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

Bishop Rick Jaech’s May 24 Letter to Congregations of the ELCA Southwestern Washington Synod

The Slaughter of the Innocents

“A voice is heard in Ramah,
    weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
    and refusing to be comforted,
    because they are no more.”  (Matthew 2:18)



Our hearts are torn open by the killing of 19 Fourth Graders and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas.  This happens just ten days after the racist killing of ten African American shoppers at a grocery store in Buffalo and eight days after the killing and wounding of Taiwanese Americans at a Presbyterian church in Southern California.  My heart is filled with grief, outrage, and the necessity to act.


First, utter grief.  I can only begin to imagine the raw grief of the parents in Uvalde who sent their children off to school in the morning, fully expecting them to return home.  As a parent, my heart aches with them.  I know that no mere words can address this grief.


Second, I feel utter and growing outrage that we, as a nation, continue to be possessed by the power of three destructive forces: racism, emotional despair among many youths, and our acceptance of gun violence as a “solution” to our conflicts.  The tragic and hate-filled slaughter of ten African American people is the abhorrent tip of the iceberg of the disrespect and outright violence that people of color experience every day.  The majority of mass murders in our country have been carried out by young white males who are in varying stages of emotional disconnection and mental fragility.  However, our public financial support of mental health programs remains minimal.  Finally, caught up in our fears as a nation, we allow large-scale access to destructive arms designed for war.


When it comes to mass shootings, we Lutherans cannot simply point the finger at others.  An ELCA Lutheran 12th grade boy was one of the two shooters who massacred 12 students and a teacher in Columbine, Colorado in 1999.  The white supremist killing of nine Bible Study participants at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC, was carried out by a 21-year-old man who was ELCA Lutheran.  We are connected not only to those who suffer, but to those who cause suffering.  Therefore, we both grieve and repent.


Finally, however, we must be moved to act against racism, against gun violence, and in healing support of all those who are in a place of emotional despair and mental illness.  The slaughter of the innocents in Bethlehem was Herod’s fault.  Today, in a democracy ruled by citizens, we must take responsibility for stopping the killing of children in our schools and the hate crimes that murder and wound so many.



I close with a prayer written by Rev. Scott Black Johnston, a Presbyterian pastor in New York City, in response to the murder of students in Uvalde.


“Save us, O God, from vacuous promises.

Give our society a collective spine. 


Compel us to watch these funerals.

Help us feel the weight of tiny coffins 

carried down the center aisle of limestone churches 

where little ones were promised, “You’ll be loved.”


Imprint the image of sobbing mothers and fathers, 

sisters and brothers, uncles and aunts, grandmas and grandpas 

in our so easily distracted heads. 


Make us look. And remember.


And then give us strategies and gumption and trust for each other. 

Give us everything we need to stop this violence.

Fix resolve in our hearts with your fierce love.


Surely you hold these lambs, these precious lambs, this night. 

Do not allow us to forget those who have suffered and died in this terrible season.

Save us. Save us and the children who deserve our collective care.




Bishop Rick Jaech

Worship Update: In-Person Services Will Resume February 6th

Out of concern for the safety and physical well-being of all worshipers, we have decided to wait two additional weeks before resuming in-person worship services at St. Mark’s. In a statement released by the Pierce County Health Department on January 18 regarding cases related to the Omicron variant of COVID-19, they said: “We see early evidence this wave has peaked. Cases will likely level off soon. Still, our cases are among the highest we’ve ever seen. We expect hospitalizations and deaths will continue to increase in the weeks ahead because they usually lag case counts.” We continue to pray for all those who contract this highly contagious variant, but news that the wave has most likely peaked in our county is hopeful and it guided our decision to resume worship on February 6.

In making this decision, we also considered messages sent to congregations by bishops of three ELCA synods in Washington and Oregon. In his message to the congregations of our Southwestern Washington Synod, Bishop Rick Jaech said: “From a medical standpoint, the safest option at this point is to worship and meet online, rather than in person, for the next 2-4 weeks. Many epidemiologists project that the Omicron virus will have peaked by the end of January.”

