secret war against elite Satan-worshipping pedophiles in government, business and the media. Donald Trump is the Savior who will lead the nation to a day of reckoning called the storm, where prominent people such as former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will be arrested and executed. It is an extremist group that has increasingly infiltrated some parts of mainstream conservative opinion.
Not everyone who was in the mob on January 6th was a violent extremist. Some probably were people of goodwill who thought they were part of a movement for social change. But, instead, they were part of an insurrection that has done terrible damage to individuals and the democratic republic that we all love.
- I want to invite every St. Mark’s member to do two things:
Do everything you can to educate yourself about the activities of White Supremacy groups in our nation and in our region. These include QAnon, The Golden State Skinheads, The Proud Boys of Northern California and the Boogaloo Boys. These are just some of the hate groups with a terrorist agenda that were in the crowd at the nation’s Capitol on January 6th, the Feast of the Epiphany. Members of these groups are organized and live in our neighborhoods. As people of faith we must stand firmly against these movements and provide alternative information to those who are influenced by hate group thinking.
- Do everything you can to look deep in your own soul and explore the many ways in which we all collaborate with structures and ways of being that do damage to poor and Black, Indigenous communities and all People of Color. Some of us, last Spring, began reading White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo. It is an excellent resource. Another good option is How to be An Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi. Maybe you might start a small group of friends reading together with a commitment to ask the hard questions and push beyond normal behaviors.
Love of God and Love of neighbor are two sides of the same coin. The church needs to be proactive in bringing healing to our nation and our region. These are very dangerous days for many in our communities, including people of faith. Our voices are needed. Remember that The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing. (E. Burke/J.S. Mill)
There is much to be done, and the people of the St. Mark’s community are called to be proactive.
Pam Taylor, R.N.
Faith Community Nurse
I have been pondering the concept of GRATITUDE. Recently, there was a lecture on Gratitude given by Dr. Robert Emmons, a professor and researcher at U.C. Davis who has scientifically studied gratitude for many years. In doing some research on the topic of gratitude, I found an article by Dr. Emmons on debunking 5 myths regarding gratitude. It’s important to avoid minimizing the power of gratitude in our daily lives. Gratitude can impact our health and over all well being.
5 Myths of Gratitude – Dr. Robert Emmons
- Gratitude leads to complacency
There is a claim that if you are grateful, you are not going to be motivated to challenge the way things are or improve things.
Studies suggest the opposite is true. Gratitude leads to a sense of purpose and a desire to more to reach goals. In a study where participants recorded five things for which they were grateful for once a week, the group made 20% more progress toward their goals than the control group. Other research has demonstrated that gratitude inspires behavior such as generosity, compassion, and charitable gifts. This is not suggestive of passivity.
- Gratitude is just a naïve form of positive thinking
The claim is that gratitude is just about thinking nice thoughts and expecting good things, ignoring the negativity, pain, and suffering in life.
The studies done on gratitude find that it’s more complex than that. Gratitude is about receiving a benefit and giving credit to others besides oneself for that benefit. Gratitude can be very difficult to experience because it requires a recognition of dependence on others – and that’s not always positive. It can be difficult to become a good receiver of the support and generosity of others. Most people give more easily than they receive.
Gratitude can also stir up related feelings of indebtedness and obligation. If I have gratitude for something you provided me, I have to take care of that thing – I might even have to reciprocate at some future time. That can be perceived negatively and cause feelings of discomfort. The studies confirm this. When people are grateful, they aren’t necessarily free of negative emotions and they don’t necessarily have less anxiety, tension, or unhappiness.
The practicing of gratitude magnifies positive feelings more than it reduces negative feelings. If it was just positive thinking, or just a form of denial, you’d experience no negative thoughts or feelings when you’re keeping a gratitude journal, for instance. But, in fact, people do.
So, gratitude isn’t just a nice, warm, fuzzy feeling. It has responsibilities that go along with it and can make it difficult for people under certain circumstances.
- Gratitude makes us too self-effacing
Some people assume that if I am grateful, I give credit to others for my own success. When I recognize the ways others have helped me, I risk overlooking my own hard work or natural abilities.
Research suggests that’s not the case. In one study, researchers administered a difficult test and told the participants that they could win money for doing well on the test. Then the participants received a helpful hint that would help them get a high score. All the participants regarded the hint as helpful. But only those who felt personally responsible for their own score felt grateful for the hint. Gratitude was actually associated with a greater sense of personal control over one’s success.
