From Counter to Council
Considering that Brian Worth’s background is in accounting, it isn’t surprising that his first volunteer experience at St. Mark was as a Sunday offering counter, or that he later went on to serve on the finance committee, endowment committee, and as treasurer of the church council. Yet for being a “numbers” guy, it is worth noting that he finds the most meaningful part of his current role as church council president to be the relationships he has built with Pastor Bob and the other council members, and how important it is to him to make St. Mark a place that continues to be welcoming and focused on ministry that reaches out to our community.
The visible duties of the council president include presiding over the annual meeting and leading the monthly church council meetings. But what people don’t see is how the president serves as a liaison to the pastor.
“The president is a sounding board and a confidante to the pastor. We get together once a month ahead of the council meetings – it’s the ‘meeting before the meeting’– to go through the agenda and talk about any strategic initiatives,” says Brian. “It really provides the opportunity for the president to build a relationship with the pastor, and it’s the thing I’ve enjoyed the most. Many members come to church, they see Pastor Bob, but they don’t have the opportunity to get to know him personally. I get to meet with him at least an hour or so each month, and I talk to him and email him more than that. He has a lot of passion for ministry, and lots of ideas for next steps to consider. We also text back and forth a lot about football games – the Vikings, Gophers, and Drake. To have that relationship, and to work together in the council meetings – that is meaningful for me.”
Brian, who will finish his tenure as president this spring before serving one more year as “past president,” also values the people he works with on the council, and how they work together. “They are good people! By nature, they are active members, most have been around here for a long time, and they care about the church.” As a group, one of the huge challenges they faced together in the past few years was the pandemic. “I wasn’t president the whole time of the pandemic, but I’ve been on council the whole time. We had to deal with what our reaction was going to be – were we going to be open, were we not going to be open, what we would do with staffing, when were we going to bring people back, and what the protocols would be when people did come back. We were lucky in that, ahead of the pandemic, we had just put in the new sound system and control board. Without that, we would not have been able to set up the livestreaming of our services, so the timing of that worked out really well!”
Not all challenges are so complicated. “Annually, we deal with what to do for capital projects and budgeting for the church. Those are the normal challenges we have.” He continues, “It’s very easy to get caught up in the day-to-day of what is going on, so the real challenge is to raise your vision to think about what is coming down the road — 2 years, 3 years, 5 years from now. That’s one of the important roles of the council is to be looking at the strategic direction of the church.”
A few accomplishments that have made him particularly proud are having people back in person for worship, seeing how staffing has evolved, and completing the capital improvements on the property. “What your church looks like really communicates out to the community. People don’t always see that as addressing the mission of the church, but when visitors come, what they see is important. And having those improvements done allows us now to change and focus on ministry.”
He reflects, “As I look back, I’ve always appreciated St. Mark as our church home. My wife, Carol, and I have been here over 35 years, so, obviously, we like it! We like that it is welcoming, that it is still growing, and we appreciate the different forms of worship. Combine the leadership, the staff, and this wonderful congregation that has always been willing to step up when needs arise or as opportunities arise, and I feel very positive about where we are today and where we are going.”