I was struck by a couple things as I read our story today about Richard Martin, who has manned the organ for 60 years at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in York.
Well, three things really. Of course, it’s a marvelous achievement for Mr. Martin, 88, and the special reception honoring him was well deserved.But as a practical matter, I noticed the photos that staffer Paul Kuehnel took showed very few people at services inside the cavernous church at 700 E. Market St.
Paul told me about 25 people attended the services and special reception. I also noticed that most of the members were elderly.
St. Mark’s is a beautiful church, one that was rebuilt on the same site in 1966. The church website entry under “history” is blank, but I am certain this was once a thriving church of several hundred members.
I have inquiries out and will update once I receive some historical information. Officially, the church says membership has dwindled to about 100.
St. Mark’s is currently served by an interim pastor, the Rev. Richard Geib. Apparently, the church rents out space, which must help offset some of the costs of maintaining such a large facility.
But one would think the present situation cannot continue indefinitely. I have seen several historic downtown churches in similar situations. Shifting demographics and evolving religious beliefs has left many churches at a crossroads.
Is there an answer for St. Mark’s to evolve and continue to thrive at East Market Street? Or should the congregation merge with a nearby Lutheran church?
Those would seem to be relevant questions for this church. Let me know what you think.