As we wait to resume in-person worship, here are some important things you can do.

1) Unless your health care provider advises otherwise, we strongly urge ALL of you to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19, including booster shots. We believe this is the best way to take care of yourself and to care for your neighbor. We also believe that this is the best way to create a safe environment for all who desire to worship in-person at St. Mark’s. Everyone 5 and older is eligible for the vaccine. And everyone 12 and older is now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose.

2) When choosing the mask that you will wear to worship, experts are calling for upgraded protective options, such as surgical and KN95 masks, to help contain airborne particles. We will keep a limit supply of masks on hand, but we ask you to provide your own, whenever possible. For further information about mask wearing, you may consult these most recent guidelines from the Center for Disease Control: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/types-of-masks.html

3) In your daily life of faith, please pray:

  • For those hospitalized
  • For frontline medical workers
  • For those who are sick
  • For those who are infected and frightened
  • For teachers and students
  • For parents of school-aged children
  • For those who cannot be vaccinated
  • For those with underlying health conditions that increase their risk
  • For those who will need medical care for other emergencies
  • For those who work in public roles and essential services

As our bishops and pastors acknowledge, the decision to delay the return to in-person worship does not come without sorrow and disappointment. We are human beings created in God’s image, which means that we embody the deep longings of God for interaction with others and for community that nourishes our souls. We can only trust, with the prophet Isaiah, that “those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” (Isaiah 40.31)

That word of hope fits our St. Mark’s theme for this church year, which is “New Life Awaits”. It also fits well with the prayer that Bishop Jaech included at the end of his message to the congregations of our synod: “May we be given the strength to endure, to do what is best for others and not just ourselves, and to trust in God’s new life springing forth while in the midst of winter.”

Announcement January 6th, 2022

In keeping with our shared concern for the well-being of all, we will wait two more weeks before returning to in-person worship at St. Mark’s. It will be hard to be apart, even for that amount of time, but we are thankful that our congregation can still gather online for worship as we have done so many times in the last two years.

The Omicron variant of COVID-19 may be short lived, but during the first week of January, Omicron variant cases in Pierce County have continued to surge at record numbers. As we pray for the safety and health of all people, worshipping at home is one small thing we can do to create a safer environment. We look forward to resuming in-person worship on Sunday, January 23!

Through it all, the Bible readings that we hear during the season of Epiphany reveal a God who chooses to be one with us in Jesus Christ. That unity extends to every part of our life together, even during a global pandemic, and we are thankful for the ties that bind us to God and to each other through every stage of the journey.

Being Church Together

Given the most recent guidance from health officers of Washington state on COVID-19 safety, we are asking EVERYONE who attends in-person worship on Sunday mornings to please wear a mask inside the church building.

The statement shared by the Pierce County Health Department says: “Health officers have joined together to pass on their best public health advice to protect you, your family, and our communities. We recommend all residents wear facial coverings when in indoor public settings where the vaccination status of those around you is unknown. This step will help reduce the risk of COVID-19 to the public, help stem the increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in many parts of the state and decrease the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant. Vaccinations are our best defense against COVID-19 and are safe, effective, and readily available for everyone age 12 and over. Please get yours immediately if you are not already vaccinated.”

As we have done from the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, we will continue to focus our efforts on the well-being of all people, with special consideration for the most vulnerable among us.  And, we will continue to pay close attention to the guidance given by state and national health officers.

Worshippers will still be able to sit together and to sing and participate in all the spoken parts of our Sunday in-person services, and we will continue to share communion in a safe manner. Our worship leaders are all fully vaccinated, and they will remove their masks when they speak or sing publicly.

As we make this journey together, we will go month-by-month and give you updates during the last week of each month on what to expect when you come to worship or other events at St. Mark’s.

Thank you for being church together in this time when God’s love is supporting us and God’s grace is being poured out in generous ways.

