Letter to the Congregation from Church Council President, Mary Caseley

Dear St. Mark’s Community,

Thank you to everyone who had a hand in wishing Pastor Jan and Linda bon voyage last month: those who planned the party on April 28th, those who worked at and cleaned up after the party, those who baked and served pies the following Sunday, and everyone who took time to celebrate.  I’ve been told that a strong pastoral transition includes a good goodbye and together we accomplished just that!  Now we enter the next stage of this transition and I’m excited to share these upcoming events.


Welcome Lead Interim Pastor Rev Audrey Lukasak

The church council is pleased to announce that Rev. Audrey Lukasak has agreed to serve as our Lead Interim Pastor.  She comes to us from Circleville, Ohio with a wealth of experience as an interim pastor.  Along with her work as an interim pastor she has also served as a certified staff chaplain at the Mayo Clinic, as a board member for Lutheran Campus Ministries at the University of Iowa, and as a consultant with the Commission for Women and Multicultural Ministries (ELCA).  Pastor Lukasak has spent time in Washington State as a volunteer at Holden Village and at the Grunewald Artisan Guild.

Pastor Lukasak will begin her ministry at St. Mark’s on June 1st.  Welcome, Pastor Lukasak!


Annual Meeting of the the Congregation on June 11th

We are asking all voting members of St. Mark’s to attend the Annual Meeting of our congregation on Sunday, June 11th, at 12:15 p.m.  Lunch will be served, beginning at noon.  

Members who attend in person will be able to vote on the church budget for fiscal year 2023-24, elect council members, and hear an update on our transition process.  We must have a quorum of members to vote on these items, so we ask members who are able to join in person to attend.  

Members who are not able to join in person are invited to join us on Zoom using the link found on our website: www.smlutheran.org.  Members who join virtually will be unable to vote.


Celebration and Farewell to Staff Musicians

The St. Mark’s community will have an opportunity to express its gratitude to Darren Kerbs and Craig Cootsona on May 21st at the 9:45am service as these two musicians for the contemporary service step down as official members of the church staff. Their dedication to worship through both their musical talents and the nurturing of our community have lifted our spirits and been deeply appreciated. Later that evening at 6:30pm, we will host a 45-minute worship service featuring the favorites songs of the band with a dessert reception to follow. 


Grace for the Journey

Throughout May, we are focusing on our journey of transition together, and on the presence and promises of God for that journey.  Our May Journey has two major parts:  adult forums and worship.

Adult Forums

On the first three Sundays of May, we’ll gather for adult forums both at 9:45 and at 11:00 in the Parish Commons Classroom.  On May 28th, Pentecost, there will be no forum.

  • May 7:       Transition:  Dealing with Discomfort (biblical and spiritual tools) – Mark Gravrock
  • May 14:     Transition:  Transition Team Update
  • May 21:     Transition:  The Interim Process – Pastor Rebecca Shjerven, Associate to Bishop


The gospel readings for May come from the Last Supper Discourses of Jesus in John, and from the Upper Room appearance of the risen Jesus.  These words of Jesus seem ideal for accompanying us on our journey. Focused music and litanies will tie these Sundays together.

Transition Team Update

The St Mark’s Transition Team is continuing to work on the congregational self-study and survey. Members will provide an update of its status at Adult Forums on Sunday, May 14. The self-study will include information on who we are as a church and community, our vision and mission, and our pastoral leadership needs. This information should help inform the Council and others in the call process.

Emillie Binja service of Ordination – May 28

We are excited to celebrate Emillie Binja’s ordination here at St. Mark’s on May 28th at 3pm.   Emillie has been called to serve as solo pastor to Creator Lutheran Church in Clackamas, Oregon.  She will begin her call in July. 

Congratulations Emillie!

In Christ, 

Mary Caseley

President, Church Council

Highlights from Semi-Annual Meeting on January 29th, 2023

Katie Jones presented Pastor Jan with the Evangelical Lutheran Education Association’s  “Distinguished Pastor of the Year” award. Katie nominated Pastor Jan for this award based on his support and work with the preschool staff and families.

Next, Chris Boerger explained the changes necessary to assure St. Mark’s constitution is up to date and also meets the standards set by our ELCA synod. All proposed changes to the constitution were approved.

