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8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.”
~Ephesians 2:8-10~

Dear Brothers and Sister in Christ,
I am writing this article while sitting in a lawn chair in my front yard. It is nearly 85 degrees and the sun is still brightly shining as we near the 9:00 pm hour. It’s hard to believe that in just over a month my family will be back to our school schedules filled with sports, music, theater and church events.
Even though the end of summer looms right around the corner, I can’t help but think of all the wonderful summer moments I have experienced. In June I spent eight days at Camp Metigoshe sharing in Bible study, singing, dancing, playing games and soaking up the sun with the wonderful campers, counselors and staff. The camp theme, “This Changes Everything,” is the same theme that was chosen for the 2018 National Youth Gathering held in Houston, TX. The theme was celebrated by 31,000 youth as the gathering focused on how God changes everything.
Camp Metigoshe broke the theme into four mini-themes that were discussed, learned and sung about each day of the week:

Monday – Jesus Changes Everything
Tuesday – Forgiveness Changes Everything
Wednesday – Inclusion Changes Everything
Thursday – Service Changes Everything

These same themes apply to us in our daily lives. In Paul’s letter to the people of Ephesus he reminds them that they are saved by grace, not because of what they have done or not done. I have heard it said again and again that God doesn’t need our good deeds but our neighbor does. That is why we are called to love our neighbor with all our heart, mind and soul. God loves us so much that he gave his son to die on the cross for our sins and that God forgives us and calls us to do the same. God includes us in his kingdom and wants us to include ALL our neighbors in this kingdom. God calls us to serve our neighbors through our words and actions in all that we do. That, my friends, is living and loving in faith. When we are able to see that we are saved through grace we see that being saved isn’t about what we do for God at all. Rather, being saved is about what God has done for us.
As we enter fall I encourage each of you to look around and name where you see God through Jesus, Forgiveness, Inclusion and Service. Maybe it’s during worship. Maybe it’s when you experience forgiveness from someone in your life or when you forgive someone. Maybe it’s in seeing young children include everyone around them in a simple game or tea party. Maybe you see God in serving others through your love, words and actions.

Brightest Blessings,
Pastor Kim
June 19, 2018 - 7:00 pm
Present: Council President Chuck Weiser, Todd Magnuson, Tammy Solberg, Craig Lipp, Melanie Best, Chad Clapper and Jason Vaagen.
Absent: Pastor Kim Gifford, Alana Erickson and Joe Engler.
Council President Weiser called the meeting to order at 7:00 pm
Weiser stated as there are no May minutes. They will be reviewed and approved at the July meeting.
Best made a motion to approve the Treasurer’s report. Lipp seconded. Roll Call: All Aye.
Committee Reports
As Pastor Kim was on unpaid leave due to her being called 5/6 time there was no update.
Solberg stated she had no updates from the Parish Education Committee. Discussion ensued regarding the need for additional Sunday School teachers for the fall.
Best provided an update from the Worship and Music Committee and the question of when to hold an outdoor gospel service. Discussion ensued regarding this.
Weiser provided the Council with an update from Property Management. Weiser updated the Council regarding the kitchen sink leaking. Discussion ensued. Magnuson also stated that he is donating his lawn tractor to the church and would like to build a shed on the concrete slab behind the church and requested the Council consider the contributing to the costs of building the shed. Discussion ensued.
Vaagen provided the Council with an update from the Finance, Stewardship and Outreach Committee. He stated volunteers are needed for the parade line up, creating the Church float for the parade and getting door prizes for the community picnic. Clapper and Weiser stated the would line up the parade floats. Solberg stated she would work on getting donations for the community picnic.
Old Business
Weiser asked if there were any updates regarding the playground. Vaagen stated as far as he understood there are no updates to provide at this time.
Council President Weiser began discussions regarding the Council resignation of Engler. He stated Council will need to appoint someone until the annual meeting. He then asked for ideas of congregation members that may be willing to fill the position. Discussion ensued. Council concurred a decision will need to be made regarding the position at the July meeting.
New Business
Weiser stated that due to the resignation of Engler a new secretary would need to be nominated. Magnuson nominated Vaagen to the secretary position. Weiser called for other nominations three times. Magnuson made a motion that nominations cease and a unanimous ballot be cast. Best Seconded. Roll Call: All Aye.
Weiser stated that it was previously discussed that the pastoral call would be reviewed at this meeting. As such he opened up discussion regarding this. Best made a motion to increase the pastoral call to 11/12 time as of July 1. Clapper seconded.
Discussion ensued on when it would be effective. A prior family commitment for Pastor Kim during the week of August 6-12 was also discussed. Council concurred to give the time for the family commitment to Pastor Kim. Roll Call: All Aye.
Discussion ensued regarding Weiser and Best having a contact list for pastoral care during times of Pastor Kim’s unpaid leave.
Counters for July are Chad Clapper and Tammy Solberg
The next Council meeting will be July 17
Council President Weiser adjourned the meeting at 7:49 pm
The Council closed the meeting with the Lord’s prayer.
Respectfully submitted
Jason Vaagen


