March Madness

March Madness is a term used for college basketball to describe the NCAA Tournament.  It can also describe the Minnesota Hockey, Basketball and Wrestling Tournaments. March goes in like a Lion and in Northern Minnesota it can also go out like a Lion!

When it comes to the Lamb of God, Holy Week begins March 20  with Palm/Passion Sunday. At the 9 am service our church will feature our Sunday School children in Palm Sunday Procession.

The Passion of our Lord continues with Maundy Thursday Services at noon and at 7pm on March 24.

The children preparing for ‘First Communion’ will receive recognition at the evening service.

Good Friday will also be observed at 7pm, March 25a t Riverside UMC. Then we place our Lord into the tomb and wait.

Festival of Easter Services with the Lord’s Supper will be celebrated Saturday March 26 at 5:30 and twice on Easter Sunday.

  • The First Service will be at 9am and the Second Service will be at 10:30am.

At Calvary, we have the Lamb of God on our stain glass windows above the altar and on the banner by the baptismal font.

  • Christ is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!
  • So no matter what the ‘weather’ in March believers in our climate will experience March going out like a lamb … The Lamb of God!


Sandra Lichter shared with me that the ice harvest on Lake Itasca was

about 20 inches in thickness.  It is hard to believe that what looks to be

so cold and white and stiff will become warm and green and fluid!


Lent means “Springtime” and March is our month to follow the madness

of our Lord’s death to the joy of the Resurrection!  Like the joy of going

to state there is no road that is harder to accomplish with happiness at

the end than the victory of Jesus!


Christ is Risen!  Spring is Coming! Soon 20 inches of ice will give way to

flowing waters! The message is all around us but we need the eyes of

faith to see it!



Pastor Steve

A Prayer

Ann Chellman from Conifer, Colorado wrote a prayer that was shared at our last Park Rapids Area Ministerial Association meeting.  With all the cold we are experiencing (with the stress that goes with it), may this prayer lift your spirits as it lifted mine.


A Prayer

Lord, Thou knowest that I am growing old!

Keep me from becoming talkative and possessed with the idea that I must express myself on every subject.

Release me from the craving to straighten out everyone’s affairs.

Keep my mind free from the recital of endless detail…give me wings to get to the point!

Seal my lips when I am inclined to tell of my aches and pains; they are increasing with the years and my love to speak of them    grows sweeter as time goes by.

Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be wrong.

Keep me thoughtful but not nosy; helpful but not bossy!

With my vast store of wisdom and experience, it does seem a pity not to use it all!

But Thou knowest, Lord, that I want a few friends left at the end.


-Ann Chellman

Conifer, Colorado

All of us are growing older and may this prayer help us to have a few good friends at the twilight of our lives!


Pastor Steve

Matthew’s Christmas Story

With all the talk about who is able to enter our country as well as questions about refugee resettlement I find it interesting to note these words from Matthew’s Christmas Story:


Matthew 2: 13-15

  • “Now after (the wise men) had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.’
  • Then Joseph got up, took he child and his mother by night, and went it Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod.
  • This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt I have called my son.’”


Our Christian faith deals with the real world and not much has changed since the first year of our Lord’s life.

  • Most of us who came from Europe have a story when someone immigrated to America.
  • Most who came from the Far East immigrated through San Francisco.
  • Almost all were welcomed into our country and their contribution of our country cannot be underestimated.


It is true that times have changed, but the church and faith has always cared about those ‘fleeing’ tyranny.

  • Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus had a ‘flight’ into Egypt that meant running for their lives from Herod.
  • They dwelt as aliens in that country for most of our Lord’s early childhood.
  • My point is that Egypt took them in and that God’s Son was called ‘out of Egypt’.


