Weekly Lifelines 9/20/2020

September 17, 2020 Leave a comment
As promised during the Vestry’s written communication to the congregation earlier this summer, the Wardens of St. Luke’s plan to provide periodic updates on many of the ‘behind-the-scenes’ happenings within our church community. This serves as the first of those updates, which will appear in the Lifelines in place of Justin’s normal message.
Even though the pandemic continues to be a thorny issue for all of us, many exciting things have been occurring within the St. Luke’s community. We’ve slowly begun to hold in-person gatherings again, with proper procedures and safeguards now in place. In August, we began holding outdoor in-person communion services on Wednesday evenings at 5 PM. Holding a worship service in similar fashion to what we were accustomed to pre-pandemic is comforting, yet dealing with wind and rain is certainly challenging!
Fellowship is an important piece of the St. Luke’s community puzzle. Several fellowship events took place over the summer, including the Blessing of the Gardens (and subsequent hot dog roast) and the St. Luke’s Car Parade – complete with ‘Back to School’ blessings. Many thanks to Doug Butler and Shanna and Andrew Altrichter for coordinating these two events. We are planning more f  Fellowship events in the coming months, so keep your eyes peeled for announcements in the Lifelines newsletter.




One major item that would normally be much more visible is our kitchen renovation. Almost all of the work is now complete, with the exception of a few window replacements and giving the floor a new ‘shine’. We’ve included a few photos of the finished product for your viewing pleasure. I’m looking forward to being able to have a big indoor dinner gathering again so that we can test out the new dishwasher! Many thanks go out to all that made this project a reality, but especially to Gary and Debbie Whicker along with Pete and Sharon Parham for all their efforts.


It should be noted that a few items that the Vestry has been looking into to provide more financial stability have yet to materialize. These items include the Joe Weis apartment complex proposal (too high of initial capital costs) and the Joe Powers wedding/celebrations proposal (on hold due to the pandemic) that were discussed in our previous written communication to the congregation. Autumn is nearly upon us, which means – you guessed it – the pledge drive! We will soon be asking each of you to consider pledging to fund our 2021 operating budget. We cannot stress this enough – your continued support will be critical to the success and financial sustainability of St. Luke’s. More details about the pledge drive will be forthcoming in the near future.
Many questions regarding outreach  through St. Luke’s currently exist due to the pandemic, as well as our transition this summer to completely volunteer-based outreach. Father Justin and the Vestry have been working diligently to address as many of these questions as possible, and we are excited to report that an update regarding St. Luke’s outreach opportunities will be arriving in your mailbox soon. We won’t spoil the contents of the letter, but we CAN say that there will be plenty of opportunities to help out and be a part of something very special here at St. Luke’s.
There are many other things happening as well that we can look forward to and be a part of – including the book-reading discussion of Caste that is scheduled for September 28th at 7 PM, welcoming our new ministry intern (Mr. Paul Ehling) to our faith community, and the upcoming unveiling of our new look website for St. Luke’s. We encourage you to keep attending worship on Wednesday evenings and virtually on Sunday mornings, volunteer to help out if you can, and begin thinking about those pledges for 2021. Many blessings to you all!
Kevin Graves, Senior Warden
Jane Reiman, Junior Warden
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Weekly Lifelines 9/13/2020

September 10, 2020 Leave a comment
This turned out to be quite a week. Squeezing the week’s usual tasks plus vacation prep into a week already shortened by Labor Day proved harder to do than I thought. And the cold and dreary weather certainly didn’t help!
Since I’m a little too scattered to offer anything very deep, I’m highlighting the workshop offerings at this year’s convention. There are some really good programs on tap, creatively rethinking how church works in a changing world. Best of all, they’re all free, online, and open to anyone. Please check them out below and consider signing up.
I’m heading out on vacation tomorrow morning, returning for church on Sunday, September 20. Mr Paul Ehling, St. Luke’s ministry intern, is graciously filling in for me this Sunday. Thank you, Paul!
Because I’ll be gone, our usual Wednesday programs (Bible study and 5 p.m. Eucharist) are on hold this week, meeting next on Wednesday the 23rd.
If you have pastoral care needs while I’m away, please contact Karen (507-288-2469, gouldk@stlukesepiscopal.org) or one of St. Luke’s Wardens. They’ll get you connected to what you need.


