Lifetimes: August 2022

Lifetimes Newsletter
From the Pastor

Pastor Kai Nilsen
Pastor Kai Nilsen

A few weekends ago, my wife, Patty, and I traveled to Des Moines to see my parents for a brief stay. In addition to seeing my parents, we had an extra bonus of seeing my youngest daughter and her fiancée who were in Des Moines for a long weekend. Given my parent’s health concerns, they will likely not be able to travel Columbus, Ohio for my daughter’s wedding in December. As a wedding gift, they gave our music educator kids tickets to three operas from the Des Moines Opera. An exceptionally meaningful gift. My wife and I were able to join them for the first of three.

As the six of us gathered around the table for our first meal together, my mom chirped in joyfully, “What shall we sing?” The Nilsens are singers, so, you’d think it would be an easy question to answer. But there is always a delay, not because of our lack of desire to sing, but because we are trying to figure out meaningful songs that three generations know well enough to sing together.

Even though we’ve all been lifetime participants in the church, the three generations have been formed by different expressions of the church. My parents love traditional worship and hymnody and can appreciate contemporary. My kids love contemporary worship and worship songs, but also appreciate traditional. So, we’d choose a more traditional hymn, and one generation would belt out all the words while another would sing what they could and then “la, la, la” the rest. When we choose a more contemporary song, the roles would reverse.

Yet, no matter what we were singing, there were tears. The singing was glorious and textured and passionate. Inspiring music, no matter where it is experienced, has the power to move you to tears.

There were also tears because we were together-in the same room at the same time! With the physical distance of miles since our move to Minnesota and the circumstantial distance brought on by COVID in these last two years and health more recently, being with one another wasn’t something we could take for granted. It was a sheer gift.

So, there we were, three generations stretching out across 62 years and 650 miles joined together in song.

Did you know that Incarnation Lutheran Church has now turned 60 years old! In 1962, two predecessor churches merged to form one body—Incarnation Lutheran Church. On Sunday, September 11, we will celebrate those 60 years at both worship services. And we will join in song!

Like my family of six that gathered a few weeks ago, we will represent multiple generations. Also, like the three generations of my family that gathered around the table, we will represent different experiences of the one faith in Jesus. Yet…we will sing. We won’t all know all the words to all the songs but in the spirit of Jesus and of being together, we can celebrate what God has and continues to do throughout the generations.

So, mark September 11 on your calendar. Invite friends and family to join you. There is a melody of grace that continues to bind us together over the generations. And it is sheer gift when we can be together!

Peace. Kai

From the Council

Wyatt Stahl, Congregation President
Wyatt Stahl, Congregation President

During the 9:00 a.m. worship service on Sunday, July 17, our Director of Traditional Worship and Organist, Amy Maakestad, was leading us in the hymn “Jesus Loves Me”. On the second verse, as we came to the chorus, Amy stopped playing the organ. I quickly looked across the sanctuary to her to see if things were okay. I realized that she was fine; she was just allowing the congregation to sing the chorus acapella. After a very short pause, the congregation joined in singing, and we sang beautifully. Amy then resumed playing the organ to lead us in the third verse.

For me, this was a unique and blessed shared moment. It exemplified how much worshiping together in person can be rich, vibrant and spirit led. When planning your Sunday morning, consider gathering together with us for your worship experience. God bless you.

See you on Sunday.

Food for All MobilePackTM  There’s Still Time to Volunteer!

Incarnation’s Food for All MobilePackTM is July 29 and 30 and we are still looking for volunteers to help pack meals and support the MobilePackTM behind the scenes. It’s not too late to join in the fun and support the important work of Feed My Starving Children as they work to minimize the growing problem of global hunger.

This MobilePackTM is the grand finale of the month-long Tons of Love campaign hosted by the Ralph Reeder Food Shelf Action Group. We are looking for help in several areas:

Pack Meals: Visit the Feed My Starving Children website and sign up today as space is limited.  Invite your friends and family members ages 5+ to join you. The event is open to all Incarnation members and non-members from the greater community alike.  Many volunteer spots are still available.

Volunteer Behind the Scenes: Volunteers are needed to support the MobilePackTM as well as set up and serve the community meals. Visit the SignUp Genius link to see available shifts.

Donate Food to Ralph Reeder Food Shelf: Bring a bag of non-perishable items to the MobilePackTM and drop it off in a vehicle near the “Tons of Love” tent. “Tons of Love” is also looking for volunteers during the month of July. Visit the “Tons of Love” SignUp Genius link for more information.