Today Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service shared these suggested talking points in response to the Paris tragedy and Syrian refugee crisis:

  • “We mourn with the people of France (and California) for the murder of innocents, and we are gravely concerned for the safety of the refugees who have fled and are fleeing the violence of ISIS every day. …
  • The United States handpicks the refugees who resettle here, and they go through multiple layers of security checks, making them the most thoroughly vetted group of people who come to the United States. Security screenings are rigorous and involve the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the Department of Defense and multiple intelligence agencies. …
  • The United States resettles refugees of all faiths. Keeping some Syrian refugees out of this country based on their religion sends the wrong message to the rest of the world about who we are as Americans. We are a welcoming country with a religiously diverse society and our resettlement program should continue to reflect this. To not do so only feed into ISIS’ propaganda and makes us all less safe. …
  • Refugees are the most scrutinized and screened individuals to enter the United States. The robust and multi-layered series of security checks include biometrics, medical screenings, interagency intelligence sharing, and in-person interviews with Department of Homeland Security. … “


At the Crossroads of Highways 71 and 34 folks are moving freely all over Minnesota to conduct business that includes personal travel.

  • As we go into 2016 may we have the innocence of doves as well as the wisdom of the serpent.
  • With both we will continue the mission of Christianity to serve Jesus as he comes to us in the eyes of babies rescued from evil.
  • With both Lutheran Refugee and Immigration Service will balance who is sponsored for resettlement and who is not.


Thanks be to God.

Pastor Steve

An Instant World

Preaching on 2 Peter 3: 8-9 John Throop writes:

“We live in an instant world. All of us fee the pressures, but also enjoy the pleasures, of the instant and the immediate. Some of us can remember when the world was not instant. When you ordered something, it came in a couple of weeks, which was pretty good time.  Dinner took hours to cook. Restaurants served promptly, but not fast. Time was measured in hours. …


 While technology has changed our expectations about time, we find that relationships do not work in seconds. Love and compassion are not achieved in an instant.  The same thing is true in our walk with God. …”


Advent is the time we take time in our walk with God.  Christmastime is here and as I write this on Veteran’s Day, it is sad that commercialism is making “Black Friday” the whole month. I’m old fashioned but there is something about celebrating Thanksgiving before Christmas.


As a child I thought that Advent would never end. Every day waiting for Christmas seemed like it would never come. Every Sunday at church we light one more candle on the Advent wreath to mark time. Then as quick as a flash the angels are singing, Santa is coming and family photos are taken to capture a moment.


As we travel through another difficult year of our Lord 2015, Peter’s words are timeless and new:


But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise (to come again) as some think of slowness, but is patient on your account, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.


Quoting John Throop: “The prayer of the modern American is, ‘Dear God, grant me patience. And I want it right now!’ This is in stark contrast with the birth of our Savior 2,000 years ago as we await the Advent of his return. But wait, as we pray and worship the Good News is … Christ is with Us NOW!


Merry Christmas,


Pastor Steve

Rejoice in the Lord Always


Philippians 4: 4-7 reads:  “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say , Rejoice.  Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”


With the many changes and progress that has happened since our congregational decision to move forward it is hard to believe that I am writing the November newsletter!

To recap:

  • On September 20 the vote to move forward was taken. The next day volunteers arrived to move our offices to the Armory!
  • September 27, our youth shared their trip to Miami at the Youth Service.
  • October 4, we held a groundbreaking after worship.
  • On October 13, the demo began and two days later it was almost finished.
  • The week of October 12-18 the preparation for the foundation was completed. The balcony was removed by volunteer labor.  Bathrooms were fitted with new entries.


During this time Release Time, Sunday School, Confirmation and all events are back to full swing.  This week October 20 through October 27 we will celebrate Reformation with the Rite of Confirmation for 15 youth at a10:30 worship.


Thanks to Pastor Roger Olson and Pastor Glenn Anderson help needed to visit our members is being done.  On top of all of this we have Pastor Ron Mohr under contract for 1/4th time. Ron will be with us again in November.


Yes rejoice in the Lord always and again I say, ‘Rejoice!’  I have not even touched all that the Resource Core and the Design Team have done!

  • On November 8th following worship the Design Team will have a report ready to share on the status of the project. MARK THAT DATE.


November is also our month for living out our faith in the world.  This is another way of saying:  Christian Stewardship.

  • How has Calvary Lutheran Church blessed your life?
  • How has your life been a blessing to others through involvement at Calvary.


In early November there will be a Stewardship Mailing that will include these questions along with opportunities for mission and service.

  • From quilting to singing to teaching to serving those on the margins of our economy to Bible Study … please take some time to answer how God’s Spirit has worked in your life.
  • Please sign your name … but you don’t have too.


