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Mount Olive Lutheran Church

Sunday, September 28, 2014

At Work

We come to Christ Jesus looking for a way of life in the life of the Triune God, and we find not only the way but both grace to forgive and strength to walk.

Pr. Joseph G. Crippen
Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Lectionary 26 A
texts:  Philippians 2:1-13; Matthew 21:23-32; Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32

Sisters and brothers in Christ, grace to you, and peace in the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen

Sometimes things can be clear and obvious, but, expecting something else, we can’t see them.
It’s the “can’t see the forest for the trees” problem.  We’re so used to hearing and thinking that the whole point of faith in Christ is hope for life after death, we read that into everything we see in Scripture, even today.  But if you take the time to look at these readings again, you’ll see that’s not at all what’s being said.

Ezekiel is speaking to people who believe they’re suffering in exile because their parents and grandparents messed up, sinned.  God speaks through the prophet and says “nonsense.”  Everybody suffers their own consequences.  If you want to find real life in me, get a new heart, a new spirit, quit doing the things you’re doing.  I don’t want the death of anyone, so turn to me and live, now.  Nothing about life after death there.

Paul’s talking to the Philippians about learning together a new way of being, of living.  A way like Christ Jesus, who gave up everything to save the world.  Paul invites them to work at this, at having the same mind with each other; the same love, being in full accord.  Work on this with the appropriate fear and trembling because it’s a hard path to lose yourselves for the sake of others.  To look to others’ interests before your own, to live humbly and consider others more important than you.  This is all for this life, this community, this path they’re walking together.  Not life after death.

Jesus is the clearest if we read properly.  Life in the kingdom of God is doing God’s will.  There are folks who say they will serve God and don’t, he says; there are folks who say they won’t and do.

So the religious leaders, the second son of the story, claim to want God’s ways, to know God’s ways, but don’t live them.  When they hear the Son of God they reject him.  Meanwhile, the tax collectors and prostitutes never claimed to be righteous or godly, but when they heard the Son of God talking of a new way of life in God, they followed, started living in God’s ways, living a new life.

That’s why Jesus says the tax collectors and prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of the religious leaders.  Because they’re already there.  They’re living in the kingdom with the Son of God now, in this life, while the leaders are carping on the outside.

Do you see how we’ve tied ourselves up into knots like these leaders?

We know, because of Christ’s death and resurrection, that we have this astonishing promise of life with God after we die, of resurrection of the dead.  But we’ve become so focused on that as our only goal, we don’t recognize plain speech when we hear it.

No one’s denying this new life promised after we die.  But no one in the New Testament saw that as the primary preaching point.  It was about life in Christ here and now, as a sign of the Triune God’s rule and reign.

Now, if you’re down and out, at the bottom, you’ve messed up badly and are pretty sure God’s not pleased with you, and a prophet comes proclaiming God’s grace and love for you, showing you a way to live in love and grace with others, you’re going to follow.  That’s what the “sinners” did with Jesus.

But if you’re on top, pretty sure that while not perfect, you’ve probably led a decent life, and you think God would agree with that, if a prophet came preaching God’s grace and love for sinners, calling you to a new way of life in love and grace with others that might require you to let go of your own self-interest, admit your own sin and need, well, that’s when you ask the prophet for credentials.  That’s what the leaders do here.

So what do you want from Jesus?

A promise of life after death?  Done.  Easy.

Do you want more?  Are you looking for a relationship with Jesus, and so with the Triune God?  Does something about a relationship with a community of faith pull you here, make you feel more connected to God?  That’s where it gets complicated, in relationship.  That’s when Jesus puts a claim on your life, asks you to love God and love neighbor.

Because that’s the way of God, the way of life, the way to life.  Ezekiel knows it, Paul knows it, Jesus knows it, millions of believers have known it.  Those disciples didn’t follow Jesus because they hoped for heaven after they died.  That understanding came much later.

They followed him because he spoke of a way that seemed better than their life.  He showed a new way of living with God and walking with each other that was worth hearing more about, worth learning, worth following.

Because it means sharing the mind and love of Christ, that is, losing for others, letting go of ourselves, we get pretty uncomfortable with this.  We hide our discomfort in theology, worrying about confusing grace with works, whether we’re implying we’re trying to earn God’s love.

That’s just silly.  If we hear what these folks are saying with open minds and hearts, we’ll see how silly it is.  Silly to think that Jesus’ only goal was to save us from death.  He could have done that without ever becoming human.  The Triune God could, by will, forgive us all, ending death forever.  You make the universe, you make the rules, and decide how to enforce the rules.

Instead the Son of God came here among us, and the reason – and people have understood this for 2,000 years – the reason was to call us into a new way of life.  It’s time we stopped dancing theologically around our discomfort that Jesus might actually want to change us, for our own good.

There’s something else important here.

If you read all of these again, you’ll notice it.  Ezekiel, Paul, and Jesus assume there is a vital and real relationship between God and the people.  This path to life is lived in the presence of God.

This journey we make together, reminding each other daily of this new life, helping each other find what it means for each of our lives, being fed and graced at this table for that journey, this journey is lived and walked and breathed, every step of the way, in the presence and grace and strength of God.

Turn to me, and live, God says through Ezekiel.  Follow me, Jesus says.  Work out your way of salvation, Paul says, but know God is at work in you already, working it so that you can will and work for God’s good pleasure.

If you want grace, there it is.  Not only are we forgiven in Christ Jesus through his death and resurrection, we have the Spirit of God working in us to do this path, this way, this life.

The challenge is getting ourselves out of the way so we can honestly seek this path together and walk it.

If these three ask anything of us today it is that we grow into a new maturity together as a community in Christ.  That we learn to admit we really don’t know a way to live our lives that leads to abundance and joy, but really do want to follow this way of Christ that does.

The humility, the losing, the putting others first, we need to stop letting our fear of those control our minds, our choices, our hearts.  Look, the love of the Son of God is so great he was willing to die for the people of this world, for us, for you.  He won’t lead you into a way of life that isn’t rich and abundant; he loves you too much for that.

But he also won’t lie and say he doesn’t hope for this new life in us.  He won’t stop calling us to the way of the cross with each other.  He won’t quit pulling at the depths of our hearts through the Holy Spirit to desire this new way.

Walking our path together as a people of God, learning Christly love and sacrifice as a sign to the world of God’s love, helping each other on this path, we know this is the way to life.  It’s why we keep coming here week after week: in our hearts we know there’s more to this life than we’ve found on our own.

It’s time we just admitted it to each other joyfully and started focusing on what this way, this path, this journey might be if we really trusted God’s power at work in us to make us new.  It’s how we’ll discover life for us and the world like we never before suspected could exist.

In the name of Jesus.  Amen

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Olive Branch, 9/24/14

Accent on Worship

     This month I had the joy of joining ministerial colleagues from the Minneapolis Synod at the Bishop’s Theological Conference in Wisconsin, reflecting on what it means to welcome the “other.” One of the many ideas that struck me was the assertion that we don’t need to be fluent in all cultures, but to be clear about who we are, what we believe, and how we feel. By doing this, we can be open to others in humble confidence, aware of our weaknesses and our strengths, aware of their strengths and their weaknesses.

     We were invited to reflect on our own cultures. I am a “white, female, gay, highly-educated, culturally-Catholic Lutheran from a Midwestern middle-class suburban entrepreneurial family,” and all of this influences how I show up in the world in ways that are both helpful and challenging . . . being middle-class makes it easy to succeed in a professsional setting, but I will never
fully understand the anxiety and stress of one who lives without the basic needs of food and shelter, or the sense of interdependence and willingness to pool resources that often goes along with generational poverty.

Without an understanding of my own point of view, I will by default judge others by my own yardstick, and not even be aware that I am doing so. It is easy, without this understanding, to slip into a mode of being that requires those different from us to adapt fully to us, while we stand comfortably unchanged.

      I think Paul is saying something about this in this week’s reading from Philippians when he calls us to the mind and heart of Jesus, who “ emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.”

The “emptying” is not a denial of self so much as it is a radical loving embrace of other human beings in a way that changes us all. When we can recognize our own unique biases and points of view, we can more easily open ourselves to someone else’s uniqueness, and receive them humbly as fellow children of God.

- Vicar Meagan McLaughlin



Sunday Readings

September 28, 2014: 16th Sunday after Pentecost (Lect. 26A)
Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32
Psalm 25:1-9
Philippians 2:1-13
Matthew 21:23-32
______________________

October 5, 2014: 17th Sunday after Pentecost (Lect. 27A)
Isaiah 5:1-7
Psalm 80:7-15
Philippians 3:4b-14
Matthew 21:33-46



Sunday’s Adult Forum: Sept. 28

"Preaching as Living Word,” part 2 of a 2-part series presented by Pastor Crippen.
     Martin Luther suggested that in preaching, God’s Word is alive and active. What does this mean for the community at worship? For the liturgy? For the preacher?



Feast of St. Francis of Assisi
Saturday, October 4 4:00 pm
Blessing of Animals

Bring your pets and your friends (and your friends’ pets!) to this annual service of blessing!




Congregation Meeting

     The semi-annual meeting of the Mount Olive congregation will be held on Sunday, October 19, after second liturgy.  Items for discussion include:
the 2015 budget (needs congregational vote and approval)
updates from the Visioning Committee
a preview of on-going Stewardship work
news from the current Capital Campaign to replenish our designated accounts and cash reserves.



