Lifetimes: May 2022

Lifetimes Newsletter


Senior Pastor Kai Nilsen

The Endowment Team at Incarnation is getting very focused with their support and development of ministry. Two primary areas are emerging: 1) Leadership Development 2) Budding Ideas Grants.

Our first initiative in Leadership Development was launched last summer with our summer intern program. This summer we will have four interns. Our hope with the program is to shape the hearts and the vision of our young adults so that whatever path they choose, they will envision the opportunity to “co-create a better, more loving world”—the invitation we have all been given through Jesus.

I’ll let the interns introduce themselves:

Britta Arends

Britta Arends:  I am a student at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where I am studying Speech Pathology and Audiology. I was baptized and confirmed at Incarnation Lutheran Church and have been involved in many areas over the years. I have enjoyed teaching Sunday School, being a member and leader for Summer Stretch, attending church camp each summer, helping with Club 4/5, and other volunteer opportunities. I am very excited to continue my involvement and explore new areas of ministry at Incarnation this summer!


Laura Branch

Laura Branch: I am a student at Iowa State University and am in the industrial design program. I’ve been a part of Incarnation for as long as I can remember, and over my time here I’ve been a Sunday School teacher, a Summer Stretch leader, and a Club 4-5 leader. Being a part of Incarnation has brought so many great people and memories my way, so I’m super excited to give back to this amazing community!



Will Conlin

Will Conlin: I am a student in the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota where I will be completing my degree in Finance. I am looking forward to experiencing the exciting area of ministry this summer at Incarnation. I’ve been involved with Vacation Bible School and completed the Confirmation program at Incarnation! I am thrilled to start a new journey with the amazing people of this congregation!


Kaitlyn Davis

Kaitlyn Davis: I am a student at UW-Madison studying kinesiology. I am very ecstatic to have the opportunity to be an intern at Incarnation this summer, as I have volunteered and been involved in the church for many years. Some of my favorite things that I have been involved in at incarnation include being a Sunday School leader and attending church camp in the summer. I cannot wait to be able to help the church and community this summer and further my involvement in ministry at Incarnation!

The second focus for the Endowment Team is the Budding Idea Grants initiative. With these grants we hope to support the innovation of new ideas that serve the larger community. They can help fund an idea an individual has for meeting a need in the larger community or support an existing organization that needs funding for a new initiative. Last year we helped Shobi’s Table, the synod’s “pay as you can” food truck, expand their work of feeding those in need. We supported “Another Kind of Happy Hour” as they fed the souls of those who were seeking a more positive vision for their life. We also walked alongside “Changing Gaits” ministry to students with disabilities.

Let me know if you would like more information on these initiatives or how to give to the Endowment.

At Incarnation we envision a world filled with God’s grace and love. Thank you for supporting our vision in many and varied ways.

Peace. Kai


Wyatt Stahl, Congregation President

Our church congregation has deep similarities to a large, extended family.  And with the significant impact of COVID, our family reunions have been rare.

In-person services are feeling more and more like what the “new normal” will probably become, yet what we are still missing are the insights we gain from time with each other that was possible before COVID.

To regain some of that communication, the Faith Formation Team and the Incarnation Council are launching a Google Survey on May 1. We would love for you to take a few minutes to share your honest feedback. This kind of feedback is important as we have been navigating these long, difficult two years. The survey responses will provide valuable information into worship times and CYF programming.

We appreciate your feedback and will use it as a guide moving forward with our faith community. Please know that all feedback will be listened to and also understand that not every change wanted will be accomplished.

We want to hear from all of you, whether members or not! Please submit your survey responses NO LATER than May 14, 2022 in order for your feedback to be included in the results. We appreciate your time in giving us the feedback that we have been seeking.

Lastly, we are excited to announce that we are close to starting the actual work for two critical capital projects. Please consider supporting the Parking Lot Project, which will fix the water runoff problem and relocate handicap parking close to the building, and the Water Instrusion Repair Project, which will replace several windows and damaged walls in the 2005 addition space. You may give online or send a check with a note in the memo line for “parking lot” or “water intrusion”. Both projects are planned for completion this summer.


