News for the Flock

Thanksgiving Eve Worship Includes a Minnesota Comedian

Thanksgiving Eve Worship on Wednesday, November 22 at 7:00 pm will include Minnesota comedian Brenda Elsagher speaking on "Laughing with Gratitude."

"Humor is like breath...it's needed at work, home, and play." – Brenda Elsagher

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The Community Chest featuring Martin Luther: The Man, The Music, and Other Shenanigans

A few weeks ago, a number of folks from SOTV helped produce a variety show titled “The Community Chest: Martin Luther: The Man, The Music, and Other Shenanigans”. All proceeds from the two performances will help provide emergency shelter in Dakota County this winter.

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Tags: Always Reforming

What Do I Need to Know About the Year of Send?

There will be an All Church Serve Together event at SOTV on November 19th, 2017 from 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm. This is a great activity for families and people of all ages! The time will include: stuffing and sewing toys; re-packaging diapers; counting, sorting and tying sock and underwear bundles; color quilt blocks that will become blankets; tour the food shelf and more.

Top 10 ways to stay involved during the year of send: (Information from October newsletter)

1) The Spiritual gifts inventory (found online on the Send web page on the SOTV website) will tell me what my strongest spiritual gifts are so I can put them to use in service to others.

2) I can register my top 5 spiritual gifts on the Send web page after taking the inventory and I will be sent service opportunities to consider that fit those gifts.

3) The “feet” on the large green banner in the narthex represent service that members have done and will do as the year progresses. The peel and stick “feet” are found at the Welcome Desk, Spotlight table and in a basket near the banner.

4) The FaithConnect “God’s Purpose, My Purpose” adult education series with Pastor Wendy starts Monday September 25 for 6 weeks and I can sign up online or at the Welcome Center.

5) I can plan to attend the all-congregation, inter-generational service event at SOTV on Sunday, November 19 from 3:00 - 5:00 pm.

6) I can attend December forums with special guests that focus on service and the benefits to myself and others.

7) I can plan to participate in a community-wide Feed My Starving Children event during the week of January 29 - February 3.

8) I can plan to wear my “Putting Feet to Our Faith” T-shirt anytime, but especially when involved in a service event. If I don’t have one yet, I can plan to purchase one at church.

9) I can watch for further events planned for winter/spring 2018.

10) I can prayerfully consider how I can show the love of Jesus in serving others

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” 
1 Corinthians 12:4-7

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Future Journey to Tanzania

Are you looking for an adventure?

Come along next summer to visit our companion congregations in Tanzania. Travelers experience overwhelming hospitality, being treated both as honored guests and as family, warmly welcomed into the life of the church with song, dance, and prayer. We are welcomed into the daily lives of our partners and see their challenges – to grow food, collect clean water, send children to school, and have access to good health care. We witness their faith and hope, their effective evangelism, and we are humbled by their strong community ties.

Tanzania Travel Informational Meeting
Thursday, October 12, 7:00 PM

The 2018 SOTV Journey to Tanzania is open to the first fifteen applicants, and will be led by Pastor Wendy Steger and Kirsten Levorson. Tentative travel dates are July 3 – 19 and the estimated cost is $5000. Information is available at www.sotv.org/tanzania. Applications and a $500 deposit are due October 15. Questions? Contact Kirsten.Levorson@sotv.org.

 

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Tags: Connect

Always Reforming

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We are commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation this month. That’s a big deal for a number of reasons. For one, we wouldn’t be SOTV Lutheran Church without it.  More than that, the Reformation actually changed Christianity.  The hierarchical system of the church was cracked wide open.  The scriptures were translated into the language of the people.  The wine of the Lord’s Supper was made available not just to priests but to everyone.  Scripture was emphasized over tradition, grace over works, faith over demand.  As a priesthood of believers, we realized helping our neighbor was as holy to God as the priest at the altar saying mass.

Martin Luther was the key leader in this movement, of course, and the impact of his thought and work went well beyond the reformation of the church.  His writing, as a whole, is prodigious and impressive, earthy and practical simultaneously.  His quill was sometimes a little too sharp.  It has been necessary for the church that bears his name to repudiate a few of his writings.

