70 Years of Remembering Why
For 70 years, St. Mark Lutheran Church and School has served their neighborhood community and beyond. The way St. Mark serves today while celebrating their 70th anniversary may look different than it did on their 10th anniversary or 50th anniversary, but the heart of why they serve is still the same.
“The thing about being an established congregation is the why of our existence never changes,” St. Mark’s Senior Pastor Matt Popovits said. “We have an incredible and deep legacy, and a deep knowledge of why we are called to do the ministry we are called to do. And the why for us is for as many families as possible to know they are loved by God – that is our why.”
Though the ministries St. Mark has offered over the years have changed, they continue to be a place for families to come and be connected to a faith community. Since St. Mark’s founding pastor started gathering people together in 1949, St. Mark has not only been a community of faith but also a school.
The number of students at St. Mark Lutheran School has grown over the years, so much so, more students were learning in portable buildings than in the original school structure. However, that all changed in 2018 when their nearly 400 students were learning inside new classrooms of St. Mark’s brand-new school building.
“The first year of ministry in the new school building was really exciting,” Popovits said. “It is a beautiful space for students to grow and learn.”
Accredited by The National Lutheran School Accreditation Commission, which is recognized by the Texas Education Association, St. Mark currently offers care for children as young as six weeks and education for pre-school through the eighth grade. Their mission is to introduce students and their families to a life-changing relationship with Jesus through scholarship, ministry and leadership.
St. Mark’s 18-acre campus encompasses four universal athletic fields, a gym and multiple playgrounds. The fully networked campus also offers a computer lab, Smartboards 1:1 iPads for 6th through 8th-grade students and classroom iPads for kindergarten through 5th grade. The 2019 school year will have some new faces around the campus. St. Mark is excited to welcome a new admissions coordinator, Jennifer Bradford, and a new principal, Heidi Jerry.
“We have a lot of really great people joining our team,” Popovits said. “We are really blessed to have an exciting season of opportunity and change here.”
St. Mark’s School isn’t the only ministry experiencing growth and change at St. Mark. Within the church, they are evaluating how to be a creative, energetic and outgoing ministry. This includes the experience they offer on Sunday mornings to the other ministries they offer. A new worship arts director, Anthony Lenzy, has joined the St. Mark team, and St. Mark is gearing up for renovations of their sanctuary and other areas of service to be bright and welcoming to their neighbors.
“We have a lot of stuff going on here,” Popovits said. “The church and school are going through an exciting period of growth and change. Everything from how can we create an atmosphere on a Sunday morning that is creative, welcoming and fun, but also what we are doing as a church to be engaged in the neighborhood.”
In the past, St. Mark has focused on human care work by partnering with other organizations in Houston. Popovits said they love those partnerships but also want to be in the lives of the families in their immediate neighborhood whose worries are school, groceries and getting their kids from one thing to the next.
“We are doing a lot of work to figure out what it means for us to be a resource to them, and a fun connection and community to them,” Popovits said. “That’s what this next year is all about for us.”
A unique part of St. Mark is the way they serve their devout congregation, some of whom attended for 50 years, while welcoming new families. The motivation, the heart and the why has remained the same for St. Mark for 70 years even though the how may be changing today.
“We want to be known as the place where Houston families can connect with the life changing love of Jesus,” Popovits said. “We want to be a resource to Houston families. And God has blessed us with the opportunity to have new people join our team, new ministries, and a new way of doing ministry on Sunday morning that will hopefully help us to deeply connect to the hearts of parents and kids.”
For more information about St. Mark Lutheran Church, visit stmarkhouston.org. To learn more about St. Mark Lutheran School visit gostmark.org. St. Mark is also active on Facebook at St. Mark Lutheran Church & School – Houston. To preview some of their Sunday messages, catch their radio broadcast at 9 p.m. on 100.7 FM The Word KKHT five nights a week.
Photos credit: Photo of Pastor Popovits by Heather Ingram, Associate Portrait Artist shooting for Alisa Murray Photography @ alisamurray.comHeather Ingram. Photo of students provided by St. Mark Lutheran School.