In addition to the MobilePackTM, the FMSC Action Group will host a community meal between packing shifts on Friday and Saturday. The meals will be available for anyone volunteering either day and served on Friday between 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. and Saturday from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. This community meal is possible due to a grant from the Incarnation Endowment Fund.

Thank you in advance for your support of this important ministry. For the most up to date information, visit our web page or follow our social media sites. For questions, contact Sally Lawless.

Update on Capital Projects

Water standing in rotted window frame.
Water standing in rotted window frame.

COST: $197,798

RAISED TO DATE: $196,254

ISSUE: Rotting window frames due to improper installation

HISTORY: In the past couple of years, windows in the 2005 addition called Incarnation Hall have begun to leak and rot. In the last year, attempts were made to see if the damage could be claimed on insurance and repaired. A legal firm was also hired to see if there was any ownership of the problems with the original construction companies. None of this proved available.

PLAN: Replace the 33 windows with new windows and install them with proper techniques. The outside walls will be redone with new material and the walls surrounding the windows will be repaired and sheetrock installed.

INFORMATION: Rick Gravley, Facilities Manager OR Danette Griffith, Administrator

SUPPORT: Online or checks, stocks, grants to Incarnation Lutheran with project indicated.

Pastor Joel hoping for a catch in the pond created by improper runoff.
Pastor Joel hoping for a catch in the pond created by improper runoff.

COST: $328,275
RAISED TO DATE: $220,877

ISSUE: Improper runoff of drain water and no handicapped parking near building.

HISTORY: The parking lot has served well for many years but needs proper drainage installed to avoid water pooling. The handicapped parking is not next to the building which makes members and guests cross moving traffic to get into the building.

PLAN: Redesign parking lot with handicapped slots next to the building. A sidewalk will be installed along the south side of the building to connect Door One and Door Two. In this first phase, the south parking lot will be resurfaced and restriped. Future phases will include other parking areas.

INFORMATION: Rick Gravley, Facilities Manager OR Danette Griffith, Administrator

SUPPORT: Online or checks, stocks, grants to Incarnation Lutheran with project indicated.

Preschool Positions Available      

Our NAEYC accredited preschool program is seeking qualified candidates to fill lead teacher and assistant teacher roles for the upcoming school year. These positions will be on either Mon/Wed/Fri or Tues/Thurs. Additional hours for positions are required throughout the school year for meetings, trainings, prep work, orientation, and school events.  Substituting hours are also available if interested. The ideal candidates will be able to meet Minnesota DHS and NAEYC requirements.  For more information and job descriptions, contact Kirsten Henry (formerly Kirsten Barie) or call 651-766-0723.

Incarnation Preschool Celebrates 25 Years!!!

This fall Incarnation Preschool is celebrating 25 years of educating little ones in God’s world!  Watch for special ways we will celebrate this milestone throughout the school year!  If you or someone in your family has been connected with our preschool in any way, please contact Kirsten Henry (formerly Kirsten Barie) or call 651-766-0723.  We would like you to be part of a fun collaborative project that is planned.

Staff Update

Amy, Josh, Benjamin and Oliver
Amy, Josh, Benjamin and Oliver

Amy Martell, Office Manager, has decided not to return to Incarnation after the birth of beautiful twins, Benjamin and Oliver. Amy joined the staff of Incarnation in April 2018 and was instrumental in reorganizing the functions of the office, including transitioning to a new data base system. Her love of people and kindness to all created a warm, loving atmosphere in which to work.

Amy will be greatly missed, but we have requested visits  – with the boys, of course!

Thank you, Amy, for your service to the people of Incarnation.

Eagle Scout Project Welcomed at Incarnation

Hi, my name is Drew Roloff.  While many of you have seen me in the sanctuary behind the piano over the years, I am also working towards my Boy Scout Rank of Eagle in Troop 200. I have been coming to Incarnation since preschool, so I thought it would be a great place to do my project. Pastor Kai, along with Rick Gravley and Danette Griffin said that the church could really use a small patio with a picnic table. It would be a place for staff to enjoy lunch on a nice day, hold small meetings, and hopefully even the Chippewa kids or bikers and walkers might stop for a quick break. After months of planning, approvals and fundraising to pay for it, my project took 2 days to build, 80 volunteer hours, 14 scouts, and 5 adult supervisors. I am grateful for this growth opportunity, and I hope both Incarnation and the Community will benefit from it.

Start of Project
Start of Project
The Troop
The Troop – Drew is third from right.

Blessing of the Backpacks and Celebration Sunday!

