The Bridge
The Weekly Newsletter of St. Mark's Lutheran Church by The Narrows                  
 October 24 , 2018 
Sunday Worship      
8:30 a.m. Blended
9:45 a.m. Contemporary
11:00 a.m. Traditional
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St. Mark's Staff
Sigi Helgeson, Visitation
Ingelaurie Lisher, Youth and Family
Music Ministry
Contemporary Music Ministry
Manager of Finance and Operations
Office Coordinator
       Contact Us  
St. Mark's Lutheran Church by The Narrows

6730 N. 17th St.
Tacoma, WA 98406

Office: 253-752-4966
Preschool: 253-752-4929
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Wednesday Church Night Tonight

5:00-6:30 p.m. Dinner: Beef stew, rolls, coleslaw 
      ( Suggested donation: $5)
5:00-5:30 p.m. Little Angels Choir (Preschool-K)
5:30-6:00 p.m. Joyful Noise Choir (Grades 1-2)
6:00-6:45 p.m. Jubilation Choir (Grades 3-5)
6:00 p.m. Praise Team Rehearsal
6:15-7:20 p.m. Midweek Renewal 
6:15-6:45 p.m. Holy Moly
7:30-8:00 p.m. Evensong

St. Mark's Preschool Director Opening

St. Mark's Preschool has enjoyed a history of excellent leadership over the years, and is ready for a new chapter to begin! If you have a background in Early Childhood education (or equivalent experience), are a member of St. Mark's (or excited to become one), and administrative experience, we invite you to consider this position. Click to access the Job Description and Application Process,  or you can find the documents in the Church Office. If you have questions about the position, please contact Pastor Shjerven ( or Preschool Board Chair Julie Milasich (

Initiative 1631

Our mission partners, Earth Ministry and Faith Action Network, are encouraging people to use their voice and vote in favor of an initiative on our November ballot which would institute a carbon fee on large polluters. We had good opportunities to talk about this I-1631 at our September Adult Forums on Care of Creation at St. Mark's and our Peace and Justice Committee urged us to become informed through a link they provided in The Bridge. If you have determined that this is something you would like to support, please come to an event that is being hosted at St. Mark's this coming Saturday, October 27. At the event, which begins at noon in the Fireside Room, you will learn how to be an advocate for the Initiative, and then you will have the opportunity to make afternoon visits in the neighborhood with at least one other participant. Pastor Ruud will speak at the event, along with a leader of Earth Ministry and a member of our Tacoma City Council. 

Pictures of Loved Ones Welcome on All Saints' Sunday

November 4 is All Saints' Sunday, and you are invited to bring framed pictures of loved ones who have died to the worship service you attend. As you arrive for worship, you may bring your pictures forward and set them on the tables that will be placed in front of the altar. Along with the candles that surround the pictures, it will be a beautiful reminder of the great company of saints that we all belong to as children of God.

Do You Like to Bake Bread?

We are currently looking for more bakers who lovingly provide the bread for weekly communion at St. Mark's. Bakers simply sign up for the Sundays they prefer, follow our tried-and-true recipe for the communion bread, and then bring it to Church for us to share at the Lord's Table. If you would like to do this, please contact our Church office and we will get you set up for a brief orientation. Thanks!

Wanted: Lunch Buddies for DeLong Elementary!
YOU can make a difference in the life of a child! The social worker at DeLong Elementary School has asked St. Mark's to provide more Lunch Buddies for this school year. Each adult is matched with 2 fourth grade students who teachers have identified as needing the gift of time from a caring adult. You choose if you prefer to have girls or boys.

Volunteer chooses Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. DeLong Elementary is near South 12th and Orchard Street.

Eat lunch with Buddy at 12:40 and spend recess time together until 1:30. The relationship is limited to this time at the school and volunteers must pass a Volunteer Background Check with the Tacoma School District.  

About one hour each week seems "tiny." I asked the social worker if she thought it really made a difference to the students. "Yes! You probably don't "see" the influence you have, but the teachers keep asking if there can be more Lunch Buddies."

You may be thinking that a school year is a large commitment. And it is. However, every Lunch Buddy for the past 5 years has missed some weeks because of travel. They just let the teacher and students know in advance.

Consider this opportunity.  I will have a table at church on Sunday, October 28, and will answer questions.

Mary Olsen,,  253-752-2844.

