Julia Hartung has worked at Stanford in the development office for almost 28 years. She is married to Bill Fellows and they live in Peter Coutts on the Stanford campus with their two children, William (7 ½), Elise (5 ¾), and their cat, Sparky.
It’s fitting to be starting to write this stewardship testimonial about what St. Mark’s means to me on All Saints Day. I loved Nikki’s sermon imagining all our loved ones from the hereafter gathering around the kitchen table and offering their blessings and prayers. This felt especially comforting as I observe the first anniversary of the death of my dear uncle, James W. Montgomery, who served as bishop of Chicago for 25 years (pictured below with Suffragan Bishop of Chicago Quintin Primo). Not surprisingly, he figured most prominently in my All Saints family gathering.
He was so pleased that we found a church home at St. Mark’s. While church always played a central role in my family growing up, after my parents died before I went to college, my regular attendance lapsed and for many years I fell out of a regular churchgoing habit. This continued even into Bill’s and my first few years as parents. I knew though that I wanted William and Elise to have what I enjoyed as a child – a church community and a place for them to experience in a living way the love of God. St. Mark’s has given us this and for this I am so grateful. From gathering around the altar each Sunday to the Christmas pageant, and even now to the beautiful virtual services and sermons that have sustained us through the pandemic, we have felt welcomed and enriched and spiritually fed. Matt and Nikki have offered a loving and steady presence through the many challenges and stresses of this year, and church on Sunday has served as a much-loved anchor for me in my week. Ironically the distance has offered me the opportunity to get to know the community better and to get involved through making stewardship calls which has been a meaningful experience.
I used to say that I never felt closer to God than when I was in the presence of my uncle. St. Mark’s gives me that same sense along with a community of people who inspire me and from whom I have much to learn about living a life of faith. During this season of stewardship, I am pleased to offer this expression of gratitude along with my pledge of support.