Stewardship spotlight, week 6 – LeeAnne Mcdermott

I recently told someone how much I love writing about the history of St. Mark’s. “Why” they asked? I had to stop and think about it for a minute, and I’ve got a few different answers to that question.

First, St. Mark’s was founded almost 75 years ago, just after World War II, by a group of people who had a vision for a new church community in south Palo Alto – and who chased that vision with a passion. Meeting first in living rooms, then at the Community Center and eventually in the Chapel they built, this group founded a mission and quickly a parish that grew so rapidly they could hardly keep up with it. They raised funds, hired a rector, and built all the buildings we have now (and some that are gone) in less than 10 years. They were the original “stewards” of St. Mark’s. The church sometimes struggled, and certainly wrestled with all kinds of challenges. Sometimes they stumbled, but they persevered, and grew and thrived. Their story is inspiring and can inform us today if we let it.

So that’s the obvious answer. We can learn from the past.

The other answer, though, is it upsets me that we have, in most cases, forgotten these stewards who came before us.  I walked around the church one day three years ago and looked at the plaques under the windows and thought, who are all of these people?  Every one of them was either a St. Mark’s member, or a loved one of a St. Mark’s member.  Every one of them has proven to have a fascinating history that includes the range of human experience – from blessing to tragedy.  I don’t want them to be forgotten. Someone loved them, they were an important part of St. Mark’s history, and their stories can inform us today if we let them. 

Again, we can learn from the past.

Yesterday I found an ad in the newspaper for St. Mark’s services from 1966. I thought the words they used in the ad were beautiful, simple words that still capture the spirit of what we are trying to do:

“A friendly welcome awaits you in this significant parish church where men and women are trying to cherish what is the goodness and truth of the past, to live in the present with honesty and love, and to anticipate the future with courage and vision.”

So, as you consider how you will support the mission and ministry of St. Mark’s this coming year, I ask you to remember that you stand in a long line of literally thousands of previous members of St. Mark’s. There’s no better way to honor their memory and their good work than to a-spire to face the future with vision and courage as good stewards of St. Mark’s.