July 17 - 7:00 pm


Present: President Chuck Weiser, Todd Magnuson, Tammy Solberg, Alana Erickson, Chad Clapper, Craig Lipp and Jason Vaagen
President Weiser called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.
Weiser stated as there are no corrections, the minutes for May and June will stand as published.
Discussion ensued regarding the Treasurer’s Report. Magnuson and Solberg made a motion to approve the Treasurer’s Report.
Committee Reports
Pastor’s Report: Pastor Kim stated there were a wedding and baptism in the middle of June, and a wedding and funeral last week. She stated the fourth wedding of the summer is scheduled for August 4. Pastor Kim will be in St. Paul next week for a continuing education seminar.
Parish Education: Solberg stated there was nothing other than a need for Sunday School teachers. Discussion ensued.
Worship and Education: Nothing to report
Property and Management: Nothing to report.
Finance Stewardship and Outreach: Erickson stated the rock painting event went well. She also stated the annual Block Rock event coming up. Discussion ensued on this. Erickson stated there are enough volunteers for the parade and that Warren Stebleton will do the announcing for the parade.
Old Business
Discussion ensued regarding the open council seat. Clapper indicated that he talked to someone and they would probably be interested. Clapper indicated he will follow up.

Pastor Kim brought up her becoming 11/12 time and the confusion surrounding this and the related payroll. Discussion ensued. Council President Weiser and Magnuson will meet with Accounting Solutions to clear up this confusion. From this point forward any changes with the call will be based on the calendar year.
New Business
Discussion ensued regarding changing the council meeting dates. This will be added to the next agenda to be discussed again.
Discussion ensued regarding the letter from Otter Tail Power. Duchsherer will look into getting surge protectors for the office equipment.
Discussion ensued regarding the Welcome Back Sunday & Celebration for September 16. The church will have Gospel Sunday that day and a discussion was held regarding having a barbecue. Melanie and Chad Clapper and the Finance, Stewardship and Outreach Committee will help with the event.
Discussion ensued regarding the changes to the financial reporting in the newsletter.
Erickson presented a different sheet to be used for the counting of collections. Discussion ensued.

Counters for August will be Alana Erickson and Todd Magnuson
Weiser adjourned the meeting at 8:25pm

Mark your calendars and join in the fun!
Friday, August 10 - 6:00 pm Community Picnic/Potluck at Hope Lutheran
Bring something to share and come celebrate summer! Hot dogs will be provided. There will be drawings, games and the opportunity to decorate our float for the following morning.

Saturday, August 11 8:00 am – 5k Fun Run/Walk 9:30 am – Parade Line up at Hope Lutheran 10:00 am – Parade begins Everyone is welcome to walk with our float. Remember to wear your Hope shirts! 12:00 pm – Mud Run
HOPE LUTHERAN T-SHIRTS Please see Pastor Kim or Amanda to purchase a shirt! Youth $7.00 Adult $8.00 Adult Extended $10.00

Rally Day will be here soon! Welcome Back Sunday & Celebration will kick off the 2018/2019 Sunday school year on Sunday, September 16. Sunday school registration will start at 8:45 am with classes starting at 9:00. Parents, please come inside to register your child/children so we have the correct information. Sunday school will end at 10:15 am with worship following at 10:30.