But, while all of this is worth remembering and celebrating, I think we also must be careful not to idolize or idealize the past.  We live now.  Five-hundred years later.  It’s not the same world in which Luther walked, nor the same culture.  He had the printing press (revolutionary in its time); we have computers that we hold in our hands.

Our message is still good news.  Perhaps needed more than ever.  Grace.  Mercy.  Peace.  Serving our neighbors.  Loving as we have been loved.  You get the idea. But to be truly faithful to the Reformation (noun), we need to always be reforming (verb).  Guided by the living Spirit, the church is called to be always reforming, seeking fresh and new ways to be faithful.  If people don’t easily come through our front doors anymore, we must discover ways to welcome them through the side and back and basement doors.

I firmly believe that Luther himself would be encouraging us in this direction.  He was horrified when he learned that churches had started being identified as “Lutheran.”  He said, “Who am I, poor stinking maggot fodder that I am, that a church should be called by my name?”  As always, Luther pointed to Christ as the one who is and always needs to be at the center of the church.

Let’s remember the Reformation and all the good that it did.  History needs to be recalled or the worst parts of it will be repeated.  But let’s embrace the verb and be a reforming church.  Always.

Pastor Rick

P.S.  I believe that our upcoming Community Chest event would have tickled Luther’s fancy.  He wasn’t afraid to have some fun.  He loved music.  And he was involved in his fair share of shenanigans.  But he also deeply cared about his community.  Our event will support our community in a critical way by directing all the funds raised to the Dakota County Homelessness Initiative. I hope to see you there! 

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Backpack & Hygiene Kit Donations

Thanks to many generous donations, SOTV was able to fill 304 backpacks with supplies and 150 hygiene kits, plus pack loose supplies for 7 additional schools. Over 600 students will benefit from these donations! These supplies will go to students through District 196 and neighboring service organizations. Thanks also to Eagan Valley Dental for donations for hygiene kits, and to Lakeville Verizon Authorized Dealer for school supplies.

 Thank you for helping our local students to be ready to learn!

 

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Tags: Gifts of the Spirit

"Here am I. Send me." Isaiah 6:8

September is our formal kick-off for the Year of Send! The focus of this year at SOTV is “Putting Feet to our Faith.” We have been Welcomed and Transformed and now we learn what our spiritual gifts are and use them to serve others.

On the big wall in the narthex you will notice our theme in a big, bold, banner. At the Welcome Desk and near the banner you will find peel-and-stick “feet.” As the year progresses and you find yourself involved in any type of service activity, we ask that members of all ages jot that down on a sticker and put it up on the wall/banner (with or without your name) and as a community, we will celebrate all the ways we are sent by God to serve our Lord through serving his people.

Many activities have been planned around this theme. In September, a sermon series will begin with a focus on serving and Pastor Wendy will present a six week education option called FaithConnect, with the topic, “God’s Purpose, My Purpose”. A program sponsored by the Purposeful Retirement committee is entitled “Volunteering with Purpose”. Volunteers and representatives from Upworks, SOTV, 360 Communities and Dakota County will share their own personal experiences.

We are also encouraging congregation members to take a Spiritual Gifts Assessment Tool online to determine one’s strongest spiritual gifts that may lead to specific service activities for which we are particularly suited. This inventory is available online at SOTV.org. T-shirts with our footprints logo will be available for sale in the Great Hall starting Sep 9 to wear when participating in service activities. It will be exciting to see how our collective efforts of being Sent by God will better our church, community and world.

 

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A New Primary School

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July 12 was a day of celebration at Mpalapande as the new primary school building was dedicated. Maasai, Hehe, Barabeig, and Bena tribes were represented along with the Americans. Those present from Shepherd of the Valley were: Pastor Rick Summy, Kirsten Levorson, Matt and Bobbie Bainbridge,

Christina Nissen and her children Drew, Lydia and Isabella Thuras. The school is the first building dedicated by newly consecrated Bishop Blastone Gaville, and several carloads of Iringa Diocese officials came out to witness the event.