Thank you Teachers!
Incarnation Preschool would like to celebrate some wonderful staff for their years of service!

Cheryl Harding : Preschool Teacher
Cheryl Harding

Cheryl Harding is retiring from teaching at the end of May. She has been a loving and dedicated part of the teaching staff at Incarnation Preschool for 16 years! Cheryl has nurtured the growth and development of hundreds of young children over the years. She has been a leader as she has adapted to many changes as the preschool expanded, mentored new teachers, developed and implemented new policies, procedures, curriculum and assessments, and worked through NAEYC Accreditation. Cheryl will continue to influence little ones as she explores being a nanny on a more full-time basis. Cheryl’s regular presence in the preschool will be greatly missed.  We hope she may fill in as a substitute in the classrooms on occasion. Thank you, Cheryl!

Stefanie Straka : Preschool Teacher
Stefanie Straka

Stefanie Straka has worked at Incarnation for eight years, first as Children’s Ministry Coordinator, and then as a preschool teacher for the last two. She has brought energy and enthusiasm to everything she did here.  Her love for children and families across the Incarnation community will be missed! Stefanie will remain in an education role wherever her future takes her. For the time being, we are happy to have her be a substitute for us in future years. Thank you, Stefanie!


Jill Gamradt : Preschool Teacher
Jill Gamradt

Jill Gamradt is completing her seventh year at Incarnation Preschool. Her knowledge of early learning, early childhood screening, and speech pathology has helped our program immensely.  Jill’s sweet and calm presence will be missed in the classroom. Her plans are yet to be finalized but we anticipate that she will continue helping little learners in our community. Thank you, Jill!


Britney Iacono

WELCOME Britney Iacono
Britney has accepted the position of Faith Formation Leader for Children’s Ministry – Interim. She will work on special projects up to 10 hours a week.

Britney Iacono has been attending Incarnation since 2019. She started with singing in the senior choir and then singing for Wednesday night youth services. She is excited to now work with children’s ministry. Prior to Incarnation she was very involved in her home church, at various times serving as choir director, Sunday School teacher, and helping with VBS. In her later youth she worked as a campus counselor at Luther Park Bible camp. She is originally from Wisconsin but has lived in Minnesota metro since 2015. She is married and has two huskies that keep her very active. A fun fact about Britney is she has an identical twin sister, and twin nieces! In addition to her new role at Incarnation, Britney also works full time at Metropolitan State University as an academic advisor and community faculty.

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 Barie at or 651-766-0723.

Apostles Library Book Review

They Are Us: Lutheran and Immigration
by Ralston Deffenbaugh and Stephen Bouman

They Are Us: Lutheran and Immigration is certainly a timely book for 2022 when issues of immigration and numbers of immigrants and refugees admitted to the United States are topics for discussion at dinner tables, as well as in the halls of Congress. This second edition of the book brings readers up to date with the ELCA AMMPARO (Accompanying Migrant Minors with Protection, Advocacy, Representation and Opportunities) program, too, as well as asking the all-important question of “what’s next?”

The authors, Ralston Deffenbaugh and Stephen Bouman, come with a vast amount of background in immigration work. Deffenbaugh was a director of LIRS (Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service) as well as doing human rights work for the Lutheran World Federation. Bouman has served as pastor, synodical bishop and Executive Director of Domestic Mission for the ELCA. He has also been on the board of LIRS.

The authors propose that the church, from congregation to churchwide, work to transform the present polarization and fear and lead to real change. As they share stories and hopes of immigrants and refugees, they help us understand our ministries as part of God’s love and hospitality for everyone.