In addition, the Sunday School and Release Time students will take

time to share drawings with stories of how Jesus loves them and

how their life is blessed by God at Calvary.


Other than that there has not been much going on around here!




Pastor Steve

Moving Forward

Today is September 14, 2015 and our vote is scheduled for Sunday September 20th.  I am convinced that the Holy Spirit will guide our congregation in what to do.  I am at perfect peace.

Last Wednesday at confirmation, Keegan Smythe delivered a box given to our church from Dave Konshok.  I was a “Combat Mission Fly Request”

The flag is on my desk with a certificate that says the following:

4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron


This flag was flown in honor of

Calvary Lutheran Church


This is to certify that on

5 November 2010

This American Flag was flown

on a combat mission

aboard a

United States Air Force F-16C

Viper 26, TAIL 89-2075


Over Afghanistan by

Captain Scott “Hooter” Hensley

It was signed by Captain Hensley and LTCOL WILLIAM “CHAKA” BAILEY, Commander, 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron; Bagram AB, Afghanistan United States Air Force.

Dave’s gift was a reminder to me that we are at war against terrorism.  With the 14th anniversary of 911, we are at the 14th anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan.  It has been so long that it is too easy to forget about Captain Hensley and those who risk their lives everyday to secure our freedom.

As Calvary goes forward in mission in the name of Jesus, this gift is a reminder that freedom isn’t free.  As we move forward at the Crossroads of Grace and Service we are also reminded of a power that is stronger than death … the Resurrection of our Lord.  For me this is peace whatever we decided as a congregation on Sunday September 20th.


Pastor Steve

By Way of Introduction

The word “Lutheran” seems to be a key to who I am.  Both of my dad’s parents came from Germany and mother’s parents came from Norway.  (It was a mixed marriage.)  I was born at Iowa Lutheran Hospital in Des Moines in 1944.  My baptism was delayed until Dad could get leave as a sailor in World War II.  They tell me that I struggled so in the arms of my Godfather during my baptism that he almost dropped me.  I have been struggling in the arms of God ever since, and God hasn’t dropped me yet.

I grew up in the Swedish Lutheran congregation, the same one as my mother.  Mom’s parents didn’t drive and the Swedish Lutheran Church was a couple of miles closer than the Norwegian Lutheran Church.  I attended the same grade school as my mother.  Miss Peterson, the principal, was also my Sunday School Superintendent.  Saturday was the only day that I was not under the watchful eye of Miss Peterson.

At about age 10, I felt that I was being called into the ministry.  My grandmother liked the idea.  My mother said, “I think you would really be a good lawyer.”  I didn’t tell a lot of people about my intention of being a pastor.  Those I did tell would always say, “Oh, I want to be there and see that.”  But they never did come.

I attended Grand View College (now University): a good Lutheran school.  It was a two-year college at that time, so I transferred to Drake University, also in Des Moines, for my next two years.  I lived at home during my college years to “sponge” off my parents as long as I could, knowing I would be going on to seminary.

My first year of seminary was at Augustana Seminary in Rock Island, Illinois.  That seminary merged with several others and became the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.  Even though they had moved to Chicago, I was able to find them and continue my seminary career.

My intern year was spent at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Aurora, Illinois.  Donna was the organist at Redeemer.  During a trip to Des Moines with Donna at Christmas we became engaged.  When my intern supervisor found out whom I was engaged to, he said, “Oh hell, I can always get another intern, but organists are hard to find.”  I told him that I knew that.  Back to Chicago for a final year of seminary.  Everyone wanted to meet Donna, to see who had the courage to marry me.

My first call was to Redeemer Lutheran Church in Bettendorf, Iowa.  We were there for nine years and the birth of our first child Tobi (the mother of our five grandchildren).  We then moved to St. Stephen Lutheran Church in Urbandale a suburb of Des Moines.   We were at St. Stephen for 26 years and three more children: Trent, Ian, and Annika.

I retired in 2006.  Donna informed me that I wasn’t doing retirement very well, so I started to do interims.  The last five years I have served at St. Paul Lutheran Church, in Martensdale, Iowa.  It is a very part-time position which I share with another pastor.  This leaves me enough time to begin working at Calvary.