Bishop Gaville’s remarks were based on a verse from Proverbs 4:13, “Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.” He reminded those gathered that everything they can see in this place comes from God – the partnership between the Iringa Diocese and the Saint Paul Area Synod, the partnership between Tungamalenga Parish and Shepherd of the Valley, this building, and the gift of education. He asked the local congregation to “protect this gift” and guard it from damage, because “this school will provide leaders of the future.” Inside the dedication plaque, we placed a Bible translated in both Swahili and English, to represent our partnership.

The village chairperson offered the thanks of the community. “Thank God, he has seen the need of the people here.” The local Member of Parliament sent greetings and thanks to the church community.

Pastor Paulo Massinga also offered words of thanks. “Thank God, what we have been waiting for so long is now here.” Classes for children in first, second and third grades are scheduled to begin with the new school year in January. Until then, the congregation will be sponsoring classes for adults who want to learn to read and write.

Many thanks to all who so generously contributed to this project through gifts to the Capital Campaign.

 

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Gifts of the Spirit

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Wendy Steger Connect Pastor

Wendy Steger
Connect Pastor

My grandmother used to have a kitschy piece of artwork hanging on her kitchen wall that said, “I know I’m somebody, ‘cause God don’t make no junk!” I remember my early childhood brain being thoroughly confused by that strange wall hanging. God making junk? What? As I’ve gotten older, of course, now I understand. My grandmother had been through some hard times in her life, and that colloquial saying gave her a boost of confidence and a reminder of her worth in God’s eyes. Every morning as she ate breakfast, she was reminded that God created her for a reason, and that she mattered.

Have you ever wondered why God created you? In Psalm 139, we are reminded that God has fearfully and wonderfully made each one of us. God is the one who knit each of us together in our mother’s womb. You were intentionally made on purpose, for a purpose.

In fact, scripture says that each one of us is given a set of spiritual gifts to be used for the benefit of humankind and all of creation. God made you for a reason, and the Holy Spirit dwells in you, so that your gifts might be used to serve others.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. - 1 Corinthians 12:4-7

Do you ever wonder what spiritual gifts God has given to you?

This year, as part of the Year of Send initiative, we have made the ELCA Spiritual Gifts Assessment accessible from the Shepherd of the Valley website. To discover your spiritual gifts, find out what they mean and how to use them, go to “The Year of Send” on our website. Once you complete the spiritual gifts assessment on our website, we will help you get connected throughout the year with service opportunities that use your own unique spiritual gifts.

If you’d like to go deeper, join me on Mondays from 6:30 to 8:00 PM. for FaithConnect, our newest adult education option (see p. 10 in the September newsletter) as we explore the topic “God’s Purpose, My Purpose.”

God has created each of us with a distinct set of skills, passions, talents, abilities, and gifts. I encourage you to discover and explore your own spiritual gifts.  They have been given to you by the Holy Spirit, so that you might use them to love and serve others.

Pastor Wendy

 

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A Hunger for Learning

Jane and I have experienced many Bible studies, book studies, men’s groups, women’s groups, the race group, and Sunday Forums. They have all provided us the “pearls of wisdom” that increase our understanding of our faith, give us the ability to “go in peace and serve the Lord” and improve our ability and awareness to participate in the conversations of the day.

It’s been a while since we were confirmed. Some points weren’t understood at that time, others have been misfiled, and others have dimmed over time. The study groups that SOTV facilitates have provided answers to our questions and refreshed our memories. Discussions of what the context of the words meant at the time they were spoken, the use of “remez” and just reading the chapters of the Bible have increased our understanding.

Similarly, the books we have read on purposeful living, race, prayer, different religions, grace, etc., have all increased our awareness and understanding of these subjects.

So, we recommend participating in SOTV’s groups studying the Bible, social issues, and Christian issues if you are searching for:

  • answers to your faith questions
  • good friends you enjoy being with
  • ways to encourage your mind to think
  • the ability to participate in today’s conversations
  • some very good pastries and treats

 We hope to see you at a learning event soon!