September 2018 - Monthly Financial Update

Offerings for September were $82,289 versus budgeted offerings of $78,269 (i.e.,$4,020  above budget).  Fiscal year-to-date (FYTD), we are now just $2,039 below budgeted offerings of $225,637, but 9.9% above last year's actual offerings over the same time period. While we're not quite meeting this year's income needs, we are collectively giving more than last year - and for that we can be grateful!
Expenses for September were $5,441 below budget, spending $82,283 versus a budgeted $87,724.  FYTD, we are $9,718 below budgeted expenses of $270,883. The budget-relative savings are spread across most of our major expense categories. As mentioned in last month's financial write-up, we are still early in the fiscal year, so it is fair to expect things to move around a lot in the coming months. Some of the savings should persist, but there are other current "savings" that will almost certainly be eroded (i.e., spent after all). We'll get a better picture as we move through the year.
The bottom line is that we brought in $257 more than we spent in September versus our projection to spend $9,205 more than we brought in. This puts us $9,462 "ahead of" budget for the month. On a FYTD basis, we are $8,091 "better than" budget on a "net" basis (i.e., looking at total inflows and outflows). We have spent $36,405 more than we have brought in versus a projection to spend $44,496 more than we brought in. Each of the next three quarters of our fiscal year has a higher offering history and target, so we need to continue our collective commitment to giving toward our overall ministry goals. Thank you!
Please feel free to contact Jennifer Droubay or Mike McKeller in the Church office with any questions.

Capital Spending Update 

We have invested nearly $200K in maintaining, improving, and financing our facilities in the first three months of this fiscal year! These investments have been funded through a variety of sources, including our capital campaign, General Ministry Fund offerings, designated gifts, and undesignated bequest funds. Check out these improvements/investments, along with their funding sources!
  • $110,056 in principal sent to our mortgage lender to immediately reduce the interest portion of our monthly mortgage payments. Funded by our Blessing in Abundance capital campaign.
  • $30,221 for new carpet and tile in the sanctuary. Funded entirely by undesignated bequest funds.
  • $19,720 for patching, sealing, and striping of all our parking lots. Funded by undesignated bequest funds dedicated to our long-term maintenance program.
  • $15,497 for exterior painting/maintenance of office and music wings. Funded through General Ministry Fund budget (offerings) dedicated to our long-term maintenance program.
  • $13,882 for a new A/V system in the Parish Commons Classroom. Funded by $5K private designated gift and $8,882 undesignated bequest.
  • $7,511 hearing loop system installed in the sanctuary. Funded by $5K private designated gift and $2,511 undesignated bequest.
  • $2,909 for secondary screen/TV in the back of the sanctuary. Funded entirely by a private designated gift.

Third Quarter

Those in the third quarter of life, ages 50-75ish, are invited to share hope, laughter, and love through active events.

Thursday, November 15, at 6 p.m. meet at Tower Lanes, 6323 6th Ave, for mini golf, food and drinks.

Wreath Sales

Scout Troop 216 and Venture Crew 216 will be selling wreaths in the lobby through October. Stop by and support us by buying a beautiful Christmas wreath or greenery. We'll be there each Sunday from 9:15 until noon. Questions? Contact Jeni Keister 253-579-7710.

Children's World Christmas Tree

Children's World Christmas tree for our downstairs entry is still asking for ornament donations. We have collected many from all over the world and from local sites as well making it exciting to visualize our upcoming Christmas tree. We still need more. Keep St. Mark's in mind when you travel and even when you unpack your home tree ornaments. Perhaps you have a few spare items that would fit our world tree theme. This is a donation that will be fun for you to see year after year as you are reminded of  your travel journeys.  Green baskets are located downstairs, in the office, and on the Christmas table in the narthex. Please place your ornaments in any of these baskets. Thank you for your donation. Questions? Contact

Women of St. Mark's

Time to prepare for our Bazaar. Please stop by our table in the Narthex and fill out a form to indicate how you will be participating in our annual Bazaar. We need lots of hands to make this another success. Please leave the forms in the basket on our table. This helps us prepare for the Bazaar. We will be making Lefse on Thursday, November 1, and Bazaar set up is on Friday, November 2. There will be containers available at the table for your bake goods. Please tag your items with a sales price.    

We will be having book sales and collectibles! This is a good time to let your books and collectibles move to brighten lives! Please bring all items for the Bazaar to the Church on Friday, November 2.  

We have fabric ready for all of you sewers that would like to help the Quilters. We need quilt tops sewn together for the Quilters. The fabric and instructions are available on our table in the Narthex.

If you have a question, please call Barbara Meyers at 253-756-9352 or send me an email at,  If I am not available, please contact Pat Geary, Katie Cootsona or Bonnie Wascher. 

