Thursday, August 25, 2011

Vacation Bible School--and a request to help others

Vacation Bible School is one of my favorite ministries. Even though we are a new church we have already established a tradition of quality Vacation Bible School at Chain of Lakes. We’ve celebrated a wonderful VBS this past week. We’ve averaged 27 children a night—many from outside our congregation. The activities have been very well organized and enjoyed by the children. I’m very impressed by many adults who have spent a lot of time with kids this week. Thank you!! The quality of a children’s ministry depends on the number and commitment of adults to this ministry. One of my ministry philosophies is “the congregation is the youth and children’s minister.” This philosophy has been lived out this week at Chain of Lakes.

Tonight is the last night at Vacation Bible School. If you have a chance, come over to the Senior Center and check it out. You’d be welcome for dinner at 5:30. A special thanks to our Children’s Ministry Director, Joanne Shingledecker, and the Education Team for the excellent work they’ve done to plan Vacation Bible School.

This Sunday the children of Bible School will be sharing their gifts in worship. Our Music Director, Kellie Burriss, has done a wonderful job of preparing the kids to sing on Sunday. The children will be sharing the Scriptures and being ushers and door greeters. The theme of service will be Praise. Sunday will be a wonderful opportunity to celebrate Children’s Ministry at Chain of Lakes.

As part of Vacation Bible School we’re collecting backpacks for Lino Lakes Elementary. Our goal is to collect 20 backpacks. You can help us!! Go to and click on the backpack link. Please bring a backpack or supplies to Vacation Bible School tonight or to worship this Sunday. The backpacks will be delivered to Lino Lakes Elementary next week.

You can view more pictures of Vacation Bible School on my Facebook page. They will soon be loaded onto our web site.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Help

On Thursday night my daughter, Hannah, and I set out to see the movie, “The Smurfs” at the Andover Theater. As we were standing in line I saw that “The Help” was playing at the same time. I read "The Help" with my on-line book club and have wanted to watch it ever since it came out. After seeing the movie was rated PG-13 and being convinced that there weren’t too many inappropriate scenes, I convinced Hannah to watch it with me. The movie was based on a book written by Kathryn Stockett.

As soon as I walked into the theater I noticed that many women were sitting together in groups. Obviously some book clubs were taking a night out to see “The Help” together.

The main plot revolved around the successful attempt by Skeeter to write a book detailing the stories of the African-American servants working in white households in Jackson, Mississippi in the early 1960’s.

Three women are the primary characters. Skeeter is a young woman who came home to Jackson after graduating from college. She befriends Aibileen, an African-American woman who cleans houses and lovingly cares for the white children of those houses. Aibileen’s best friend is Minny—a more confrontational woman who can’t help but tell her white employers what she thinks of them.

Issues of race, power, sexism and the implications of segregation permeate the “The Help.” The movie shares how each character is marred by the system of Jackson, Mississippi in the early 1960’s. Skeeter is treated coldly by her female friends because she’s more interested in being a writer than getting married. Aibileen has always wanted to be more than a maid, but she was born into a family where her grandmother and mother were maids. She writes a hour every night, but it’s almost impossible for her gifts to help her transcend her fate. Minny tells the truth and suffers the consequences from a system that isn’t interested in her views.

My favorite character was Celia—a white woman who lived in the country. She hired Minny after Minny couldn’t keep a job. Celia was shunned by the young woman of Jackson. She needed Minny to teach her how to cook and care for her house. Celia was so scared by her thoughts of how her husband would respond to the hiring of Minny that she kept it a secret.

My heart went out to Celia. She didn’t fit in with a culture that primarily valued women for their ability to keep house and have babies. She wanted to bond with her friends—but they scorned her with an ugliness that can only be called sin

I didn’t need a scorecard to know the heroes and the villains of the movie. This wasn’t a nuanced description of segregation. There was no middle-ground.

I’m glad Hannah watched “The Help” with me. It gave us a chance to leave a world that values Facebook and brand clothes to talk about issues that really matter. There was something at stake in what happened in the movie. Skeeter, Aibileen, and Minny didn’t change the world, but they shared stories that illustrated the ugliness of their age. Their courage transcends time.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

50 years of marriage

Last weekend my family had the privilege of celebrating my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. On August 5, 1961 my dad and mom were married at the Congregational Church in Mantorville, MN. On August 6, 2111, about 175 of us gathered in Geneva Hall of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Worthington, MN to acknowledge and celebrate their last 50 years together.

