Lifetimes: September 2022

Lifetimes Newsletter

From the Pastor

Pastor Kai Nilsen
Pastor Kai Nilsen

On September 11, we will gather to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the year Incarnation Lutheran was birthed through a merger of the Lutheran Church of the Apostles and Bethany Swedish Evangelical Church. As you may know, the primary meeting room outside our main sanctuary and the library carry the names of those two predecessor communities.

On the 15th anniversary of Incarnation in 1977, Pastor David Guenzel remarked, “We are taught by the past so we can minister in the present…” To his words, I would add, “And then pave the way for God’s future to be lived in us and through us for the sake of the world.”

That’s the Spirit we will take into our worship experience that morning. Anniversary celebrations give opportunity for much reflection, don’t they? “Where have we been?” “Where are we now?” “Where are we going?” Our service will open with images of where we have been and a few interviews with people present for that merger 60 years ago. A few of those original members will be present to bless our kids and their backpacks as we celebrate the passing of faith from one generation to the next. And then we will begin to look forward.  “Where are we now?” “Where are we going?”

The 9:00 service will be musically anchored by the organ and Senior Choir. The 10:30 service will be musically anchored by the organ and our contemporary worship team. Hymns that were sung in 1962 as members processed to the site of the new church, “The Church’s One Foundation” and “Lift High the Cross,” will be sung again as a way to connect our experience to theirs. A few of our retired pastors from years past will also be present to serve communion. What a great way to celebrate and ask again “Where have we been?” “Where are we now?” “Where are we going?”

In the combined words of a former and a current pastor, “We are taught by the past so we can minister in the present… And then pave the way for God’s future to be lived in us and through us for the sake of the world.”

Bring a friend. Invite a person you know who has been connected to Incarnation in the past. Welcome someone new to Incarnation by inviting them to this experience.

See you on September 11th.  Peace. Kai

Pave the Way

One of the practical ways we can Pave the Way for future generations is by providing a safe and accessible pathway for all who come to Incarnation. The parking lot project’s primary objective is to create a safe entry point from the parking lot to either Door 1 or Door 2 for those who need greater accessibility.

As a community, we will be moving forward with that project yet this fall. Over the next weeks the final plans will be drawn and permits will be secured. In early October we hope to begin the physical work of re-designing the parking lot on the south side of our building to create that safe accessibility to worship and ministry for all.

As a 60th anniversary gift, we invite you to give a gift that will help us complete the financing for the parking lot. Choose an amount that works for you. The hope is that all will participate, even if you have already made a contribution. Each level of gift will be needed and appreciated. Think about it this way:

60 Days to Give. 60 Ways to Give. For 60 years of Grace.

60 Days:  We want to finish our fundraising in the next 60 days! (end of October)
60 Ways: Give your gift in multiples of 60 to celebrate the 60 years of grace for Incarnation.
$60, $120, $300, $600, $1,200, $3000, $6,000 or more. You get the idea.

If these 60 years have taught us anything, they have taught us that we not only live in the moment and have to care for what is ours, but we also need to prepare for the future.

In a very tangible way, your gifts will do just that–address the need of the moment and pave the way for the future.

60 Days. 60 Ways. For 60 Years of Grace.

Peace. Kai

Join Celebration Sunday to bless the school year and celebrate Incarnation’s 60th anniversary

Be sure to save the date and plan to join members of the Incarnation community for our annual Celebration Sunday event, coming up on Sunday, September 11th. Several special activities will take place that day.

Celebration Sunday is a time when we prepare for the coming school year, preparing and blessing youth as they begin their academic journey. As this year marks Incarnation’s 60th anniversary, we will be celebrating our congregations six decades of ministry in conjunction with this annual event.

During worship, we will focus on passing on the faith to the next generation. This will include founding members of the congregation reflecting on the beginning of Incarnation. During our annual Blessing of the Backpacks portion of worship, the founding members will hand out carabiners for students to attach to their backpack for the school year, a token that will remind them each day that they are part of the Incarnation family. Worship services will take place at 9 and 10:30 a.m. in the Sanctuary.

In addition, as part of our 60th anniversary celebration, Incarnation is gathering supplies and putting together birthday bags for our ministry partner Solid Ground. You can learn more about that service project on our website.