ECMN Convention Workshops
Saturday, September 26th, 10:00am – 2:45pm
Leaders from ECMN will take those priorities and contextualize them, sharing their experience and lessons learned as they’ve taken action on their own journeys.
(Zoom meetings –  register and participate)

Discipleship for a New Era of Christian Mission

The Rev. Blair Pogue, St. Matthew’s, St. Paul
At this time of great challenge and opportunity it is important to focus on how the church can participate in God’s mission to share the Gospel of Jesus in life-giving ways with others. We must focus on the one thing the church can and must do: apprenticing people into the way of Jesus through the regular study of holy scripture, theological reflection, and spiritual practices. In order to learn more about what God is up to in their neighborhoods, clergy and lay leaders must engage in small experiments in forming Christian community in new ways and places. Church leaders will need to recruit and equip others to do this work. In this workshop, Blair Pogue will share her learnings from twenty years working with laity in the area of adult Christian formation. How can we equip the people entrusted to our care and help them develop an imagination for what the Holy Spirit is up to in their neighborhoods?
Innovation and Vitality
The Rev. Mary Groening, St. Mary’s, Ely
The St. Mary’s Ely faith community began thriving when we made a conscious decision to stop caring about how many people showed up to church on Sunday, instead focusing on our gifts and how we might use them to share God’s love in the community around us.  Rather than being an obstacle, our small size pushed us out of our comfort zone-into the community, into close relationships with other small churches, into intentional, intergenerational worship-into a radical revisioning of what church really means.
Justice: Introduction to Sacred Ground: A Film-Based Dialogue Series on Race & Faith
Katrina Browne, Author of the Sacred Ground Curriculum
Rev. Isaiah Shaneequa Brokenleg – Staff Officer for Racial Reconciliation for The Episcopal Church
Sacred Ground is part of Becoming Beloved Community, The Episcopal Church’s long-term commitment to racial healing, reconciliation, and justice in our personal lives, our ministries, and our society. Sacred Ground is a dialogue series that has been offered by the national Church since 2019 for use by congregations via an adaptable curriculum that is available online. Small groups are invited to form and, together, to walk through chapters of U.S. history of race and racism, while weaving in threads of family story, economic class, and political and regional identity. The series is built around a powerful curriculum of documentary films and readings that focus on Indigenous, Black, Latino, and Asian/Pacific American histories as they intersect with European American histories. Participants are invited to peel away the layers that have contributed to the challenges and divides of the present day-all while grounded in our call to faith, hope, and love. This series is open to all. It is especially designed to help white people talk with other white people, to build capacity for interracial work for racial justice. This workshop will provide an overview of the curriculum and how it works to form circles. It will also provide a “mini” experience of Sacred Ground, using film clips to generate sacred sharing and listening.
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Weekly Lifelines 9/6/2020

September 3, 2020 Leave a comment

When I first announced it back in June, September seemed like a long way off. But here we are: It’s almost time for St. Luke’s to welcome our ministry intern for the coming academic year. Mr. Paul Ehling will begin his ministry with us on Sunday, September 13. He’s a member of Calvary Episcopal Church in his second year for formation for priesthood.

In adjacent news, next week, my family and I have the opportunity for a little end-of-summer getaway. We’re headed north to hang out in a northwoods lakeside cabin. We’re leaving on Thursday, September 10, and returning the following Thursday, September 17. I plan to be away that Sunday, September 13.

I asked Paul if he’d be up for preaching and leading worship on that Sunday, and he was excited about the opportunity. It’s perhaps a little unusual for an intern to be on solo worship duty on their first official Sunday, but Paul is familiar with running online worship, familiar with the particulars of St. Luke’s version of it, and is happy to give it a shot. I’m incredibly grateful to him for his willingness step in. Thank you, Paul!

I’ve arranged for emergency pastoral care coverage while I’m away. If something comes up, please contact Karen in the office or one of our two wardens. They’ll be able to connect you to right person or, if need be, get in touch with me.