My sister, Pam, and I started planning the day last January when she and her kids spent a weekend in Blaine. Our hope was to have a party where my parents didn’t have to do much. By May it appeared obvious that this hope wouldn’t be accomplished. When the details seemed to be getting out of control my parents, sister and I gathered in June to make the final preparations. We divided tasks and then watched my mom go to work. Through this experience I re-learned that if my mom wants to organize a party it is going to be big.

Our family is blessed to have enjoyed a number of significant celebrations at our home church. We celebrated my ordination in 1993; we celebrated my sister’s ordination and then her wedding in 1997. This doesn’t include the countless celebrations of church life when we were growing up. The celebration last Saturday was just as much one of the blessings of a church as the blessings of a marriage.

I was overwhelmed by the large number of friends of my parents who attended. I came away from the celebration realizing again that my parents are gifted in developing friends. It was wonderful seeing their friends I hadn’t seen in a long time—people like the Barbers and Dykes and Hudsons and Todds. All were a part of our family’s life when we were growing up. The celebration last Sunday was about my parents wedding, and it was just as much about these friends who were an important part of our family.

The program was supposed to be twenty minutes—but when preachers plan something it always goes long. Pam’s husband, Scott, and my wife, Amy, did a marvelous job of being masters of ceremonies for the program. Though the program lasted 45 minutes, I doubt if anyone was bored---there were too many stories to share.

My sister and I are privileged to have parents who love and like each other so much. My mom and dad do everything together. They are best friends and enjoy being in each others’ presence. I don’t remember my parents ever having a fight in my presence until I was in college.

It’s truly special when a celebration encompasses church, family, friends, and marriage.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Beautiful night for a walk for Manna Market!

I’m very proud of our Outreach Team for initiating the idea that turned into a walk for Manna Market which took place last night. We raised $2,540 for Manna Market. We had a beautiful night to walk and the setting was wonderful. One of the Kids Clubs from the area set up carnival games for kids to play. This walk was a partnership between Chain of Lakes Church, St. Joseph of the Lakes Catholic Church, and Church of the Nazarene. We’ll soon have pictures on our web site. If you’d like to see them right now, you can go to my Facebook page.

The idea for the walk originated at the April meeting of our Outreach team. I approached James Chapman about the idea. We sent a letter to many of the local churches. Steve Robach from St. Joseph of the Lakes Catholic Church wanted to help, so the three of us became the organizing committee. I had a blast working with Steve and James. We didn’t have a lot of time to put this walk together, so we were very pleased with the results. We’re already talking about what we learned from our experience and how we can expand it for next year. Without the presence of Chain of Lakes Church this walk for Manna Market would never have taken place.

Way to go Chain of Lakes!! We're starting to make an impact in the world!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Walk for Manna Market

Tomorrow night, Wednesday, August 3 Chain of Lakes Church is partnering with St. Joseph by the Lake Catholic Church and Church of the Nazarene to sponsor a 5K walk for Manna Market. We’re gathering at St. Joseph church at 6:30 p.m. The address is 171 Elm Street in Lino Lakes.

The idea of the walk is simple. We’ve asked people to raise money for Manna Market. Peole who raise $200 or more will be entered into a drawing to win an iPad. Those who raise $50 or more will be entered into a drawing to win an iPod and other prizes.

The point of this blog is to encourage people to come walk tomorrow night. So would you consider coming and walk?

Manna Market is a ministry where low-income people in Anoka County can receive fresh food—vegetables, meat, and fruit. Many food shelves do not offer fresh food. Manna Market does.

I’ve had a blast working with James Chapman (Nazarene Church) and Steve Robach (St. Joseph Church). None of us have any illusions that this walk is going to change the world. But we do think that the partnership we’ve developed can be a model for future partnerships. None of us is working on this walk to help our own organization—we’re doing it to help people who need help.

We already have ideas about how we can expand the walk for next year. But for now—come join us tomorrow night at 6:30! You can help our community and maybe win an iPad!