June /July/August 2019 Congregational Life

All congregations are at their heart a worshipping community.  We recognize this in our mission statement as we Celebrate together.   Surrounding this celebration is a congregation’s life together. Congregations that build community and develop deep bonds allow worship to be much more than a performance for an audience.  We have been blessed as a congregation that this spirit of community has also been at the heart of what it means to be Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church. 

Early on, the stories of our congregation’s life point out that volunteer effort to support children’s education, musical performance, and mission outreach led to frequent events and gatherings.  Concerts, banquets, and presentations for women, men, children, and young adults showed up in many combinations as well.  There are veiled references to gambling and dances that were frowned upon by the Norwegian elders but given some gratitude for the purposes they were able to serve.  Imagine the volunteer effort required to host and run a state fair food booth! Imagine the work to pull off events with their limited transportation and technology available.

This creative entrepreneurial community spirit never left the congregation, making it possible for auctions and fundraising dinners to continue to pop up for special projects, mission appeals, budget gaps, and just for socializing. 

In recent memory (for those elders still with us) – the Altar Guild’s “Bean and Weenie Feast” was a delightful ‘gourmet’ dinner of hot dogs, while pasta dinners for church leaders included hand-made pasta from the high school youth group.  Rummage sales took on the air of fashion shows and live auctions with our talented property committee chairperson, Marv Burman, became a beloved activity.  Pancake breakfasts sent many young members off to camps and mission trips like many other churches, but we might have been the only congregation to hold a scone raffle, and certainly only one of a few Lutheran congregations who served fufu and other Liberian dishes to raise money for mission work.  We can also note that this congregation’s musical fundraising has sent many a goat overseas through Judy Halverson’s children’s ministry.

The congregation’s latest version of this community building / fundraiser has taken the form of a silent auction (Marv’s spirit is still with us) while offering the assets of our bread oven’s pizza baking capacity and drawing on the creative talents of our members. 

Being connected to service-providing ministries (Our Saviour’s Community Services, Kaleidoscope, Daily Work, Isaiah, Cherish All Children) has meant that many congregational events are actually a way to support the mission of these programs, with concerts, films, performances, musicals, and fairs bringing another community building experience – connection to people beyond our congregation who share in our commitment to serve our neighbors.

Other mission events focusing on volunteer service have appeared over the years, including housing rehabilitation work through Habitat for Humanity and our own member led Nehemiah Days.  The longest ongoing form of this service work (35+ years) still happens each May as a group of congregation members make a six hour trek to Wilderness Canoe Base to help prepare it for summer programming. This ministry has its roots with two of our pastors and has included many of our young adults as guides and campers. 

Similar in length, though it had been a bit more intermittent, has been quilting efforts.  A bit of service work, education, and community building, the latest form has found a way to be available to students of the English Learning program, providing us with a new model for working with immigrants.  We can trust that the original immigrants who formed Our Saviour’s would be fully supportive of this ministry.