-Ken Syverson

 

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Tags: Year of Send

Putting Feet to our Faith

Keeping true to our Vision at Shepherd of the Valley, in the past two years, we have focused on being Welcomed into the fellowship of Christ, and have been Transformed by his Spirit and Word. We now focus on our mission and opportunity to be Sent to love and serve others. This August begins our year of SEND at Shepherd of the Valley. Our theme is “Putting Feet to our Faith.”

“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send?’ And ‘Who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I, send me!’ ”  Isaiah 6:8

Service opportunities abound within our families, our church, our neighborhoods and beyond to the world. All of us have spiritual gifts, given by God to do his work in the world. We will be encouraged to complete a Spiritual Gifts Assessment, and be empowered to live out our mission using those gifts to serve others. As a congregation we will encourage one another by serving together, serving inter-generationally and finding new opportunities to share God’s love in service.

Our church family has been very active in the area of service. With a particular emphasis this year on continuing that expression of God’s love, you are encouraged to think about ways you and your family can reach out and serve, using your spiritual gifts to share God’s love and caring. Monthly events will focus on service and everyone will be invited to participate as they are able. 

“Then they answered Joshua, ‘Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us, we will go.’ ” Joshua 1:16

 Welcome to the Year of Send!

-Paula Swiggum

 

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Summer Immersion Experiences

Sarah Bane, Youth Director

Sarah Bane, Youth Director

With vehicles packed, hugs given to parting travelers, and seats carefully picked for the journey ahead, anticipation mounts. Will I have fun this week? Am I going to make any new friends? Is serving others going to be scary?

As the questions swirled in the minds of all those called to participate in a Summer Immersion Experience through Shepherd of the Valley this past summer, participants didn’t even realize that God had already started a good work among us! That good work was and continues to be the transformational impact of the Holy Spirit who faithfully shows up when we are sent from SOTV – or better yet, graciously reminds us that she’s always been there.

This summer, SOTV sent over 300 people of all ages from our congregation to Camp Wapo in Amery, Wisconsin; to the Pine Ridge Reservation in Wanblee, South Dakota; to Panama City, Florida for Beach Camp; to Duluth, Minnesota; and locations all throughout the twin cities metro area for Summer Stretch. Through relationships, reflection, and service, participants discovered the ways in which God is already at work in the world; noticing how God has always and continually transforms hearts, gently pointing us back to the hope of the cross. I had the pleasure and privilege of getting to lead a group of high school students to the Pine Ridge Reservation in Wanblee, South Dakota this summer through the YouthWorks organization. Our week included worship, devotion, fellowship, running a Kid’s Club for area kids to have structured playtime, and working on various home improvement projects, like painting and constructing pergolas. The beauty of the week wasn’t necessarily in seeing the progress made in our respective service projects, but in experiencing firsthand the history and stories of the Pine Ridge people who by the power of God’s love transformed us.

As a leader, it was a humbling experience to see how much bigger and more complicated the world became for the students participating on the Pine Ridge trip. Even more incredible was witnessing how this big and complicated world still holds so much hope! Thank you for your prayers on behalf of all of our Summer Immersion experiences this past summer. And thank you, also, for lending a listening ear to our travelers as they came home to share their experiences. As another summer comes to a close, it is with a deep gratitude that I look back in awe of how great our God is.    

Sarah Bane

 

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The Year of SEND

Last month, my husband and daughter took a weekend trip to the family lake place, just the two of them. The weather wasn’t going to be great, but they had plans to fish and enjoy the lake anyway.

About a day into their trip, I got this text: “Look what we found!” It was a monarch caterpillar. Together, father and daughter located a jar and some extra milkweed, and made a home for “Ralphie.” Ralphie traveled to Eagan, where he ate some more milkweed in his home-sweet-jar, until he spun himself into a chrysalis.

Just last Sunday, I got another text: “Ralphie’s all grown up!!” We set Ralphie free, and he flew only a very short distance before he stopped to rest on the chimney of our house. He flapped his wings, but he just wasn’t flying anywhere. He was still getting used to having wings, I suppose. My daughter and I watched him until we got bored, but eventually we went inside. About an hour later, I just had to check on Ralphie again - he was gone! Maybe he was off to find his monarch buddies, or to start making plans for his fall migration to Mexico. But mostly, he was unleashed into the world, to share his beauty with the rest of God’s creation.