Following worship, plan to attend the Celebration Sunday event. There will be food trucks, bounce houses and a climbing wall. All are also invited to take part in the community art project as part of our celebration. The Celebration Sunday event will take place from 9 a.m.- 1 p.m. in the open grassy area in front of the church.

Community Art Project – Celebrate the Incarnation Community

Next time you join us for worship, we invite you to take a moment to look up at the many ways you see God in the art around you. 

Stained glass windows.
Illustrations in the Spark Bibles.
Crosses displayed in our homes and in our places of worship.
Sunday School art proudly shown to us by the children we love.

Art is present in many ways within the church and throughout our world. What an incredible blessing!

And, this year, on Celebration Sunday, we invite you to not only appreciate the art around you but help create art that will celebrate our magnificent community.

What: Community Art Banner Creation
When: Celebration Sunday, Sept. 11 from 9:45 a.m.- 1:00 p.m.
Where: Incarnation Front Lawn (or inside if weather requires)
Who: Open to All

As Incarnation celebrates our 60th anniversary this year, we are launching a special art project to celebrate our six decades as a faith community. Individuals and families are invited to create (doodle, write, draw…) a banner that will be included in a series of cloth banners to be placed on display at the church.

Now, do not be afraid or detoured by the thought that you are “not artistic” (this is never true, anyway!). To participate, you will simply be asked to decorate a single piece of cloth… you may choose to trace a handprint, draw an image, or write a few words or a Bible verse, or even simply sign your name. After all the pieces of fabric have been designed, we’ll then gather the cloths together and hang them at Incarnation.

Think about what a beautiful and unique piece of art this will be! Each of these cloths will be infused with prayers and the story of each person who made it— beautiful all on their own. And together these banners will uniquely lift up the story of our community. What a wonderful way to honor all that God has done at Incarnation!

To join in this unique art ministry, join us on Celebration Sunday, September 11 between 9:45 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. All supplies will be ready that day. Banners will also be available in the office during September (as supplies last) for those unable to join or would rather create on their own or are interested in taking to a friend or family member.

Water Intrusion Project Update

COST: $197,798
Raised to Date: $198,254

UPDATE: Work started on August 11 with the arrival of the scaffolding.

The Saint John’s Bible – Butterflies and Bugs!

Have you noticed the butterflies and bugs in the margins of The Saint John’s Bible? Artwork in the margins, called marginalia, has adorned illuminated Bibles since the Middle Ages, and this tradition was continued in The Saint John’s Bible. Marginalia is intended to be decorative and pleasant for the reader, but initially it was the way scribes personalized their manuscripts. The marginalia of The Saint John’s Bible was created by nature artist Chris Tomlin, and includes flora and fauna from Minnesota’s landscape, as well as the Welsh countryside of Donald Jackson’s scriptorium where it was written.

The monarch butterfly is very prevalent in Minnesota, and so an image was included in the marginalia at the end of Mark’s Gospel. Here the monarch is shown in three stages – caterpillar, chrysalis and butterfly, creating a perfect image of Christ’s resurrection. Butterflies and birds can be seen in the marginalia throughout The Saint John’s Bible, along with dragonflies, moths and beetles.

Besides adding decoration, marginalia can also illustrate a volume’s theme. For example, to depict and acknowledge the violence in Historical Books, the images primarily include warring insects and animals such as army ants devouring a grasshopper, scorpions, praying mantis, and a monarch being eaten by a whip spider. These images do not correspond to any particular passage or book, but rather provide a reminder of the non-cuddly parts of the natural world.

The Prophets volume also has a few places where the marginalia insects connect to the theme of the book. In Isaiah 30, a scarab is used to represent Egypt and illustrate the scolding of the Israelites for going to seek shelter in Egypt rather than trust in God to deliver them. And in Ezekiel 22 we find the black fly, whose bite many of us in Minnesota have suffered.

There are many other marginalia decorations throughout the volumes of The Saint John’s Bible beyond insects and animals. As you view The Saint John’s Bible, take time to reflect and imagine what the marginalia could mean to you.