Chosen: Bible Study on Thursday Evenings  

     The first Thursday Bible study series of this year began last week and runs for six weeks.

     Meeting in the Chapel Lounge from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Pr. Crippen is leading a study titled “Chosen.”  This is an exploration of the biblical witness to Abraham and Sarah and their family, with a focus on what the Bible means by "chosen people,” and how that continues in the present both as our calling and also a challenge in a pluralistic, often violent world.

     As usual, there will be a light supper when we begin.  All are welcome to this study opportunity!



TRUST Seeking Grocery Transportation Driver 

     TRUST, through CoAM, runs a grocery transportation program in south Minneapolis. We pick up people who are mobile but no longer drive. Pick up in south Minneapolis east of 35W and transport to Cub or Rainbow on Lake Street. Tuesday and Wednesday mornings 8:30 - about 12:30 (about 8 hours a week). Use your own vehicle - must have a van, insurance and a good driving record. Pick up 2 - 5 people. $13+ an hour plus mileage. Questions? Interested? Call Nancy at TRUST at 612-827-6159 or email her at trustinc@visi.com.



Meals for the Manuels to be Continued 

     Thanks to all who have generously signed up to bring Friday dinners to the Manuel family.  The calendar to date is filled through to November 7, with the exception of Friday, October 31.  If you can bring dinner on that date (Halloween) or on any Friday from November 14 on, please let Marilyn Gebauer know at gebauevm@bitstream.net or 612-306-8872.

    Julie’s treatment will continue for at least the next several months.  The family is very grateful for the support of prayers and meals during this difficult time.



New Member Welcome

     Mount Olive will welcome new members and associate members on Sunday, October 5, during the second liturgy.   If you are interested in becoming a member or associate member, please contact the office as soon as possible via e-mail to welcome@mountolivechurch.orgor by phone, 612-827-5919. You may also contact Pastor Crippen at church, or Andrew Andersen (763-607-1689).

     A welcome brunch will follow the liturgy for new members and for all who would like to be part of the welcome festivities.



 Book Discussion Group’s Upcoming Reads

     For their meeting on October 11, the Book Discussion group will read The Reluctant Fundamentalist, by Mohsin Hamid. For the meeting on November 8 they will read Flight Behavior, by Barbara Kingsolver.

     The Book Discussion Group meets on the second Saturday of each month at 10:00 a.m. in the West Assembly area at church. All readers are welcome!



Sign Up for Coffee!

     The coffee chart is in need of names of those who are willing to serve coffee on Sunday mornings after the first and second liturgies. Please take a turn and sign up!

     The chart is conveniently located in the East Assembly Room – right where coffee is served each Sunday!



Mount Olive Directory Photos Fall 2014 Schedule

     If you did not get your personal, couple or family photos taken last fall there will be a time to get your photos taken in October and included in the updated directory.

     We invite folks who have been worshiping regularly but are not members at Mount Olive to also have their photo(s) taken to include in the directory so that others can put
names and faces together.

     Below are listed the time slots available to have your photos taken. Select the day and approximate time(s) that work best for you and call or email the church office to sign up (612-827-5919/welcome@mountolivechurch.org).

     You will be contacted the week before the sessions with a specific time for your photo session. Photos will be taken in the lower level of the education building.

Sunday, October 5 - 12:30 to 1:30 PM following the liturgy
Wednesday, October 8 - 1:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Thursday, October 9 - 1:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Saturday, October 11 - 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Sunday, October 12 - 12:30 to 1:30 PM following the liturgy

     Once you have signed up for a date and approximate times that work for you, we will combine all of the requests and set up a schedule to take all those requesting that specific day.
     If you have further questions please contact Paul Nixdorf (photographer) by phone at 612-296-0055, or by email to pn@paulnixdorf.com.



Empowering Learners Invites Our Support

     Recently, Ann Sponberg Peterson spoke inspiringly to the Adult Forum about “Empowering Learners,” a philanthropic project she established to provide books and computers for schools in northern Namibia. Ann invited contributions of any kind – an invitation we echo. Ann mentioned, but we want to emphasize, that any contributions we at Mount Olive make will be matched by a donor – meaning that our contributions will effectively be double what we give. We encourage you to use the envelope from the brochures Ann provided (or there are copies in the brochure rack beside the display case in the hallway) or contact one of us for a mailing address.

     This is an opportunity to provide genuinely needed and appreciated help to a significant number of children in this developing country.

 – Dwight Penas and Susan Cherwien, Adult Forum planners (with approval of the Missions Committee)


MOGAL-NOW sponsors a Mid-Century Modern Parade of Homes tour and Potluck Dinner

     Next Sunday, October 5, at 4:00 pm, MOGAL-NOW invites members of Mount Olive to visit two mid-century modern homes that are listed on the 2014 national tour of MCM homes.

     Lynn Dobson and Tony Thoe have invited us to their home at 278 Stonebridge Blvd., St Paul. Their home, along with the home of Geri and John Bjork, 316 Stonebridge Blvd, is listed as part of the Docomomo national

tour the following weekend. We get a preview tour a week early, plus dinner and great conversation.  (Visit http://www.docomomo-us.org/tour_day_2014_minnesota  to view the website about the Docomomo tour. Their home is pictured on this site).

We will gather there at 4:00 pm on October 5 to check out the interesting architecture and landscaping at their home, and also walk three homes away to Geri and John Bjork’s home. Around 5:15 pm Lynn and Tony will begin grilling hamburgers and hot dogs and we will set out our potluck items and enjoy a meal together. We will also have a short discussion about upcoming MOGAL-NOW events. The evening will end with ice cream sundaes.

     If you can join us for our Parade of Homes event please RSVP by calling the church office at 612-827-5919 or by dropping an email to welcome@mountolivechurch.org. When you email please indicate how many will be coming and also what you plan to bring for the potluck dinner that will go with hamburgers and hotdogs. Also plan to bring beverages (adult and otherwise).

     MOGAL-NOW is the new and up to date version of the MOGAL (Mount Olive Gay and Lesbian) group. MOGAL-NOW is inclusive and of course, “straight friendly”. MOGAL-NOW plans to sponsor a series of social, informative and of course fun events throughout the year bringing together the entire Mount Olive community.



Kathy Wagner Funeral  Oct. 4

     The funeral Eucharist for + Kathy Wagner + will be held on Saturday, Oct. 4, at 1:30 p.m.    
     Kathy is the daughter of Ione Wagner, a member of Mount Olive, and was on our visitation list.  There will be a lunch served after the Eucharist.
     May God grant her rest and light eternal.



Pastor’s Sabbatical

     Pastor Crippen is working with the Vestry on initial planning for his upcoming sabbatical.  The sabbatical will be from April through June of 2015, beginning on the Monday after Easter.
     At this point there aren’t many details to share, but as more is known, it will be put in the Olive Branch.  The budget being presented by the Vestry for 2015 also will reflect the costs of the sabbatical.


First Music & Fine Arts Event of the Season to be Held on October 12

     On Sunday, October 12, at 4:00 pm, Mount Olive Music & Fine Arts is pleased to present a recital by organist Aaron David Miller. He will play works of Bach, Sweelinck, Gigout, and improvisation.    
     Aaron is Music Director and Organist at House of Hope Presbyterian Church in St. Paul. He is known as one of the finest organ improvisers in the country, having won several international awards and given concerts across the nation. The improvisation for this concert will be an on-the-spot creation, using themes gathered from the audience! Don’t miss it!

     A reception will follow.



Former Vicar Neal Cannon to be Ordained

     All are cordially invited to attend the ordination of former Mount Olive Vicar, Neal Cannon (2012-13) on Reformation Sunday, October 26, 2014, at 4:00 pm.  The service will be held at First Lutheran Church in Rockford, Illinois.

     Neal has received a call to serve as Associate Pastor of Youth and Family at Christ Lutheran Church, Belvidere, Illinois.

     Please remember Neal and Mary in your prayers.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Alive Together

Go and learn what this means, Jesus says, “I desire mercy;” saved by God’s grace alone, that is our identity, our way, our life, and our lives are made in Christ to be mercy as we look at others in the world.

Pr. Joseph G. Crippen
The feast day of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist, Sunday, September 21, 2014
   texts:  Ephesians 2:4-10; Matthew 9:9-13

Sisters and brothers in Christ, grace to you, and peace in the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen

Let’s get one thing clear from the start.

Matthew was, in fact, a tax collector.  We can assume, given what such folks did, he probably cheated his neighbors while collecting taxes for the Romans.  No one in the Gospel denies who Matthew is, what he’s done.

The rest at dinner were also either tax collectors or, in a simple catch-all, “sinners”.  Again, this is not in dispute.  We don’t have to think too hard to imagine what kind of sin got a person the public label “sinner”.  But once more, let’s be clear.  No one has ever claimed that these people with Jesus weren’t who they were, weren’t people who’d done things wrong.  In fact, they specifically had done things wrong that attracted public notice, public comment.

What’s troubling is that this encounter doesn’t seem to matter to us.

We’re comfortable criticizing the Pharisees for criticizing Jesus.  We’re even happy to talk about following a Savior who hangs out with sinners, not holier-than-thou types.  We fail to realize that in such attitudes, we are the Pharisees.