Pastoral Message to the People of St. Mark's Lutheran Church by The Narrows

Congregational Meeting June 27th, 2021

Thank you to everyone who attended our St. Mark’s semi-annual meeting on Zoom last Sunday! After an opening song by our Music Directors, we heard gratitude from our Church Council for all the positive engagement of St. Mark’s people in ministry over the last year, listened to the Treasurer’s Report and presentation of the budget, unanimously adopted a budget for mission in Fiscal year 2021-2022, approved minutes from previous semi-annual meetings, thanked outgoing Church Council members, received a report from the Nominating Committee, elected leaders to serve on our Church Council and other Boards, listened to an update on our anti-racism work at St. Mark’s from President Kim Meade and Pastor Jan Ruud, and were sent on our way with a prayer and benediction led by Pastor Hallie Parkins.

A recording of the meeting is available via the link below:

Congregational Meeting June 2021

March 21st Message to the Congregation from Pastor Jan Ruud

Congregational Meeting | January 31st, 2021

On Sunday, January 31, the Semi-Annual Meeting of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church by the Narrows was hosted on Zoom. During the meeting, our Church Council president, Kim Meade, and other congregational leaders gave us an inspiring vision for mission in 2021, including a commitment to a process we are calling “Seeing, Reconciling, Enacting: Anti-Racism and the Path to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church by The Narrows.” We also heard a financial report from John Wascher, a summary of what we learned in our Community Conversations from Angelie Stahlnecker, a message from Pastor Jan Ruud about our commitment to both social justice and eco-justice as we carry out our mission, and a closing prayer from Pastor Hallie Parkins. 

Click Here to View a Recording of the Congregational Meeting

A Message from Bishop Rick Jaech

In response to the events in our nation’s capitol this week, Bishop Rick Jaech of our ELCA Southwestern Washington Synod has written the following message to us with prayers for our life together. 


Dear People of the Southwestern Washington Synod,

I urge you to join together in prayer in this time of violence and assault on the very heart of our nation. May God strengthen us to work together as citizens and elected leaders to live justly and lawfully.

We pray for our nation:

Almighty God, bless our land with honesty, truth, honor, and compassion. Save us from violence, discord and confusion; from pride and arrogance; and from every evil course of action.

Where our hearts are fearful, grant courage and hope. Where anxiety is infectious, grant peace and reassurance. Where distrust twists our thinking, grant healing and reconciliation. Where we are surging with hate, fill us with love and peace.

Bring fortitude and comfort to this nation as we grieve the consequences of yet more violence, and teach us all to apply our hearts and minds to your wisdom. All these things we ask in the name of Jesus Christ, our savior and true Lord. Amen
[ELW p. 76ff. (excerpts)]

We pray for the whole human family:

O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son. Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred that infect our hearts; brake down the walls that separate us.

Unite us in the bonds of love; and through our struggle and confusion, work to accomplish your purposes on earth; so that, in your good time, every people and nation may serve you in harmony, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
[ELW p. 79]

Community Conversations

As the new year begins, we are inviting St. Mark’s members to join a conversation with others in our church family to share your experiences and reflections on the diverse activities of St. Mark’s during the time of COVID and to help us plan for the future. Participants will meet in early January via Zoom in small groups hosted by a moderator

You will be asked to share:

1) The most meaningful and the most challenging parts for you of being church together in 2020.  2) Who you see us becoming in this time of change and your vision for who we will be one year from now.

To sign up, please indicate the date(s) that work best for you on this form.

Click here to fill out the form!

Blessed are the Peacemakers: Bishop Jaech’s Letter to Lutheran Congregations

Blessed are the peacemakers,

    for they will be called children of God.

Matthew 5:9


I am writing this letter on November 5, two days after the elections. Some election results are known and some are still pending.   My purpose in writing is not to mourn or celebrate any of the results. Rather, I would like to think out loud with you about what God is calling us to do as Lutheran Christians from November 5 onward.