Once again, we will be using the Whirl Curriculum offered through Augsburg Fortress. Due to a lack of teachers, our classroom structure has changed to three classes. Grades will be separated as follows: Preschool/Kindergarten, Grades 1-3 and Grades 4-6.

Have any questions? Want to become part of the Parish Education team? Please reach out to Pastor Kim, Jo Ann Voeller or any of the Parish Ed teachers, or join us at our next meeting on Tuesday, August 14 at 7:00 pm.

Dates to Remember
Tuesday, August 14 - 7:00 pm - Parish Education meeting Sunday, September 16 - Welcome Back Sunday & Celebration 8:45 am Sunday School registration 9:00 Sunday School begins 10:15 Sunday School concludes 10:30 Worship begins with a BBQ to follow

LUTHERAN WORLD RELIEF SCHOOL KITS Remember Hope and Lutheran World Relief while shopping for school supplies this fall! We are gathering the following items for kits:
*70 sheet notebooks of wide or college ruled paper (no loose leaf) *30 centimeter rulers, (or centimeters on one side and inches on the other) *Pencil sharpeners *Blunt scissors (safety scissors with embedded steel blades work well) *Unsharpened #2 pencils with erasers *Back and blue ballpoint pens (no gel ink) *Boxes of 16 or 24 crayons *½” erasers *Sturdy drawstring backpack-style cloth bags, approximately 14” x 17” with shoulder straps (no standard backpacks)

FINANCE, STEWARDSHIP & OUTREACH COMMITTEE Are you looking for a new way to get involved at Hope Lutheran Church? How do you think Hope should minister in our community and beyond? Join us and help carry out our mission statement: Hope in Christ. Hope in Life. Hope in Community.

Our committee is looking for new members and we’d love to see you. We meet the second Wednesday of each month at 7:00 pm at the church.
Stewardship of Our Church At all times there must be and remain one holy, Christian church. It is the assembly of all believers among whom the gospel is purely preached and the holy sacraments are administered according to the gospel. Augsburg Confession, Article VII

Steward-discipleship means taking care of all that God has blessed with. We think of our health, our relationships and our money, but our church? You bet!

The church is the only organization whose primary purpose is to bring people into intimate relationship with God and also gather them as sacred community. Without church, how would people grow in faith? How would the Gospel be spread to all nations, as Jesus commands in Matthew 28:19, 20?

So what does it mean to be a good steward of our church? Here are some ideas:

Focus: We are dedicated to God’s Word and Sacrament as the means by which God’s grace is poured into us and out to the world. Our service projects and social events may flow from this, but they are secondary.

Community: As the Augsburg Confession (above) declares, the church is the community of God’s people dedicated to Word and Sacrament. We build strong community through healthy relationships guided by principles of Christian love, trust, honesty, truth, forbearance, forgiveness.

Building: Our building is NOT the church, but a tool of the church for ministry. We provide the resources to maintain our building as useful for the Gospel, but feel free to move on if it no longer serves.

Resources: Understanding that ministry to God’s people takes resources, we give generously of our time and talents. We strive to give a tithe – 10 percent of our financial blessings.

Faith formation: It takes learning and practice to grow closer to God, both as individuals and community. We support and participate in studying the Bible and theology. We promote and engage in spiritual practices that feed our souls.

Although we tend to think that our church has a mission, it’s more accurate to say that God has a mission, and that mission has a church. We grow in faith as people and community when we dedicate ourselves to good stewardship of our church.

--Rob Blezard
Copyright © 2018, Rev. Robert Blezard. Reprinted by permission. Pastor Blezard serves as an assistant to the bishop of the Lower Susquehanna Synod and works as content editor for

DINNER WITH A PERFECT STRANGER An Invitation Worth Considering
By David Gregory

You are invited to a dinner with JESUS OF NAZARETH

The mysterious envelope arrives on Nick Cominsky’s desk amid a stack of credit card applications and business related junk mail. Although his seventy hour work week has already eaten into his limited family time, Nick can’t pass up the opportunity to see what kind of plot his colleagues have hatched.

