During our morning spent interviewing Pastor Wayne King at St. Mark Church this month, we were offered something to drink, a slice of apple pie, and a large frozen container of Chicken Booyah. Kind hospitality flowed naturally from every person we met. That sort of warm, friendly atmosphere is exactly what Pastor King says attracts people to his church.
“When people come in from the community, people here don’t overwhelm them, but they welcome them. They invite them to come back,” he explains.
Pastor King is ramping up for what is a very busy time of year for churches. This Sunday, December 23, is a special service involving the children of all ages reading, singing and telling the Christmas story, plus music by the senior choir. St. Mark's will have a candlelight service at 5 pm on Christmas Eve and a Christmas morning service at 9:00 am with Holy Communion. “We pull all the stops out at one time,” Pastor King grins.
St. Mark Lutheran Church is currently celebrating its 30th anniversary. Pastor King has been the leader of the church’s approximately 100 parishioners for the past twelve years. It is a Missouri Synod Lutheran Church, but Pastor King points out that you don’t have to be Lutheran to come. His sermons are liturgical (Bible-focused) and services are traditional in many ways, yet contemporary in that each sermon follows a different theme and teaches the Bible in a way that is meaningful for the parishioners.
Regular services are held on Thursday evenings at 7:00 pm and Sunday mornings at 9:00 am. The second Sunday of each month features contemporary music by a group that rightly calls themselves Second Sunday, and St. Mark’s also boasts a strong adult choir. Sunday School for the children and Bible studies for adults follow church Sundays at 10:15 am. There is also Bible Study Wednesday mornings at 10:00 am.
There are special services Thursday nights during Advent and Lenten seasons. Holy Week is another busy week, with services Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and three services on Easter morning, with the earliest being a special sunrise service held on private lakefront property off Lake Michigan. VBS is held for children each summer.
Outside of services, St. Mark’s enjoys having a presence in the community and giving back wherever possible. For more than 20 years they organized the St. Mark’s Green Heart Walk/Run, raising thousands of dollars to Belgium’s T-Baum Foundation. They also host an annual couple’s bowling tourney- this year on Saturday, March 9th, at Globe Lanes in Random Lake, to raise money for local and state missions as well as specific items for the church.
This spring they are also sponsoring their bi-annual Christian financial seminar to help teach people how to be good stewards with what God has given them. This year has a “meet the experts” theme and will feature speakers such as a lawyer, accountant, and estate planning person.
St. Mark’s building, beautifully renovated in 2015, is home to a number of community groups. Beacon of Light, an adult day care for mentally challenged people, uses the facilities daily, and the public is welcome to attend AA meetings at the church every Friday night at 6:30 pm. The basement is available for group rentals.
“We are a resource for the community. We have the ability to bring the Bible to people in a way they can understand it,” says Pastor King. “And,” he adds as he points out the cozy coffee nook in the new Narthex where Keurig coffees and treats are served weekly, “there’s always food.” There’s that hospitality again.
St. Mark’s Lutheran Church is located at 200 Park Street in Belgium. The phone number is 262-285-3820. It can also be found on Facebook.