The church year progresses through a series of seasons each with its own spiritual emphasis. As the seasons change, so does our order of worship as well as the sanctuary décor. Please check the church calendar for exact times of events and worship services.
The church’s liturgical calendar begins with the first Sunday in the Season of Advent that encompasses the four Sundays preceding Christmas. The paraments (cloth coverings over the altar and pulpit) are blue. An advent wreath beside the altar holds four candles that are lit progressively on the four Sunday’s preceding Christmas Eve.
Our tradition has been to hold two services on Christmas Eve – late afternoon and early evening. Festive décor includes candelabras mounted on centre aisle end of the pews. Each worshiper receives a candle to light at the close of the service as we sing Silent Night. Verses are sung in German, Swedish, Spanish and English to reflect both the congregation’s predominant cultural roots and present membership. White is the liturgical colour for the season of Christmas.
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the season of Lent which is signified by purple paraments. It falls in mid-February or early March depending on the date of Easter Sunday. We hold a service in the evening which includes the imposition of ashes.
Mid-Week Lenten Soup and Bread
During the six weeks of Lent, we gather each Wednesday evening for a modest meal of soup and bread provided by various groups within our church community. Following the meal, we move into the sanctuary for a time of reflective meditation using the liturgy of Holden Evening Prayer.
Holy Week and Easter
Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday when we remember Christ’s entry in Jerusalem with a procession of palms. We come together on Thursday evening to share a meal and mark Christ’s last supper with the disciples. An informal communion service is held around the dinner tables. Following the meal, the sanctuary is stripped of all its adornments in preparation for Good Friday.
On Good Friday morning we hold a Tenebrae service. Readings and meditations on Christ’s last words from the cross are interspersed with hymn singing accompanied by an ensemble of musicians.
Easter Sunday celebrates the resurrection of our Lord. We have both an early and late service. Worshippers enjoy a time of fellowship between the services when a light breakfast is served.
Ascension Day falls on a Thursday 40 days following Easter and marks Christ’s ascension into heaven after his death, burial and resurrection. At St. Mark’s, we celebrate this day with a festival of music. Musicians and choirs from churches across the city are invited to perform.
Season of Creation
We celebrate the Season of Creation beginning on the Sunday following Labour Day through to Thanksgiving Sunday. During the Season of Creation, special liturgies draw attention to our call to be stewards of our planet, all species that inhabit it and the natural resources that have been gifted to us. Green paraments are used in the Season of Creation.
Celebrated on the last Sunday in October, Reformation Sunday marks the anniversary of Martin Luther’s posting of the 95 theses on the doors of the Castle Church in Wittenberg in 1517 and the setting in motion of the reformation movement. Red paraments are used for Reformation Sunday.
All Saints Sunday
All Saints Day is celebrated on the first Sunday in November. In the Christian church, it is a day set aside to celebrate all the saints who have preceded us here on earth. At St. Mark’s, we take time to honor all those members who have entered eternal life in the past year as well as loved ones who are no longer with us here on earth. Worshipers are invited to bring a flower and place it on the altar as a symbol of remembrance.