Jesus is addressing us today.  “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’  For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”  He’s quoting Hosea, who says no worship, no temple sacrifice supersedes mercy, literally, “steadfast love,” for others.  He’s sending the Pharisees away, telling them they have biblical homework to do.  They need to go and learn something, bring it into their lives, their actions, their thoughts.  Go and learn what this means, “I desire steadfast love, mercy.”

He is speaking to us.  We’re pretty good at the theoretical, the head stuff.  We know all sinners can be forgiven; we can list all sorts of sins and admit that yes, God can forgive them.  But we act as if our heart’s in a very different place.  We have become a people, a culture, who live and breathe the Pharisees’ judgmentalism.  Somehow we’ve convinced ourselves it’s not the same for us, though.

Really? Jesus says.  Go and learn what this means, I desire mercy.

We don’t make people wear a scarlet letter identifying their sin anymore, as Hawthorne famously related.  But we are the same people who did.

When our ancestors wanted to publicly address certain sins, the identified sinners would sometimes be put into stockades in the public square, for taunting and the throwing of abuse both verbal and physical.  You needed to know who the real sinners were.

Now we do it on Facebook.  We do it at coffee, over lunch, at dinner in our homes.  We do it at office water-coolers.  We declare someone to be worthy of judgment, worthy of mockery, worthy of shaming, certain we are right to do so.  They are food for our conversation and our thought.  We “tut tut,” and we “oh my,” and we “did you hear that?”

This week we had one close to home, a beloved local sports figure accused of hurting his child.  Having once idolized this person, the public now demonizes him, our favorite game with public figures.  People smugly post opinions on Facebook, share photographs, titter or are indignant with family members and friends about the scandal.  This isn’t new.  There will be another in a month or so; there always is.  Because that’s truly the kind of people we are.

Now remember, the question is not about the sin, not for Matthew, not for today.  In this case, the state of Texas and the state of Minnesota are doing their duty to sort out if laws were broken and what punishments should apply.  They are doing what they should do to protect the child and make sure it doesn’t happen again.

But what kind of people are we to believe we can sit over anyone, as our entertainment, our small talk, our judgment, our every day life?

What does that make us?  I don’t just mean this case, I could give you a dozen other recent examples.  Is it so we feel better about ourselves?  Are we better for it?  Whatever good this person may or may not have done in his life, there are many who, from this point on, will think only ill of him, for this one thing.  It’s a bad thing, that’s why an indictment was handed down.  But when we do this to anyone, label them in our minds and in our hearts as “sinner,” how are we not the Pharisees?

Most examples of this are public figures; sometimes we justify our judgment on those grounds.  They should live up to higher standards, we say.  Is this the kind of people we want to be, people who feel it is our right to set people up or tear people down?

What of the other people in our lives to whom we do this who are not public figures, where their mistake, their problem, becomes the thing we think of when we think of them, the thing we talk about?  When they become the someone we mock, judge, or use to entertain others with our wit?  My sisters and brothers, as your pastor in Christ I tell you I have seen this among us, between us, and beyond, against family and co-workers, against brothers and sisters here.  Again, I’m not disputing wrongs are done.  I’m wondering about our self-righteous smugness.

Go and learn what this means, Jesus said.  I desire mercy, steadfast love.

Perhaps true mercy begins with self-examination and honesty.

Is there anyone here who would like to take their worst moment, photograph it, and have it publicized for the world to see?  Their worst moment as a parent, a partner, a friend, a human being?  Who would like themselves to be identified forever after not as the person they are but as that sinner?  Would we want that to be what people thought whenever they looked at us?  I can think of enough moments in my life, enough negative characteristics, bad judgments, wrong actions, that I would be crushed if people saw any of them as the defining truth about me.

Could we learn mercy by first recognizing our own need for it?  Recognizing that each of us lives moderately good lives but with plenty of moments to regret, be ashamed of, even fear that others might discover?  Plenty of things we, and God, call sin?

I came to call not the righteous, but sinners, Jesus said.  Could we begin to learn mercy by realizing how good it is to know that about Jesus?  How important to our very lives it is that he looks at all people, including us, and sees us, not our sins?  That he looked at Matthew and saw a potential disciple, not a cheater?

This is the gift of the Son of God, that he came for all, sinful as all are.

Paul’s beautiful song of grace in Ephesians is also stark and honest.  Like Jesus, he doesn’t deny that sin exists in us, he names it.  He says it is like death to live with such a weight of sin in our hearts.  To live in fear we’ll be judged not by our good but by our wrongdoing.  That we’ll forever carry the label “not good enough,” “sinner,” “bad person.”

You have been saved by God’s grace, Paul says.  Not by your doing.  Not by carefully denying the bad snapshots of your past, or erasing them from existence, or doing enough good to overbalance them.  You are loved by God in Christ Jesus, and in his dying and rising from death have been given new life.  A new identity, “forgiven child of God”.

But notice Paul’s plurals: “you all have been saved”, he says, not just you individually.  God “made us alive together with Christ.”  “We are what he has made us.”

I came to call not the righteous but sinners, Jesus said.  All of them.  All of them.  Together.

What does that mean for our lives?  Does it change us?

We are made for good works to be our way of life, Paul says.  We have been saved by grace so that we are people of grace and mercy, not people of judgment.  Does it matter if the person we’re judging smugly is public or private, guilty or innocent?  Isn’t the real question, what kind of person did Christ Jesus make us to be?  How does he call us to love?

What if mercy became how we lived?  If we studiously worked at learning the mercy of Christ, the steadfast love of God, and held ourselves to that standard?  That we would try, and we would pray God’s Spirit to help us look at others and see them as who they are, not identifying them by what bad they might or might not have done.  That we would seek the Spirit’s grace to close our mouths and open our hearts, so that we’re not passing gossip or judgment or mockery or shame on anyone.

Because God so loved the world he sent his only Son, to save it, not to judge it.  Go and learn what that means, Jesus says.

Go and learn how that is your life, your path.  You want to talk about the way of the cross?  This is it.  If we truly desire to be who we are made to be in Christ, that is, to be Christ, we have some learning to do.  Our hope and our promise is that the Holy Spirit is ready and willing to be our teacher, strength and guide.

God is showing steadfast love and mercy to all the people of this world, who have been made alive together with us.  Let’s go learn, together, what such mercy means.

In the name of Jesus.  Amen

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Olive Branch, 9/17/14

Accent on Worship

Where Are We Going?

     Sunday is the festival of St. Matthew, apostle and evangelist, so we will hear in the Gospel reading the story of Matthew’s call.  It’s also a story of the kind of people Jesus attracted, “sinful” people in their neighbors’ eyes, but we’ll consider that Sunday.

     What is striking about Jesus’ calls to discipleship is the directness of the call and seeming thoughtlessness of the response.  Jesus says, “Follow me,” and Matthew and the others just, well, follow.  I’m a little surprised no one said, “where are we going?”  Maybe they did, and it was a more gradual process of listening to Jesus and eventually coming along.  We can see how the memories of these apostles a few decades later might lead them to remember it as a whirlwind when they first followed.

     We’re missing a little bit of what they had.  We don’t have Jesus standing in front of us saying, “Follow me.”  We’re also pretty used to the idea that we can be a part of Christ and not get too involved if we don’t want to.  How do we hear our call?

     We started a visioning process about 18 months ago, part of which has led to the joy of our welcoming Anna Kingman next week to serve as our Coordinator of Neighborhood Outreach and Ministry.  But we have a larger question which we still need to answer, and it’s a little like what perhaps Matthew might have thought: “Where are we going?”  So the visioning team is starting up again this fall, to finish the task.

     We know we are called to be Christ in the world, that our life is centered around worshipping the Triune God and being fed by God for life and for service in the world, to proclaim God’s love in Christ to all by our lives and words.  Do we need to say more than that?

     Perhaps to put some flesh on those bones, some visible shape to that call, lest they become merely pretty words that have no impact on who we are and how we live.

     We’ll speak more at the October semi-annual meeting about our visioning, and probably elsewhere, but for now let’s all imagine ourselves as Matthew, because this is the non-negotiable truth and joy: Jesus is looking at us and saying, “Follow me.”

- Joseph



Sunday Readings

September 21, 2014: St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist

Ezekiel 2:8—3:11
Psalm 119:33-40
Ephesians 2:4-10
Matthew 9:9-13
 ___________________

September 28, 2014: 16th Sunday after Pentecost (Lect. 26A)

Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32
Psalm 25:1-9
Philippians 2:1-13
Matthew 21:23-32



Sunday’s Adult Forum: Sept. 21

"Preaching as Living Word,” part 1 of a 2-part series presented by Pastor Crippen.

     Martin Luther suggested that in preaching, God’s Word is alive and active. What does this mean for the community at worship? For the liturgy? For the preacher?



Farewell and Godspeed

     Please come to honor and thank Connie Toavs for her wonderful service as Interim Mount Olive Neighborhood Ministries Coordinator this Sunday September 21.  The second liturgy will include a Farewell and Godspeed for Connie, which will be followed by a reception during the coffee hour.

     Connie stepped into this role with energy and wisdom.  She competently managed and organized existing programs.  She challenged us with a new summer program that brought Mount Olive members together with kids from the community.  She expanded the Diaper Depot to operate year round.  Connie has skillfully led Mount Olive through this time of transition and will help Anna Kingman settle into her new role later this month.

