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Mount Olive Lutheran Church

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Olive Branch, 9/11/13

Accent on Worship

The Parables of the Lost

     Think of that which is most precious to you. Now, what if that were lost? What would you be willing to risk—how far would you be willing to go to be reunited?

     In the Gospel for this Sunday, we hear the parables of the lost, in which Jesus reveals to us who our God is and just how far our God has gone and continues to go to reclaim us.

     Good news, right? Not so for the Pharisees. The Pharisees’ complaints about Jesus eating with tax collectors and sinners are reminiscent of the prophet Jonah, who griped at God’s decision to have mercy on the Ninevites: “I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing” (Jonah 4:2). Whereas Jonah gripes, “Predictable!” however, the Pharisees grumble, “It doesn’t make sense! How can this fellow be from our God?” Through his parables, Jesus reveals that their God—our God—most certainly rejoices over repentance. How could a gracious God that is merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing not gain back the sinners whom God loves?

     In our own day, there are many who continue to question Jesus. And yet, as Paul writes, “the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” The cross is now the hinge between the Old and the New, between being lost and found, between death and life. This Saturday is Holy Cross Day, a festival that witnesses to us just how far Jesus was willing to go to bring back the lost: through death itself.

     All who would otherwise perish will not be abandoned, for our God is one who seeks out the lost.

     Our God is one who relentlessly pursues us until we are brought home.

     Our God is one who risks everything, that whoever believes in him may no longer be lost to the darkness of death, but have eternal life in his name.

     Because of the cross, we now know without a doubt that there is no forest too thick, no night too dark, and no chasm too deep that can separate us from this God of love. And God will continue searching, and pursuing, and carrying sheep home until all who are lost are found.

     Now that calls for a celebration! And so we shall when we gather together on Sunday.

- Vicar Emily Beckering

First MFA Event for 2013-14 Season
The Portland Cello Project
This Friday, September 13, 7:30 pm

     Mount Olive Music and Fine Arts presents cellists doing innovative things with music!! The Portland Cello Project has wowed audiences all over the United States with extravagant performances. The group has built a reputation mixing genres and blurring musical lines and perceptions wherever they go. No two shows are alike, with everything from Beethoven to Arvo Pärt to instrumental covers for Adele, Kanye West and Pantera. Check them out at

     A reception follows in the Chapel Lounge. This event is free and open to the public, and a free-will offering will be received to support the Music and Fine Arts program.

Keeping Up with the Cantor

     Anyone who is interested in seeing what Cantor Cherwien is up to during his sabbatical leave should check his blog:

Christina Habibi Art Exhibit at Mount Olive

    We are pleased to announce an Art Exhibit by Minnesota Artist Christina Habibi (

     The exhibit opens at 7:00 pm on Friday, September 13, in the gallery area of Mount Olive Lutheran Church in conjunction with the Portland Cello Project Concert, and runs through October 1, 2013.

Way to Goals Tutoring to Begin Soon

     Tuesday, October 1st is the first day of our school year program, Way to Goals Tutoring, and we will be meeting most Tuesday evenings after that until the last Tuesday in May.  We begin at 7:00 p.m. with an hour of tutoring followed by a half hour activity and snack time, and ending at 8:30 p.m.
     If you would like to help as a volunteer tutor of one or two elementary school students call Donna Neste at Mount Olive for all the details.

Freedom of the Christian: Bible Study on Thursday Evenings Starting Sept. 19

     The first Thursday Bible study series of this year begins on Thursday, Sept. 19, and runs for six weeks.  Meeting in the Chapel Lounge from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Pr. Crippen lead a study of the book of Galatians, one of Paul’s most vital and important letters.  As usual, there will be a light supper when we begin.  All are welcome to this study opportunity!

Altar and Chancel Cleaning Day to be Held September 14, 12 noon - 3 pm

     Several times each year members of the Altar Guild gather to clean the altar and chancel.  This involves dusting (lots of dusting, including some pretty high places!), polishing all the brass, and scraping wax from the floor, to name just a few of the tasks.  This cleaning day is open to all members of the parish.  You do not need to be an "official" member of the Altar Guild to participate.  Please join us on Saturday, September 14 at 12 noon.  

Pictorial Directory Information

     Photography for the new Mount Olive online Pictorial Directory will begin in earnest the first week of September.

     We will be producing an online digital directory.  This online directory will be password-protected so that access is limited to Mount Olive folks who are issued a password through the church office. For those who do not have computer access a hard copy will be available.

     Photography sessions will take place at Mount Olive Lutheran Church. Arrangements will be made for photographs of shut-ins.

     An email will be sent to each household of the parish giving instructions as to how you can sign up for a photography session.  There will be time slots for photography sessions during the month of September on weekday afternoons and evenings.  Time slots will be available on weekends.

     For those households that do not have e-mail, a letter will be sent via U.S. Post Office with instructions for scheduling a photography session.

     After the initial period of self-initiated photography session sign up, follow-up contacts and phone calls will be made to arrange for those households that have not scheduled their session.