I ask that question because I anticipate that there will continue to be bitter arguments and verbal attacks for weeks and even months after the election, possibly even physical violence.  I pray that this will not be so. Yet, I feel that our country is sharply divided and our unity is being tested more than it has ever been since the Civil War.


For that reason, I am certain that Christ is calling us to begin working as peacemakers, in the same way that he called his first followers in the Sermon on the Mount.  God envisions us to be a community where all people treat one another with respect and dignity, even in the midst of disagreements and conflicts.  Part of our calling, therefore, is to work with Christ to heal broken relationships and restore shalom, peace, to our hearts, families and society.


Being a peacemaker does not mean that we become neutral on every issue, giving up or silencing our own viewpoints or political positions.  One key part of our calling as Christians is to provide food for the hungry, homes for the homeless, protection for children, and justice for the oppressed, just as Jesus did.  Therefore, it is necessary for us to passionately denounce what is wrong in our society and actively work to make things right.   At the same time, however, we are also called to be peacemakers.  A peacemaker not only cares about achieving a just end, but also cares about the process in which people arrive at that end.  Specifically, a peacemaker models, teaches and helps people to work through their conflicts and disagreements in a manner that is respectful of others and to work towards outcomes that are fair, just, and unifying for all.


As we witness or find ourselves involved in conflicts in the weeks ahead, here are some specific things we can do as peacemakers.


  • Model what you want.  If you want to be listened to by another person, listen to them first.  If you don’t want to be verbally attacked or insulted by another person, don’t attack or insult others.


  • In every conversation, spend 50% of your time (or more) listening to people with whom you disagree, rather than talking at them.  When someone says something you disagree with, rather than immediately jumping in with a counter-argument, say, “Please say more about this.  I see things differently, so I’d like to understand your thinking and how you came to this conclusion.”  This will also help them to listen to you.


  • If you witness someone being verbally attacked or insulted, go and stand at their side and say to the person being insulted, “This is a really difficult moment. I want you to be respected and safe.”  Say to the one speaking insults, “My experience is that insults always make things worse.  What is it about this matter that makes you feel so strongly?”  That gets them out of their reactivity to talk about the issue itself.


  • Don’t get drawn into bitter or insulting exchanges on social media.  Don’t try to address or resolve conflicts by email.  It is so easy for us to misinterpret the meaning or tone of what someone has typed out to us when we are conflicted about something.  Use emails for exchanging information about dates and activities, but the minute that some tension or disagreement appears, say to the other person, “Let’s talk about this on the phone (or in person, or on Zoom.)”


  • Reach out to a local mosque, synagogue, or Historic Black congregation to get acquainted and offer support.  No matter who wins the election, violence and verbal attacks against non-Christians and people of color are going to increase in the months ahead.   Peacemakers give special care to those who are at highest risk and make sure that they have a voice at the table.


  • Hopefully this will not happen, but think through what you will do if a person comes to your church openly carrying weapons.  Acquaint yourself with what the local laws are about openly bearing arms in public places.  Introduce yourself to your local police department, both to establish a good relationship and learn from them about relevant ordinances and what to do in such situations.


  • Being a peacemaker is both satisfying and stressful, both deepening and exhausting.  Therefore, don’t try to do all this on your own.  Find others in your congregation who will support one another as a peace team.  Learn and get support from community organizations such as Braver Angels who are active as peacemakers, helping people in the United States to address conflicts and restore our unity as a nation.  (See www.braverangels.org)


Martin Luther called upon government leaders to govern fairly and called upon citizens to work together to build communities where every person receives the respect, support, and care that God wants for them.  Today, the Spirit of Christ is stirring and calling us to break out of our constant, heated divisions and learn again to talk, deliberate, and live together in a way that is fair for all.


Jesus once said, “Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back?… I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind.”  Luke 6: 31, 35-36 from The Message Bible


Christ not only frees and teaches us how to live, but also empowers us through the Holy Spirit to live in a new way.  May Christ give a double measure of that Spirit to our nation in this crucial time.  May we open ourselves to the Spirit, so that we work courageously as peacemakers.


