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Mount Olive Lutheran Church

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Olive Branch, 7/23/13

Accent on Worship

Surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses

     There is deep and abiding mystery in our life of faith regarding those sisters and brothers in Christ who have gone before us, who rest in the Lord from their labors.  We are at the start of a period in the Church Year which for me brings the question of the saints to the fore in a personal way.  Today as I write, July 22, is the feast day of St. Mary Magdalene, the first apostle and the first preacher of the resurrection, a saint for whom I long have had admiration and fondness.  Now Mary and I have a goddaughter and niece named Madeleine, which is the French form of Magdalene, so for these four years this feast day has had even more importance for me.  On August 15 Mount Olive will once again gather to celebrate the feast day of St. Mary, the mother of our Lord, which has become an important day for many in this congregation, a day to remember a remarkable servant of God whose affirmation of God’s call bore Christ into the world.

In between those two days is July 31, which is celebrated as the feast day of St. Joseph of Arimathea by Lutherans and by the Eastern Orthodox communions, and which has also become a day of importance for me.  My parents were divided over which Joseph was my namesake, the guardian of Jesus or the son of Jacob.  Joseph of Arimathea wasn’t even in play, but in the past couple years I’ve begun to consider him as possibly my true patron saint.  I admire his faithfulness, his life, his service to his Lord despite the costs it might have incurred for him.

     Lutherans in some circles remain somewhat suspicious if not outright hostile to any consideration of the saints beyond perhaps the naming of a congregation.  Even then battles are fought over whether an apostrophe and an ‘s’ after the saint’s name on a parish confuses people that somehow the congregation worships that saint and not the Triune God.  The Reformers, in the Augsburg Confession and the subsequent Apology (see Article XXI), approved giving honor to the saints, in thanksgiving to God for their lives, in being strengthened in their faith by the model of the saints, and in imitation of the way they lived.  They argued against mandating prayer to the saints only because they couldn’t find Scriptural warrant, so they allowed that saints may in fact pray for us, but that we can’t command believers to ask it since we don’t know with certainty that it’s really happening.

     Mount Olive has an openness to the greater tradition of the Church and a willingness to embrace ancient practices which have been shared by millions but which may not always have been important to American Lutherans.  We have a long-standing tradition of celebrating the lesser festivals of saints when they fall on a Sunday, and even, in the case of some like St. Mary, on their feast day itself.  That has in turn opened me to consider what it might mean to welcome the saints who have gone before us as sisters and brothers in the journey of faith I walk.

     I do not yet pray to St. Joseph, or any saint.  I do, however, ask many living saints for prayer, including all of you, my sisters and brothers at Mount Olive.  I don’t, by that asking, imply that I cannot address God directly myself, or that you have a closer connection.  I do because I covet your prayers and consider it a blessing when I know you are praying on my behalf and on behalf of so many.  I suspect that is true for most of you as well.  So perhaps we can at least entertain what it might mean to ask the same of those who now surround the throne of God in prayer and song.

     In the meantime, I continue following the Reformers’ wisdom and find great comfort and also modeling in the lives of those saints of this next month, and certainly plenty of reason for thanksgiving.  I do pray, however, that this cloud of witnesses that surrounds us, as Hebrews claims, be a support and strength in our journey that we walk here, until we all are together in the presence of the Triune God in the world that is to come.    

- Joseph

Godly Play for Grownups

    Our summer 4-part series "Godly Play for Grown-ups" continues on July 28 and concludes on August 18th.  On both Sundays you are invited to experience parables in a new way. Enjoy a quick cup of coffee after liturgy if you wish, and then come downstairs to Godly Play Circle One.  We will welcome you to the circle at 11:10am.

National Night Out: August 6

     The 30th annual Minneapolis National Night Out will be Tuesday, August 6, 2013. National Night Out is an annual nationwide event that encourages residents to get out in the community, holding block parties and getting to know their neighbors as a way to encourage crime prevention. It's a great way to promote community-police partnerships and enjoy a Minnesota summer evening surrounded by friends and family.

     As we have many times in the past, participation by Minneapolitans outranked all U.S. cities over 250,000 population in 2012.  Over 1,360 events were registered. Was yours one of them?  We hope so!  Plan to organize or attend a Night Out event this year.

The Bargain Box

     Saturday, August 3 will be a busy day at Mount Olive! We will be helping to get neighborhood children ready for the next school year with Bargain Box fitting children with new school clothes and school supplies distribution during the Community Meal.

     If you have time to help with the meal, or assist with clothing or school supplies, please come!

     You help will be much appreciated.

- Neighborhood Ministries Committee

Book Discussion Group

     Mount Olive’s Book Discussion group meets on the second Saturday of each month at 10:00 a.m. at church. For the August 10 meeting we will discuss Team of Rivals, by Doris Kearns Goodwin, and on September 14, Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe.

Organ Recital by Christine Skogen 
Sunday, August 18, 3:00 pm

     Christine Skogen came to Minneapolis summer of 2010 with the intention of learning to play the organ.  Since then, she has been the student of Cantor Cherwien and has worked extremely hard, learning an enormous amount in this relatively short time with us.  This fall she will begin undergraduate studies at Luther College, studying organ with Dr. Gregory Peterson.

