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On Easter morning in 2018, Pastor Mark Lieske and San San, his wife of 29 years, opened the doors of Mission St. Mary Magdalene to welcome worshipers to their first Sunday service, set to start at 10:00 a.m.
The Anglican Church planted Mission St. Mary’s to serve the 15,000-20,000 English-speaking expatriates estimated to live in the surrounding community of Rosarito, Baja California, Mexico. But Pastor Lieske (who insists you call him Mark) would be quick to tell you that everyone is welcome at St. Mary’s. Their hope was to pour into their local body of Christ, and to gradually grow it from “Mission” status—to “Church.
St. Mary’s focuses on preaching, teaching, and celebrating Jesus. Their Apostolic mission comes directly from Jesus’ words at the end of Matthew’s gospel:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to follow all that I commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
From that very first Easter Sunday, Mission St. Mary’s flourished and grew … until March 2020, when Covid forced them to stop meeting in person. But church members were so committed to their mission in Playas de Rosarito that they continued giving faithfully, which allowed St. Mary’s to keep paying their small staff.
That’s when a fellow pastor told Mark about a free tool from Life.Church that his church was using for online services, and how well it was working for them. Mark went to ChurchOnlinePlatform.com and started watching videos and reading articles.
We asked Mark to share the rest of his story with you, in his own words…
I grew up in a house with one phone, attached to the kitchen wall, with a rotary dial and a 12-foot cord. And God was asking me to create an online worship experience for my flock.
Despite my stumbles with recording on my phone, editing and uploading video, and figuring out Church Online Platform, by God’s grace, we had our first virtual Gathering online on Sunday, May 3, 2020.
More people now watch our online Gathering during the week than ever attended on pre-Covid Sundays. We saw worshipers logging in from Mexico City, Ensenada, Rosarito, and Tijuana, MX. We also welcomed guests from San Diego, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and New York, USA.
In October, we added a virtual coffee hour. And, once we figured out how to use subtitles on our streaming platform, we added simultaneous Spanish translation to our Sunday Gatherings.
Even our giving exceeded an aggressive plan, so after three years of growth and financial stability, in February 2021, our bishop granted Mission St. Mary Magdalene ‘Church’ status…
By all rights, and as we know happened to many local churches, we probably should have faded away when we were forced to close our doors. But because of God’s grace and Church Online Platform, the exact opposite happened.
Earlier this year, we were able to take advantage of low rents, and we moved into new space in the same building. At double the size, once we are able to reopen for in-person Gatherings, our increased capacity will give us plenty of room for increased social distancing.
…live streaming our in-person Gatherings through our church management software. (More ‘old dog, new tricks!’)
Thank you for equipping this servant to preach the Gospel in ways that I never dreamed were possible, but that God made possible.
the Revd Mark S. Lieske
Rector & Pastor
St. Mary Magdalene Anglican Church, Rosarito
As Mark’s story shows, you don’t need a technical background to serve people online. That’s why we make Church Online Platform: to help church leaders just like you reach people wherever they are, from wherever you are. All the same tools and resources that Mark used to serve St. Mary’s are also available to you.
With everything Life.Church offers to help you with Church Online Platform, you can do this.
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