     All are invited to come on Sunday to say thank you!



Chosen: Bible Study on Thursday Evenings Starting Sept. 18

     The first Thursday Bible study series of this year begins tomorrow evening, Sept. 18, and runs for six weeks.
 
     Meeting in the Chapel Lounge from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Pr. Crippen will lead a study titled “Chosen.”  This is an exploration of the biblical witness to Abraham and Sarah and their family, with a focus on what the Bible means by "chosen people,” and how that continues in the present both as our calling and also a challenge in a pluralistic, often violent world.

     As usual, there will be a light supper when we begin.  If you are willing to provide the first meal, please let Pr. Crippen know as soon as possible.  All are welcome to this study opportunity!



New Member Welcome

     Mount Olive will welcome new members and associate members on Sunday, October 5, during the second liturgy.   If you are interested in becoming a member or associate member, please contact the office as soon as possible via e-mail to welcome@mountolivechurch.org,  or by phone, 612-827-5919. You may also contact Pastor Crippen at church, or Andrew Andersen (763-607-1689).

     A welcome brunch will follow the liturgy for new members and for all who would like to be part of the welcome festivities.



 Book Discussion Group’s Upcoming Reads

     For their meeting on October 11, the Book Discussion group will read The Reluctant Fundamentalist, by Mohsin Hamid. For the meeting on November 8 they will read Flight Behavior, by Barbara Kingsolver.

     The Book Discussion Group meets on the second Saturday of each month at 10:00 a.m. in the West Assembly area at church. All readers are welcome!



Transitions Support Group

     All are welcome to drop in and visit the Transitions Support Group to see if this is a place where you might find some solace and reassurance for the challenges or uncertainties that are before you.

     This is an opportunity to share in fellowship, prayer and discussion with others in the Mount Olive community.  The next session meets on Wednesday, October 1, at 6:30 pm in the Youth Room (lower level), and will be facilitated by Amy Cotter and Cathy Bosworth.  If you have questions, please contact Cathy at 612-708-1144 or marcat8447@yahoo.com.



Tutors Are Still Needed! 

     Neighborhood Ministries is still seeking tutors for the Tuesday night tutoring program that begins Sept. 30.  If you aren't sure but would like to learn more about the program, there will be a meeting of tutors on Tuesday, September 23, at 7 pm in the lower level of the church. Just come and see how it works.    

     If you would like to provide a snack for the youth on tutoring night, there is a sign-up sheet on the Neighborhood Ministries bulletin board in the lower level.



Mount Olive Directory Photos Fall 2014 Schedule

     If you did not get your personal, couple or family photos taken last fall there will be a time to get your photos taken in October and included in the updated directory.

     We invite folks who have been worshiping regularly but are not members at Mount Olive to also have their photo(s) taken to include in the directory so that others can put
names and faces together.

     Below are listed the time slots available to have your photos taken. Select the day and approximate time(s) that work best for you and call or email the church office to sign up (612-827-5919/welcome@mountolivechurch.org).

     You will be contacted the week before the sessions with a specific time for your photo session. Photos will be taken in the lower level of the education building.

Sunday, October 5 12:30 to 1:30 PM following the liturgy
Wednesday, October 8 1:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Thursday, October 9 1:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Saturday, October 11 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Sunday, October 12 12:30 to 1:30 PM following the liturgy

     Once you have signed up for a date and approximate times that work for you, we will combine all of the requests and set up a schedule to take all those requesting that specific day.

     If you have further questions please contact Paul Nixdorf (photographer) by phone at 612-296-0055, or by email to pn@paulnixdorf.com.



Empowering Learners Invites Our Support

     Last Sunday, Ann Sponberg Peterson spoke inspiringly to the Adult Forum about “Empowering Learners,” a philanthropic project she established to provide books and computers for schools in northern Namibia. Ann invited contributions of any kind – an invitation we echo. Ann mentioned, but we want to emphasize, that any contributions we at Mount Olive make will be matched by a donor – meaning that our contributions will effectively be double what we give. We encourage you to use the envelope from the brochures Ann provided (or there are copies in the brochure rack beside the display case in the hallway) or contact one of us for a mailing address.

     This is an opportunity to provide genuinely needed and appreciated help to a significant number of children in this developing country.

 – Dwight Penas and Susan Cherwien, Adult Forum planners (with approval of the Missions Committee)



Feast of St. Francis of Assisi
Saturday, October  5 4:00 pm
Blessing of Animals

Bring your pets and your friends (and your friends’ pets!) to this annual service of blessing!



From the Church Library

     A new display in the main library includes several books that have been donated to our collection, as well as some that come from unidentified donors, as follows:

Putting Away Childish Things, a novel of modern faith by Marcus J. Borg
There Is A Season, by Joan Chittister, with John August Swanson, artist (donated by Rod Olson)
Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape,  by Jenna Miscavige Hill (donated by Leanna Kloempken)
Miracles of the Bible, by Julie K. Hogan, editor
Oil and Water: Two Faiths, One God, by Amir Hussain
Ideals - Treasure of Hope
An Illustrated Life of Jesus - The National Gallery of Art Collection (donated by Rod Olson)
Winter's Song, by Heidi Kriesel-White (donated by the author)
Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, by Nicholas D. Kristof & Sheryl WuDunn
The Complete Book of Bible Trivia, by J. Stephen Lang
New Testament: Common English Bible
Each Day With Jesus: Daily Devotions Through the Year (Large Print), by Rudolph F. Norden
If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat, by John Ortberg
Jesus Christ, The Jesus of History, The Christ of Faith, by J. R. Porter (donated by Robert Gottwalt)
Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, by Anna Quindlen (donated by Leanna Kloempken)
Hand of God: Thoughts and Images Reflecting the Spirit of the Universe, by Michael Reagan, ed.
Leading Lives That Matter: What We Should Do and Who We Should Be, by Mark R. Schwehn, ed.
Decembered Grief, Living With Loos While Others Are Celebrating, by Harold Ivan Smith
The Case for Christ: A Journalist's Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus, by Lee Strobel

     I was recently given a clipping from the August 17, 2014 Minneapolis Star Tribune which gave information about a very unusual library indeed.  A floating library, built on an 8 foot square raft and holding approximately 80 book titles for check-out, was the brain-child of Sarah Peters, who makes books, teaches at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts and indulges her love of ephemeral art every winter with the art shanty installations on frozen White Bear Lake.  For the past two summers, during weekends in August, Sarah Peters brings the floating library to Cedar Lake in Minneapolis.  The books available in this way are primarily handmade art books, donated by the artists so each book is totally unique and inventive.  Her customers are boaters, paddlers, and others who are delighted to have discovered this special kind of library service each August.  Watch for the floating library on Cedar Lake next summer!

     A quote from Leon Gullerman closes this article: "Without the love of books the richest man is poor; but endowed with this treasure, the poorest man is rich!"

- Leanna Kloepmken



MOGAL-NOW sponsors a Mid-Century Modern Parade of Homes tour and Potluck Dinner

     On Sunday, October 5, at 4:00 pm, MOGAL-NOW invites members of Mount Olive to visit two mid-century modern homes that are listed on the 2014 national tour of MCM homes.

     Lynn Dobson and Tony Thoe have invited us to their home at 278 Stonebridge Blvd., St Paul. Their home, along with the home of Geri and John Bjork, 316 Stonebridge Blvd, is listed as part of the Docomomo national tour the following weekend. We get a preview tour a week early, plus dinner and great conversation.  (Visit http://www.docomomo-us.org/tour_day_2014_minnesota  to view the website about the Docomomo tour. Their home is pictured on this site).

We will gather there at 4:00 pm on October 5 to check out the interesting architecture and landscaping at their home, and also walk three homes away to Geri and John Bjork’s home. Around 5:15 pm Lynn and Tony will begin grilling hamburgers and hot dogs and we will set out our potluck items and enjoy a meal together. We will also have a short discussion about upcoming MOGAL-NOW events. The evening will end with ice cream sundaes.

     If you can join us for our Parade of Homes event please RSVP by calling the church office at 612-827-5919 or by email to  welcome@mountolivechurch.org. When you email please indicate how many will be coming and also what you plan to bring for the potluck dinner that will go with hamburgers and hotdogs. Also plan to bring beverages (adult and otherwise).

     MOGAL-NOW is the new and up to date version of the MOGAL (Mount Olive Gay and Lesbian) group. MOGAL-NOW is inclusive and of course, “straight friendly”. MOGAL-NOW plans to sponsor a series of social, informative and of course fun events throughout the year bringing together the entire Mount Olive community.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

In Hoc Signo

The way of the cross is only foolishness if we truly see it as our way, our path, not as a sign of dominance and power over others, or a mark of our rightness, our correct faith; Christ’s cross saves us and the world by calling us to the same giving up of power in order to love.

Pr. Joseph G. Crippen
The festival of the Holy Cross, Sunday, September 14, 2014
texts:  1 Corinthians 1:18-24; John 3:13-17

Sisters and brothers in Christ, grace to you, and peace in the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen

“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.”