Additional studies have supported this. It’s not either I did this all myself or somebody else did it for me. Instead, grateful people recognize their own feats and abilities while also feeling gratitude toward the people who helped them along the way.
4. Gratitude isn’t possible—or appropriate—in the midst of adversity or suffering
Some argue that it’s impossible to be grateful in the midst of suffering. When life is going well, when there’s abundance then we can be grateful. But what about when we’re facing hard times?
When faced with adversity, gratitude helps us see the big picture and not feel overwhelmed by the setbacks in the moment. That attitude of gratitude can actually motivate us to tackle the challenges before us. Without a doubt, it can be hard to take this grateful perspective, but research suggests it is possible, and it is worth it
In a study done about 10 years ago, participants kept a gratitude journal over two weeks. Given that much of their lives involved intense discomfort and visits to pain clinics, would there be anything to be grateful for? Not only did they find reasons to be grateful, but they also experienced significantly more positive emotions than a similar group not keeping a gratitude journal. The gratitude group also felt more optimistic about the upcoming week, felt more connected to others (even though many of them lived alone), and reported getting more sleep each night—an important indicator of overall health and well-being.
Science suggests we can cultivate or maintain an attitude of gratitude through hard times, and that we’ll be better for it.
5. You have to be religious to be grateful
The science regarding gratitude has shown that people can have a grateful disposition even if they’re not religious. There is research that suggests that religious people might be more inclined to feel or practice gratitude, but they are not the only ones who score high on gratitude scales.
Among religious people, feeling grateful to God isn’t mutually exclusive with feeling grateful to other potential sources of goodness. People who score high in gratitude are more likely to give credit to God than are people who score low in gratitude. But those grateful people are more likely to give credit across the board, meaning that they also give credit to other sources, such as other people, genetics, and hard work.
These five myths spring from a fundamental misconception about gratitude: that it is a simplistic emotion. But it is deceptively complicated. Once we appreciate these complexities of gratitude, documented by years of scientific research, we are in a better position to enjoy all the strengths and goodness it can bring.
It Really Does Make a Difference!
The St. Mark’s Food Closet may be small, but it continues to help many food insecure in our area on a regular basis during this very challenging time. The week before Christmas, every one of our family groups received (in addition to the usual groceries), a box of holiday meal preparations – including a turkey (or rotisserie chicken and prepared side dishes for those without cooking facilities) which was greatly appreciated by all (see letter below from one of our former regulars). Thank you to UMW (Calexico) for the generous donation of enough turkeys to go around!
Also, thank you to those of you who continue to donate both groceries and money to the Food Closet on a regular basis. Even our neighbors have gotten in on the sharing, bringing both food and money donations to us. Unfortunately, we did not get the name of our neighbor who donated $200 worth of WinCo gift cards to hand out at the Food Closet – resulting in many happy, happy faces!! The Spiritual Life Center brought several bags of food recently.
(Letter from appreciative client:)
THANK YOU! THANK YOU! We would like to thank you for all of your help feeding people. You made our holidays the Best. We received our Stimulus check, so we would like to donate some to you to buy more food for your pantry! ($50!)
Thank you for your help,
Jackie, Jim, Stacy (and kids)
P.S. We may need to come back again in the future. But, right now we are good.
These stories really make all the work worth it!!
-Jane and Jim
February UMW Meeting is Saturday 2/13
On Saturday, February 13, at 10:00am St. Mark’s United Methodist Women will meet on Zoom for their general meeting. The speaker will be Robin Foemmel Bie, who will speak about “Equal Rights”. Robin Foemmel Bie has worked for the California Victim Compensation Board. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and previously provided expertise on policy, networking, regulation, and training for the Department of Mental Health.
United Methodist Women are inspired to work for the well being of women by scripture: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). The United Methodist Book of Discipline further affirms our duty to advocate for women’s equality: “We affirm women and men to be equal in every aspect of their common life.” (Social Principles, ¶ 162 F)
The Equal Rights Amendment is a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution designed to guarantee equal legal rights for all American citizens regardless of sex. It seeks to end the legal distinctions between men and women in terms of divorce, property, employment, and other matters. The main text reads, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”
California ratified the ERA November 13, 1972. Currently efforts support Congress removing the deadline originally assigned to the Equal Rights Amendment in 1972, and extended in 1979 by members of Congress. Legal scholars have stated that if Congress can instate a deadline for a constitutional amendment, they also have the legal standing to remove a deadline. UMW members will learn about legislation both houses of Congress to officially remove the deadline for the ERA. If passed, legal scholars state that the ERA could be added to the Constitution when ratified by 38 states.