Children and Youth Faith Formation

Preschool-5th grade parents, don't forget to turn in your Christmas Program response sheet indicating your child's interest in the 2018 Christmas program. Extra forms are available with Celesta Smith.

Confirmation Ministry: 
3rd year: 
  • Saturday, October 27: Celebration Brunch, 10-11:30 a.m. here at St. Mark's.
  • Sunday, October 28: Affirmation of Baptism Celebration at 11:00 a.m. Worship Service. 
Youth, mark your calendars: 
  • 6-8th gr. Sunday, November 4, 12-2:30 p.m. Bowling, games and more! Cost: $15.00 per person, sign up by October 28 if you plan on attending.
  • 9-12th gr. Friday, November 30, 5:30-7:00 p.m. High School Game Night at St. Mark's. Sign up by November 18.
Thursday Nights for youth: October 25: Youth Choir with Cooper, 6:30-7:30 p.m.; November 1: Youth Group 5:30-6:30 p.m. and Youth Choir 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Adult Faith Formation

Sunday Adult Faith Formation
9:45 Adult Forum: #ELCA Votes; With elections right around the corner we will discuss how and why our faith values influence our civic engagement. Using materials provided by the #ELCA Votes campaign, Pastor Ruud will lead this discussion to encourage, equip, and empower us in our vocation as citizens.

11:00 a.m. Crossways Bible Study continues; Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Job.

Wednesday Adult Faith Formation
Morning Bible Study:  The 9:30 a.m. Wednesday morning Bible study meets in the Parish Commons #1 Classroom. We begin gathering at about 9:15 for coffee and visiting. We are people with varying faith and Bible experiences, who help each other by sharing our questions and insights. This fall we will study the book of Romans. For more information, contact Linda Durant, , or (253) 363-8202.

Noon Text Study Luncheon, Parish Commons Classroom: Come for this lively discussion of the texts for the upcoming Sunday, hosted by the preacher.

Midweek Renewal 6:15 p.m., Parish Commons Classroom;  October 24 & 31: Heaven and Hell: A Lutheran lens on the biblical witness. During these weeks, as we are surrounded by ghosts and goblins and saints, we will explore these ancient topics that shape human consciousness.  

Fully Alive Bible Study, Tuesdays at 5:15 p.m. in the Fireside Room. Our topic is faith.

Fall Friday Film Night: October 26, 6:30-9:30 p.m., PCC
This month we will view the provocative, Oscar-winning movie Get Out. Billed as a horror movie about being black in America, this film is not for everyone. Please read about it before deciding whether to attend.

Speak Up: Moral Voices

The Peace and Justice Committee at St. Mark's suggests we all consider using our moral voices to advocate for justice in the following areas: food, housing, creation, and immigration. 

A New York Times article reported recently on the landmark study from the United Nations' scientific panel on climate change. The report paints a far more dire picture of the immediate consequences of climate change than previously thought and says that avoiding the damage requires transforming the world economy at a speed and scale that has "no documented historic precedent."

The report, issued in early October by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, describes a world of worsening food shortages and wildfires, and a mass die-off of coral reefs as soon as 2040 - a period well within the lifetime of much of the global population.

The Times article continues here.