In 312, the Roman general and tetrarch Constantine, fighting a civil war to consolidate his sole imperial rule, looked into the sun and saw the sign of the cross.  That night in a dream, God told him that with this sign – “in hoc signo” in Latin – he would defeat Maxentius the next day in battle in the city of Rome.  His soldiers won that battle with the sign of the cross painted on their shields.

There is much of legend to this story.  What is not in dispute is that Constantine began a whole new era for Christianity.  Under his rule, Christianity became the state religion of the empire, and very quickly developed a taste for power, military might, control.  A once marginalized group of believers following an executed Savior, who shared things in common, who consistently held that Christians could not take up arms, could not kill, who had allegiance to God alone and to no earthly ruler, became the power behind and in front of one of the greatest empires the world has known.  Rules for just war replaced committed peacemaking.  Seven centuries later, Christian knights with the cross painted on their shields and emblazoned on their surcoats laid a path of destruction and death across Europe and the Near East in holy wars.

“We proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.”

The world doesn’t think it foolish to bear the cross as a symbol of power over others.  If you’ve got something that gives you power, wield it, use it.  The Church has justified its shared bed with military and political power for centuries, sometimes saying it is God’s will, sometimes as a practical way to preserve the institution, sometimes because we like having power and might, being winners.

The proclamation of Jesus’ cross was a stumbling block to Jews because they couldn’t imagine the one true God so debased, so lowly as to assume human form and be tortured to death.  It was blasphemy, horrific.  Their theology couldn’t permit God to do such a thing.

The proclamation of Jesus’ cross was foolishness to Gentiles because they would see it hysterical that this pathetic group of believers were following someone who didn’t have enough sense to avoid a humiliating public execution. Their philosophy couldn’t permit such ridiculousness.

To the extent that we can’t see the stumbling block of the cross to our theology and understanding of God and God’s will, to the extent that we can’t see how foolish it is compared to the way we work in the world, to that extent we are no longer hearing the message of the cross.

“Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?”

How can we tell if we live by the wisdom of the world, are bound to our view of God?  If we find ourselves always needing people to adjust to us, find it difficult not to think of our own needs before those of others.  Or if we cannot conceive of faith in a God who does not bless our every move, or in a God who would ask us to let go of things we think give us security.

If we believe everything we have is ours, and deserved, and if we feel gracious and good, we might share a little.  Or if, when anything bad happens, we blame God for not preventing, not protecting properly, as if we are entitled to good because we believe in God correctly.

If we seek security in providing for ourselves what we think we need, wealth, protection, barriers to those in the world we fear.  Or if we expect God’s primary job is to ensure we never have to worry about losing anything.

That’s how we can tell.  We don’t need to carry shields with the cross on them to act as if being a Christian somehow entitles us to the best of everything, without fear of tragedy.  We don’t need to carry a sword to live with a world view that we should be in charge because we belong to Christ Jesus, and that way we will impose on our families, our community, our world.  We don’t even need a cross on our flag, because we’ve found a way to wrap the American flag around the Christian faith and march it into the world as if we really don’t hope for an eternal life yet to come; this country is God’s greatest dream.

Maybe we’re not always so extremely bad off.  But is there anything about how we practice our Christian discipleship that others can mock as foolish or na├»ve?  Is there anything about how we believe in God that challenges a hope in God as a divine vending machine of favor?

If our way of Christian discipleship starts making sense to our culture, starts sounding like every other get rich scheme, every other way to dominance, we know we’ve lost our path.  If we say things like, “that’s going to cost us,” or, “won’t we be taken advantage of,” we’ll know we’re on the right path.

“The Son of Man must be lifted up, that whoever believes in him might have eternal life.”

This is how we know we’re on the path of true discipleship: if it leads to the foot of the cross, to where we look up and see our Lord lifted up for the life of the world.  Not lifted up as a triumph over all the wrong people.  Lifted up, as he will say later, to draw all people to himself.

The way of the cross is opposite to the way of the world, but it will save the world.  Because as those who see him lifted up allow themselves to be lifted up, cut down, walked on, for the sake of others, then the world of power over others, of domination and might, will start to crumble from below and eventually fall.

Do you now see the stumbling block?  We don’t get to tell God what to do and what not to do, we only get to decide if we’re going where God has already gone, into disreputable places and places of loss.  We’re often unwilling to lose even with those we love most, in our families, to say nothing of the world.

Do you now see the foolishness?  We stop caring about protecting our institution of the church, our congregation, ourselves, even God.  We lose interest in winning arguments or proving that we’re right or forcing others not to mock us.  This path doesn’t lead to an impressive, powerful institution people have to respect or fear.

But given that any good Christians have done in the last 2,000 years has come from believers willing to lose all for the sake of the other, and most evil Christians have done in the last 2,000 years has come from believers trying to work by the world’s rules of power and might, by a theology of a dominating, crushing God, does that tell us anything?

“When we eat of this bread and drink of this cup, we proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”

The cross marks our lives, our worship, our faith precisely as a reminder of Jesus’ death, and ours.  It’s not our prize to wave in the world’s face.  It is our life, it is our salvation.  But Jesus makes abundantly clear it is also our path.

So when we bow as the cross is carried before us in procession, is it to a magic talisman, a sign of our triumph and rightness?  No, it is in humble recognition of the path it lays before us.  It is a sign of our willingness to walk this path.

When we mark ourselves with the cross with our own hands is it some sort of protective charm, hope of God’s favor?  No, it is drawing on our very bodies the shape of the life we are called to live, so we don’t forget.

When we proclaim at every Eucharist the death of Christ Jesus is it some morbid obsession?  No, it is our way.  Regular reminder is the only way to continually focus ourselves on the path we walk with Christ, a path of loss and death.

“The message of the cross is foolishness . . . but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

We seek power in losing power, because that’s what God does.  We see strength in weakness, because that’s how God works.  We see victory in losing, because that’s how God wins.  It’s foolishness.  But this foolish, stumbling block truth about the way the Triune God really works in the world is life.  We know because we have seen it.  Felt it.  Been moved by it.  Perhaps only in little glimpses, in moments of clarity, or in seeing it lived in another person.  But in those glimpses we saw truth and life.

What we need is for God to help us get beyond our longing to be like the world and go where our heart knows we belong.  To make the death of Christ not be our insurance card but, in the resurrection, a life from God that shapes us from within into cross-people like Christ.  So we can foolishly and eagerly walk the path of life for the sake of the world.

In the name of Jesus.  Amen

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Olive Branch, 9/10/14

Accent on Stewardship

Thinking about Stewardship

     I’ve been thinking a lot about stewardship since the congregation elected me director of stewardship. The first thing I need to do, I told myself, is reflect more deeply and regularly about my own stewardship and that of our household. But I’m also eager to have members of Mount Olive tell me or other members of our Stewardship Committee how they think about steward-ship, because we can learn a lot from one another (other committee members—and we’re still growing—are Dan Burow, Mike Edwins, Beth Gaede, Gene Janssen, and Leif Johnson).

     Ask a hundred self-identified U.S. Christians to say the first word that comes to mind when they hear the word stewardship and you can be certain that “money” and “church” will come up often. Both are part of stewardship but, especially together, they can imply a much-too-narrow definition of stewardship.

     Writing in the September issue of The Lutheran (“Stewardship: Biblical Perspectives,” pp. 14-15), Prof. Marty E. Stevens of the ELCA’s Gettysburg Seminary offers a brief but excellent overview of Christian stewardship. If we start with oikonomia (“household management”), the Greek word for stewardship, we can, she says, identify “three categories” of stewardship. We are called to be (1) stewards as faithful managers of an owner’s property; (2) stewards of God’s grace and the gospel; and (3) stewards of “the fullness of time” (Eph. 1:9-10) and “the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things” (Eph. 3:9). Stevens discusses tithing and key biblical teachings about stewardship. She tells us that “in the Gospels, Jesus talks about money more than any other topic except the kingdom of God—more than sin, more than love, more than heaven and hell.”

     As disciples of Christ we’re called to be wise, faithful stewards 24/7. We’re all stewards in Mount Olive’s ministry, in various ways, and most of us could name them. But stewardship opportunities and challenges daily present themselves to us in our lives at home, in the neighborhood, at work, at school. They include care of the earth, welcoming the stranger, and little acts of charity and kindness. I suspect that many among us are far more effect-ive daily stewards than they themselves imagine. I’m trying to be more mindful about my daily stewardship. On the other hand, when I observe Mount Olive people welcoming us, feed-ing us, teaching us, leading us, and comforting us—all aspects of stewardship—it occurs to me that they’re probably not so much thinking explicitly of stewardship as they’re just doing it.

     In a few weeks our congregation will adopt its budget for 2015. It’s a decision we make together. The budget represents the resources we need to do our work together—at 3045 Chicago Avenue South, in our neighborhood, and nationally and globally. Some of us will make a “pledge” or “estimate of giving,” while others of us, from a different tradition, will give with equal generosity without pledging. We should all be thinking prayerfully about these resources and our mission, now and throughout the coming year.

- Donn McLellan, Director of Stewardship



Sunday Readings

September 14, 2014: Holy Cross Day
Numbers 21:4b-9
Psalm 98
I Corinthians 1:18-24
John 3:13-17
 ___________________

September 21, 2014: St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist
Ezekiel 2:8—3:11
Psalm 119:33-40
Ephesians 2:4-10
Matthew 9:9-13



Sunday’s Adult Forum: Sept. 14

"Empowering Learners: A Philanthropic Education Project in Namibia," presented by Ann Sponberg Peterson.