Food for All MobilePackTM Feeds 277 Kids for One Year

Incarnation hosted its 15th MobilePackTM on July 29-30, 2022, on site in Incarnation Hall. The event was a great success, in terms of packing meals as well as bringing the community together to support our ministry partner, Feed My Starving Children. During four shifts over two days, more than 350 volunteers packed 101,088 meals. That number translates into feeding 277 kids for one year. Incarnation’s FMSC Action Group recently found out that the meals packed at our event were sent to Nicaragua and were distributed by in-country partner Convoy of Hope. What a blessing to know where these meals will be distributed!

The FMSC Action Group also hosted two community meals between packing shifts on both Friday and Saturday. These meals were made possible by a grant from Incarnation’s Endowment Fund and over 200 people enjoyed a meal and summer games outside. The weather was perfect for this fun gathering! The leftover food from the meal was donated to the Ralph Reeder Food Shelf so more of God’s beloved children were fed!

Throughout the two day packing event, many members of all ages from the Incarnation community and beyond showed up in a big way to help feed God’s kids. It was wonderful to see groups that consisted of friends, co-workers, members of community organizations, and multiple generations of family members. We even had a family from the Ukraine who recently moved to Minnesota, stationed at the Ukraine table! We also had many volunteers helping “behind the scenes”, including supporting the FMSC staff in the warehouse, checking in volunteers, setting up and tearing down for the community meal and cleaning up after the packing was complete.

We are so thankful for everyone who stepped up and made this event possible. We could not do this without the full support of the Incarnation Staff, Congregational Council and the Endowment Committee.

The next full-scale MobilePackTM will be April 26 – 30, 2023 at Incarnation. Mark your calendars and visit our All Hands on HopeTM web page for more information. You can also follow our social media accounts for the most up-to-date information:

Facebook: @IncarnationMobilePack
Instagram:  @fmsc_at_incarnation

For more information or questions, please contact Sally Lawless, FMSC Action Group Communication Coordinator.

Apostles Library Book Review

Engaging Others, Knowing Ourselves: A Lutheran Calling in a Multi-Religious World

By Carol Schersten LaHurd

This 2016 title acknowledges that we Lutheran Christians live in an ever-increasingly diverse world. There is a multiplication of ethnic groups and religious beliefs which surround us each day. It tries to help us learn how our background helps us live into this reality.

The authors use more than fifty stories of ELCA inter-religious events and happenings from local ministry settings to show examples of living together in faith. There are also practical tips, theological reflection, and historical analysis to assist in our understanding. Discussion questions abound and helpful websites, as well as a list of representative multi-religious organizations are included.

With the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017 and the adoption of “A Declaration of Inter-Religious Commitment: A Policy Statement of the ELCA” by the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in 2019, we are today in an even more diverse time than when this book was written. But it will be very useful for personal reflection as well as group study and conversation.

Incarnation’s Human Resources Committee Seeks New Member

Mike Styba, the Chair of the Human Resources Committee is seeking volunteers to fill a vacancy on the Human Resources Committee (HRC). The HRC meets quarterly, with additional meetings when warranted. The HRC provides advice, counsel, support, and recommendations regarding the management of the staff of Incarnation. It reviews matters associated with human resource management at Incarnation, provides guidance regarding human resource management and employment law and finally, promotes consistent and sound personnel decisions and practices.

Candidates for membership on the HRC will serve three years on the committee with the option to serve longer if desired. Candidates should have practical work experience in some or all of the following related areas:

Human Resource Management, Employment Law, Staff Development and Performance Management. Confidentiality with regard to all matters discussed is expected.

Anyone with questions or having an interest in serving on the committee may call Danette Griffith, Incarnation’s Administrator on 651-484-7213 or Mike Styba on 651-308-5908.

Kairos Fall  2022

Another season of Kairos will begin this fall on Sunday, September 18! Kairos Adult Forum has been a time each Sunday of enrichment for mind and spirit. A mix of timely topics, Bible study, and theological exploration are presented by scholars, theologians and other professionals. This year we will be offering both a Sunday morning in person Kairos experience and a bi-monthly Monday evening Zoom experience. Sunday mornings we will meet from 10:15-11:15 a.m. in the Fireside Room. On Monday nights we will meet from 7:00-8:30 p.m.