Save the Date!  Food for All MobilePackTM – July 29 and 30

The Feed My Starving Children Action Group is excited to announce the Food for All MobilePackTM held July 29 and 30 at Incarnation. The MobilePack will cap off the month-long Tons of Love campaign hosted by the Ralph Reeder Food Shelf Action Group. Both initiatives are working towards Incarnation’s mission of feeding the hungry, in heart, body, mind and spirit impacting local and global hunger issues.

Held in conjunction with the Ralph Reeder Food Shelf’s Tons of Love campaign, Incarnation community members will have the opportunity to bring donations of non-perishable food or make a financial contribution to support our local food shelf during the month of July which is typically a low volume month for food shelf donations. Volunteers attending the MobilePack will be encouraged to bring a non-perishable food or financial donation for Ralph Reeder.

Volunteer registration will open in June for the Food for All MobilePackTM. On Friday, July 29, there will be volunteer opportunities to set up from 12:00 – 2:30 p.m., and then two packing shifts from 2:30 – 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. Between the two packing shifts, Incarnation will host a picnic for all volunteers coming from or going to their shift. This will be another opportunity to gather as a community and celebrate summer with traditional picnic fare, games and fun. On Saturday, July 30, the first packing shift will be 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. and the second shift from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. Another picnic will be held between the shifts for volunteers. The final shift on Saturday will be from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. with the purpose of tearing down the space, packing and cleaning.

Throughout the four shifts, we hope to host 400 volunteers of all ages and pack 100,000 meals to feed God’s kids throughout the world. According to the Feed My Starving Children website, the need for meals continues to be great. In addition, it notes that the war in Ukraine “threatens to unleash what the UN calls ‘a hurricane of hunger and meltdown of the global food system,’ as Ukraine and Russia produce 1/3 of the world’s wheat supply.” Feed My Starving Children has committed to ship 4.5 million MannaPack® meals to Ukraine and its neighbors while still providing all promised meals to partners elsewhere in the world.

More information will be posted on the Incarnation FMSC social media sites and web page as it becomes available or contact Sally Lawless with questions. An announcement will be made when registration for the packing shifts is available. Until then, please keep both the Action Groups in your prayers as we plan these events to help live fully into our mission and bring together members of our community.

Mother’s Day Quilts

On Mother’s Day, May 8, quilts assembled by the Incarnation Quilting Women will be on display in the Sanctuary. Most of the quilts will be given to Global Health Ministries for distribution to ELCA hospitals around the world. Quilts are also donated to Life Haven, Gillette Children’s Hospital, Habitat for Humanity and other church and community outreach efforts.

Quilts will be available for purchase and proceeds will be used to buy materials such as batting and fabric for backing. Contact a quilter at the table in the Atrium for assistance after the service or contact Julie Durbin in the Incarnation office to connect you with a quilter. Quilts will be packed and distributed May 9.

Quilters appreciate any donated quilting fabric, solid-colored sheets, and any volunteer help whether for one hour or a few days at home or at church. Please join the group for fellowship and assembly of the quilts the second and third Thursdays of the month at 9:00 a.m. in the Fireside Room year-round. No previous sewing experience required. New volunteers are always welcome.

The Saint John’s Bible: Care for Creation

Milkweed and Butterfly, Chris Tomlin, Copyright 2002. The Saint John’s Bible, Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota USA. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

The purpose of The Saint John’s Bible is to ignite the “spiritual imagination” for people of all faith journeys around the world. There are many themes that are repeated throughout The Saint John’s Bible, both visually and theologically. One of the recurring themes is care for creation. Jonathan Homrighhansen, author of Illuminating Justice, describes care for creation as a recurring theme intended to ignite “ethical imagination.”

Care for creation is not merely a rebranding of secular environmentalism. Just as artwork is a reflection of the artist, creation is a reflection of God. We are able to learn about who God is by embracing the creation that’s been given to us and by how we are embraced by creation through its beauty and benefits. Caring for creation demonstrates our belief in its significance as it discloses the Creator’s presence with visible and tangible signs.