     In the week following your photography session, you will be asked to select one of the photographs taken of you or your household for the directory.  Each person/household will be given a digital copy of the photo selected for the directory.  There will be an opportunity to purchase prints and/or digital copies of your photos should you want to do so.

     We need volunteers for the following jobs related to the project:
a) Hosts during the photo sessions at the church
b) Data entry and photo management that can be done from your home online
c) Follow up phone scheduling.

     If you are willing to assist with one of these jobs, please contact Andrew Andersen at, or Sandra Pranschke at

South Africa Learning Tour

     Christ the King Lutheran Church (Bloomington), a congregation that also supports the ELCA mission work of Pastor Phil Knutson, will sponsor a trip to South Africa, February 14- March 1, 2014.  They will be visiting Johannesburg, Phil Knutson's base for his work, as well as other areas including Durban and Cape Town.  The goal is to broaden visions and perspectives.  The cost is approx $5099, including flights. Mount Olive members are invited to join this group.  For more information, contact Pastor Hans Lee of Christ the King at 952-881-8600 or

Adult Forum Offerings for September

September 15: “Meet the Vicar! Getting to Know Vicar Emily Beckering”

September 22: "Celtic Vision: The Trinity in Daily Life," presented by Brad Holt

September 29: "Julian of Norwich’s Vision: Transforming Love," presented by Brad Holt

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 September 14 meeting they will discuss Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe, for October 12, The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde, and for November 9, Parade's End, by Ford Madox Ford.

Visioning Update

     Having taken a brief hiatus due to summer travel plans for many of the Vision Task Force Leadership Team, it’s been a while since we shared an update of the work being done.  We are once again meeting bi-weekly.   Such a wealth of history, information, and data you have given us with which to work—we don’t want to waste a bit of it.  Putting it into “buckets” that can be used and reused as we look at God’s vision for us in terms of programs, staffing, and the many ways and places ministry occurs takes time.  But we are making progress and coming to some consensus in a number of areas.  For example:

1. We know that we draw our energy, or fire, for all that we do from our worship together.
2. We know that our “neighborhood” is much greater than a 2-mile radius from our building; reaching into every neighborhood in which our members live, play, and work and beyond.
3. We know that to continue, and perhaps expand in new directions, we must at least maintain current staffing levels.
4. We know it will be important for the members and friends of Mount Olive to reaffirm their commitment to “own” the ways in which we continue our worship by serving and being neighbor wherever we are.

     And still there is much we continue to explore before making a formal recommendation to Vestry and Congregation:

1. How do we best embody and proclaim the Christ we meet in worship as we engage the world for peace and justice in his name?
2. What is the connection between our experience of God in the nave and our experience of God in the world, between our sense of call to be the body of Christ in this building, at worship, and our sense of call to be the body of Christ outside, also at worship?
3. In what ways do we meet Christ in our neighbors, friends, and especially those with whom we are less familiar and continue our worship of God in lives of faithful service with and to (or from) these people?
4. Upon Donna’s retirement, what kind of staff person will best illuminate God’s vision for us in this, building upon the relationships Donna has forged; helping people connect in meaningful ways?
5. What kind of training, skills and education should we expect of prospective applicants that will best enable this staff person to help us recognize and act on God’s vision; what should (and should not) be a part of this person’s job description?
6. How do we continue to gather people around this vision in coming months and years to be the people God is calling us to be?

     As with anything of this magnitude, there are always more questions than answers.  Even seeming answers often raise additional questions and the need for faith in moving forward.  We continue to grapple with both questions and answers and seek the Spirit’s leading in making the best use of the treasure of information and wisdom entrusted to us before making any recommendation to the Vestry.  Please remember the Vision Leadership Team and the work entrusted to them in prayer, even as you pray for our parish, our staff, and our Vestry.

 - Adam Krueger, chair of Visioning Leadership Team

Lutheran College Fair

     A Lutheran College Fair will be held on Monday, September 23, at Shepherd of the Lake Lutheran Church in Prior Lake, from 7-9 p.m. Admissions representatives from all Lutheran colleges will be on hand to answer questions about financial aid, academic programs, student life, and admission at these schools. Students of all ages and their families are welcome to attend.

     Please visit for more details regarding specific workshops and programs available at the fair.

Te Deum laudamus: Let us praise God:
A Hymn Festival Celebration in Honor of Paul Westermeyer

     Join Master of Sacred Music graduates as they come together to thank Paul, wish him well in his retirement and celebrate the gift of music. This hymn festival will be held Saturday, September 28, at 4:00 p.m. at the Chapel of the Incarnation in the Olson Campus Center at Luther Seminary, St. Paul.

Featured participants will be musicians James Bobb, Catherine Rodland, John Ferguson, and Mark Sedio, with reflections by Susan Palo Cherwien. Plan to come and sing, and bring your friends!

Mount Olive Greeting Cards

     A set of three greeting cards with photographs taken around Mount Olive Lutheran Church have been designed by Paul Nixdorf. Cards will be available for purchase starting on Sunday, September 22.

     Single cards are priced at $2.50 each.  For quantity of 5 or more the purchase price is $1.75 each.  Pricing covers production costs. The cards are being made available through sponsorship by the Evangelism Committee.