Save Sunday, September 11, from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. as Incarnation celebrates the start of a new school year with a special Blessing of the Backpacks and Celebration Sunday! Food Trucks, bounce houses, lawn games, and so much more will be hosted outside on the Incarnation lawn. All are welcome! Invite your friends and neighbors. Bring your lawn chairs or blanket to sit on in a household circle.

Blessing of the Backpacks will take place at 9:00 and 10:30 a.m. worship times. Students will receive a trinket for their backpacks at that time.

Apostles Library Book Review

Somewhere in the Unknown World by Kao Kalia Yang
Reviewed by Jo Zschomler

Somewhere in the Unknown World is a book that is hard to define. Perhaps “collective refugee memoir” is the best way to tell you about the content of this title by local Hmong author Kao Kalia Yang. And that is, in fact, the subtitle of this remarkable read. Highly recommended for reading and rereading.

While we in Minnesota know that we are a diverse state, we do not always remember that we have welcomed, per capita, more refugees than any other state in the USA. We are no longer a state of Germans, Scandinavians and Irish. We are now a state of people from Laos, Syria, Bosnia, Somalia, Thailand, Liberia and more. Yang has allowed each refugee to tell their own story in their own words, only adding bits of historical background as needed to fill in the blanks.

Each of the stories is unique and each is a person that Yang knows well – – her “For My Children” section at the end of the book identifies them as neighbors, teachers, her own college friends, and parents of her children’s friends. Yang also includes important information about refugee resettlement agencies and the assistant they provide.

I’ve read this book twice, each time finding it incredibly sad as I consider what it must be like to leave family, home, native land, and often risk everything to flee from war to an unknown country. I wonder how I would cope with not knowing another person, not knowing the language, and not knowing how I was going to be able to survive in a totally different climate and culture. The difficult and often circular routes taken by these refugees amazed me and would have deterred me long before I arrived in Minnesota.

You will not look at bananas the same way again after reading “From Irina to Irene”. My favorite chapter is “Certificate of Humanity”, something that we should each bestow on every single person we meet, be they are born here in Minnesota or a new arrival. Humans we all are and children of God.

Good News from the Incarnation Cemetery Committee

We have many new volunteers who will have offered their services to the Incarnation cemetery. Yes, Incarnation does have a cemetery. It’s located on County Road J and Turtle Lake Road near the Ramsey County recycling center. Stop in and look at our cemetery if you’ve not been there.

Our thanks go to the 16 volunteers who mow the cemetery each and every week as well as the 12 volunteers on our garden committee or working to beautify our flowerbeds.  Thank you for your service, volunteers!

Special thanks go to Jerry Hawkins and Dick Christiansen who have been active volunteers at the cemetery for many, many years.  Jerry for over 40 years and Dick for over 20 years of service.

We are in the process of exploring future expansion needs at our cemetery. Our current columbarium is almost full so we are researching adding more space. Over 75% of our funerals are now cremation services so that space is in demand.

We will provide more updates in the coming months however if you are interested in volunteering at the cemetery, please feel free to let one of the members of the cemetery committee know of your interest. All volunteers are welcome.

The Incarnation Cemetery Committee
Rick Gravley, Facilities Manager, Bill Reichwald (chair), John McClellan, Jerry Hawkins and Dick Christiansen

Care Team Ministry at Incarnation

At times, life presents challenges for us all. There can be occasions when we need more help than our immediate family can give. Did you know Incarnation’s Care Team members are willing to offer support to those in need in and around the faith community out of their desire to live out their faith?

Beth loves to attend worship at Incarnation but is unable to drive. Thanks to a small team of volunteers, she can attend regularly. Beth loves to chat after the service and share lemonade and cookies with her volunteer drivers. Through serving and receiving service, friendships have developed, and faith grows.

Beth is just one recipient the precious gift of friendship and support offered by Care Team members. As extended family members or neighbors, Care Team responds to the practical, non-medical needs of individuals and families through a variety of activities:

  • Friendly visits
  • Rides for medical appointments
  • Respite for family caregivers
  • Rides to worship at Incarnation
  • Meals

The Care Team is a team approach to flexible volunteering. This allows people to serve in ways they feel called and to give the time they can give. God calls us to be in relationship with one another, and faith grows as relationships are nurtured in community. “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us” (1 John 4:12).

Learn more about serving or receiving by contacting Julie Durbin at  or by calling 651-484-7213.

Blessing of the Backpacks and Celebration Sunday!

Join us Sunday, September 11, from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. as Incarnation celebrates the start of a new school year with a special Blessing of the Backpacks and Celebration Sunday! Food Trucks, bounce houses, lawn games, and so much more will be hosted outside on the Incarnation lawn. All are welcome! Invite your friends and neighbors. Bring your lawn chairs or blanket to sit on in a household circle.