Mary Caseley presented these names: Tony Daniels, Kim Meade, Elizabeth Skarshaug, Steve Wolbrecht & Angelie Stalnecker to become the nominating committee for the upcoming year. All were approved.

After this committee approval, Pastor Jan explained what each table was to share regarding their own personal experiences and or first memories with LGBTQIA+ relationships.

After this reflection, Sally Ann McLean clarified the Endowment Fund creation, usage and reminded the congregation that new applications would begin February 1st, 2023.

Carol Avery then presented the finance report: giving is down from previous year which means it negatively impacts not just the annual budget but also contributions to our churches benevolence funds.

Amy Wickstrom followed up this report as a member of the Stewardship committee. This committee is strategizing with the finance committee to come up with ways to deal with this lower giving level as well as asking each member of our congregation to prayerfully consider raising their contributions.

Finally, Tom Hulst introduced the Transition Team. He clarified this team’s role in three specific ways: 1. The team’s process will include engagement from the congregational members; 2. The Congregation’s mission will be clarified through self-study: 3. This team will complete a ministry site profile. This team is not the call committee. Congregational input will be either by individual meetings, council and committee input, and/or an online survey. In the meantime,

Pastor Sigi will move to .75 FTE status throughout the interim period and Pastor Mark Gravrock (a current member) will serve as a part-time Interim Associate Pastor. Once Pastor Jan retires, a Lead Interim Pastor will be appointed by the Synod.

Semi-Annual Meeting January 29th, 2023

We are asking all voting members of St. Mark’s to attend the Semi–Annual Meeting of our congregation on Sunday, January 29, at 12:15 p.m. Lunch will be served, beginning at noon. Childcare and activities for older children will also be provided. Those who would like the watch the meeting online may do so using this link.

Our leaders will give us a full update on the transition process and interim plans for the time of change in pastoral leadership. We will also be voting on long-overdue revisions and updates to our congregation’s constitution and electing people to serve on the Nominating Committee that will identify candidates for open positions on the Church Council and other leadership boards. Please plan to join us!

In preparation for the meeting, preview the minutes from our last Semi-Annual Meeting in June, 2022 and the proposed changes to the constitution and rationale via the documents below.

Constitution with Proposed ChangesRationale for Proposed Changes to ConstitutionMinutes from June 22 Semi-Annual Meeting

Pastor Jan Ruud's May 24th, 2022 Letter to the Congregation

Dear Friends in Christ,                            

In the Spring of 2001, I had my first introduction to St. Mark’s Lutheran Church by the Narrows when I met with the Call Committee. Their task was to choose a candidate for the lead pastor position. It was a time of major transition for the congregation, following the departure of both the lead pastor and associate pastor. 

Looking back, I would say that my first impressions were very influential in my decision to say “yes” when the committee said they would like to bring my name forward to the congregation. From the very beginning, I could sense a spirit of deep trust within the people of St. Mark’s that God would uphold and bless the congregation through this transition and that the legacy of being a people and a place for God’s grace would continue to flourish.

When I was installed as your new pastor later that year, I had no idea that this would be the congregation where I would carry out the rest of my parish ministry. I was 43 years old and ready to embark on a whole new stage of my life journey. Now, 21 years later, as I begin to make plans for retirement, my heart is filled with gratitude for everything we have experienced together and for the ongoing ministry we share that continues to engage all of who I am as a partner with you in God’s mission.

I will begin my retirement on May 1, 2023. That is still many months away, but the Church Council, in collaboration with our ELCA Southwestern Washington Synod, has begun a very mindful and proactive process of planning for the transition. It includes appointing a Transition Team that will start their work this Fall. Kim Meade, our Church Council president, will say more about that at the upcoming Semi-Annual Meeting of St. Mark’s on June 12 at 12:15 PM.

The best part about having a transition plan in place is that it frees us to give our full attention to the current mission endeavors that engage all of us in fruitful ways. For my part, I am energized by so many things we are doing together right now, and I am thankful for every new day that is filled with possibilities. 

Deep down, I am also thankful for the spirit of trust that I perceived in my first visits with the people of St. Mark’s. Over the years, it has only grown stronger, confirming the promise that God will bless this congregation through every transition and every new stage of the journey, and that the legacy of being a people and a place for God’s grace will continue to flourish.

In gratitude,

Pastor Jan Ruud