In Christ,


Bishop Rick Jaech

Pastoral Message on Voting as People of Faith

St Mark’s Lutheran Church by the Narrows COVID-19 Exposure Control, Mitigation and Recovery (ECMR) Plan

As required by Washington State, the following is a description of St. Mark’s ECMR Plan: this plan contains polices related to  “… PPE utilization; on-location physical distancing; hygiene; sanitation; symptom monitoring; incident reporting; location disinfection procedures; COVID-19 safety training; exposure response procedures and a post-exposure incident project-wide recovery plan.”  As needed, we have specified practices for both paid staff and congregation members/other building users as well policies for indoor and outdoor gatherings and events. We have developed these policies to be consistent with Washington State COVID-19 guidelines, and will implement them in a manner that conforms to the current reopening phase for Pierce County. As needed, we plan to revise or modify the plan if new State or County guidelines are issued.

This plan has been developed by the COVID-19 strategic planning committee and approved by Church Council.  It has been reviewed with all St. Mark’s (SMLC) staff, made available to all SMLC members via the church website, and provided to all other organizations who use the building.

Teresa Handy, hospitality coordinator, is the COVID-19 Site Supervisor. In this role, she works in close coordination with the COVID-19 strategic planning committee and the lead pastor, Jan Ruud, to monitor the health of employees and church members as well as to ensure compliance with the COVID-19 ECMR plan.  All concerns regarding COVID-19 safety and public health-related issues should be directed to the COVID-19 Site Supervisor.

PPE Utilization and Hygiene 

Frequent handwashing / Hand Sanitizing. 

Consistent with CDC guidance, staff and congregation members should frequently wash their hands using soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This is especially true after eating, using the bathroom, after touching frequently used items or surfaces, or after nose-blowing, coughing or sneezing.  To promote frequent handwashing, we will:

  • Post flyers encouraging proper handwashing and related hygienic practices throughout the building.  These include reminders to not touch one’s face with unwashed hands or with gloves; washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol; cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces such as workstations, keyboards, telephones, handrails, machines, shared tools, elevator control buttons, and doorknobs; covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
  • Include reminders of good hand hygiene in the weekly email “Bridge” newsletter.
  • Ensure that there is always ample supply of soap and paper towels available in all bathrooms.
  • Provide hand sanitizer stations/ bottles containing at least 60 percent alcohol throughout the building and for all outdoor and off-location activities.

Covering coughs and sneezes/ Singing

  • In addition to reminding staff and congregation members of the importance of covering their coughs and sneezes, we will provide boxes of tissue throughout the building.
  • At present, it is thought that singing produces a wide distribution of droplets, similar to coughing and sneezing.  Thus, staff will ensure that all vocalists who sing for musical recordings are at least 20 feet apart if indoors.  Should services resume, the congregation or a large choir will not be able to sing, but worship leaders or other soloists may as long as they are distant (at least 20 feet) from any other person.

Face coverings

  • All staff and congregation members will be required to wear masks inside the church building, unless they are working alone in their offices, vehicle, or workspaces.  Children under the age of 2 years are encouraged, but not expected, to wear a mask. Masks are highly encouraged, yet optional, for children 2-4 years under close adult supervision.  Parents of children over the age of 5 should ensure that their children wear their masks while they are indoors.
  • Signs reminding people of this policy will be posted on all doors.
  • Staff and congregation members will be encouraged to bring and use their own masks; cloth masks will be available to those who need one. During the time they are speaking or singing in worship, worship leaders (i.e., those speaking/singing from the chancel area) may remove their masks, provided they can maintain at least 20 feet from any other person; this is to ensure they can be well heard and understood by congregation members. When they are not speaking or singing, worship leaders will put their masks back on.  All worship leaders will use their own microphones. 
  • Masks must fit properly.  They should cover the mouth and nose at all times.

