Thoughts on Stewardship by Brent Welch

Brent Welch is married to Jolene, and they have three grown boys.  Brent works at Google.  At St Mark’s, he has served on the Vestry, sang in the choir, and helps out with Sunday live streaming.  While not working he enjoys playing Footbag (or Hacky Sack) with Jolene, walking and hiking, and working in their garden.  They live in Mountain View.

Jolene and I started coming to St Mark’s just before our first child, Christopher, was born in 1994.  Jolene had attended St Mark’s for the occasional Christmas or Easter service while in high school because her best friend’s mother attended the church. So as we considered a church for our new family, St Mark’s was our first choice. We found the atmosphere very welcoming and kid friendly, so we started attending more regularly.  All three of our boys have been baptized here. Chris is now 26 and working in San Diego.  Daniel is 24 and living at home and working.  Michael will be 21 in early November, and is a senior at University of Oregon in Eugene.

When Chris was about 6, I joined the choir.  An unexpected side effect of being a choir member is a very regular church attendance record! I’ve always loved singing hymns, but had not sung in a choir before.  I bought a small electronic keyboard so I could learn my notes. I also painted the note names on an octave so Chris could learn, and today he is a gifted piano player. I love my time with the choir, and I miss it terribly this year.  Choir was also a nice part of my life with my mother Buffy, who moved here in 2006 and was in the choir until earlier this year. Alas, she is now in skilled nursing.  Luckily, we have a nice new virtual service that she can participate in.

Our boys have had some great opportunities here at St Mark’s. The mission trips have given them life-long memories.  In the Nevada desert they worked on a new school house for a Native American church, while experiencing the stark desert beauty and challenging conditions.  In Alaska they worked with the native community on the very edge of the world.  This summer they worked in Northern California with Native American communities to help build a roof, a fence, and an animal shelter. As they grow up in such a privileged world, I think it is super important that our youth have opportunities to see how others live, and to have opportunities to give of themselves.

Several years ago I joined the Vestry.  It turns out you can’t play the “I’m too busy at work to be on Vestry” card indefinitely, but I tried!  I was pleasantly surprised!  I was continually reminded that giving my time and energy is very rewarding. Just as coaching my boys in soccer meant I had to leave work early (ok, no hardship there), the Vestry work gave me something to do other than stay obsessively up-to-date with work.  And it was eye-opening to realize there are about 30 different commissions and small groups and committees and work groups (and Vestry) that provide opportunities to everyone here at St Mark’s.

In this crazy 2020 Covid year, I was lucky again to be able to help St Mark’s with its new virtual streaming services. It is rewarding to see our community gather on-line, and it was fun for me to learn something new. I will admit that we’ve made many mistakes. I already have a mantra at work – “I always learn something when things go wrong”. So, lots of learning, and time spent, but much reward in the process!