Sunday morning, 10:15 a.m., Fireside Room

Sept. 18 & 25 Songs of the Assembly
Amy Maakestad, Director of Incarnation’s Traditional Worship
Oct. 2 Biblical Wisdom: Influencing Beliefs about Christ and the Trinity
Lois Malcolm,  Olin and Amanda Fjelstad Reigstad Chair of Systematic Theology, Luther Seminary
Oct. 9 Christ as Wisdom in Our Personal and Corporate Lives
Lois Malcolm
Oct. 16 & 23 Reformation Art
Kristin Anderson, Professor of Art, Augsburg University
Oct. 30 & Nov. 6 Christian Nationalism
Nancy Koester, Luther Seminary faculty
Rolf Olson, ELCA Pastor
Nov. 13 St. John’s Bible
Grant Rykken, Incarnation member and St. John’s Bible Study Leader
Nov. 20 Disabilities Ministry at Incarnation
Rebecca Christiansen, Director of Incarnation’s Children’s and Family Ministry

Monday evening, 7-8:30 p.m., Zoom 

Oct. 3 Faithfulness in a Time of Collapse
Dwight Zscheile, Vice President of Innovation and Professor of Congregational Mission and Leadership, Luther Seminary
Michael Chan, Executive Director for Faith and Learning, Concordia College
Oct. 17 Mental Health
Mindy Greiling, former MN legislator
Nov. 7 LSS Refugee Service
Karin Blythe,  LSS Refugee Services Program Manager and Resettlement Supervisor
Nov. 21 Disabilities Ministry
Ben Conner, Professor of Practical Theology and Director of the Center for Disability and Ministry at Western Theological Seminary

Faith Formation: Renovare Book Club

Are you interested in reading deeply soul-shaping, Christ-centered books? Take part in the 2022-2023 Renovare book club. Over the course of a year, the book club reads four books with on-line discussions, exclusive podcasts and essays, weekly e-mails and study questions. Books for this year are: Seeking God by Trevor Hudson, Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton, Learning Humility by Richard Foster and The Narrative of Sojourner Truth. For more information: To find out more about Renovare, contact Pastor Kai who has served as a speaker, writer and teacher with Renovare.

Incarnation Endowment Fund: Leaving a Legacy

Many of us think of creating or leaving a legacy—to help make the world a better place, not only while we’re here, but also after we’ve left our earthly home. You may already be pursuing such a goal through your financial support of the church, and by using your God-given gifts and talents as a volunteer.

The Incarnation Endowment Fund is an additional avenue of giving. It supports and enhances the mission and vision of Incarnation Lutheran Church, and its overarching goal is to support initiatives that make the world a better place. By its definition, an endowment fund has staying power. Contributions remain in the fund, generating an ongoing stream of income (earnings) for years to come.

The primary purpose of the Incarnation Endowment Fund is for its earnings to go to causes that foster innovation and leadership in support of Incarnation and the broader church, to help ensure vitality for both in the years to come. Complementing Incarnation’s “church without walls” emphasis, this includes two primary areas of funding:

  • Budding Idea Grants (BIG) program. These grants put promising ideas to work in the greater community—locally, and beyond. BIGs serve as “seed money” to help bring ideas and dreams to fruition beyond the church walls.
  • Leaders Growing Leaders. The Summer Student Intern Program for young adults is the first under this umbrella. This Incarnation program launched in 2021 with three interns and continued with four interns in 2022. It comprises one-on-one mentorships, as well as weekly meetings with pastors, mentors and other interns. Interns also work on projects in their respective areas of strength and interest.

An article in the next issue of Lifetimes will provide more details on the Incarnation Endowment Fund to help build awareness. More will be communicated about the fund through a variety of channels, which may include e-mails, announcements and phone calls.

Children’s Ministry 

We are excited to invite your kids to be part of ILC Kids this fall. We have several different learning and growing opportunities for your children!  All registrations are online. Please don’t hesitate to contact us by phone or by e-mail with any questions or concerns!

Children cannot learn to love and trust God when those who represent God to them are unloving and untrustworthy. ILC Kids is looking for volunteers to help create a safe, caring, and loving environment for the kids we serve. We ask that you take some time to pray and hear where God is calling you to serve as a volunteer in Children’s programming. A list of volunteer opportunities can be found here.