The normally confident, cynical Nick soon finds himself thrown off balance while drawn into an intriguing conversation with a baffling man. This person who calls himself Jesus comfortably discusses everything from world religions to the existence of heaven and hell. He also seems to know a disturbing amount about Nick’s personal life.

“You’re bored, Nick. You were made for more than this. You’re worried about God stealing your fun, but you’ve got it backwards…there’s no adventure like being joined to the Creator of the universe.” He leaned back off the table. “And your first mission would be to let him guide you out of the mess you’re in at work.”
As the evening progresses their conversation touches on life, God, meaning, pain, faith and doubt – and it seems that having
Dinner with a Perfect Stranger may change Nick’s life forever.

GOSPEL SEEDS – AUGUST 2018 A Monthly Update from Western ND Synod Staff

This Changes Everything…
As I write this I am sitting in Houston at the National Youth Gathering. The theme verse for this gathering of 30,000 ELCA youth and their adult leaders is Ephesians 2:8:

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.

Jesus’ death and resurrection changed everything! Period! End of story! The world was changed by Christ freely going to the cross. Through the cross God has pronounced us worthy of God’s love and mercy.

Daily Themes… Each day of the gathering we engaged a different topic: Day 1: God’s Love Changes Everything Day 2: God’s Grace Changes Everything Day 3: God’s Hope Changes Everything
What amazes me is the intentional work that goes into the planning of these gatherings. From providing excellent study resources to helping prep participants in the event; to the well thought out work projects and to the opportunities for participants to think and talk about faith and daily life.

Do we believe it??? Do we really believe that Jesus’ death and resurrection has changed everything? Do we trust God’s promise of ongoing, unearned and unmerited love? If we are honest the answer is, “Not always.” We live in a world where “nothing is free,” so it is hard to fathom a God whose love is.

Through God’s grace we are set free to love and serve our neighbors. Such service is offered with no strings attached. We are moved to love and serve the neighbor because God first loved us. This is what it means to live the Good News of Jesus Christ.

We gather weekly to worship the God who gifted us in such an incredible way. We worship to thank and praise God, but also to hear God’s Word of grace and forgiveness. We taste it in the meal, we hear it in the music and we encounter it as a gathered community.

Then, nourished, we are sent back into the world to be a witness to what God is all about. As the Holy Spirit stirs in our life we are changed, thanks be to God!

Synod Happenings… -We celebrate the Ordination of Kayla Hill on July 29, 2018. Kayla has been called to serve the people of United as One Parish – Powers Lake, Battleview and rural Kenmare.

-We welcome Rev. Justin Johnson who has begun a call serving the people of English Lutheran, Hazen. It is a blessing to welcome you to the Western North Dakota Synod.
-We welcome Rev. Natasha Kolles who will begin her call as Associate Pastor at Zion Lutheran, Minot, in mid-August. We are looking forward to the gifts you will share.

-At the same time we say farewell to Rev. Linda Schauer who has been serving Zion, Ashley. She begins a new call in Eastern North Dakota in August. We also say farewell to Rev. Anna Haugen who has served Augustana, Underwood and Birka, rural Washburn. We send blessings to both of you, and thank you for sharing your gifts with the people of this synod.

Upcoming Events… -August 12-14 – Central African Republic Partners Meeting – Fargo. A gathering of the three synods and other ministry partners engaged in ministry in CAR.

-August 17-18 – Candidacy Retreat - Badlands Ministry. This is a chance for those engaged in theological education to connect with synod staff and members of the Candidacy Committee.

-August 29-30 – Synod Program Staff Visioning Retreat - Camp of the Cross. This time in retreat allows synod staff to lay out our work for the coming year.

-September 9-11 - Medora Rostered Leader Gathering

Thanks… I am thankful for each congregation in this synod and the faithful way we engage ministry together. As you share Mission Support with your synod and churchwide you make ministry happen! Thanks for supporting congregation visioning, congregational renewal, training new pastors and deacons, sending missionaries around the world and much more. Thanks for your partnership – you are a blessing.

Blessings All!
Rev. Mark Narum Serving as Bishop of the Western North Dakota Synod