Donna will continue teaching math at Grand View University for another school year.  After that, it is our intention to move into our cabin on Portage Lake.  We are looking forward to getting to know the good Lutherans of Calvary and sharing ministry with you.
Pastor Ron Mohr

Stories of Inspiration

Stories of inspiration: From Dana Kocka …


The Estate of Dean Hayes:  Thank you for the very generous gift given to Calvary Youth from the Dean Hayes Estate.  Dean was a great man. We have many wonderful youth at Calvary and the money will be used to impact their faith through our programming, curriculum, mission trips, etc…  The gift will impact today’s youth, which will in turn impact the future generations.  (This gift from his estate is many thousands of dollars.)


Second, this is part of an article to be submitted to the Enterprise …

“This summer I was able to experience another mission trip. Miami is a big city and you would be amazed at how quick I could see the face of God in the city. I had a good idea of how this mission trip was going to go and what to expect from the previous to LA. But my prediction was wrong but in a good way. The agencies we visited were very eye opening.  It’s amazing how many people they were helping.  The Chapman House for example housed hundreds of homeless families and helped them find a job, get insurance and health benefits. That one program changed thousands of lives in just the past few years. Everyday we worked were long days but I knew we were making a difference. After being in the city I learned to always help people and not to judge people because everyone has a story.”  ~ Maddison Steffel


“I saw God all over Miami, especially in the volunteers. The workers that volunteer a lot, you could really see God in them. It changed me in understanding that there was some stuff to do in Miami.  Miami’s not just a wonderful city. It needs Christ just like every other city. It’s my third mission trip and every single one has been a big experience for me.”   ~ Tristan Brietweser


“I saw God at work in all our youth that were so willing to work hard and help others….I loved it! Tori’s favorite moment was working with the kids at branches, but she also loved serving at Chapman. We both realize how much we have to be thankful for. One moment that stuck with me is how tough that head nun was on us, but how she smiled so sincerely when serving some of the homeless. We were told to remember that they are people who have souls. It was very rewarding to serve others less fortunate than me and to work with others who volunteer on a regular basis.”   ~ Leah (Chaperone) and daughter Tori Hilmanowski


Here is a list of the participants:  Youth:  Drew Hilmanowski, Tori Hilmanowski, Madison Steffel, Tayah Otterness, Bailee Hoffard, Katelynn Warmbold, Arianne Warmbold, Alex Kirlin, Paige Poehler, Anna Crist, Jasmine Cease, Heidi Lageson, Chelsea Swenson, Tatum Mercer, Lexi Stevenson, Zach Tretbar, Zach Nelson, Tristan Breitweser, Tyler Breitweser, Luke Kosel, Isaac Kosel, Bradley Graham, Jack Bateman, Zach Behrens, Dylan VanDerstad, Darien Simon   Chaperones:  Dana Kocka, Glen Breitweser, Heather Steffel, Leah Hilmanowski


Third:  We have been praying for Evan Johnson who is Dana Kocka’s cousin.

Here is an amazing update:  Evan Johnson (24) has been at Mayo in Rochester for the past 17 months.   He has endured a great deal throughout the last several months including once being told he had 48 hours to live, survived multiple infections & complications, 2 stem cell transplants, etc.  The Doctors were amazed today when they were able to give him his amazing biopsy results revealing 0% cancer!!!! The Mayo doctors are amazed & said Evan is a true miracle!!!   Evan is one of three to survive this rare form of Leukemia.  Praise God, & praise the Mayo doctors & medical staff!!!  He hopes to be home at the end of the month.


(We also pray for Jesus to bless Dana and Tia as they approach the birth of their 4th child!)


Fourth:  Claudia Shogren visited our church Sunday July 12th.  We are and will be praying for her.  She shared this ‘miracle’ with me …

Claudia has battled a debilitating joint disease and has had many surgeries placing joints into her arms, legs etc.  Her elbow needs to be replaced and the inventor/designer flew from Warsaw, Poland to the Mayo Clinic to see if a new design would be possible.  He is developing the new design with other newly invented hardware that is hoped to restore her mobility.


