At St. Mark’s Church, we strive to give financially from the First Fruits of our Hearts. Rather than giving to God what is left over after we pay our bills or save for our retirements or pay off our loans, we seek to give God our first, our best, our all. And that is not easy. Jesus knows we are prone to insecurity and the illusion of scarcity. He understands that we are afraid of not having enough and that we trust in ourselves more than in God. And yet, when we give to God the first fruits of our labor – the first fruits of our hearts – we are set free from the burden of securing our own futures. Instead, we put our security in God.
As you review this summary of how St. Mark’s stewards your gifts to God given for the mission and ministry of this community of faith, I hope you see how every dollar you share from your first fruits goes to building the Kingdom of God. Your generosity changes lives of people you may never know, because that is how God works when we trust God and let go of our fears.
See you Sunday!
The Rev. James B. Cook
Worship is the heart of our life together as a congregation. Nearly 25,000 people attended weekend worship services during the past year, while another 47,000 attended weekday services. In worship, we are formed into the body of Christ as we gather to give God our thanks and praise. We trust that when we worship together with pure hearts and in community, effective evangelism is the natural outgrowth. At St. Mark’s, we strive to make all worship relevant, reverent, and worthy of God, and this requires much planning, preparation, and strong leadership.
St. Mark’s is blessed with an abundance of children and youth. During the summer of 2019, 30 middle school and high school youth participated in local and national mission trips, while youth groups meet weekly all year long. Sunday School meets weekly for our younger children, while a professionally staffed nursery assures our youngest members receive the best care possible. Vacation Bible School at St. Mark’s ministers to nearly 200 children and volunteers for a week each June, while the congregation supports an active ministry with scouts. St. Mark’s supports the largest acolyte ministry in the diocese with more than 50 children (3rd grade through high school) participating. And don’t forget: our primary mission at St. Mark’s is our school, which serves 475 students annually in grades PK through 8th. The clergy and program staff spend about a quarter of their time ministering to St. Mark’s School, through worship, teaching and administrative leadership. The school’s operating budget, which is separate from the church operating budget, is more than $7 million annually.
Making the commitment to follow Christ means aligning our lives with the teachings and guidance of Jesus. His death and resurrection have opened for us a way in life that does not have room for fear, and so we learn day by day how to live new lives of faith in a God who has opened the gate to eternity for us. At St. Mark’s, we are blessed with many opportunities to engage our faith in meaningful ways.
St. Mark’s seeks to serve all persons in Christ through countless ministries and missions locally, nationally, and internationally. Raising funds for home repairs in Riviera Beach or raising funds for students and farmers in Kenya are just the tip of the iceberg for the many ways we serve others while shining as a beacon of faith, hope and light. This year we have been renovating in Riviera Beach our second Hearts of Palm House, where a family from The Lord’s Place will find temporary, transitional housing. St. Mark’s has also been deeded diocesan property in Pahokee as a future ministry site.
As our parish grows, so does our diocesan assessment that is used to support clergy in small urban congregations; assist with disaster relief around the globe; underwrite services provided by the bishop and diocesan staff such as insurance, communications, clergy counsel and congregational development; missions and ministries of the national Episcopal Church, and Episcopal Charities.
Serving one another as Christ serves us is what makes a community strong. At. St. Mark’s, we seek to build friendships, form new relationships, reach across barriers of age and gender, race, and nationality; and ensure that we are caring for one another in all possible ways so that no one is left out in the caring hands and hearts of so many who call St. Mark’s home.
New this year is the Handyman Ministry sponsored by the Mark’s Men. Parishioners receive minor household maintenance and repair services from volunteers.
Operating Budget: $1,323,300
Pledges - $1,025,00
Open Plate Offering - $185,000
Thrift Shop - $90,000
Parish Fundraiser - $12,000
Interest and Investment - $11,000