We’re going to spend an entire year reading the gospel of Mark. You read that right. An entire year.
We surveyed our congregation’s knowledge of the Bible. And what we uncovered was shocking: the majority of participants in that survey told us that the Bible didn’t influence their daily lives. What’s more, nearly 70% of them said they read the Bible outside of worship less than once a month, with 60% answering “rarely.”
We knew that people relied on the church as their primary source of biblical knowledge. But we had no idea how much they relied on us.
And the truth is that we’ve been dropping the ball. We’ve long thought a different Bible story every week with a cursory review during the sermon was enough. It isn’t.
So, we’re going to fix that. Starting with Mark.
[THERE IS STILL MORE LIGHT AND TRUTH TO BREAK FORTH FROM GOD'S HOLY WORD.]
John Robinson, ancestor of Congregationalism, in his farewell sermon to the pilgrims traveling to America on the Mayflower.
It all begins July 9th when we crack open the Bible to the first chapter of THE GOSPEL OF Mark. For the next fifty-one weeks, we’ll take it verse by verse as we witness the story of Jesus unfold before us.
Each week, we’ll post the previous week’s scripture, sermon (IN BOTH WRITTEN AND AUDIO FORMATS) and any other content that might open our understanding of the Scriptures more deeply. You can even get it in your inbox! Just sign up below for weekly emails with all the content right at your fingertips.
Will we go through Mark sequentially?
Mostly. A few weeks, we’ll hear several similar stories and look at them in relation to each other. And every once and a while (I’m looking at you, Transfiguration Sunday and Palm Sunday!), we’ll bump a story up so it fits with the Liturgical Calendar.
Exactly how long is this?
Fifty-one weeks. Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? Don’t worry. It’ll fly by!
The Year of Mark begins on July 9th, 2017 until June 18, 2018.
Will there be any breaks?
Yes! We’ll take a break during Advent and Christmas. Then pause again on Easter and Pentecost.
This is so cool. Can my church do this too?!
Yes! We’ll be posting all the resources we use to shape our weekly worship the week after they’re presented at Westfield. We’re also glad to provide leader resources on a one-on-one basis. Just use the form at the bottom of the page to reach out!
THE YEAR OF MARK BEGINS
WESTFIELD’S KICKOFF SPECTACULAR
TAKE A BREAK TO PONDER THE LIGHT THAT SHINES IN THE DARKNESS
[ JAN 7 ]
BACK TO MARK!
[ APR 1 ]
CHRIST IS RISEN, INDEED! (ACCORDING TO LUKE!)
[ JUN 24 ]
THE YEAR OF MARK COMES TO A CLOSE
[ THE YEAR
TWO WAYS ]
[ 1 ]
COME TO CHURCH!
HEAR IT IN REALTIME
SUNDAYS AT 10 AM.
[ 2 ]
IN YOUR INBOX!
GET THE PREVIOUS WEEK’S
CONTENT IN YOUR INBOX
[ I WANT IN. ]
Why the gospel of Mark? Well, if we’re being honest, it was the shortest.
Here’s the thing: our goal is to establish a baseline Biblical literacy in our congregation. That is, we want our folks to gain a deeper sense God’s story as it is revealed in holy Scripture. But that’s not easy.
You see, Anytime we take a single book or chapter or verse out of the Bible, out of its historic and literary context, there’s a greater potential for us screw it up–to miss the point. So instead of cobbling together our own version of events, we decided to take a self-contained gospel. And in an effort to make it the most accessible, we picked one that was shorter (read: easier to digest in a reasonable period of time).
by choosing mark, we felt we’d be able to give our congregation that is hungering for a deeper understanding and more meaningful grasp of the Bible just what they were looking for.
[Mark at a glance]
the gospel of Mark is the first and oldest of the canonical gospels providing significant source material for the other two synoptic gospels, Luke and John. Most scholars date it to 66-70 CE.
The author of the gospel of Mark is unknown. Tradition indicates it was John Mark, companion and interpreter to St. Peter, hence the name we use for the author–Mark.
Written while Christians were suffering Nero’s persecution, the gospel of Mark provides an urgent account of the life of Jesus. Its initial purpose wasn’t to convert non-believers, but instead to bolster the faith of those persecuted Christians facing uncertain futures.
The gospel of Mark offers a whirlwind look at Jesus’ life and ministry. Told initially as oral stories passed down, this early written account of Jesus lacks the theological embellishment of the other gospels. In some ways, mark is the original!
The Year of Mark is a project of Westfield United Church of Christ and their minister, the Rev. Jonathan Chapman. Westfield is a progressive and historic congregation in the heart of Connecticut’s quiet corner that is committed to providing authentic worship opportunities alongside intentional spiritual development. We strive to live out our faith in the world through service, prayer and extravagant welcome.
Our goal is to welcome everyone, everyone, everyone. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we fail. Always, we try.
The Rev. Jonathan Chapman,
Pastor and Teacher
The Rev. Jonathan Chapman graduated from Candler School of Theology, Emory University, in May 2010. At Candler, he was active with the Office of Worship, and was awarded the Hoyt Hickman Award for Outstanding Liturgical Scholarship. Jonathan is a 2007 Congregational Fellow and 2006 Undergraduate Fellow with The Fund for Theological Education.
He graduated from Elon University in 2007 with a degree in Religious Studies. At Elon, Jonathan worked extensively with the Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life and with The Pendulum, Elon’s student newspaper. He was selected as a Leadership Fellow and studied in Copenhagen, Denmark, in the Spring of 2006. Jonathan was awarded the W. L. Monroe Christian Education and Personality Award in the 2007. While at Elon he joined Elon Community Church, United Church of Christ, the congregation in which he was ordained.
Jonathan joined Westfield in October of 2012 and was officially installed as Pastor and Teacher in May of 2013.
He was selected to be a part of the Next Generation Leadership Initiative, a program sponsored by the Pension Boards of the United Church of Christ that works with young clergy committed to parish ministry through a decade-long relationship. He has a passion for visual worship (a topic he blogs regularly about at revjonchapman.com) and married his husband, Greg, in December of 2014 at Westfield.
Carrie, Worship Resources
Carrie officially joined Westfield in May of 2014 and became the Administrator in June of 2015. She is also the owner of Carried Away Cakery, a custom cake and cookie company.
Carrie obtained an Associates degree in Early Childhood Education in 2005, and after a change of study, graduated from Eastern Connecticut State University in 2007 with a duel Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and Biochemistry. She found work with children to be most fulfilling, and went on to get certified as an Early Childhood Educator. She previously taught preschool from 2003 through 2011.
Carrie volunteers her time as a firefighter/EMT for the East Great Plain fire department in Norwich, where she’s been a member since 2000. She is active in Girl Scouts, serving her daughter Lilly’s troop leader and leading a Daisy Troop, as well as serving as the Service Unit Secretary for East Lyme Girl Scouts.