Group leaders will receive information on joining the Zoom meeting which they can share with group members. Also, UMW members may check out books for the UMW Reading Program in the Library from 9:00am to 11:00am Tuesday and Saturday when the Food Closet is open.
The Communication team has been working really hard to get the video equipment that was installed at the end of 2019 up and running in the sanctuary so they can finally start using it to film the worship services. They have come up against a lot of technical issues, but through their hard work and many meetings they have finally been able to get the system working. Keep an eye out for a significant boost in video and sound quality in new videos! They have also been working on revamping the sanctuary lighting system, updating the sound system and creating new ways to decorate the chancel. Those on the committee are: Pastor Alan, Chris Harris, Irene Celedon, Amelia Romero, Abby Jaske, Peejay Rouch, Miriam McCormack, Blake Thomson and Elizabeth Cruz.
Kudos for all their perseverance!
I just wanted to take a moment to say a very big “THANK YOU” to all of you that have made the Cool Church Campaign a rousing success so far. Your generosity has been truly unbelievable but not surprising. The campaign has raised over $170,000 dollars. And because of your generosity this has allowed the Trustee’s to expand the project to include MacMurdo Hall. The Trustees have selected the Contractor and the replacement of the air conditioning and heating system finally began January 26th. If you have not given to the campaign but would like to, any continued donations would be truly appreciated and humbly received. Your faithfulness and commitment to the vision and mission of the St. Mark’s Community is truly inspiring. Thank You!
-Christopher Harris, Lay Leader
Christmas Offering 2020
-Christopher Harris, Lay Leader
SPRC Staff Update
The SPRC is making plans to celebrate Cath Fenimore-Brown as she ends her faithful service as both Administrator and Choir/Music Director to the St. Mark’s community at the end of March. The committee is already actively making plans for her (COVID-adapted) farewell. If you have any additional suggestions, the committee will be glad to hear them.
We are also planning on ways to celebrate Rev. Alan Jones, who will be retiring June 30. If you have suggestions you would like to contribute, please contact Ginny Romero at: firstname.lastname@example.org
by February 15th.
Help Needed at St. Mark’s
Elizabeth C Cruz
Folsom Mask Makers
Folsom Mask Makers is a local community project helping to make face masks, scrub caps, knitted ear savers, 3D printed ear savers and beanies/hats for our medical centers, medical workers, patients and non-profits during this pandemic. We have been making and distributing since March and plan to continue until there is no longer a need for anyone within Placer, Sacramento and El Dorado Counties.
The project is an all-volunteer effort. Completed items are donated to those in greatest need. We have teams to keep things organized and tasks from driving, sewing, knitting, cutting patterns, making sewing kits and more. If you like to sew, we have ready kits with everything included. If you would like to donate fabric we are using 100% cotton, poly blends, yarn and buttons.
We also have a GoFundMe, Venmo and Amazon wish list to help keep the project going. If you would like to help on the project or donate we would love to have you and if you need a mask, scrub cap or article we make, reach out to us! If you have a special need for masks, we can help you too. All items are donated to our communities. Stay well and safe out there. We are with you.
To learn more and/or get involved, please contact Karla Burgess at Burgess.email@example.com or 916.223.2420
Environmental Awareness Group
With 5 million scorched acres across California, Washington and Oregon and pieces of ice as large as the state of Vermont breaking away from Greenland, there is a growing awareness that our earth itself, our home, is in peril. “There genuinely is no more time to waste. We must act as though our home is on fire…because it is.” (Joelle Gergis)
Our sporadic attempts to change direction have yet to achieve traction. We have not had the will to do so. We have not fully addressed the question that guides our priorities…Where is God in all of this? What have we done with the creation stories that place in our hands a sacred responsibility to care for the land in a sustainable way.