     Ann Sponberg Peterson serves Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, as the director of development for principal gifts. She is the founder of Empowering Learners and enjoys sharing the promise of this project, as well as the hopes of the young nation of Namibia, with churches and individuals.




Chosen: Bible Study on Thursday Evenings Starting Sept. 18

     The first Thursday Bible study series of this year begins on Thursday, Sept. 18, and runs for six weeks.

     Meeting in the Chapel Lounge from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Pr. Crippen will lead a study titled “Chosen.”  This is an exploration of the biblical witness to Abraham and Sarah and their family, with a focus on what the Bible means by “chosen people,” and how that continues in the present both as our calling and also a challenge in a pluralistic, often violent world.

     As usual, there will be a light supper when we begin.  If anyone wishes to provide the first meal, please let Pr. Crippen know.  All are welcome to this study opportunity!



Mount Olive Welcomes a New Coordinator of Neighborhood Outreach and Ministry

     The Vestry would like to introduce our new Coordinator of Neighborhood Outreach and Ministry:  Anna Kingman has been offered the position and she has accepted!   She will start her work with us during the week of September 21.   She’ll have an opportunity to spend a week with Connie Toavs to orient to the ministries we already have, and then will be getting down to work meeting the congregation and our neighbors!

     Anna comes to us as a life-long ELCA Lutheran, having been raised in Blaine.  She speaks of how her extended family’s value of service to and the intrinsic worth of every human has influenced her love of service to God’s family.   She stated that there were no “ins and outs” as far as her family was concerned – no one was less important, less valued, less worthy of dignity.  In college, she was active in student government, where she learned project management skills, the value of relationship building to accomplish work, and a deepening faith.  Two years in the Peace Corp in Peru enhanced her Spanish language skills (she is a certified Spanish interpreter), as well as challenged her to negotiate her way through difficult situations, draw boundaries around challenging relationships and appreciate and navigate cultural differences.

     The search committee was impressed with Anna’s insight, ability to articulate nuances of human relationships and work, and her obviously strong Christian faith.  She has a deep sense of the collaborative nature of service and ministry, that we are called to walk with each other and our neighbors as Christ to each other, a sense that connects strongly to where our visioning process has been leading.  Her articulation of the justice God seeks in this world and our participation in that is inspiring, as is her sense of how the people of God work together for such justice.  She possesses maturity and instincts for ministry seemingly beyond her years, and we are looking forward to getting to know her and partnering with her on our mission to the neighborhood.

Welcome, Anna!



Interested in the Business and Finance Committee?

     Are you interested in serving Mount Olive with your business, legal, technical or accounting skills?  The Business and Finance Committee is entering its second year and has some interesting projects underway:

We are in need of an insurance coordinator to review policies and providers, make sure our coverages and premiums are appropriate, and act as the liaison with the insurance agency representatives.
The Mount Olive Foundation granted the committee funds to implement a new accounting system - that project has yet to begin and help is needed to plan and implement this updated system.
Overall help with budget process and providing input into policies and procedures that govern our financial routines.

     If you are interested speak to any current member:  Paul Sundquist, Ty Inglis, Tim Lindholm, or Kat Campbell, Treasurer.  The committee meetings are held on the 3rd Wednesday of each month, starting September 17, from 5:30 to 7 pm, in the Library.



New Member Welcome

     Mount Olive will welcome new members and associate members on Sunday, October 5, during the second liturgy.   If you are interested in becoming a member or associate member, please contact the office as soon as possible via e-mail to welcome@mountolivechurch.org,  or by phone, 612-827-5919. You may also contact Pastor Crippen at church, or Andrew Andersen (763-607-1689).
 
     A welcome brunch will follow the liturgy for new members and for all who would like to be part of the welcome festivities.



  Wear Your Nametags!

     In order to help Vicar Meagan get to know our church community a bit faster, we are asking everyone to wear their nametags at church for the next several Sundays.

     If you don’t have a nametag and need one, or if you have a nametag which has been lost or damaged and you need a new one, please contact the church office. We will be happy to provide a new one for you!



Every Church a Peace Church September Potluck
Eyewitness to War, Witness for Peace

Monday, September 15 - potluck begins at 6:30 pm
St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church, 4537 3rd Ave, Minneapolis

     Speaker: Kathy Kelly, peacemaker and founder of Voices for Creative Nonviolence

     About the Speaker: During each of 15 trips to Afghanistan, Kathy Kelly, as an invited guest of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, has lived alongside ordinary Afghan people in a working class neighborhood in Kabul. She and her companions in Voices for Creative Nonviolence believe that "where you stand determines what you see." They are resolved not to let war sever the bonds of friendship between them and Afghan people whom they've grown to know through successive delegations. Kathy Kelly will also be speaking at St. Frances Cabrini on Sunday, September 14, after the 9:00 am Mass (about 10:30 am), 1500 Franklin Ave SE, Minneapolis.



Tutors Are Still Needed! 

     Tutoring is a great opportunity to develop meaningful relationships with one or two community youth and their parents.  You do not need to have education training – just a desire to help a child succeed in school.  Tutoring sessions are weekly on Tuesday evenings from 7-8:30 PM beginning September 30th.   Materials and support will be provided.

     To be a part of this important outreach, please call Connie Toavs at the church or e mail Interim Neighborhood Ministries Coordinator at connietoavs@comcast.net.  Our new Coordinator of Neighborhood Outreach and Ministry will be on board for the first session of tutoring. Let’s get her off to a good start with a full slate of tutors.

     If you would like to provide a snack for the youth on tutoring night, there is a sign-up sheet on the Neighborhood Ministries bulletin board in the lower level.



Attention, Mount Olive Youth!

     Along with the new school year and a new year of Godly Play, it’s time to kick off another fun year of Mount Olive Youth activities - and we’re kicking it off with a bang!

     There is a great opportunity for serving our community coming up this Sunday, September 14. We will prepare and serve a meal for Our Saviour’s Shelter and prepare 45 sandwich lunches for a meal the following day.

     If any adults or kids are interested in helping the Youth, please contact Amy Thompson by Friday, September 12th for details. (amy.b.thompson@wellsfargo.com or 612-729-7932) Watch for more details coming soon on an upcoming Youth Committee meeting and additional activities. Thanks!



Book Discussion Group’s Upcoming Reads

     For their meeting this Saturday, September 13, the Book Discussion group will read The Woman Behind the New Deal, by Kirstin Downey. For the October 11 meeting they will read The Reluctant Fundamentalist, by Mohsin Hamid.

     The Book Discussion Group meets on the second Saturday of each month at 10:00 a.m. in the West Assembly area at church. All readers are welcome!




Help Needed for Family in Crisis

     There is an opportunity for members of Mount Olive to make a very real difference in the life of a servant of God and his family, known to us, who are facing dire straits.

Pastor Dinku Bato, formerly of the Mekane Yesus Lutheran Church of Ethiopia, is writing his Ph.D. dissertation at Luther Seminary.  His wife, Mergitu, and his three sons live with him near the seminary.  He intends to finalize and defend his thesis by the end of December 2014.  Some might remember that Pr. Bato preached at Mount Olive in January 2013 as part of the Mission Committee’s Taste of Ethiopia celebration.

     Pr. Bato’s current situation is exceedingly difficult.  His financial funding ran out as of September 2014, due in part to cuts at Luther Seminary.  His church, the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus, severed their long-standing relationship with the ELCA in January 2013 over our church’s decisions regarding the marriage and ordination of our LGBT sisters and brothers.  The Mekane Yesus Church has not communicated with Pr. Bato since they cut ties with the ELCA.  Because he remained in fellowship with the ELCA, his home church also severed relationship with him, and he no longer has a position with them. Pr. Bato is also from the Oromo tribe, a minority which is exceedingly discriminated against and marginalized in Ethiopia.  Remaining in fellowship with the ELCA has exacerbated an already difficult situation were he to return to Ethiopia.

     He and his family are praying for God to find him work beginning in 2015.  Ed Schroeder, a former professor at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, and later at Seminex, has given his name to several ELCA bishops in hopes that he might be offered a position in the U.S. or anywhere he is needed.

Pr. Bato and his family worship with both an Oromo and an Amharic congregation in St. Paul.  Jehovah Lutheran Church on Snelling Ave. is the location for one of these congregations.  They are a very devout family and have great faith that God has a plan for them.

     The family’s expenses for which they need help are rent of $910/month, plus living expenses, from September through December 2014.  Some members of Mount Olive have already been helping them, and now are inviting others to give enough to take care of the family’s physical needs through December.  The goal is to raise $6,000, and there are also members of Mount Olive who have agreed to match any gifts donated, up to a total of $3,000, in order to meet that goal.  If you are able to help, checks may be written to Mount Olive, with “Pr. Dinku Bato” in the memo line, and we will take care of it.

     Thank you for your graciousness and kindness!



A Note of Thanks

     The Iverson Family would like to thank their friends at Mount Olive for the kind words and beautiful cards that were shared with Wally & Lydia Iverson at their anniversary party. It meant so much to them and to our family.

     Wally and Lydia have now moved (again!) to a facility which will provide even better care for their specific needs. Their new address is: 8454 Kell Avenue South, Bloomington, MN  55437.



