How about some good news for a change?

By May 9, 2020

The FUMCFW Staff Parish Relations Committee (SPRC) is delighted to announce the return of Mark Burrows to the helm of our bustling FUMCFW Children’s Ministry, effective immediately.

Mark says that his return to leadership of FUMCFW Children’s Ministry came about with his realization that supporting First Church children and families is where he knows he needs to be right now — and returning to direct children’s ministry is where he can most help children and families in this trying time.

Mark (Burrows) says his desire to return to leadership of FUMCFW Children’s Ministry came about with his realization that supporting First Church children and families is where he knows he needs to be. “When all this started happening, my first thought wasn’t ‘How can I edit more music?’ but ‘How can I help children?’ I have to honor that instinct. It was put there for a reason.”

Some weeks ago, when the pandemic first began to shut things down, Mark called Dr. Mike (Marshall), who was serving as interim director, and asked how he could help. They talked about some ideas, and then Mark began developing and recording his daily “Together Time” videos with his daughter, Grace, to help children and families deal with the uncertainties and emotions around these issues. He says that doing those videos, reaching out to families, and receiving their responses helped him realize what he needed to do.

This is my hometown,” says Mark, “and these families are extensions of my own. I just can’t not be here, back with my friends, my colleagues, and my Children’s ministry team, to do what I can to help these children and families.”

Mark then reached out to Dr. Tim Bruster and Rev. Lance Marshall and asked if the Children’s Ministry position was still open. It was. Then he told them he knew someone who might be interested. “I was so hoping the “interested person” might be Mark,” Dr. Bruster says with a smile. “And what a delight it was when he said he was, in fact, interested in returning.”

One thing led to another and a few meetings and unanimous votes from the Children’s Ministry Director Search Committee and Staff Parish Relations Committee (SPRC), our Mister Mark is back doing what he has become famous for — at home and across the nation.

“When I heard that Mark was interested in returning I was surprised but also almost immediately overcome with joy,” says Allison (Barley) Alvarado, SPRC chair of the FUMCFW Staff Parish Relations Committee (SPRC). “It is abundantly clear that he is following his heart and we are so blessed that his heart leads him to our church. The SPRC is in full support of his return and we are very excited to see his creativity at work. We also want to give our tremendous gratitude to Mike Marshall for stepping in to lead our children’s ministry for the past few months. We are thrilled that he will continue to work with Mark in ministry.”

Echoing this sentiment, Dr. Bruster reflects, “When Mark told me that he was leaving to pursue a position that was in many ways a dream job for him, I had the same reaction that I heard over and over from members of the congregation: I was sad and yet happy for Mark. When we considered who could serve on an interim basis, many of the parents and leaders in the children’s department said that Mike Marshall was the person they would like to step in and serve as interim. Mike’s response to that request was typical — he was more than happy to do so.

“Mike has done an outstanding job filling the role of interim while the search committee did its work.  Because of his already well-established relationships within the children’s ministry and his active participation in its programming, Dr. Mike was a perfect fit for easing this transition for our families. However, we are so glad to welcome Mark back and can’t wait to see what his unique brand of creativity will bring to our current times and the challenges we face with the pandemic.”

Dr. Mike expresses his overwhelming gratitude to Mark, both during his absence and anticipating his return. “I had the time of my life serving as the Interim Children’s Minister! Exclaims Dr. Mike Marshall. “There was no way I could replace Mister Mark – in fact, there is no way that ANYONE can do that. Even as he was moving into a new career over the past months, he was always available to me as my friend and mentor in focusing on children and their families.”

“My children burst into smiles and cheers when they heard Mister Mark is returning to our church,” adds Lance. “No other candidate in the world could make our children feel so happy. Now is the perfect time for some unexpected good news. Welcome back, friend!”

When Mark made the very difficult decision to resign as Director of Children’s Ministries back in February, it was to pursue a rare opportunity in the choral world as an editor for Heritage Music Press. However, he says that changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic have dramatically impacted the world of choral music, including music publishing. Large group singing in close proximity is, as one might imagine, a tremendous challenge at this time.

“Expanding my children’s ministry role by working as an editor to inspire and support fellow composers, choral directors, and music educators was an exciting opportunity, and I will still be involved as much as I can in that,” he adds. “It’s also a part of who I am. In fact, over the past few months, I’ve been more of a chaplain to fellow composers than their editor. But my primary responsibility, my call, my heart is here — caring for the children and families I know and deeply love. I’m truly excited to be back and to find new ways to help children connect with God and with each other.”

Saying that he already has a few ideas (possibly an understatement), Mark is ready to jump right in and build upon what he already so generously started with his Together Time series, which will remain available as a playlist on our FUMCFW homepage.

“My hero, Mister (Fred) Rogers, was an ordained Presbyterian minister,” Mark reflects. “He accomplished a great deal of his ministry to children through a lens. So my challenge now is to see what we can do within these creative limitations to expand and strengthen everything we can do digitally for our families.”

Please us as we welcome Mark home — and collectively watch and wait for the creativity and heart of Mark Burrows to provide new and innovative care and support to our children…of all ages.


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