If you have any questions, or if you’d just like to connect, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


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Weekly Lifelines 8/30/2020

August 27, 2020 Leave a comment

I’ve got two separate notes for you today, so be sure to read all the way to the end.

Yesterday afternoon was warm and windy. Looking like bandits with masks and sunglasses, thirteen of us gathered on the east lawn and shared communion for the first time since March.

It was anything but routine. We celebrated the Eucharist in an unusual place, in an unusual way, with unusual modifications to keep us all safe. I strained to be loud enough to be heard through a mask and over the wind. I tried not to let all the wafers blow away nor let the wind turn the pages before it was time.

It was warm and windy and strange. It was also familiar and comforting and full of joy, like a deep breath of fresh air. I didn’t realize just how much I’d missed it.

We’ll continue gathering for in-person, outdoor Eucharist for the foreseeable future: Wednesdays at five on the east lawn. Two requests for you: First, if you’re planning to come, please RSVP to me (revjustinc@gmail.com or 612-618-3826, call or text). That way I know who to expect and I can make sure our gathering isn’t too big. Second, if that time or day is trouble for you, please contact me; I’d be happy to schedule more services so that we can all share in the sacrament again.

*  *  *

Earlier this month, a Fresh Air interview captured my attention. Terry Gross spoke with Isabel Wilkerson about her recent book Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents (listen and read excerpts here). In the interview, Wilkerson advocates for describing America’s systemic oppression of people of color not as racism, an inadequate term, but as a caste system. A caste system is, to quote the NPR, “an artificial hierarchy that helps determine standing and respect, assumptions of beauty and competence, and even who gets benefit of the doubt and access to resources.”

Part of what’s so intriguing about this idea is the framework it provides for dismantling this divisive system. Our racial inequity won’t be solved by individual white people changing their thinking about people of color. To overcome this sin, we must dismantle the system that separates us into different castes.

I’ve ordered the book (available here) and I invite you to join me in reading it. One month from now, on Monday, September 28, at seven p.m. we’ll gather on Zoom to talk about it. If you’re planning to join me in this, please let me know. I’m excited to read this book and to talk about it with all of you.

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Weekly Lifelines 8/23/2020

August 20, 2020 Leave a comment
St. Luke’s is jumping into in-person worship and you’re invited. Next Wednesday, at five p.m. we’ll gather a small group on the lawn east of our building. In the shade of the trees, while being careful to keep our distance, we’ll read scripture, offer prayers, and break bread.
We will still offer our Sunday online worship so that people who can’t gather in person can continue to join us by computer or phone. This is an extra, optional service. If you’re not okay gathering in person, please stay home and stay safe!
Because of the pandemic, we’ll take precautions to keep people safe:
  • Masks are required.
  • Physical distancing is also required (six feet, minimum).
  • The building remains closed for everything but bathroom emergencies.
  • In order to ensure that the gathering stays within attendance limits, reservations are required.
  • At least initially, the liturgy will be entirely spoken. As we build familiarity with this way of worshiping, we’ll consider adding music.
  • It’s a bring-your-own-chair event.
  • No handshakes, high-fives, or hugs.
  • Communion will be in the form of wafers only.
  • In the event of inclement weather, the service will be rescheduled.
If you’re interested in attending, please contact me at revjustinc@gmail.com or 612-618-3826 to make a reservation.
In all honesty, I’m a little nervous about this. Not because of covid risks (we’re being incredibly cautious) but just about gathering in this strange way. Part of what I love about Eucharist is its familiarity. Gathering outdoors with lots of precautions feels deeply unfamiliar. From what colleagues have said, that’s pretty normal. And it’s also pretty normal for things to go well and for those in attendance to be uplifted by the experience. Such is the power of ritual. Such is the power connecting to each other and to God in sacrament. I’m looking forward to it. Nervously.
I’ve missed gathering with all of you to share communion so much over the past months. I’m looking forward to this small step back toward a slightly more normal version of community life. I hope you are, too, and I hope to see some of you in person next week.
As always, if you’d like to visit with me in-person or on the phone, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I’d love to drop by or drop you a line.
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Weekly Lifelines 8/16/2020

