Stewardship - Church Speed Dating

Posted on by Mike Evranian

October 31st 2017 I moved back to Richmond after about 25 years away and found myself settled into the Fan. Though a vastly different city than I remembered; I was fortunate to still have some family friends here but looking to grow additional roots and a support network; I was looking for a new Episcopal church in Richmond. Shouldn’t be too hard until you realize there are 19 Episcopal churches with a Richmond Address. Only 19.
So I had in mind this approach of “church speed dating” and a quick google search pulled 4 Episcopal churches within walking distance of my apartment. I figured I’d start with the closest and December 3rd 2017 I walked through those red doors for the first time. After the service Father David said hello and invited me to a new members dinner at his house a few days later. So I’m on my first date with St Marks and already getting a second dinner date invitation at the priests house! Smooth move Father David, Smooth move. So blind faith I went over to his house that evening (Paul Shane was there) and the warm hospitality and inclusiveness I felt was so special; I realized that this was going to be my first and last speed date. And in the four years since, not only have I gained a church family; had Sarah officiate our wedding last year but found a home through those red doors that have become our doors.
Everyone that walks through our red doors is greeted and made to feel like family. And nobody does a social hour, sorry I mean “the peace” like St Marks ok. It can be a bit overwhelming your first service but quickly becomes the thing I know I look forward to every Sunday. 
Inclusiveness: St Marks’s is hands down the most diverse and accepting congregation in the city of Richmond. The differences that divide the outside world are invisible through our red doors. And through our red doors you’ll find the kindness, love and support no matter who you are and where you come from.
Spiritual Connection: I found myself placing a higher priority on spiritual guidance and wanting that deeper relationship with God when I moved back to Richmond. At St Marks I found that connection through the collective clergy, their approachable personalities and the way they shared the gospel and message each Sunday that kept you paying attention (Which if you ask my wife is a huge win; she’ll tell you I have the attention span of a toddler) so go figure. 
Outreach & Ministry: As an inner-city congregation, we sit on the front lines of this community; giving back to those outside our red doors. And I think its important to note the additional responsibility we have as an inner-city church. We answer the call to those who need it most in this city. I’ve been part of several (suburban) Episcopal churches that financially fund many worthy causes and programs. But anyone can write a check and I always felt a disconnect without the personal goodwill gained by volunteering. St Marks does this this better than anyone else hands down. The countless service hours we provide to support programs like CARITAS, Food Pantry or ACTS – getting involved and participating will nourish your soul greater than a bowl of Campbell’s Chicken Soup ever will. 
So Why St Marks? Through our red doors is Hospitality, through our red doors is Family, through our red doors is Inclusiveness, Outreach, Spiritual Connection; God’s Peace - that’s what makes St Marks so much more than 4 walls and a new roof. Its our home 7 days a week, 365 days a year. And after 18 months away, it feels absolutely wonderful to be back home.