Fall Small Groups

Questions God Asks Us
Take a closer look at the theme, Questions God Asks Us, by using Trevor Hudson’s book and in meaningful small group conversations. The chapters are a quick read, while raising thought-provoking questions. This continues the summer worship theme, but no prior experience is needed. Day and evening groups; in-person and Zoom groups will be available. More information: Contact Denise Floe, Director of Small Group Ministry at

Writing for the Soul
Is your writing mostly for to-do lists? Whether you consider yourself a writer or not, explore writing as a spiritual practice. A variety of approaches to writing will be introduced and accessible to writers of all levels. This group meets once/week with time for writing in the group and the option to write between sessions. More information: Contact Denise Floe, Director of Small Group Ministry at
When: Once/week on Thursday evenings, 6:30-8:15 p.m. on Zoom

Honoring and Learning About My Neighbor’s Faith
This small group will look at how the beliefs and practices of the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) are similar to and/or different from other faith traditions, with an emphasis on faith traditions that are closely related (Presbyterian Church, Reformed Church, etc.). Led by Vernita Kennen. More information: Register by emailing Vernita Kennen at
When: Twice/month on Monday mornings, 9:30 – 11 a.m. at Incarnation

Living Less Distracted
Distractions—they are all around us! While it may seem like distractions are simply an annoyance, truthfully, they also pull us away from our purpose and people who we care about. This small group will read Bob Goff’s latest book, Undistracted with fast, easy to read and uplifting chapters. Through Goff’s exuberant storytelling and group conversations, the group will move closer to what matters most in relationships, purpose and faith. Led by Kristi Jacobsen and Grant Rykken, this group will meet in person for five evening gatherings.Contact Denise Floe, Director of Small Group Ministry at

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  at for more information.

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.

Solid Ground Tutors Needed for Fall
Tutoring will begin Monday, September 12th on Mondays through Thursdays for students in grades K-8.  Time of day will be determined soon but will most likely be in the 3:15-4:15pm and 4:15
5:15pm timeframes.  

Tutoring at Solid Ground is a wonderful opportunity to form a special relationship with a child.  In addition to helping improve academic skills, it is also an opportunity for children to get one-to-one time with a supportive, positive adult role model each week.  Older high school students and college students can make a lasting impact on a child and are invited to consider tutoring. All materials are provided and no teaching experience is necessary.  Substitute tutors are also needed.  Contact Dylan McDonough for more information.

Among the Congregation

Recently Baptized:
Harvey Haltvick, son of Kelsy & Pat Haltvick

Sympathy to:
The family of Tim Abraham on his death
Mike Hemstad & family on the death of his father
the family of Scott Olson on his death
Patricia Pillsbury & family on the death of her son

Public Prayer List: Emily Mikkelson; Jim Crawford; Kara Genia; Meg Gerlach; Orris Haraldson; Joe Stepka; Jon Hansen; Wayne Quehl; Mark Ostlund; Lowell Odland; Erling Husby; Erica Bratland; Jim Morse; Linda Hudepohl; Chris McDermid; Erick Mikkelson’s father; Dan Sailsbury’s Mom; Shawn & Julie Durbin’ sister-in-law; Mark Oswood’s mother; the Oswood family; Joan Lindquist’s daughter; Sue Bernlohr’s mom and dad; Claudia & Don Wiebold’s daughter; Al and Carolyn Ek’s son; Carol Lacey’s friend Steve; Bill & Joan Reichwald’s friends Mike, Emily, Jonathan & Harper; Kim Wielenberg’s friend, John; Josh & Amy Johnson’s friend, Joel

We honor the memory of loved ones in the memorial gifts given below:

Date Range: 7/23/22 to 8/21/22

Donor Fund Name In Memory of
Tim & Katie Gray Memorial – Undesignated Tim Abraham
Marlys M. Nelson Memorial – Ralph Reeder Food Shelf Tim Abraham
Harry & Marian Johnson Memorial – Endowment Marilyn Dickey
Marlys J. Nelson Memorial – Undesignated Matthew Dion
Ken & Rosalie Grosch Memorial – Undesignated Martin (Marty) Hemstad
Marlys M. Nelson Memorial – Ralph Reeder Food Shelf Martin (Marty) Hemstad