     She will perform works by Bach, Brahms, Reger, and Vierne. A congratulatory and farewell reception will follow the program. If any would like to give her a personal note of encouragement or a gift to assist her with books and expenses at Luther, there will be a basket for these at the reception. All are invited!

Servant Schedule Request Deadline

     I will be working on the Servant Schedule for 2013 4th Quarter (October-December) in early August.  If you have requests for that period, please submit them by August 1 to  Thanks!

- Peggy Hoeft

Mark your calendar! 

“God’s work. Our hands.” 
Saturday & Sunday, September 7-8, 2013

     For 25 years, the ELCA has been a church deeply rooted in faith and in sharing its passion for making positive changes in the world.

     To celebrate our 25th anniversary and our church’s commitment to sharing God’s love with our neighbors, Mount Olive is called to take part in a dedicated weekend of service on September 7-8 known as “God’s work. Our hands.”

     You work every day to welcome your neighbors and make your community a better place. Now let’s do it together as one body, using our hands to do God’s work in Jesus Christ’s name.

     Imagine the nearly 10,000 congregations of our church serving meals, cleaning up neighborhoods, making quilts for refugees or simply visiting the neighbors who need us. We are a church that rolls up our sleeves and gets to work. Let’s harness that experience in a focused weekend of service to others.  Maybe you want to work alone on a project that is near and dear to you.  Perhaps you want to join with others in the congregation for a larger project.  Interested in trying something new?  Meeting new people from the congregation?  There’s a place for you in this weekend event.

     Watch upcoming Olive Branch articles for suggestions about what you can do to pitch in.  

“And the King said to them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”  Matthew 25:40

Men’s Vocal Ensemble – for August 11

     A men’s ensemble will be assembled to sing at the Eucharist on Sunday, August 11, 9:30 service.  We will have one rehearsal, that morning at 8:00 a.m.  (coffee provided!)

     PDF’s of the music will be sent the week prior for those who wish to prepare in advance (always helpful!).  Contact Cantor Cherwien if you would like to sing, or simply come Sunday August 11, at 8:00 am.

Cantor Cherwien Sabbatical

     Mount Olive has a long history of supporting personal and professional development for our called staff.  Both Pastor Crippen and Cantor Cherwien have agreements with us about sabbatical leaves.  This fall it will be David’s turn to take time off, a time that he intends to fill to the brim with musical and other artistic experiences.  The congregation pays his salary and benefits during this time, and this investment is repaid to us with the enhanced skills and refreshed spirit that he will bring with him when he returns.

     His travels during this time will include Leipzig, Germany, to stand on Bach’s grave and learn from the famous Thomaskirche choir as they perform Bach’s cantatas and motets.  Paris will offer opportunities to listen to great organists and take in several liturgies in beautiful and historic churches.  Other planned activities include Evensong at King’s College in Cambridge, England, and time spent in churches in New York and Boston.

     David also will carry Mount Olive with him at several hymn festivals, including at churches in Arizona, California and Texas and Pennsylvania.

     And what about our musical life?  We will be ably served by organist and composer William Beckstrand.  Bill lives a good share of the year on an island in Lake Superior, where he spends his time composing choral, liturgical and instrumental music.  He has served as a cantor in several Lutheran congregations for many years, with his latest parish being in Duluth.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin in organ performance, and holds a Master’s Degree is church music from Concordia University in Chicago as well as a Master’s in systematic theology from Luther Seminary in St. Paul.  He also will direct the Cantorei during his time with us.

     Cantor Cherwien will be on sabbatical from the end of August until the end of November.  Our prayers will go with him on his journey and we look forward to his return.

Vestry Highlights: July 2013

     The Vestry met on July 8, 2013.  Newly installed officers and directors joined those already serving on Vestry.

     Unfinished business: The Visioning process continues. The leadership team led by Adam Krueger will be processing all the information gathered by the congregation. An update will be ready for Vestry in August and the congregation in September.

     Vicar Cannon will complete his time with us on August 11. Emily Beckering will begin her internship on August 12. A plan for the Mini-Capital Fund drive will be submitted to the Vestry by the Stewardship Director at the September Vestry meeting.

     New business: Letters of thanks were received from the English Learning Center at Our Savior's, LSS, Lutheran Volunteer Corps and Lutheran Music Program for funds given by Mount Olive.

   The financial report for June was favorable with no outstanding debt and YTD contributions up 13% over 2012. The ELCA leadership has asked all congregations to consider a Day of Service on September 8 to celebrate the 25th  anniversary of the
ELCA.  Directors of Youth and Neighborhood Ministries will work with Donna Neste to suggest ways that Mount Olive could participate in the proposed Day of Service.

     Director reports: The Youth Committee continues to explore collaboration with TRUST youth programs. The Education Committee is exploring a process to create a digital catalog for the Library.  Neighborhood Ministries reported that the Bargain Box drive is underway and plans are progressing to do the annual school supply purchase.  Properties provided an update on the installation of bike racks. The committee is discussing the placement of additional locations for wheelchairs in the nave.

