News for the Flock

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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Categories: News, Year of SEND
Tags: Connect

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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Categories: News, Care
Tags: Endings are New Beginnings

Purposeful Retirement

What do the following have in common: A Barbecue, End of Life Issues, No-Regrets Retirement Planning, Understanding Your Strengths and Gifts, and Feed My Starving Children? The answer: they all represent just a few of the various programs sponsored by Purposeful Retirement at Shepherd of the Valley during the past three years.

Purposeful Retirement provides guidance to retirees and near-retirees as they enter their second half of life. Since its launch in 2014, the group has offered more than 30 programs and events and more are on the way. In addition, Purposeful Retirement has generated about a dozen “Affinity Groups” – groups designed for those with special interests, such as travel, biking, a book club, lunching and more.

“Purposeful Retirement has really been ground breaking,” said Pastor Duane who has helped oversee the program. “It is serving a great role in meeting the needs of persons in retirement – providing them with useful information and connecting them with other retirees in our congregation.” The sheer number of retirees in the south metro suburbs has surprised many participants. At Shepherd of the Valley alone, more than 1,500 members are age 55 and older. The ministry has attracted community attention well beyond our church doors. Two national publications, including The Lutheran Magazine, have published articles about SOTV’s Purposeful Retirement, recognizing it as a model of success for the retiree population at a church.

Kristi Kuhnau has helped spearhead the effort for Purposeful Retirement since day one. She serves as chair of Purposeful Retirement Steering Committee, a group of about twenty church members who plan and organize all the many events under the Purposeful Retirement umbrella. She said when people retire from a lifetime of working, their sense of purpose and community from the workplace are lost and they need to seek substitutions for these in retirement.

Perhaps the combination of fun and education has been the recipe for the success of the program. Purposeful Retirement holds monthly meetings that include guest speakers, self-improvement sessions, round table discussions, service projects and just plain fun activities. The most recent event was held in June – a Celebrating Retirement Barbecue attended by approximately 100 persons. Each January the church hosts a seminar geared toward new or soon-to-be retirees to help them plan for what to do in retirement and think about all the aspects that should be considered when planning a No-Regrets Retirement. Many of the Affinity Groups (Biking, Movies, Lunch, Book Club) meet monthly or offer special events (Travel Group, Yoga, Spanish).

Information about SOTV’s Purposeful Retirement, including program dates, Affinity Groups and registration, can be found on the church’s website: www.SOTV.org/retirement. Most programs, except for trips, are free and open to the public. Pre-registration is encouraged.

Written by: Chap Milis

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Categories: News, Learn
Tags: Endings are New Beginnings

Shelter for the Homeless Project Update

The Adult Homeless Shelter Coalition (of which SOTV is a part) and Dakota County have agreed to develop a working relationship to secure a shelter provider and meet the needs of people experiencing homelessness in the community.  This is a hopeful step forward. The need for emergency shelter continues to grow in Dakota County, with an average of over 50 persons turned away nightly. Last winter, the faith community, along with other community resources in Dakota County, provided funding and shelter for 32 nights during the coldest part of December and January for over 78 people experiencing homelessness.  People sheltered ranged in age from eight months to 70 years.

Now the faith community and Dakota County Community Services are working together to create a short-term emergency shelter option by November 1, 2017.  Dakota County is in the process of issuing a Request for Proposals to secure an experienced and qualified homeless shelter provider to create and manage the shelter, and has designated $45,000 from the housing funding budget for this purpose. A community forum will be held August 10 at 6:30 PM at SOTV to outline the next steps toward opening a temporary emergency homeless shelter in Dakota County. Join us to learn more about the project and to find out how you can get involved.

While planning for short-term emergency shelter, work is also being undertaken to secure a permanent site for an emergency homeless shelter.  Dakota County is forming a leadership workgroup on emergency shelter which will include representatives from the faith community. No location for a permanent shelter has been determined; many locations across Dakota County are being researched. Financial assistance, community support, and volunteers will be needed to accomplish both the temporary and permanent shelters. 

 

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Categories: News, Connect
Tags: Endings are New Beginnings

Endings Are New Beginnings

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Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes…” Billy Joel sang. Beginnings and endings make our time, our lives, our life together as a congregation.

In our personal lives, we tend to review and recap at the end of the calendar year. Here at SOTV it makes sense to do so at the end of our program year and as we prepare for our annual meeting, which will take place on Sunday, July 23 at 12:15 pm. (Mark your calendar!)

Some ministries don’t have clear endings and beginnings, of course. Worship continues year round. Pastoral care too. So do many of our outreach ministries, including our Tanzania support. CYF shutters confirmation and Godzone for the summer but keeps things moving with mission trips, VBS, mini camps, and Summer Stretch. As we continue to work and plan, the cost of the ministry that SOTV does year round continues. We certainly appreciate your continuing to give generously even while we hope you also get some refreshing vacation time away. (Please see the article about the many different ways to give on page 8).