For off-location gatherings that are outdoors, staff and congregation members should follow the Washington State guidelines.  As of July 2020, masks are required outdoors if one cannot maintain 6 feet of social distancing.

Current COVID-19 standards require employees and the public to maintain 6 feet of physical distance.  To comply with this guideline, St. Mark’s will:

  • Remind people via the weekly Bridge newsletter of the importance of maintaining social distance.
  • Limit the number of people in the bathrooms to either 2 (larger, multiple stalls) or 1 person (smaller bathroom)/ family unit(s) at a given time and ask those waiting to maintain 6ft physical distancing outside of the restroom.  We will post reminders on all bathroom doors.
  • Identify the maximum number of people/ family units each of the following spaces can accommodate while maintaining 6 feet of distance:  Sanctuary, Parish Commons, Parish Commons Classrooms, kitchen, choir/ bell rooms, Sunday school rooms.
  • Post signs on each door that provide these numbers and configure the furniture in these rooms to ensure the 6 feet of physical distance.  As needed, staff members or ushers will help seat people to ensure they maintain the intended social distance from each other.
  • Remind parents that they should monitor their children to ensure that they also maintain the 6 foot distancing standard.
  • In areas where we anticipate that people may be waiting, and therefore potentially crowding (e.g., church office, outside restrooms), we will post signs on the floor that tell individuals where they should stand so as to maintain the 6 foot distancing standard.
  • Not provide childcare or host any informal gatherings (e.g., social times following events) where social distancing is difficult to maintain.

For outdoor gatherings, leaders will remind congregation members to please maintain the 6 foot distancing standard.

Current COVID-19 standards recommend that workplaces clean and disinfect surfaces frequently, including high touch areas and general cleaning practices.  To comply with this recommendation, St. Mark’s will do the following:

Procedures for Staff Work Spaces

  • Disinfectants will be available to staff throughout the worksite, and the Site Supervisor will ensure cleaning supplies are frequently replenished.  The cleaning products will be consistent with current CDC guidelines, which are subject to change.
  • Staff will frequently clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces at locations and in offices, such as shared tools, machines, vehicles and other equipment, handrails, doorknobs, and restrooms.
  • Shared tools and other equipment must be sanitized before and after each user. Staff who oversee a given work area are responsible for ensuring that this cleaning occurs.
  • If an employee reports feeling sick and goes home, the area where that person worked should be immediately disinfected. Disinfecting needs are to be promptly communicated to the Site Supervisor.
  • Staff members are encouraged to use disinfectant between uses of any shared spaces throughout the day.  Staff should also keep workspaces free of clutter, excess personal items, and other unnecessary items to allow for maximum cleaning of all surfaces.

Procedures for Other Building Uses

  • Whenever meetings or services resume, the staff or congregation member who leads the meeting will ensure that all furniture, equipment, and bathrooms used are cleaned afterwards according to guidelines they have been provided by the Site Supervisor.
  • Groups that use equipment requiring special consideration (e.g., hand-bells, marimba mallets, microphones) will work with the Site Supervisor to develop cleaning processes tailored to their unique circumstances.  The leader of these groups will document the cleaning process they agree to follow in a plan that they file with the Site Supervisor before they resume meeting.
  • No other meetings or services will be held until the spaces have been cleaned/disinfected properly.
  • To help reduce the number of contaminating and contaminated items, all building users will be asked to minimize the number of items they bring into the building.
  • Groups will only be allowed access to the spaces designated and agreed upon by the site supervisor and group leader prior to meeting.
  •  Individuals will be responsible for sanitizing all surfaces touched in the restroom after use using provided disinfectant/sanitizing spray.