Like Ralphie, each one of us has beauty to share with the world. God created each of us for a purpose, and God has created wonderful ways for us to love and serve our neighbor. When we worship. learn, and find connections here at Shepherd of the Valley, it is a beautiful, life-giving thing. Each of us is strengthened for our life’s journey by experiencing God’s love through Jesus Christ. But ultimately, we are strengthened for a purpose. Like Ralphie, each of us is sent into the world to share something beautiful with others. And like Ralphie, we might flap our wings for a while, thinking we aren’t headed anywhere. But God has given you strong and mighty wings. You are sent to be God’s love, light, and beauty for the world.

This year at Shepherd of the Valley, we are beginning the Year of Send and focusing on the theme “Putting Feet to our Faith.” As a congregation, we share God’s love through our many ministries, as well as through the numerous things each of us do individually to serve Christ in our daily lives. During the Year of Send (see below), we will highlight those things we are already doing, and we will also add some new ministries to help unleash even more of Christ’s love into the world.

Join us for for our fall sermon series, “Putting Feet to Our Faith,” and our new fall adult education option called FaithConnect, which will explore spiritual gifts and the topic, “God’s Purpose, My Purpose” (see p. 10). You are also invited to join us for a community forum on August 10 from 6:30 to 8:00 PM to address the next steps toward establishing an emergency homeless shelter in Dakota County (see p. 7).

One other important way we are sent to share God’s love is by inviting others into supportive Christian community. So, I encourage you to invite your friends, neighbors, and family to our new Sunday evening casual, family-friendly worship service called Breaking Bread (see p. 11), as well as our annual Block Party on September 16. (see p. 5)

Each of us is uniquely blessed with particular gifts for serving Christ and sharing God’s love with the world. Just like Ralphie was transformed from caterpillar to butterfly, each of us is transformed by Christ. And like Ralphie, we each have been given wings to fly; we are sent into the world to share God’s amazing love.

Wendy Steger
Connect Pastor

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Hope In Hard Times

Submitted by Bob Lange -

In the early summer of 2008, I became septic from a diabetic foot ulcer. I was very, very ill. I was in the ICU and then a nursing home with intravenous antibiotics for a couple of months. The infection in my foot would not heal and finally at the end of summer, I had my right foot amputated. I again was in the nursing home for recovery and physical therapy. I learned to walk again with prosthesis. Needless to say, it was a difficult time. My faith in God was strong and I always believed he was there with me. In addition to the great medical care, I had the prayers and support of my family, friends and church. They all gave me the hope to overcome this.

Five years later in October of 2013, my daughter got married. I was so happy and proud to walk her down the aisle. It was a wonderful time with family and friends. A week after the wedding, I had a doctor appointment to have my throat checked. I had been having problems swallowing. I did some research on the internet before the appointment, and was very nervous. I remember clearly when the doctor told me I had stage 3 esophageal cancer. I knew it was very serious and had known a couple of people that had this type of cancer, and they did not survive. I asked the doctor if I was going to make it through the cancer and treatment and he said my chances were 50/50. Again, I turned to my faith in God, my medical team, and my family and friends for support.

I had three months of chemotherapy and radiation treatments followed by surgery where they removed 70% of my esophagus and 20% of my stomach. I had complications following the surgery, and was in the ICU for two weeks. I then was in a nursing home for recovery. I was bed ridden, had to learn to walk again and was fed through a stomach tube for 7 months. Then I had to learn how to eat again. It was definitely a “tough time” in my life.

At one time I had a very vivid dream. I dreamed I was visited by Jesus himself. A very warm, friendly man. Dressed in a gray shark-skin suit. He just dropped by to see how I was doing and to give his blessing. Letting me know I would be fine. We talked a lot about my family, and then he left and went on to his next meeting.

Fast forward 3 1/2 years to today. While I currently have some other health issues, I am happy to report that I am cancer free. I am so grateful to God, my family, friends, SOTV pastors, physicians and nurses. They are the members of my “care team,” and I could not have done it without them!
 

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Tags: Endings are New Beginnings