Crazy news we have seen in the last few weeks! Historic decisions came from the Supreme Court, including same-gender marriage and changes to the Voting Rights Act. Donald Trump was fired, and escaped convicts captured. Greece faces financial ruin, and acts of terror and the spread of ISIS threaten people across the world. And President Obama eulogized Reverend Clementa Pinckney, and the FBI is investigating fires at several black churches in the south (3 confirmed arson at last count). Taken all together, it feels pretty chaotic. I find myself getting overwhelmed, and wonder, when is God going to straighten out this crazy world we live in?
And then, in this week’s reading from Mark, after describing how Jesus’ childhood neighbors resisted believing that Jesus has power from God, there is this: “And he could do no deed of power there . . .” What? Jesus can’t perform miracles because people don’t believe? This sounds like a “fake preacher” movie starring Steve Martin!
Matthew 13:58 reads differently: “And [Jesus] did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.” Not that he couldn’t, but simply did’t. Either way, it hints of a requirement of belief for miracles to take place! With the reality of the violence of racism revealed at Emanuel AME fresh in my mind, I wonder . . . if belief is required for miracles, whose belief, exactly?
The words of African American theologian and minister Crystal St. Marie Lewis echo in my mind: “Is it possible that our prayers for God to somehow “fix” the world seem unheard because we don’t yet see ourselves as the answers to those prayers?”
We—not “we” as in white-people-only or “we” as in Mount-Olive-members-only, but an all-encompassing corporate “we” that propels us into the community. God has created each human being to work for the realization of the kingdom of God. “We” are the answers to our prayers. God is waiting on us. Are “we” ready?
- Vicar Meagan McLaughlin
July 5, 2015: 6th Sunday after Pentecost, 14 B
2 Corinthians 12:2-10
July 12, 2015: 7th Sunday after Pentecost, 15 B
Meet Our Missionary July 12
After church on Sunday, July 12, grab some coffee and a seat and spend some time getting to know Karen Anderson, our ELCA missionary to Chile. We support Karen through the ELCA and her community health work through our support of EPES/ (Educación Popular En Salud) Action for Health in the Americas. Karen had wanted to be with us when we celebrated the Taste of Chile a few years ago, but at that time her delayed flight kept her away. Now is our chance to catch up with Karen, learn about her commitment to developing strong community health organizations that meet the real needs of the communities they serve, from strengthening prenatal health to helping rebuild after a community fire to campaigning to end smoking. And even more: Karen and her team are now reaching out to teach com-munity health techniques to community workers through-out Central and South America, and even to those working in Africa. Through our support of Karen we have real impact in improving health and lives in Chile.
Save the date. Save the time. Join the conversation.
Olive Branch Summer Publication
During the summer months of June, July, and August, The Olive Branch is published every other week. The next issue will be published on July 15.
If you have information to be published in the July 15 issue, please have that information to the church office by Monday, July 13.
July Vestry Meeting Rescheduled
To accommodate Pr. Crippen's schedule, the Vestry will have its July meeting on Monday, July 20, rather than the regularly scheduled date of July 13. Pr. Crippen will be accompanying youth to the ELCA 2015 Youth Gathering in Detroit during the week of July 13.
The Vestry meetings are always open to congregation members, and are usually held on the second Monday of each month at 7:00 pm.
Book Discussion Group Update
Mount Olive’s Book Discussion Group meets on the second Saturday of each month, at 10:00 am in the West Assembly Area at church. All readers are welcome! For July 11 meeting, they will read, Bleak House, by Charles Dickens, and for August 8 the collection of essays, When You Are Engulfed in Flames, by David Sedaris.
Spiritual Gifts Workshop
Have you been asking yourself these questions? What gifts has God given me? Where is God calling me now? How can I be the presence of God for those around me?
Explore these questions and more at this workshop!
Unwrapping Your Spiritual Gifts:
Saturday, July 25, 8:30 a.m.–noon
Mount Olive Lutheran Church
Workshop Leaders: Connie Marty and
Vicar Meagan McLaughlin
Before the workshop, take an online gifts inventory: www.elca.org/Our-Work/Congregations-and-Synods/Faith-Practices/Assessment-Tools
RSVP Required: Vicar McLaughlin at 612.827.5919 or email@example.com.
The Diaper Depot Needs You!'
The Diaper Depot is open Tuesdays (4:30-6:30) and Thursdays (1:30-3:30) each week. Dozens of families make their way to Mount Olive each week for this extra support. Please consider if you can help any day this summer - just two hours of greeting families and neighbors who need diapers! Call Anna Kingman 612-827-5910 for more info and thank you.
Mark your Calendars for Wednesday, August 5: Transitions Support Group
All are welcome to visit the Transitions Support Group meetings if you've been hoping to find new ideas or encouragement to meet 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, August 5, from 6- 7 pm at Mount Olive in the lower level Youth Room, and will be facilitated by Amy Cotter and Cathy Bosworth.
If you have questions, please contact Cathy at 612-708-1144 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mount Olive and another ELCA congregation will be assisting Pr. Helge Voigt and his family from Leipzig, Germany, (friends of this congregation), as they spend a year in Minneapolis to study and work beginning in August.
Please click on the link below (or cut and paste, if needed), to be taken to the wish list of items. You can sign up on line and then we'll get in contact with you with details.
Scour your closets and donate to the Voigts! Cash and gift cards are also welcomed, as noted on the sign-up sheet.