We pray for the healing needed so that this newly designed elbow may be installed successfully.

Claudia considers it a miracle for this designer to make a special trip from Poland to help her case.  May the design help her and others!


Finally:  Eric and Jennifer Bervig are partnering with benefactors to “Journey to Haiti as full time ministry partners with Intercession Haiti (I:H).”  They will “live and serve as house parents at their boarding school in Jeremie, Haiti. … Our desire is to one day see self-sustainable ministries funded through these non-prophet business operations that work to create the funding for our boarding schools, agricultural training, community development and evangelistic outreach.”  If you have questions I invite you to call Eric at 218-929-9692.


Our Lord is amazing and his grace sustains us all.  May these stories of hope, joy and service inspire your summer as they have inspired mine!


Sola Deo Gloria!

Pastor Steve


July is our month to remember Freedom.

Galatians 5: 1 reads:  “For freedom Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of  slavery.”

 The yoke of slavery was adherence to Jewish laws as necessary for salvation.  In other words a Gentile Christian would have to become Jewish before they could become Christian.

 Paul taught that the blood of Jesus on the cross pays in full our sins.  This means that we do not ‘have’ to do anything else to earn God’s favor.

The church at Galatia was conflicted and teachers came along and told them that Gentile men had to be circumcised in order to be accepted into the church.  Other laws like not eating pork could have also been added as required for believers.

     Paul writes and takes the position that what Jesus did was ‘all or nothing’ when it came to the power of the cross.

  • Either a believer in Jesus was free and Gentile men can join as they are or they must do all of the law.
  • Now what has that to do with us?

 First, you are welcome ‘as you are’ to come and worship Jesus here at Calvary.

Secondly, we are free to follow our conscience on ethical issues.

  •  We are free to serve our military. We are free to be a pacifist.
  • We are free to support pipelines and we are free to oppose them or move them.
  • In 1776, Americans were free to support the King of England. They were free to fight for independence.


As we celebrate the 4th of July all of us should take pause and honor those who risked their lives, liberty and means to make a living.  Truly it was profiles in courage that began a tax revolt on tea escalating to musket fire at Bunker Hill.  Boston Strong is not new.

That same freedom is ours today and we need it as we deal with everything from global warming to race identification to drones to … you fill in the issue!

  • In the Name of Jesus, I tell you that in Christ freedom sets us free to address anything and everything.
  • Like the Apostle Paul taught, the power of the cross is just that strong.

Enjoy the 4th!

Pastor Steve


Many of you have heard that my husband has accepted a job at a high school in Omaha, Nebraska starting next fall.  Some of you have contacted me to ask if we are moving; I have answered those of you who have asked, but would now like to let everyone know publicly that yes, my family is in transition.  Sometime during the summer we will be moving to the Omaha area.  There are a variety of reasons for this decision, one of which is living near our extended family.  As our family transitions toward Omaha, I am actively seeking a new ministry setting that can make good use of my gifts.  I do not have a new call yet, but there are some possibilities on the horizon.  At this point I have not resigned from Calvary because the timeline is still in question due to my employment being unsettled.  For now, I will continue serving as your pastor.  More details will be shared with the congregation when they are available.


As this newsletter goes to press I still don’t have a new call secured, but that could possibly change by the time you receive this in your mailbox. This is a time of great uncertainty for my family, with lots of unanswered questions. Last week I was excited about the possibilities awaiting us in Omaha; this week I have been more sad as I think about leaving our friends in Park Rapids. I’m sure I will cycle through these emotions at least once more before we actually move. Transitions are like that. Grief is like that.
Erik and I trust that God is present in the midst of all of this.  We are grateful for our time in Park Rapids and especially for the many people who have taken an interest in our children’s lives and development. We appreciate you!  This move is bittersweet for us, but in the end we think it will be good for us to settle down and stay put near our extended family while our kids go through school. Erik’s new job will challenge him to put in practice some of the concepts he studied during his Master’s program and the larger area will offer him some opportunities in the future. We trust that a variety of opportunities will be available for me career-wise throughout the metro as well.

                It has been a privilege to be in ministry with you. Thank you for being part of our journey; we hope we have had a positive impact on your journey as well.
Pastor Sara Jensen