     Samples for viewing will be available for viewing this Sunday, September 15.

Prayer Chain Ministry

     Mount Olive Prayer Chain members pray for confidential prayer requests made by congregation members. This ministry is separate from the prayer requests listed in the Sunday worship folder and The Olive Branch. Organized by former member Kathy Sherer, there are currently twelve   members. There are no formal meetings. Members simply make a commitment to pray for the received requests and to keep all requests confidential.  If you would like to become a member of the prayer chain, or if you have a prayer request call Naomi Peterson at 612-824-2228.

A Word of Thanks

     Thanks to Hospitality Team members Gail Neilsen, Carla Manuel, and Tom Olsen for the delicious brunch they prepared to kick off the ELCA Day of Service last Sunday. We estimate that between 75 and 100 people attended.

     Thanks also to those attendees who participated in the “God’s Work Our Hands” exercise. Watch for a poster displaying results.

EPES Chile Update

     One of Mount Olive's missions is the Chilean organization EPES and its North American affiliate, Action for Health in the Americas.  EPES has its roots in Lutheran community health initiatives to empower the poorest residents of Chile during the Pinochet dictatorship.  In the past days, leading up to September 11, our brothers and sisters in EPES, along with other Chileans, are recognizing the 40th  anniversary of the coup that brought Pinochet to power.  Many Chileans feel that their country has still not come to terms with the legacy of the dictatorship and those who suffered loss have not found justice. The September 8 issue of The New York Times quotes the calls for justice by Victoria Garcia, one of the health educators from EPES.  Mount Olive members are urged to keep the health outreach workers of EPES and other Chileans in their prayers as they mark this anniversary and work for justice and peace.

Lutherans and Syria

      News of the civil war in Syria and its effects on civilians, including large numbers of refugees fleeing the conflict, has been at the forefront of the news.  The Missions Committee wanted to make sure that Mount Olive members had updates about how the leadership of the ELCA and the Lutheran World Federation has responded.

     Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson has continued his call for a diplomatic solution instead of immediate military strikes.  In a letter to President Obama, he wrote: “I agree with your clear renunciation of any use of chemical weapons. Such weapons have no place in our world, and their use by any party is unacceptable under any circumstances....we weep for the victims of the most recent incident … I am nevertheless convinced that any U.S. military intervention within Syria will potentially release even greater suffering on an even wider scale.” The Lutheran World Federation has issued a similar statement urging diplomatic engagement.

     Bishop Hanson has also urged Lutherans to contribute to efforts that support assistance to those affected by the war.  Over 2 million Syrians have fled their country . The ELCA Disaster Respons has been assisting Syrian refugees in the Za’atari Refugee Camp in Jordan and the Lutheran World Federation has been providing funds for the Lutheran World Federation-Jerusalem to take on additional responsibilites in caring for Syrian refugees. More updates can be found on the ELCA website and the website of the Lutheran World Federation.

     If Mount Olive members wish to contribute to refugee assistance, you can make a donation, payable to Mount Olive, with Syria in the memo line and the Missions Committee will send it on behalf of Mount Olive for Syrian refugee support.  The Missions Committee will try to provide periodic updates as to statements and actions by ELCA and Lutheran World Federation leaders.

Vestry Update, September 9, 2013

     For the second Vestry meeting in a row there has been a new staff member to introduce.  At the September 9 meeting the Vestry welcomed Interim Cantor William Beckstrand.  Cantor Beckstrand has been living up north for the past ten years and is looking forward to his time at Mount Olive.  He commented that he truly loves the moment when an assembly gathers and feeling the energy that is generated by everyone being together in worship.

     The Vestry heard updates on the visioning process that is in process.  The Visioning Committee is working hard and as they do the vision is coalescing and evolving into something much more than the observations and interviews.  On a macro level the process is revealing a greater vision for what might be and what role God is calling the people of Mount Olive to play in the near future.  The committee continues to work to develop a sense of language that will resonate with everyone in the congregation and help to guide us as we move toward the future.  An update from the visioning group will be in the September 11 Olive Branch.

     Much of the meeting revolved around finance.  As we move toward the roll-out of the Mini-Capital Campaign approved in April, we learned that an update and timeline will be presented at the October 20 Semi-Annual Congregation Meeting.   A good portion of the meeting was spent developing the 2014 budget which will also be voted on at the Congregation Meeting.  Leading  up to the meeting, members should look for copies of the budget that will be sent out electronically and also be available in print.  On Sunday, October 9, there will also be a question-and-answer session on the budget after the second liturgy, so and members are encouraged to look over the handout and come with questions and comments.

     Several of the committee reports highlighted all that is being done in the building and in the neighborhood.  Jobs After School’s summer session ended with a field trip to the Mall of America.  Their summer project was a mural painted on the wall of the Diaper Depot; all are encouraged to stop down and check it out!  The Property Committee continues their work throughout the building and grounds.  This includes a new piece of art that was installed in the office as well as new bike racks outside.

     The next meeting of the Vestry will be October 14, 2013 at 7:00 p.m.

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