The Creation illumination in Genesis is a great starting point for understanding this theme. It shows that creation is not a human-centric story, but a story that includes all of creation. We are part of creation and are dependent on the Earth for survival. Other illuminations that carry this theme of caring for creation include Ecclesiastes Frontispiece, Job Frontispiece and Word Made Flesh (John 1). You will also find illustrations of butterflies, dragon flies and insects throughout the margins of the volumes that remind us of creation’s ongoing influence. One favorite is Milkweed and Butterfly found in Mark 16, which shows the many life stages of the butterfly in one illustration.

You can see and experience all of these illuminations in the Heritage Edition of The Saint John’s Bible located in the Chapel at Incarnation. While reflecting on the illuminations of The Saint John’s Bible, take the opportunity to look for the reminders of caring for creation. The beauty of the illuminations are nothing compared to the beauty of creation.

“In This Together” Mosaic on Display

As part of the May annual Offering of Letters effort and to help focus our attention on ending hunger and caring for God’s creation, Incarnation has arranged to borrow a three-part mosaic display from the Minneapolis Area Synod. This special display will be with us during the month of May.

The panels were commissioned for the 2019 Minneapolis Area Synod Assembly and created by the Semilla Center for Healing and the Arts. One panel is “Feed the World”, our call to end world hunger. A second panel, “Love the Earth” shows native Minnesota plants and creatures. The middle panel was put together by those attending the 2019 assembly under the direction of the Semilla Center, showing the unity of the church with our Creator, the creation and one another.

Please take time to look carefully at the mosaic – – but no touching please as the glass is both sharp and fragile. Read the artist statement nearby and learn more about the Semilla Center for Healing and the Arts. Semilla (“seed” in Spanish) works to plant seeds of hope by teaching the creating public art that can help make the community healthier, safer and more beautiful. The Hunger Awareness and Advocacy group is quite sure you will agree.

Grief and Loss Sessions

Grief: Lessons on Loss, Healing and Hope – Elim Lutheran Church in Robbinsdale is hosting four sessions on Wednesdays, from 7:00-8:30 p.m. in May. The sessions are led by professionals in grief and loss, followed by optional facilitated discussions. Find out more here.

Summer Small Groups

Whether you’re looking to connect with others outdoors this summer or you’d like to take a next step in your faith, there are new small groups! Check out the new opportunities. Enjoy the Minnesota summer in a hiking, casual walking, or casual biking group. Gather with others around The Saint John’s Bible, writing as a spiritual practice, or to talk about the book, Questions God Asks Us. Take part in a mutual care support group for those who are caregivers. Indoor and outdoor groups are available, along with groups focused on both faith and fellowship. To register or find out more contact Denise Floe, Director of Small Group Ministry at

ELCA Report   

Every year Incarnation reports a number of statistics to the churchwide offices of the ELCA.
Here is what was reported for 2021:

As of 12/31/21, baptized membership was 3,595
As of 12/31/21, confirmed (voting) membership was 2,722

In 2021 we received 26 members through baptism and 40 members through affirmation of faith.
In 2021 we lost 52 members by death, transfer or other reasons.

If you have any questions, please contact Danette Griffith, Administrator, at


2022 Offering of Letters, May 1    “Hunger for Justice – – Filling Hunger Needs Through Advocacy”

May 1 is Incarnation’s Offering of Letters Sunday. It is an opportunity for you to communicate with your elected federal officials about your call, as people of faith, to care for one another and speak about for those in need. Stop by the table, staffed by the Hunger Awareness and Advocacy group, to learn more and pick up information to help us advocate in support of increasing funding for global nutrition and expanded hunger support for children in the United States. You will want to speak up for all the children of the world – – it is what we are asked to do as part of our call to “feed the hungry . . .”