We also need moving vehicles and people to help, dates TBD. For questions, contact Lora Dundek at 651/645-6636 or by email to email@example.com.
Flour, Sugar and Oil, Oh Yeah
A request from our ACTS summer program kids and helpers:
After working at the Community Emergency Services food shelf this week, we noticed totally bare shelves above the flour, sugar and oil labels. We asked. We found out that these are items most needed and least donated. We encourage you to fill those shelves!
Place your donations in the marked spot in the coat room. Thanks.
What’s better than the start of a new school year? Making sure that all children have clothes and school supplies to make school something to look forward to!
On Saturday, August 1, Bargain Box will sell new and gently-used clothing for kids. School supplies will be distributed to all children at the Community Meal. Each year, we are able to supply about 100 students with clothes and school supplies, which makes going back to school fun for kids and much easier for parents!
You can help by volunteer-ing a few hours on that day, by bringing donations of gently used kids’ clothes, by donating new and gently used back-packs, or by making a mone-tary donation to purchase school supplies.
On Sundays July 5, 12, and 19, someone from the Neighborhood Ministries Committee will be outside the lounge during the coffee hour to receive your donations.
Thank you for making this annual ministry so successful!
News From the Neighborhood
Having the role of Coordinator of Neighborhood Outreach and Ministry is a really amazing position. It's challenging to walk through hardships with others and learn how to best support people. It's immensely gratifying to see relief and hope and abundant blessings. It's also really fun to chat with moms at the Diaper Depot or get to sort food with ACTS kids or play games after tutoring. But the most wonderful part of this role is the ability and (dare I say) call to actively pursue positive change and betterment for the neighborhood that Mount Olive is a part of and each one that our members and sojourners goes home to. It's been all about conversations; talking with Meagan about how to recognize and address the complicated subject of racism, or to an Ethiopian Muslim man from LSS on respectful behavior at a mosque, to chatting with a forlorn woman over a bowl of soup after she literally bathed in the bathroom sink after days of unpaid work. All of these things, and so many more good, meaningful conversations make this job a ministry.
We all have this opportunity within our lives. We all come across people we do not know or do not understand or do not appreciate, and we have an opportunity to start conversations in good faith with open hearts. It's how we will all, in this big, broad, broken world, go about healing and hoping with one another. Where, when, and how are you starting new conversations and being a good neighbor?
P.S. I'm learning how to do that well, so any conversations or advice are always welcome.
Summer ACTS is providing jobs for 19 neighborhood youth and it's going great! It's a fun group of youth, helped and mentored by some wonderful adults and we still need mentors to make it through the end on July 16. Yet to come: Stone's Throw Urban Farm, the Minneapolis Police Dept., Handyworks home help, and an art project. If you can be a part in these kids' life and this program any Monday – Thursday through July 16, from 10am - 2pm, please let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 612-827-5910. Thank you.
Celebrate Ramadan with our Muslim Neighbors!
Ramadan is the month on the Islamic lunar calendar during which Muslims abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset, each day the fast is broken with a meal called Iftar. The Minnesota Council of Churches and the Muslim American Society of Minnesota is hosting a series of open houses at area mosques. Attend an iftar dinner in your area! There is no charge, but RSVP required.
Anna Kingman and Vicar Meagan will attend the dinner on July 7, at Dar al-Hajira Mosque. The link below will take you to registration for all the events scheduled for Ramadan this year. Hope you can join us!
Open Space Event on June 20, 2015: The Neighborhood Garage Sale
Mount Olive hosted a community-wide garage sale in the OPEN SPACE of our church parking lot on June 20. Thank you to all who participated and made this activity a success. There were 12 vendors selling their goods; 5 members and 7 neighbors. There were 16 Mount Olive member volunteers whose main role was to be the presence of God for our guests! They put up handmade signs to draw in the guest shoppers, offered assistance to the vendors as they unloaded and set up, directed cars for parking in the lot, welcomed at our south church door to greet guests for tours of the building, and joined in the community meal over the lunch hour. Here are some comments from those who volunteered:
"I liked the mix of Mount Olive vendors and neighborhood vendors."
"I didn't hear any complaining from anyone - the feeling was almost celebratory."
"The comments I heard as they came in to the church were positive. They liked having it in the area.
Also gave people a chance to come in to the church which many of them liked."
Yes, we literally opened our doors and our space which gave us a chance to show that we are part of the neighborhood, not just talk about it. Check out photos from the day in the main display case and watch for the next Open Space event coming up in August!
- Connie Marty and the Open Space Leadership Team
Reconciling in Christ (RIC) Conference
July 31-Aug 2, 2015 - Augsburg College, Minneapolis
At the end of July we have an opportunity to show our support and commitment to the RIC program and to be a voice to the many other congregations in the ELCA who have not become RIC congregations.
The National Reconciling Works Assembly and RIC conference is being held at Augsburg College July 31-August 2. If you would like to attend, visit www.reconcilingworks.org to register. If you cannot attend the entire conference, consider attending the July 31 gala. Gala tickets are $40 there will be a dinner and silent auction. If you or you and your spouse would like to attend the gala please call or email me so I can get you on the list. (Paul Nixdorf - 612-296-0055; email@example.com )
We are collecting items for the silent auction, asking each RIC congregation to assemble a set of items to be placed in the silent auction at the gala. If you have ideas or know of that we can assemble for the silent auction please call me.
- Paul Nixdorf