August 13, 2020 Leave a comment
A couple of poems have been speaking to me this week, and I want to share them with you. They’re written by William Virgil Davis, an award-winning poet and Professor of English and Writer-in-Residence at Baylor University.
The Passing
The time has come and gone again
although we never knew it,
even though we were standing there
together and waiting, watching.
It passed us while we were there,
standing together in the rain,
and watching, waiting, expecting it.
The rain was not raining hard.
That hadn’t bothered us, distracted us.
Still, it came and went quickly, quietly,
unobtrusively, while we waited,
watching expectantly, in the light rain.
We never knew the way, couldn’t get there
for the going. All day the sky had been grey
with a light mist falling. Not knowing what
we were looking for or finding had found,
we were anxious to finish whatever it was
we’d begun, to have this day put away,
on the calendar, in the album, where if we
wanted to we could take it out later and
examine it—fixed, unchanged, framed,
defined, a piece of history, even if our own.
It comes to this: we choose the life we live.
For years now I have been carrying one
small smooth stone to a nameless shrine.
On a decidedly more prosaic note, I’ll to reiterate my invitation from last week: If you would like an in-person visit from me, if you’d like to help figure out how to safely do in-person worship, or if you’re up for helping out with hosting Sunday worship, please get in touch with me.
With gratitude and blessings,
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Weekly Lifelines 8/9/2020

August 6, 2020 Leave a comment
I’ve got a few practical items for you this week:

First, I’ve gradually begun doing in-person home visits. Meeting outside and staying at least six feet apart has felt both safe and comfortable. It’s been wonderful to see faces and catch up in a way that Zoom or the phone just don’t allow. If you’re interested in a visit from me, please get in touch! I’d love to come spend time with you in-person. If you don’t have adequate outdoor space, I’m happy to meet you at church or on the patio at my house.

Second, given the success and relative comfort of last week’s weenie roast, I think we can give in-person, outdoor, Eucharist a try. If you’d like to help figure out the details of safe, in-person worship, please contact me. It would be wonderful to have a variety of perspectives as we move forward.

Finally, I’d love some help running online worship on Sundays. So far I’ve been managing everything myself—admitting people, starting music, sharing slides, and managing breakout rooms, sometimes even while preaching. It’s been working out, but now that it’s clear online/on-phone worship will be with us for a while, it would be great to share worship leadership just like we do when we’re in-person on Sundays. I’m looking for a few people to take turns being the Sunday Zoom meeting host. If you’re interested in helping out, please get in touch.

On a more spiritual note, I want to share the prayer that has been on my lips this week. When I went to visit Helen on the night that Forest died, the words from the commendation came to me and haven’t left:

Give rest, O Christ, to your servant with your saints, where sorrow and pain are no more, neither sighing, but life everlasting.

We say these words in the funeral liturgy as we commend to God those whom we love but see no longer. Although we usually speak it, the anthem is set to music in our hymnal, a haunting Orthodox chant that manages expresses both sorrow and joy, beauty and despair.

In these strange times of unexpected challenge, this antiphon is my prayer both for Forest, and for all of us: Give rest, O Christ; may we find your peace and drink of your eternal life in all that we do.

