Saint Mark’s FAQ

Where are you located?
St. Mark’s is located at 330 East 16th Street in Upland, California. We are on the south side of 16th Street (aka Baseline) between North Euclid Avenue and North Campus Avenue. It’s hard to miss us. From the street, you will see our sign-with its shield symbol in red, white, and blue- a tall cross, our A-frame roof, and the school bell tower. (See the photo of our sign on the home page of this website.)

Where should I park?
Space is limited in the north lot between the street and the church; we try to leave those places for the handicapped, the elderly, and latecomers. Most of us park in the south lot behind the church and school buildings. Our entrance, parking areas, and exit have a one-way traffic pattern. Please pay close attention to the signs and markings.

Is there someone to watch my children?
We offer Sunday School and Child Care every week during both the 8am and 10am services. You may keep your children with you, but we invite you to have your older children take part in Sunday School in the classroom just off the Parish Hall. And your little ones can be looked after in our Preschool-the building with a walled-in play area adjacent to the south parking lot. Our volunteers and paid staff have been fingerprinted and had Justice Department background checks.

How should I dress? 
We have no dress code at St. Mark’s. Wear what is comfortable, and be yourself. Our members are comfortable to come to church in biker shorts or traditional ethnic dress and everything in between. Whether you wear high heels or Birkenstocks, you’ll find others with your sense of style at St. Mark’s.

Who is the pastor?
At St. Mark’s we are blessed with a wonderful staff of clergy members. The Rev. Keith Yamamoto is our Rector and Priest.  Feel free to call me all by my first name.

What do I do when I arrive?  
When you arrive at our doors, our greeters and ushers will be sure to welcome you, show you around, and see that you receive a service Bulletin. One thing you might do right away is sign our guest book. You may also want to make a nametag; you’ll see that most of our members have their own nametags. We call each other by our first names. The restrooms are located in the Parish Hall next to the water fountains. Please see the signs posted or ask an usher if you have questions.

What is the white marble basin for?
Our Baptismal Font is located inside the center doors to the church. Each time we pass the Font we remember how we entered the community- the body of Jesus Christ-through Baptism. You may dip your fingers or hand in the water and sprinkle it on yourself or make the sign of the cross as a remembrance of community, forgiveness, and a new life in Christ.

What do the robes and altar hangings represent?
You may wonder why our priest, deacons, and other ministers wear special robes instead of suits or everyday clothes. These robes are essentially uniforms; this keeps our focus on God rather than the ministers’ wardrobes. Notice that many are plain white-a reminder of the traditional baptismal dress. The designs and colors of the vestments, hangings, and altar coverings reflect the history and traditions of the Church. Their beauty reminds us of God’s presence in the world.

What about the colors?
As we all know, colors can affect us in many ways, brightening a dark mood or intensifying a memory. The colors of our church decorations have been chosen to highlight the seasonal themes of the Church Year, which follows the life of Jesus Christ. In Advent, for example, as we await his birth, we choose blue or purple as the colors of Preparation. White or red are used for Celebration, as on the days of his birth (Christmas) and resurrection (Easter). For a good part of each year, green decorations signify Growth.

What kind of worship can I expect?
Our services at St. Mark’s represent the best efforts of a diverse community to collectively enter the presence of Jesus Christ. Every week our service includes Communion-also called the Holy Eucharist. We speak and listen, sing and pray. And we give everyone a role-not just the priest, but also lay ministers, families and individuals, elders and the young. Most of the images and phrases we use come from the Holy Bible. The prayers, lessons, and order of service we share with others around the world who use The Book of Common Prayer.

Should I make the sign of the cross? 
During the Sunday service you may see people cross themselves, nod their heads, or do other things that have not been announced by the priest or explained in the Bulletin. Though you may not be familiar with some observances, there is no need to feel awkward. We encourage all to joyfully practice the rituals and customs that are most meaningful to them-those learned from other churches or traditions are fine. Some people make the sign of the cross as they enter or exit the church or a pew. Others do this at the mention of Christ’s death or resurrection. You may cross yourself during the blessing or at any moment you feel moved. Be curious, adventurous. Try something new and see if it works for you. The variety of personal rituals we perform can enrich the collective worship experience for us all.

When do I stand or kneel? 
You will notice that during the service, we change position and posture a number of times. We do not simply sit. We also stand, walk, turn, nod, kneel, and shake hands or hug. An ancient bit of wisdom states: Where the body goes, the mind will follow. We use this concept in worship to help us have a full and focused experience. For example, when a minister walks into the center of the congregation to read the gospel lesson, we stand and turn toward the gospel book and cross to concentrate on the Word of God. Although there are exceptions, in general the tradition is that we sit to listen, we stand to sing, and we kneel to confess our sins. The Bulletin includes many of these directions. Please join us as we put our whole selves-hearts, minds, and bodies-into our expression of worship.

Do I have to pay?
Just as we charge no entrance fee at St. Mark’s, no one is required to leave money in the offering plate. Giving to the church is always optional.

What if I want to give? 
Giving is an individual act of thanksgiving for God’s presence in our lives, and it honors the work we do to sustain ourselves, our families, and our community. Our members often choose to pledge a certain amount for each calendar year. That is what you see in the envelopes in the offering plates. Your cash offerings will go into our general operating fund, but you may donate to a special cause by using one of the envelopes located in the pew racks.  You may also chose to donate through PayPal using contributions@stmarks-upland.org 

Can I partake in communion?
Perhaps the church’s most powerful symbols are the bread and wine of communion, which represent Jesus body and blood, broken and shed for us. They remind us that God is present in our world and in our lives-through Jesus Christ and the gathered community. All are welcome at the altar to receive these gifts. At St. Mark’s, we all eat and drink from a shared loaf and cup; this binds our community and recalls the last meal Jesus took with his friends. To receive the body of Christ, please come to the altar and hold out your hands to take the bread. If you wish to receive the blood of Christ from the common cup, please help the minister guide the chalice to your lips for a sip of wine. Or you may abstain from the wine altogether. There is no one right way to partake. You may also come forward to receive a blessing instead of receiving the bread and wine; simply cross your arms over your chest, and the minister will bless you.

What happens after the service?
After Worship we gather for Fellowship in the Parish Hall. Follow the others through the doors at each side of the stained-glass windows in the Entry Hall. Stay for a while to enjoy a simple snack, a cup of coffee or tea, and some friendly conversation. Remember, we are also sometimes shy, so help us get to know you by wearing a name tag, asking questions, or commenting on the service.

How do I find out more about St. Mark’s and the Episcopal church?
A number of leaflets are displayed in the Entry Hall-also called the Narthex. These contain a lot more information about St. Mark’s. Take home any that interest you. Feel free to ask questions. Our Rector, Keith Yamamoto, and our other clergy are available during the Fellowship time, and any of our members would be happy to tell you more about the Episcopal faith in general or St. Mark’s in particular. Also, you will find links to the Episcopal Church’s website and other useful sites on our Resources page.

How do I become a member?
It’s easy to become a member of St. Mark’s. Simply join us for Worship and Fellowship. By completing some simple paperwork, you can make it easier for us to inform you about upcoming events. We will also make a name tag for you and post your photo in the Parish Hall. Beyond that, your membership is what you make of it. Do and be as much as you want or need on your personal journey with Christ. We encourage you to check out the various ministries described on the Ministries page of this website. You may become an active member by joining a guild or small group, or making a pledge of financial support. We are pleased to have you with us, no matter what your level of involvement.