Are you interested in joining a group on Zoom exploring these questions? Please contact Eva Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org
(time & dates to be announced)
Sunday Morning Coffee via Zoom 10:00am
Meeting ID: 871 7376 7282
One tap mobile:
+1 (669) 900-9128, 87173767282# US (San Jose)
+1 (253) 215-8782, 87173767282# US (Tacoma)
Dial by your location
Meeting ID: 871 7376 7282
Find your local number:
Sunday Morning Coffee via Zoom 11:30am
Meeting ID: 848 8808 4356
One tap mobile:
+1 (669) 900-9128, 84888084356# US (San Jose)
+1 (253) 215-8782, 84888084356# US (Tacoma)
Meeting ID: 848 8808 4356
Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kwFm4QvVU
Prayer Meetings Monday Night 7:00pm
Meeting ID: 846 6682 9100,
One tap mobile:
+1 (669) 900-9128, 84666829100 US (San Jose)
Dial by your location:
+1 (669) 900-9128 US (San Jose)
Meeting ID: 846 6682 9100
Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kdJf9lFjQ
Wednesday Morning 11:00am
Meeting ID: 840 0186 0437,
Dial by your location
+1 (669) 900-9128 US (San Jose)
Meeting ID: 840 0186 0437
Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kcHz4uTG2f
St. Mark’s Worship Service is on every
Saturday at 9am
Jen Banghart’s aunt Debbie & uncle Murray; Joan Bryant’s daughter Gayle & grandson David; Pat and Gordon Close; Cecilia Cruz; Milton & Kathy Cunningham; Isabelle & Don Duncan’s son Donnie & his spouse Tina; Kristin Durham’s son Kyle, his wife Brianna & baby Wyatt; Marti Eckert; Joyce Estes; Iola Halligan; Heinz Heckeroth; Esther Houston; Donna Kirk’s cousins Marvin & Mickey; Deanna Reese; Saba Tecleab; Blake Thomson; Ken Walela
Pat Arthur & family, death of Al Arthur; Brent Bourgeois, death of his brother Brian Bourgeois; Cath Fennimore-Brown & family, death of Cath’s dear cousin; Susan Goodman Chupungco, death of her sister Karen; Death of Allan Hida, spouse of Vivian, father of Sue; The family of Nepoh Koker, death of her uncles (Joe’s brothers) Alfred & Sam Gbaya; Kelly Lindsey & Travis, death of father John Brooks; Ken Walela & Irene, death of Ken’s father
Long Term Prayer Requests
Lois Adamek; Ginny Baldauf; Bernice Buckley; Lola Cruz; Jean Fish; Doug and Charlotte Gardener; Nina Henley; Lucy Jeffries; Mary Kasai; Elizabeth Mackenzie; Mary McCullough; Bill and Marilyn Malkasian; Jim Munro; Doris Olsen; Ted Slaughter; Peggy Smith; Fred Stallcop; Laura Warren; John and Lori White
Joan Adams, mother of Jeff Adams; Tina Coutee’s daughter Adrianne Coutee; Elizabeth Cruz’s room-mate’s father, Jaime Maturino; Kathy Cunningham’s son & grandchildren; Dr. George Fields, brother of John Fields; Jennifer Halm’s father Ralph Stevenson, Richard Jacobs’ sister Audrey Collier; Lindy Sperry; Kim and David Trott, daughter & son-in-law of Colleen Brinkman; Wendy Weinland’s brother-in-law
There is a team of people dedicated to the spiritual practice of praying for the needs of this community. If you have any prayer requests for yourself, family members or friends, please contact Rev. Marilyn Ericksen at email@example.com
MONTHLY BUDGET UPDATE
Vitals 12/13/20 – 1/10/21
Special Offering = $280
Contributions = $110,978.99
Monthly Update 12/13/20 – 1/10/21
Annual Budget = $687,000.00
Monthly Requirement = $57,250.00
Received through 12/13/20 – 1/10/21
General = $80,033.62
Designated = $30,485.37
Total Income YTD through December 2020
Total Expenses YTD through December 2020
St. Mark’s UMC
Staff office hours
Rev. Alan Jones
or for emergency after hours,
please call 916.806.1000 (cell).
Monday-Friday 9:00am-3:00pm (remote)
Monday-Friday 9:00am-3:00pm (in office)
916.483.7848 ext 131
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 8:00am-5:00pm
Cath Fenimore-Brown (remote) Tuesday-Friday, Sunday 9:00am-5:00pm,
days off Monday and Saturday.
Pam Taylor Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org