     Next meeting of the Vestry is August 12.

Name Badges

     We invite members to wear their name badges in the next couple of months.  This will be helpful for the following reasons:

1) To help members learn the names of fellow members. When we go from two liturgies to one during the summer months, there are members from the liturgy that you don't usually attend who may not know you or may not know your name.

2)   During the summer at Mount Olive, we have a larger than usual number of visitors at liturgies.  Your name badge can serve as a welcome aid if someone is seeking information or needs assistance.

3) We have a new vicar, Emily Beckering, arriving in mid-August.  There are over 500 of us for her to get to know and having a name spoken and printed helps with remembering who a person is.

4) We have been blessed with a number of new members during the past year, and there are a number of folks who may be familiar to us but for whom a name is not known or remembered.  Knowing a name can make it easier to initiate a conversation. A name badge can help with the process of getting comfortable in a new place.  
5) As I am maturing, my memory is just not as good as it used to be. When I don't remember a person’s name after three or four conversations, I am hesitant, or even embarrassed and sometimes hesitate to ask their name again.  A name badge helps reduce the embarrassment by giving me a visual cue.

     If you cannot find your name badge on the racks in the narthex, or if you have misplaced your name badge (as I have on three occasions), please give Cha a call at the church office, 612-827-5919, and she will print a new name badge for you.

- Andrew Andersen, Director of Evangelism

Free Tables!

     There are several 8-footbanquet tables that are free for the taking (for large events, garage sales, whatever use you may find for them!) They are located on the lower level in the room next to the pool table area – clearly marked “FREE.” These tables have been replaced with new lightweight tables in recent years.  If you want a table or two – or more – come and help yourself. We’d like them removed by August 7.

Common Hope

     Mount Olive generously supported Common Hope’s Antigua Library and Reading Promotion Initiative with a gift from our congregation’s Capital Campaign Tithe.  Our gift helped to launch this program and make a commitment to literacy and early childhood development in Guatemala.  Here is a link to an article about the program:

     One of the criteria our congregation thought important in determining the tithe recipients was that we maintain a relationship with the organization.  Common Hope invites Vision Teams to come to Guatemala and spend eight days working at the project, building relationships and experiencing Guatemalan culture.  If you might be interested in participating in a Vision Team, perhaps next summer, please email Lisa Ruff at

Guests from Germany

      You're invited to meet Pr. Helge Voigt, a friend of Mount Olive who is currently a pastor in the Leipzig Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany.   Pr. Voigt has worshiped with us in the past and he and his family will be visiting in the Twin Cities for two weeks in August.   There is a gathering planned for them at Mount Olive on Wednesday evening, August 14, at 7 p.m.  Refreshments will be served.

     Pr. Voigt grew up in the former Democratic Republic of Germany (East Germany) under the Communist regime, in a non-religious family.  He served in the East German military and was a soldier at the time that the Berlin Wall fell.  He has some interesting stories about that harrowing time and also about how he became a practicing Christian called to the ministry.  He serves several parishes in and around Leipzig, including one which houses the organ that Mendelssohn played as a performer.

      Please plan to come to meet Pr. Voigt, his wife Anke, and their daughters Marie (age 17) and Hannah (age 12).    If you get a chance, RSVP to the church office or email Lora Dundek at  If you forget to RSVP, come anyway!

Intrepid USA Hospice Seeks Volunteers

     You have an opportunity to give of your time, heart, and talents to hospice patients and their loved ones!  Training sessions are now being scheduled for volunteers throughout the Twin Cities metro area by Intrepid USA Hospice in Roseville, MN.  If you or someone you know is interested in volunteering, please call Karen Cherwien, Hospice Chaplain and Volunteer Coordinator, at 651-638-7899 for more information and an application.

Adopt a Plot – Three Plots Left!

     We need volunteers to help with the up keep of the planted areas and grounds.  Can you help? William, our Sexton, does the mowing, but even with our relatively low maintenance landscaping there is a good deal to keep up.   A sign up chart is in the gathering area with various plots mapped out for you to choose from.  Thanks to the eleven gardeners have already signed up; three more are needed! If you can help, we ask that you check the area you adopt weekly and attend to new weeds or other needs. Gardening tools and trash bags are available for your use along with instructions.  For information call Carla Manuel (612-521-3952), Andrew Andersen (763-607-1689), or Steve Manuel (952-922-6367).

Bring Your Pails and Bring Your Shovels! Part 2

     A hardy group of volunteers completed the first of two paver pads for Project Bicycle Rack!  
     Installation of the second pad is scheduled for this Saturday, July 27, starting at 8:00 a.m. The Property Committee invites you to take part in taking dirt from the planter at the north parking lot and replacing it with gravel base, sand and paver bricks.  The two bicycle racks will be set sometime in August.  Many hands make light work – and we will be grateful for your help.  If you have any questions, call Brenda Bartz at 612-824-7812 or 651-558-7979.  Thanks to the Mount Olive Foundation for making this project possible!

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