Sample letters are available at: (global ask) (domestic ask)


Join the online community conversation centered in BIPOC voices and leadership with others, Come Together for Racial Justice on May 19 from 7 – 8:30 p.m. Hosted by Incarnation’s partner, the Center for Leadership and Neighborhood Engagement, this month’s gathering will will feature a conversation between Pastor Kelly Chatman and Paul Bauknight (he/him) who is deeply committed to exploring the connection between our physical spaces and our economic and social systems. Currently Paul serves as the Project Implementation Director for the Minneapolis Parks Foundation and is a fellow at the Minnesota Design Center at the University of Minnesota. Paul is deeply committed to community and has served in many roles around Minneapolis, including founding board member of CLNE; vice chair of the Friends of the Mississippi River Board; manager for the African-American Men Project for Hennepin County; interim executive director for A Minnesota Without Poverty; director of urban place-making for Urban Homeworks; and board member of the Upper Harbor Terminal Collaborative Planning Committee. Learn more and register here. Former gatherings have been recorded and are found here.


Two Habitat for Humanity Projects for Holy Hammers

This year the Holy Hammers, a coalition of 15 area churches, will be working on two Habitat for Humanity home building projects. The first will be to finish construction of a new single-family home at 1297 Woodbridge St. in St. Paul from April 25 to May 20. The second project is a rehab of an existing home at 564 State St. in St. Paul from May 23 to July 1. Both projects offer a variety of opportunities to refresh your current remodeling and construction skills and to learn new ones. As usual, the added benefit of this work is great social interaction, physical activity and mental stimulation. After two years of bringing our own lunches, the churches will be providing lunches for the volunteers again this year. If you want to volunteer for construction or as a food provider, or if you want more information, please contact Jim Fruehling at 651-335-3554 or You are encouraged to sign up early because each workday has a limited number of volunteer spots.

17th Annual Every Family Needs a Home Breakfast for Solid Ground

Every Family Needs a Home is an inspiring morning of community and philanthropy. This one-hour event on May 4 from 8:00 – 9:00 a.m. is free to attend and will include a morning of fellowship, a personal testimony by a program participant, and a Call for Giving. Attend the event live at Jimmy’s Conference Center in Vadnais, or virtually. Register directly here, indicating “Incarnation” in your registration if you’d like to be seated with others of Incarnation.

Most families arrive at Solid Ground with few, if any, household goods and are thrilled to receive needed items when they first move in and begin to settle in their homes.

Please consider donating one or more new items from the wish list below and place them in the bin labeled “Solid Ground Spring Shower” located in the Atrium or Gathering Space.  You may want to consider writing a note or drawing a picture to welcome the future recipient of your donation, affixing your note to your donated item.  Monetary donations are also appreciated as they will help provide needed items throughout the year when supplies run low. Write checks to Incarnation with “Solid Ground” in the memo or donate through Incarnation’s online giving site.

Table lamps
Brooms & dustpans
Vacuum cleaners
Flip lid kitchen garbage cans
Mixing bowls
Baking pans
Covered casserole dishes
Shower curtains and rings
Drinking glass sets
Drinking cups for toddlers

FMSC Coon Rapids May Packing Reservations

Join others from Incarnation in support of the work byFMSC by packing meals during the next reserved shifts May 17 from 7:00 – 8:45 p.m. and May 18 from 2:00 – 3:45 p.m. Click here for more information and sign up. All are welcome and the need for this food around the world is great.

Thank you for your service!


2022 Minnesota FoodShare Results 

Minnesota FoodShare is the largest grassroots fundraiser and food drive in the state which brings together various community organizations, businesses, and faith communities to help restock food shelves statewide, including the Ralph Reeder Food Shelf. $18,320 was collected by the Incarnation faith community during the MN FoodShare this season, some of which was eligible for matching dollars. Thank you for your generosity as we help to feed those who are food insecure in our local community!

Last Edited 4/28/2022

SYMPATHY TO: Margaret Grittner and family on the death of her father-in-law; Rev. Kyle Jackson and family on the death of his mother; Shelly Myrland and family on the death of her mother; Rick Gravley and family on the death of his mother; Tom & Donna McDonald and family on the death of their daughter; the family of Mike Hyden on his death