Recent years were marked by pastoral staff endings and, in a way, that continued this year as we said goodbye to two fine and faithful interim pastors, Ron Olson and Maggie Novak. But you have said a gracious hello and offered a supportive welcome to both Wendy Steger and me as you called us to be your pastors this past year. New beginnings allow the endings to truly end and bring excitement for refreshed hope and new initiatives.

One of the things we’ve already accomplished is to update our logo. The goal was to have a sense of continuity from the old “shepherd” logo but also to create a simpler, more contemporary look. We have accomplished this with what we are calling the cross-crook logo as seen on the front page of this newsletter. It is essentially a piece of the former logo, where the shepherd’s crook crossed the shepherd’s outstretched arm. I particularly like how the cross is an integral part of the shepherd’s crook. At the heart of the good shepherd’s never ending care for us (the shepherd’s crook) is the empty cross, the universal symbol of our Christian faith that is anchored in the death and resurrection of Jesus. The font for our name is fresh too—cleaner and easier to read. It is also noteworthy that both the logo and the text “lean” forward. Rooted in tradition, we exist to serve today, trusting that the future is in God’s hands.

Other beginnings are on the horizon as well. Breaking Bread is a new Sunday evening worship experience that will take place in the Great Hall. It will include both a meal and Holy Communion, and will be more casual than our current worship offerings. This will start on Sunday, August 20 at 5 PM. Starting on Monday, September 25, FaithConnect will be a six-week large group/small group learning experience that will help us connect faith to life and God’s people to one another. This will be offered again in the spring, with different content. In between, during the winter, FaithFoundations will be offered for those who would like to learn about or brush up on some of the essentials of our faith. Of course, this is the year of “Send” as well and that team is planning all sorts of opportunities for us to explore how God calls us to “put feet to our faith.”

Revelation reminds us that Jesus Christ is the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end. Jesus’ death and resurrection is the paramount ending leading to a new beginning. It gives us hope in hard times that often include endings and trust in the new beginnings that follow. In what can sometimes feel like a graceless age, it frees us to love and serve.

Pastor Rick

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Categories: News
Tags: Endings are New Beginnings

Tanzania Travel

Since 2002, Shepherd of the Valley travelers have made annual (and sometimes more frequent) trips to visit our companions in Tanzania. This July will be no different. Pastor Rick Summy will be making the trip for his first time, along with Kirsten Levorson, Matt and Bobbie Bainbridge, Christina Nissen and her children Drew, Lydia and Isabella Thuras.

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Categories: News, Connect
Tags: Re-Creation

Re-Creating a Family Favorite

At the Women’s Ministries Tour of Tables, four generations of Sue Carlson’s family enjoyed a table setting depicting the Wizard of Oz, and dressed in character for the event. The table included Sue, her daughters Emily Carlson and Sarah Lauer, granddaughters Greta (“Dorothy” who decorated the table) and Audrey Lauer, mother Joan Hawkins, mother-in-law Lucy Carlson, and Greta and Audrey’s Grandma Lauer.

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Categories: News, Connect
Tags: Re-Creation

Make All Things New

There are website headlines that promise an easy formula to follow in order to renew one’s life. For example, have you read the one: “Lose Weight by Avoiding These 11 Foods”? It is a list of all my favorite junk foods! 

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Categories: News, Learn
Tags: Re-Creation

Endowment Fund Awards Its First Grants

For members of the Endowment Committee, we have always agreed that the Endowment Fund will be “for real” when we have made grants impacting the lives of members of SOTV and the community.  

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Categories: stewardship, News
Tags: Planting Seeds, Endowment

Congrats, Scholarship Winners!

The Shepherd College Scholarship Committee is proud to announce its 2017 winners. These awards are funded by proceeds from the annual Golf, Gears, and Gutters for the Good event.

The Committee weighs the applicant’s academic record, involvement in church and other activities, as well as financial need. This year the Committee awarded four scholarships in the amount of $250 each.

Elizabeth Sanders is graduating from Farmington High School and Normandale Community College. She will attend the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire and major in either Elementary Education or Early Childhood Education.

Ryan Pagois is graduating from Eagan High School. He will attend Boston University and major in International Relations.

Maggie Slater is graduating from Apple Valley High School. She will attend the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire and major in Nursing.

Olivia Simons is graduating from Rosemount High School. She will attend the College of St. Benedict with a double major in Nursing and Physician Assistant.

Thank you to everyone who applied. We hope that you will continue to apply annually.

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Categories: Learn, News
Tags: Planting Seeds

Mrs. Stenbom Retiring in May

Mrs. Stenbom

Mrs. Stenbom

Celebrating Children Preschool (CCP) announces the retirement of a long time teacher, Linda Stenbom. With the conclusion of the current preschool program year in May 2017, Mrs. Stenbom will retire after 35 years of teaching. Her last 15 years have been with Shepherd of the Valley here at CCP!