Habitat for Humanity Team Returns from Vietnam

Sixteen members of the Vietnam Habitat for Humanity Team arrived in Hanoi on October 5, 2018, to work for one week (October 8-12, 2018) building the entire four exterior walls and one interior wall of two houses for two different Vietnamese families. This was a Thrivent Builds Worldwide Team with Habitat for Humanity in Hoa Binh, Vietnam, northwest of Hanoi. In this part of Vietnam, clean, affordable housing can be difficult to find. In partnering with Habitat for Humanity Vietnam, we helped to bring strength, stability, and independence to the two families by helping to provide them with a decent place to live.
Our group of sixteen was divided into two teams of eight; with each team working on a different house. A major portion of our work was laying bricks and mixing mortar as directed by the Vietnam Habitat affiliate's professional construction leaders, our masons. Family members at both work sites participated fully with the respective team in the building of each of the houses.   
We stayed in a hotel about an hour's bus ride from the work site. Our schedule included breakfast and devotions each morning prior to boarding the bus to the work site at 7:30 a.m. On Monday morning, we first met at the office of the Vietnam Habitat Affiliate for a safety briefing and an opportunity to meet the members of the affiliate and the government, who would be supporting our build. Our daily schedule included working from 8:30-11:30 a.m. with a break for lunch until 1:15 p.m. This gave us time to eat, refresh, and shield ourselves from the hot weather before returning to the work site to continue mixing mortar and laying bricks until around 4:30 p.m. We returned each evening to our hotel for dinner and evening reflections to process the events of our day. During our reflections, we often talked about the enjoyment of building relationships with the family members who would occupy the new homes. Building relationships with family members would provide memories for both the families and ourselves that would long outlast our time in Vietnam.
On Friday we completed our work by noon. After lunch, both teams were able to attend the dedication of each of the respective houses. The families provided fruit and snacks for all to enjoy. The children played with toy cars, blew bubbles, and played with balloons. With both joy and sadness, we said our good-byes, knowing that we had made a positive and lasting difference in the lives of each of the families!
Time for touring and some fun!
Vietnam is a country of breathtaking natural beauty with a unique heritage where travel is fascinating. Our team of sixteen made the decision to spend six additional days touring areas in and around Hanoi prior to our return home. This included time in Hanoi to visit several sites in the city, including the Museum of Ethnology. Vietnam consists of 54 different ethnic groups. We attended a water puppet show in a theater in Hanoi. We learned that water puppetry was first developed by farmers in northern Vietnam, who manipulated wooden puppets and used rice paddies as a stage. We had time in Hanoi to walk around a lake near our hotel, visit various sites, such as, the Hanoi Hilton, the Temple of Literature, the Vietnamese Women's Museum, as well as other sites. 
We spent three nights in the Amazing Sapa Hotel in the beautiful Sapa District. We were able to go trekking among lush green hills with cascading rice terraces and tiny hill-tribe villages on two guided hikes. By bus, we traveled over the Tram Ton Pass, Vietnam's highest pass, to a fascinating village of Coc Ly for the Tuesday market near the Chinese border. We viewed the pedestrian bridge to China from the Vietnamese side at Lo Cai.    
Our final adventure included an overnight boat trip to Halong Bay, among more than 2000 limestone karsts and islands of various shapes and sizes. Here we were able to kayak or ride in small bamboo boats to the small fishing village of Vong Vieng. On the boat that evening, we attended a cooking class, learning to make fresh spring rolls. We enjoyed the diversity of Vietnamese cooking throughout our time in Vietnam. The following morning, the group visited the Thien Canh Son Cave before returning to Hanoi.  
We owe a great deal of appreciation to our leaders, Gary and Linda Petersen, who were thoughtful in the detailed way in which they planned such a fulfilling, productive, and thoroughly enjoyable adventure!
The Habitat Team, led by Gary and Linda Petersen, included Ana Casillas-Brownson, Andy Casillas, Steve Cox, Barb Haueisen, Don Haueisen, Gordon Henry, Melissa Henry, Dang Nguyen, Carol Petersen, Gary Petersen, Glenn Petersen, Linda Petersen, Elizabeth Skarshaug, Bruce Wilcox, Linda Wilson, Victor Wilson.

Submitted by Elizabeth Skarshaug  

Free Film Screening and Community Conversation

Crazy...or wise? The traditional wisdom of indigenous cultures often contradicts modern views about a mental health crisis. Is it a "calling" to grow or just a "broken brain"? The documentary Crazywise explores what can be learned from people around the world who have turned their psychological crisis into a positive transformative experience.
St. Leo Parish Social Justice Commission invites you to a free film screening and community conversation around the documentary film, Crazywise, on Sunday, October 28 at 3:00 p.m. in the Fr. William Bichsel SJ Hall (aka "The Bix"), located behind St. Leo Church, 710 South 13th St., Tacoma 98405. A panel discussion and community conversation will follow the screening. 

Presented by the Social Justice Commission in partnership with Catholic Community Services and The Healing Field.

Member Notes and News
Robert Monsen will be in the play Incident at Vichy, by Arthur Miller, at the University of Washington, School of Drama, in Seattle this month.

It is a play  relevant to the times we live in: families being split up, rumors flying, racism, discrimination on all levels is rampant, AND it all is accepted!

For complete information, times, and place of performance, go to:    

Church Office Hours

The church office is open  Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m.-noon, 1:00-4:00 p.m . and  Sunday from 9:30-11:00 a.m.

*The door to the office is locked during preschool hours (8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.); please knock or ring the doorbell and someone will let you in promptly!

Have an item for The Bridge?
Send it to by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday. All items will  run for two weeks prior to the relevant date, and will be edited for length. Don't forget to send your member notes and news!