Blessing of the Backpacks will take place at 9:00 and 10:30 a.m. worship times. Students will receive a trinket for their backpacks at that time.

The Saint John’s Bible: an Inward/Outward Journey

Event at Waverly Gardens
Event at Waverly Gardens

Throughout the past year, The Saint John’s Bible Action Group has focused on providing opportunities to ignite the spiritual imagination, both inside and outside of Incarnation’s walls.

The Saint John’s Bible has been included as a resource in many ministry areas within Incarnation. This inward journey has included opportunities for small group members, ILC Kids and preschool students, Kairos attendees, in addition to Incarnation members living at Waverly Gardens and Shoreview Senior Center. There will be more opportunities going forward.

This summer we expanded our journey outward by conducting hour-long introductions to The Saint John’s Bible at Lyngblomsten and Johanna Shores. In early fall, we will facilitate a Visio Divina gathering at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist in coordination with their exhibit of the original illuminations. We are eager to continue this outward journey in our efforts to ignite the spiritual imagination of our neighbors.

There will be new opportunities to engage with The Saint John’s Bible this fall and winter, both inside and outside of Incarnation’s walls. One opportunity will be to participate in a short-term small group, taking a walk through each of the seven volumes, discussing illuminations as we go. We also plan a showing of BBC’s original documentary titled “The Illuminator,” which delves into the making of The Saint John’s Bible in Wales. We will keep you informed about upcoming opportunities, as we continue the inward and outward journey of The Saint John’s Bible.

Solid Ground Coat Drive, September 4 – October 9

We can help the families at Solid Ground stay warm this winter by donating new or gently-used coats, boots, hats, gloves, snow pants and scarves. Families will appreciate the warm gear as they walk in the cold weather to bus stops and children play in the snow. Solid Ground is currently providing housing and holistic support services for over 560 adults and children. Families are working hard to break the cycle of homelessness and poverty with the help of their advocates and the innovative programs Solid Ground offers.  You can help families stay warm by dropping off winter wear donations of all sizes.  A box will be available inside Incarnation from September 4 to October 9.

Monetary donations are especially helpful to purchase coats or boots when sizes are not available to meet the needs of families. Donations may be made online under the Solid Ground Coat Drive designation or by check to Incarnation with “Solid Ground Coat Drive” in the memo.

Volunteers will also be needed to work in a group setting at Incarnation to help sort and mark donations in September. Additional volunteer opportunities will be available October 10-12 to set up the Coat Shop at Solid Ground and assist families in the selection of winter wear.  Times to be announced.  If you can help with one or more of these opportunities please contact Claire Gilbert or Mary Hoyme to sign-up.

Working to End Hunger With Awareness and Advocacy

Incarnation’s Hunger Awareness and Advocacy group always welcomes new people. This group understands that hunger occurs here in our own communities, in our country, and around the world.  We also understand that hunger is not a discrete problem but one that relates to poverty, to discrimination of many kinds, to climate change, and to conflict.  There is much work to do to end hunger and we can all play a part.

The group studies a book together each year, discusses timely hunger news in the media, and shares opportunities for advocacy. We sponsor and promote the Advent ELCA World Hunger effort as well as the annual Offering of Letters through Bread for the World at Incarnation.  An annual field trip to a hunger-related farm or organization adds to our learning and sharing.

The group meets monthly, September-May, on the third Tuesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. We resume our meetings in 2022 on September 20.  Sound interesting?  Contact Vernita Kennen for more information.

Among the Congregation

Recently Baptized:
Gordon Darren Groth, son of Briana & Joshua Groth – 7/10/2022
Lyla Louise Aus, daughter of Charlie & Samantha Aus – 7/24/2022

Matthew Dion (service on 7/6/2022)
Tamie Thalhuber (service on 7/13/2022)
Roy Mayeske (service on 7/28/2022)

Doug Deitz; Orris Haraldson; Joe Stepka; Wyatt Stahl; Bill Winefeldt; Sheryl Pachel; LeAnn Sullivan; Jon Hansen; Wayne Quehl; Sarah Steil; Mark Ostlund; Lowell Odland; Erling Husby; Tim Abraham; Erica Bratland; Jim Morse; Linda Hudepohl; Joan Lindquist’s daughter; Marilyn Arny’s sister and her family; Sue Bernlohr’s mom and dad; Claudia & Don Wiebold’s daughter; Al and Carolyn Ek’s son; Bill & Joan Reichwald’s friends Mike, Emily, Jonathan & Harper; Kim Wielenberg’s friend, John; Josh & Amy Johnson’s friend, Joel