Diaper Depot 

     Did you know?  The Diaper Depot served 319 individual households in the first 8 months of 2014, making Diaper Depot Mount Olive’s largest consistent outreach in the community!

     The Diaper Depot is now open year round, two afternoons a week.  Nearly every day, families, advocates, and agencies call to ask about the Diaper Depot. New households register at each open session.

     You can help to keep this important mission operating in two ways – by contributing dollars, and by volunteering in the Diaper Depot.  Stop in during any session and observe or assist. Call Connie Toavs at church with any questions you might have!  


Sunday, September 7, 2014

We Are All In Debt

None of us can love another to the fulfillment of the law. We owe our neighbors love. And we are all in debt. Through the grace of God, we are forgiven, and we are deeply loved and capable of loving.

Vicar Meagan McLaughlin
13th Sunday after Pentecost, Lectionary 23 A
   Texts: Ezekiel 33:7-11, Romans 13:8-14, Matthew 18:15-20

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, in the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

“Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” What an amazing statement Paul makes in his letter to the Romans! Take all of the law encompassed in the Old Testament, and it can be fulfilled by simply loving one another. Rather than attending to what can seem to be an endless list of rules, we can trust that if we love our neighbor, we are doing God’s will, because as Paul says a few verses later, “Love does no wrong to a neighbor.” For those of us who can get bogged down in details, this is truly liberating. The only thing we need to do is love one another.

It is not always as simple as it seems, however. In the time of Jesus, faithful Jewish leaders debated hard and long about the statement “Love your neighbor,” asking who their neighbor was. Jesus was part of these faithful discussions, and as we have seen time and time again, Jesus often presents us with a challenge to view things from a different perspective. During one such conversation, Jesus shared the parable of the Good Samaritan, which forced his listeners to see the Samaritan, a hated enemy of mainline Jewish people, as the neighbor who saved them from the ditch. Jesus calls us not only to love, but to love without distinction.

The question of who we should consider to be our neighbor, who is worthy of our love, is still debated today, and the truth is we are often, without realizing it, tempted to draw a line defining who is and who is not our neighbor. Many Israelis and Palestinians would not include each other in their definition of neighbor. Many in the United States wrestle with how to respond to our neighbors from the south who come to this country illegally out of desperation. Police officers and community leaders of Ferguson, Missouri, are separated by thick walls of hate, and fear. Closer to home, we may find it hard to see as neighbor the person who brings violence to our community, the fellow church member whose political beliefs seem to go against our core values, even the family member with whom we have never been able to get along.

This call to love one another in fulfillment of the law doesn’t sound so simple when we understand that Paul was talking about loving those that are difficult to love. In Matthew, Jesus says that if a neighbor who has sinned against us will not listen even to the church, we are to consider them to be a tax collector or Gentile. This text has often been used to justify shunning or excommunicating someone who doesn’t measure up to standard, but if we are to understand what Jesus is really saying here, we need to remember that, far from separating himself from tax collectors and Gentiles, Jesus often found himself the center of attention for doing precisely the opposite. Jesus talked with them, listened to them, ate with them. Jesus loved them as they were, and called them to the fullness of life.

We are called to love not only when it is convenient for us, not only when our neighbor is someone we like and approve of, but to love everyone we meet, without condition. We are called to love the person who cuts us off in rush hour traffic, the person who brings a cart with 20 items into the checkout lane clearly marked “12 Items or Less,” the family next door who turns up their music at 10 p.m. Even more unthinkable, perhaps, we are called to love those who have hurt us—those by whom we feel betrayed, or misunderstood, or abused, even in those circumstances where, for the safety and health of ourselves and our family, we need to maintain boundaries and distance to prevent additional physical and emotional harm. Love one another. What does that look like? Is it even possible?

The truth is, if our one primary directive, the fulfillment of all the law and commands of God, is to love one another, to owe no one anything but love, we all fall short. None of us can love another to the fulfillment of the law. And yet, there it is. “Owe no one anything, except to love one another.” We owe our neighbors love. And we are all in debt.

We see evidence in the readings from Ezekiel and the Gospel of Matthew that God understands our plight, knows our indebtedness. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus offers a guide for how to handle directly, and with respect and dignity, the conflict that inevitably arises among humans who struggle to love one another. In the verses immediately following this passage, Jesus tells his disciples that we are to forgive “seventy times seven times” when our neighbor asks forgiveness. When—not if—we fail to love, Ezekiel tells us we are to invite each other back to God, and remind ourselves of who we are called to be. God says to Ezekiel, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from their ways and live.” We are all in debt. And the God of love knows this, and promises forgiveness, and life, no matter how far we fall.

And it is precisely where we fall that God steps in. When North Minneapolis resident Mary Johnson’s son Laramiun was shot by Oshea Israel, another teenager in the neighborhood, in 1993, forgiveness and love was the last thing on their mind. In an interview with People magazine in 2011, Mary and Oshea shared their experience. Mary said, “At the trial I hated Oshea. I thought he was an animal and deserved to be caged. I was so angry when the judge charged him with second degree murder, instead of first degree.” For his part, Oshea felt that Laramiun was to blame for the shooting, and that if Mary had raised him better the conflict that led to Laramiun’s death and Oshea’s imprisonment would not have happened. As time went on, Mary’s anger and depression and grief led her to become a recluse, and ultimately she knew she needed God’s help to forgive the man who had killed her son. After 12 long years, and countless hours of tears and prayer, Mary visited Oshea in prison, and as they shared their pain with each other, God transformed them, and love and forgiveness became possible in the midst of anger and grief. Mary founded From Death to Life, a program that offers hope and reconciliation to others who have lost children to violence through support groups, prayer walks, and community gatherings that celebrate life and forgiveness. Oshea was paroled in 2010, and today, Mary and Oshea live next door to each other, and share their story of healing from podiums and pulpits around the world, offering hope to many who have experienced the same grief. Oshea, having recognized his own guilt and responsibility for Laramiun’s death, said, “I caused her pain, but we are loving our way through it.” [1]  It is precisely where we fall that God steps in.

This is a dramatic example that may seem out of reach, but it is no less miraculous when a man extends forgiveness to the one who abused him, a minister offers care and love to the young church member who accidently hit him with her car in the church parking lot, or a daughter reaches out to the parent from whom she has been estranged. We fall, and God steps in. For us as humans, on our own, loving to the fulfillment of the law is not possible, but with God miracles of love and healing are possible, and they happen every day. Where can God's love work in and through you to heal brokenness in your life, your family, your community?

It is the love of God revealed in Jesus that redeems us from our debt. The love of God in Jesus enables us to love our neighbors, even when it is difficult. God’s love in Jesus empowers us to care for and protect ourselves and our families in a spirit of love. And when we fail, as we humans will, Jesus’ love for us gives us the grace to offer forgiveness when others hurt us, and the grace to receive forgiveness when we hurt others. We are all in debt, but through the grace of God, we are forgiven, and we are deeply loved and capable of loving.

“Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” God calls us to fulfill the law by living in God’s love today, for we are redeemed by God’s love for each of us, today and every day.

Amen.


[1]  Margaret Nelson Brinkhaus and Lorenzo Benet. “How I Forgave My Son’s Murderer.” People Magazine, September 12, 2011, 84-86.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Olive Branch, 9/3/14

Accent on Worship 

    The readings for this Sunday spoke very powerfully to me about love and forgiveness. In my first few weeks as your Vicar, I have been blessed to witness love at work in many ways in the Mount Olive community. I have experienced that love in the warm welcome I have received from everyone I have met, in the commitment to teach me what I need to know, and in the flowers that magically appeared on my desk overnight. I saw love at work in the careful attention given to polishing brass, replacing candles, and cleaning the sanctuary. Love was evident in the offer to give up a seat in the common room for a fellow parishioner who needed it. Love presented itself each time a communion minister shared about visiting and bringing the Eucharist to a member who is not able to join us in worship. I see love in the time committed to the Diaper Depot and other Neighborhood Ministries, as all who come through our doors are treated with respect and dignity. Love was present in the celebration of a baptismal anniversary and the sharing and receiving of stories in the time of fellowship after worship. The love of this community is truly a gift!

     Along with love comes the grace of forgiveness. In this week’s Gospel from Matthew, Jesus outlines a process for responding to conflict directly, and with respect for all involved, and in the verses following this passage, Jesus tells us that we are to forgive those that harm us “seventy times seven times.” In other words, forgive often, without limit. For that I am grateful, as I am sure that there will be many times over the next year when I will have need of your forgiveness! What a blessing to know that we have a God who forgives, and encourages us to forgive each other . . . a God whose law is fulfilled by love.

- Vicar Meagan McLaughlin


Sunday Readings

September 7, 2014: 13th Sunday after Pentecost  (Lect. 23A)
Ezekiel 33:7-11
Psalm 119:33-40
Romans 13:8-14
Matthew 18:15-20
___________________

September 14, 2014: Holy Cross Day
Numbers 21:4b-9
Psalm 98:1-4
I Corinthians 1:18-24
John 3:13-17
 


Regular worship schedule resumes this Sunday, September 7!
Holy Eucharist, 8:00 and 10:45 a.m.
Church School and Adult Forum, 9:30 a.m.