Staff Members

  • Before coming to work, staff members should take their temperature, preferably with a no-touch thermometer; staff should not come to work if their temperature is higher than 100.4 F degrees.
  • Staff should also not come to work if they are experiencing any symptoms of ill-health, including cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle ache, new loss of taste or smell.  They should also immediately return home if they develop any of these symptoms while at work.
  • When arriving, staff will sign in (i.e., name, date, phone) to affirm that they are without fever or symptoms of ill-health.
  • Contractors, other types of paid employees, or volunteer staff who come to the building to perform some type of work will also sign-in to affirm the same information as staff.
  • An individual/family sign in form can be provided ahead of time upon request of the event organizer to be turned in at the time of entry.
  • To ensure compliance with this policy, we will have all persons enter the building through one door.
  • The Site Supervisor will keep all sign-in records for 4 weeks.

Congregation Members and Other Building Users

  • Before coming to church for meetings, services, or other gatherings, congregation members, staff, meeting attendees, and guests will be asked to take their temperature, preferably with a no-touch thermometer. They will be asked to remain home if their temperature is higher than 100.4 F degrees.  They will also be asked to remain at home if they are experiencing any symptoms of ill-health as listed above.
  • When arriving at church, all people will be asked to sign-in (name, contact number) and confirm the above health information (i.e., temperature below 100.4 F degrees, no ill-health symptoms).
  • In order to ensure that all people sign-in, we will direct everyone to use a given door for larger meetings or services (> 20 people) and have a volunteer or staff member oversee the sign-in table.  For smaller gatherings, the meeting leader will oversee the sign-in process.
  • These sign-in logs should be maintained for four weeks by the Site Supervisor; should a COVID-19 case be reported, this log may be used to inform others who may have come into contact with the person who became infected.
  • In the case of other groups who use the building (e.g., Cub Scouts, Alcoholics Anonymous), a point person from their organization should maintain the sign-in logs for their meetings and will provide them to the COVID-19 site supervisor upon request.
  • When preschool resumes-families will be allowed to enter through the lower preschool doors. The preschool director will maintain sign in logs for all students/families/and staff  entering the building.

Current COVID-19 standards require that organizations have procedures to address sick employees.

  • If a staff member becomes ill and needs to return home, they will inform their supervisor and be asked to remain at home until they have been symptom-free for 3 days or until cleared by a health-care provider.
  • As noted above, the Site Supervisor will ensure that the workspace where the employee has been present is cleaned.

If either a staff or congregation member reports that they have been exposed to, or tested positive for, COVID-19, St. Mark’s will take the following steps.

Staff Members

  • Staff should inform their supervisors if they have family members that are sick with COVID-19 with whom they are currently living. That staff member must follow the isolation/quarantine requirements as established by the State Department of Health.
  • If a staff member is confirmed to have COVID-19 infection, the COVID-19 Site Supervisor should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Congregation Members and other Building Users

  • St. Mark’s will ask all congregation members and other building users to please report to the Site Supervisor if they test positive for COVID-19.
  • Using the sign-in log information, the Site Supervisor will contact any persons who may have had contact with the individual who tested positive to alert them of their possible exposure.  The name of the person who tested positive will remain confidential.

Staff Members

To ensure that St. Mark’s staff remains up-to-date on current COVID-19 recommendations, we will:

  • Require all staff to complete a training session that emphasizes the importance of wearing masks, maintaining social distance, washing hands, monitoring possible symptoms, and cleaning of workspaces.  Staff will be asked by their supervisors to affirm that they have viewed the training video.
  • Provide additional training as new information about the virus becomes available or when State or CDC recommendations change.

Congregation Members and other Building Users

  • To maximize compliance with the guidelines described in this document, we will ask all congregation members and building users to please watch a video / read a short description that outlines the changes as related to hand-washing, mask-wearing, social distancing, cleaning surfaces, signing in, and use of the sign-in log.
  • Congregation members and others who lead meetings will be provided with an additional training that informs them of their responsibilities to oversee the sign-in process and clean the spaces they have used.

In addition, we will inform people via posters, verbal explanations at the sign-in tables, and Bridge announcements.

July 2nd Message to the Congregation from Pastor Jan Ruud