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Weekly Lifelines 8/2/2020

July 30, 2020 Leave a comment
Whitewater State Park is one of my favorite places. I love the big cliffs and outcroppings, the expansive views, the cold river, and the quite solitude of the forest. I’ve spent countless hours running those trails for training and for fun. On a recent run, the trail gave me something surprising: The awareness of something that I hadn’t noticed before.
The humid air that morning left a slippery film of water on the trail’s polished rock. As I navigated down a steep hill loaded with slippery rocks, I worked hard to keep my footing. I chose each footfall as carefully as I could, so that I wouldn’t slip or fall. In that moment, moving down that slippery hill, my attention was completely consumed by each step. There was no extra energy to ponder worries about work or home, or for thoughts about what I’d make for dinner. There was no room to appreciate the view from the hill—there wasn’t even space to worry about where the trail went three steps up ahead. On that cool and humid forest path, my mind knew only one step at a time, right there and then.
In retrospect, this insight isn’t anything terribly surprising. When a person is focused on something important, especially when possible danger is lurking, the mind has little energy for anything else. Nothing new there. What surprised me on the trail that morning was the realization of just how hard it is to notice when it’s happening. I’ve run literally hundreds of miles along those trails. I’ve descended that exact hill—that same slippery rock—dozens and dozens of times. And this is the first time I noticed that when I’m on it, I only see one step at a time.
It has sometimes been hard to find perspective in the midst of this pandemic. Some days, as I take stock of all that’s happened, it seems that I’ve done little more than navigate from one slippery rock to the next from sunup till sundown. From one crisis or challenge to the next, there’s often been little space to contemplate much else. Sometimes, it’s been difficult to figure out where God is moving or even to feel that divine presence.
But that doesn’t mean God isn’t there. On the contrary, whether we have attention to notice or not, God is always right there with us, watching our backs, aiding us in placing our feet, and helping us keep our bearings. As the psalmist says, “Though they stumble, they shall not fall, for the Lord upholds them by the hand.”
If there’s anything I can do to help you navigate these challenging times, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

P.S. Thanks to everyone who joined us for the Q & A last Sunday. We had a wonderful and uplifting conversation. Notes from that meeting (July 26) are here. Notes from our previous Q & A on June 28 are here.
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Weekly Lifelines 7/26/2020

July 23, 2020 Leave a comment

Unfortunately, my week has been almost entirely consumed in dealing with an unexpected and painful situation in the church. Consequently, I haven’t been able to make time to write for the Lifelines. I’m so sorry!

As always, if there’s something on your mind, if you have a question or concern, or if you just want to talk, please don’t hesitate reach out to me directly: 612-618-3826 or revjustinc@gmail.com.

Yours in Christ,

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Weekly Lifelines 7/19/2020

July 15, 2020 Leave a comment
While Father Justin is on vacation we wardens, Kevin Graves and Jane Reiman, are presenting a brief update of activities and opportunities at St. Luke’s.

Worship and Coffee Hour, Sunday, July 19, 9:00 AM: Father Justin will be back from vacation and will lead us in worship to be followed by a coffee hour, all on Zoom where you may join by video or by telephone.   See the information in the section below for joining the discussion with video or by telephone.
Thanks to Shanna: Many thanks to Shanna Altrichter for her excellent presentation last Sunday. The information about systemic racism was very interesting and was excellent background for us all. To view the presentation click here.
In person gatherings at St. Luke’s: We continue to follow the recommendations of the Bishop. Small outdoor gatherings are allowed now and we are planning to start with social gatherings. The first one will be a “weenie roast” (hot dog roast) outside by our fire pit at St. Luke’s, tentatively planned for the evening of Wednesday, July 29. We will likely schedule several of these events in order to keep the attendance somewhat small at each one. Doug Butler will be working out the details and we’ll get the information out to everyone. You can expect that we will be “social distancing” and wearing masks (when not eating). We will also need to bring our own hotdogs and beverages.
Kitchen remodeling:   The workers have made excellent progress again this week. The countertops are installed.  They look beautiful.
Vestry Vacancy:   As Justin said last week, since Joanne has moved to South Carolina we have an opening on the Vestry and would like to fill it. If you would like to serve St. Luke’s in this way or if you know someone who would, please tell one of us. The Vestry would like to make the appointment at the meeting on July 20.
Looking ahead: St. Luke’s will have another combination “Q&A/Coffee Hour” after the online (Zoom) worship service on Sunday, July 26.
As Justin noted in an email before his vacation, if you have a pastoral emergency or need something else prior to his return on July 19th, please contact Karen in the St. Luke’s office at gouldk@stlukesepiscopal.org or at 507-288-2469.   If it is out of office hours, feel free to contact one of us.
Blessings to you,
Kevin Graves, Senior Warden

(graveskj99@yahoo.com or 507-358-1287)
Jane Reiman, Junior Warden (bertnjane@me.com or 507-261-9258)
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