Children’s Choir

Parents and guardians of our young!

     If you are hoping that your young one will be able to participate in the children's choir, please contact Cantor David Cherwien this week.  We need to know that we have critical mass for this to work, and also for the food necessary.

     The first rehearsal is set for next Wednesday, September 10, 6:00-6:45 pm, with a light dinner just before rehearsal, beginning at 5:30.

     RSVP via email (cantor@mountolivechurch.org) for both participation in the choir itself, and also for how many are planning to join us for supper.
     Again, it's for children grades 2 to 8 (roughly).

     Please feel free to contact Cantor Cherwien with any questions you may have.



Interested in the Business and Finance Committee?

     Are you interested in serving Mount Olive with your business, legal, technical or accounting skills?  The Business and Finance Committee is entering its second year and has some interesting projects underway:

We are in need of an insurance coordinator to review policies and providers, make sure our coverages and premiums are appropriate, and act as the liaison with the insurance agency representatives.
The Mount Olive Foundation granted the committee funds to implement a new accounting system - that project has yet to begin and help is needed to plan and implement this updated system.
Overall all help with budget process and providing input into policies and procedures that govern our financial routines.
     If you are interested speak to any current member:  Paul Sundquist, Ty Inglis, Tim Lindholm, or Kat Campbell, Treasurer.  The committee meetings are held on the 3rd Wednesday of each month, starting September 17, from 5:30 to 7 pm, in the Library.



Book Discussion Group’s Upcoming Reads
For their meeting on September 13, the Book Discussion group will read The Woman Behind the New Deal, by Kirstin Downey. For the October 11 meeting they will read The Reluctant Fundamentalist, by Mohsin Hamid.



Thanks!

     Thanks is extended to Altar Guild members Bonnie McLellan, Beth Gaede, Sandra Pranschke, Cynthia Prosek, Peggy Hoeft, and Steve Pranschke, as well as congregational volunteer, R.T. Pranschke, for their hard work in cleaning the altar/chancel area as well as removing wax from and polishing the altar brassware on Saturday, August 23.

     The Altar Guild sponsors three special chancel cleanings a year - at the start of Advent, at the start of the Easter celebration and sometime during the summer. We enjoy having congregational volunteers join us in preserving and beautifying Mt. Olive's  wonderful worship space. The next opportunity to participate in one of these activities will be Saturday, November 22, 2014, from 9 am to noon. Please contact Steve Pranschke if you are interested.



New Member Welcome

     Mount Olive will welcome new members and associate members on Sunday, October 5, during the second liturgy.   If you are interested in becoming a member or associate member, please contact the office as soon as possible via e-mail to welcome@mountolivechurch.org,  or by phone, 612-827-5919. You may also contact Pastor Crippen at church, or Andrew Andersen (763-607-1689).

     A welcome brunch will follow the liturgy for new members and for all who would like to be part of the welcome festivities.



Wear Your Nametags!

     In order to help our new vicar get to know our church community a bit faster, we are asking everyone to wear their nametags at church for the next several Sundays.

     If you don’t have a nametag and need one, or if you have a nametag which has been lost or damaged and you need a new one, please contact the church office. We will be happy to provide a new one for you!



Anniversary Open House

     Walter & Lydia Iverson are celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary, and they cordially invite Mount Olive members and friends to celebrate with them!

     An Open House will be held this Saturday, September 6, from 2-4pm at their new home, Minnehaha Senior Living: 3733 - 23rd Ave S.(they live in Apartment #336, for those who wish to send a card), Minneapolis, MN  55407.

     Plan to stop by to greet the Iversons, enjoy some light refreshments and celebrate with them!



Diaper Depot 

     Did you know?  The Diaper Depot served 319 individual households in the first 8 months of 2014, making Diaper Depot Mount Olive’s largest consistent outreach in the community!

     The Diaper Depot is now open year round, two afternoons a week.  Nearly every day, families, advocates, and agencies call to ask about the Diaper Depot. New households register at each open session.

     The diapers are not free to families.  Participants pay a little less than half of the cost of each pack of diapers and often talk about how much it helps them stretch their funds through the month.

     You can help to keep this important mission operating in two ways – by contributing dollars, and by volunteering in the Diaper Depot.  Stop in during any session and observe or assist. Call Connie Toavs at church with any questions you might have!



Join in Prayer for the Middle East 

     As people of Mount Olive, your mission dollars have supported the work of the Lutheran Federation in Jerusalem. We share with you a request from Rev. Mark Brown, regional representative for the LWF there. "I invite you to join the ACT Palestine Forum's international prayer vigil for peace.  Prayer vigils devoted to peace in the Middle East are held on the 24th of every month."

     From the Forum's website:  "This global ecumenical prayer vigil began on 24 December 2012 and will continue across the globe, on the 24th of every month, until the Israeli occupation is dismantled, violence in the Middle East ends, and all can celebrate a just and lasting negotiated resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

     We urge people to see this prayer vigil as an outpouring of concern for Palestinians and Israelis – Christians, Muslims, and Jews – whose lives are overtaken by broken relationships and the conflict that flows from these divisions."

     We will join the vigil on Sunday, August 24, and our prayer chain ministry will continue on the 24th of each month.  You are invited to add your prayers.

-Missions Committee



Tutoring to Begin Soon!

     Many tutors are still needed for the weekly tutoring program beginning September 30!  This year, we would like to expand the program to as many as 12 tutors because there are many families hoping to enroll their children.
  
     Tutoring sessions are held weekly on Tuesday evenings, except during school breaks.  Materials and support will be provided.

     To volunteer, simply drop an email to Interim Neighborhood Ministries Coordinator Connie Toavs at connietoavs@comcast.net, or call her at the church .

     Also, if you can’t tutor but would like to help with this worthy project, consider signing up to provide a snack for the youth on tutoring night! There is a sign-up sheet on the Neighborhood Ministries bulletin board on the lower level.



Search Process Nears Conclusion

     The search for our new staff person, the Coordinator of Neighborhood Outreach and Ministry, is nearly completed.    

     Our overall visioning process began over a year ago (and will continue this fall).  While that process is asking larger questions of the direction of this congregation, part of it also was listening and discerning what we would do with our ministry in the neighborhood upon Donna Neste’s retirement in March, 2014.  

     A group comprised of some members of the Vestry, the visioning team, and the Neighborhood Ministries Committee, planned the interim period, ultimately hiring Connie Toavs to bridge this time for us, and she’s been a tremendous gift.

     Another group, again with people from each of the three, plus two additional members from the congregation at large, simultaneously worked on the new position description and designed the search process.  The new job will incorporate the three elements reported to the congregation at the October, 2013, semi-annual meeting: working with the congregation to help us know our gifts and find places for us to work in mission and ministry with our neighbors; coordinating and administering our programming (with increased emphasis on involving congregation members to work the programs); and serving as Mount Olive’s main liaison to the neighborhood and to community organizations.

     The search team received 24 resumes and applications, from a wide variety of sources, including non-profit networks, the Minneapolis Area Synod, and various church websites.  During the process, Diana Hellerman organized a team of 13 Mount Olive members to pray for a good outcome to our search, an important gift to the process.  The search team interviewed 5 of those 24, and has made a decision to recommend a name to the Vestry.  This week background and reference checks are being made, and then the Vestry will be asked to vote on offering the job next Monday, Sept. 8, at the regular monthly meeting.  

     Assuming all goes well, in next week’s Olive Branch the new person will be announced, as well as a timeline for when this person will begin, farewells for Connie, and other details.

     Members of the search team are Lora Dundek and Pr. Crippen, from the Vestry; Kathy Thurston and Sue Ellen Zagrabelny, from Neighborhood Ministries; Neil Hering and Cynthia Prosek, from the Visioning Team; and Gretchen Campbell-Johnson and George Ferguson, from the congregation at large.  Vicar Beckering also participated in the process throughout, and was a part of the first round of interviews before completing her time with us.



Five Ways We Are Fighting Ebola 

     Through our support of these international programs, we join Lutherans around the world in fighting this dread disease.

   #1   Treat ebola patients. Through partnership with the Lutheran World Federation, two Lutheran hospitals in Liberia were treating infected patients.

   #2   Sending protective gear. The ELCA,  the Lutheran Church in Liberia, and Global Health Ministries are partnering to deliver five pallets of protection equipment to the hospitals.

  #3   Health care training. Lutheran World Relief is partnering with others to conduct prevention training for health care workers in Liberia, training them to also train others.

   #4   Raising Awareness. Through LWR and its partners, community volunteers are trained and materials (posters/flyers) prepared to spread accurate information.

   #5   Strengthening ties between religious and community leaders. This partnership is also training these leaders to reach out and disseminate timely, accurate information to their members.  Lutheran
World Relief "works with local partners to provide lasting solutions."

     You may add additional support by using the blue mission envelopes and marking them "Lutheran World Relief."

 -Missions Committee



Capital Campaign

Remember to make your pledge or donation to the Capital Campaign to fully fund our designated accounts and provide a financial “rainy day” fund. Pledge cards are available in the church office for your use. If you prefer, simply write your pledge amount on a piece of paper which includes your name, and leave it in the church office, or send the information via email to the church office at welcome@mountolivechurch.org.
 

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Reconciling in ChristRIC

Copyright 2014 Mount Olive Lutheran Church