Prior to CCP, Mrs. Stenbom taught in the Friday Mornings Out (FMO) program here at SOTV. She has taught over 500 students while at CCP and still knows many by name when she sees them around town or in church. She has seen a lot of change including the new preschool classrooms and expansion of our curriculum.

Mrs. Stenbom has played an active role in defining our philosophies and enriching the wonderful program offered at this preschool. We are grateful for the dedication and love she has always shown her students, as well as, the contribution to this important ministry. We wish her a joyful retirement.

We are compiling a book for memories for Mrs. Stenbom. If you would like to contribute to the book, please email your memory and 1-3 pictures to Linda Nelson at linda.nelson@sotv.org. Deadline: Tuesday, May 9.

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Categories: Learn, News
Tags: Preschool, Planting Seeds

Plant, Water, Grow?

Faith is very much like a garden. Neglect results in some kind of withering of our life with God and others. On the other hand, I know from experience that an intentional nurturing of faith produces what Jesus calls "abundant life"

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Categories: Learn
Tags: Planting Seeds

Increasing our Facility’s Safety and Security

Thanks to the generous gifts to the Capital Fund, a new entrance security project is underway. We have added security card readers at key entrances to increase the safety and security for everyone who regularly uses our facility.

Here’s what you need to know:

During worship times, the doors will be open as normal. More specifically, doors at Entrance 1 and Entrance 3 will be open from 3:00 pm - 6:45 pm on Saturdays, and Sundays from 7:30 am - 2:00 pm.

During regular building hours, use the south bank of doors at Entrance 1. Building hours will remain the same: 8:00 AM - 8:00 PM on Saturday and Sunday, and 8:00 AM - 9:00 PM Monday to Thursday. The south bank of doors at Entrance 1 (the automated disability doors and the adjoining set of doors) will either be open or you can use the call box attached to the wall to buzz the facility staff to let you in.

When inside, go directly to the Welcome Center. Welcome Center volunteers can answer
your questions, find the appropriate staff person to help you, and help you access the Admin office. If a volunteer isn't available at the Welcome Center, clear signage will direct you.

What about special events? When there are large special events in the building, we’ll make sure there is access through our two main entrances. Also, our preschool families and food shelf clients will have dedicated access through Entrance 3.

Why do we need this added security? In many ways, we are simply catching up with the times. Most public buildings in our area already have this same level of security in place. The Apple Valley Chief of Police, Jon Rechtzigel, and Fire Chief, Nealon P. Thompson (both SOTV members) have encouraged us to take these steps to make our facility safer. We have also consulted with fellow church facility managers in the area.

Thank you for your patience as we implement these new security features. If you have questions, please contact our Facilities Director, Greg Nonweiler at 952-985-7340 or Greg.Nonweiler@sotv.org.

 

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Categories: building and facility

Continuing to Know Our Neighbors

In March, Shepherd of the Valley hosted a unique Somali Dinner with guest speakers from LSS Refugee Services. Everyone enjoyed a meal of delicious sambusas, jasmine basmati rice, chicken fantastic, and chai tea. Following dinner, our guest speakers inspired us with stories of refugee families fleeing persecution and beginning new lives in the U.S. LSS staff also shared their approach to community engagement and how we could take action to be part of their “Circle of Welcome.”

Here are a few highlights:

  • Refugee resettlement has a long history of community involvement, especially within Lutheran churches.
  • Reaching out to refugees is a little jump that can make a huge difference. Interaction and conversation helps everyone to get to know “the other” better, strengthen bonds, and break down silos.
  • Last year, volunteers served over 5,550 hours – that’s over $130,000 of time given! Beyond the dollar amount, think of how much support was given to refugees during those hours.
  • LSS provides families with “The Long Welcome” by providing mentors, financial support, and other services to families during the difficult first year. The goal is that families will feel empowered, a part of the community and able to become self-sufficient.

While Shepherd of the Valley has enjoyed a long-standing relationship with LSS, we have recently expanded our efforts over the past year to better get to know our neighbors in partnership with LSS.  In addition to hosting the LSS Study, “And Who is My Neighbor?”, Shepherd of the Valley activities have included collecting hygiene items and making fleece blankets for refugees, field trips to Somali neighborhoods and restaurants, book studies, and writing letters to elected officials in support of refugee resettlement. Several 9th grade Confirmation students also took part in a “refugee connection” class, learning more about young refugees and having dinner with them.

There is still a lot to learn about our neighbors. An ongoing Racial Truth & Reconciliation Task Force sponsors a monthly movie night/discussion and an ongoing book study. Shepherd of the Valley is also building relationships with area faith partners including the South Metro Islamic Center in Rosemount and Lily of the Valley AME Church.

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Categories: Local Mission, Connect
Tags: Racial Reconciliation, Race, Knowing Our Neighbors, #OneBodyManyParts