A Wonderful Opportunity


A daughter of our congregation, Sherri Lawrence, recently graduated Luther Seminary and is in the process of finishing up her internship. Soon, Sherri will be entering the Assignment Process, through which she will be assigned by Regional Bishops of the E.L.C.A. to one of the church’s nine regions, one of the church’s sixty two Synods, and ultimately into a Call conversation with a congregation. This process can take some time and leaves graduate Seminarians unemployed in the meanwhile. Unless - and here is where a wonderful opportunity arises - they are able to find work in a congregation.

A few years ago, St. James Lutheran benefited from the ministry of Vicar Andrew Lewis. Andrew graduated seminary, finished his internship, and was in a waiting period before returning to Georgia for ordination. For the better part of a year, he served in a variety of supportive roles that allowed us to close a few of the gaps in our pastoral staffing. I appreciated his gifts, insights, and hard work. In short he was a blessing in many ways. Thinking back on that time, it was a win-win scenario for both Vicar Andrew and St. James. We benefited from his presence and he was able to serve the church that he loved while he waited to be ordained.

A similar, win-win, opportunity, exists with Sherri Lawrence. No stranger to St. James Lutheran, Sherri has been active in many areas of our ministry life together. We have supported her from the early days of discernment as she first heard the Call to become a pastor, to this current day. St. James Lutheran remains Sherri’s home congregation.

Thanks to the action of the Council, it will also be a place of ministry while Sherri is assigned and awaits her Call from a congregation to be their pastor. Starting on August 19, Vicar Sherri Lawrence will serve again on St. James Lutheran staff. Her full-time, vicarage will be paid. Vicar Sherri’s main focus of ministry will be worship planning, confirmation, SPARK (youth ministry) support, and general pastoral support. She will be a visible presence in worship and will also be on preaching rotation.

This comes as a timely blessing for St. James. As we have embarked on a strategic planning process, Vicar Sherri will provide support to my pastoral ministry, allowing me the necessary space for visioning and planning.

Funding for this position comes from a Memorial gift received from the estate of Mavonne Richardson. I regularly say that all ministry is relational. Even in the funding of opportunities such as this vicarage, this bears true. Mavonne, a long-time member of St. James Lutheran, wanted to support ministry that carried on beyond her own life and listed St. James in her will. Mavonne’s mother was Grace Farnquist, who was on our shut-in visitation list when I first started at St. James. Here is where the story gets powerful. Can you guess who was Grace’s Befriender? Sherri Lawrence. Those visits, almost a decade ago, were powerful, relational moments, that God’s Spirit used to help Sherri discern her Call to go to seminary. Now, as Sherri waits for the Call to serve a congregation, Grace - through the generosity of Mavonne - is helping to support her ministry. Seems to me like a full circle of blessings.

As we get closer to August 19, I will share more information about Vicar Sherri and her ministry with us. As always, pass your questions directly to me and I will do my best to answer them. I am aware that we will need to adjust to Vicar Sherri’s new role in our congregation. There may be a little learning curve for us all. That said, I am grateful for this wonderful opportunity to be in ministry with a talented, joy-filled, and passionate servant of Jesus.

I will be heading out of town in the coming days for family vacation, so I won’t see you in worship until Sunday, June 23 and Wednesday, June 26. I am grateful for the support of Pastor Nancy Connor, our Visitation Pastor, who will be preaching, presiding, and providing pastoral presence in my absence.

Through Christ’s Light,

Pastor Walt

Welcome Pastor Lees to Worship at St. James


On Sunday, we will be welcoming, in worship, Pastor Joe Lees, Assistant to the Bishop for Vital Congregations, Vital Partnerships. Pastor Lees will be presiding at communion.

It has been a joy for me to work with Pastor Lees in a variety of contexts since he joined Bishop Lull’s staff three years ago. From his experience as a parish pastor in Ohio, he knows the value of cooperation between congregations to face challenges. Currently, he is working with congregations in the South Conference, of which St. James is a part. At one of those South Conference meetings, Pastor Lees indicated to me that he enjoys being invited to churches and likes to hear what other pastors in the Synod are preaching. I invited him to come and Preside at Table for his first official visit to worship at St. James. I also mentioned that we would be having him back to preach in the fall.

Following worship, Pastor Lees will be hosting an informational conversation over coffee about our ministry together as part of the St. Paul Area Synod.

I look forward to seeing you in worship on Sunday if you are in town. If not, perhaps I will see you at the Wednesday campfire communion worship next week. Blessings to you and your family during these pleasant days of opening summertime.

in Christ’s Light,

Pastor Walt

Campfire Worship


In less than a week’s time, we will be offering our first Campfire Worship of the season. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, we gather each week on Wednesday evening (rain or shine: if it rains, we worship in the narthex) at 6:00 p.m. for a hot dog roast (hot dogs provided, if you’d like bring a salad or chips to share). At 6:30 p.m. we begin our worship in an informal style. This year, thanks to the work of Pastor Nancy Connor, we will be mixing it up a bit. We will hear stories of faith from scripture that have had meaning to the people of St. James and then we will listen to a variety of faith stories from all sorts of folks. Throughout the summer, there will be over a dozen people sharing how God has touched their lives. It will be inspirational.

So get your lawn chair out of storage and mark your calendars. Summer worship is about to begin!

By the way, worship on Sundays remains at 8:00 and 9:30 p.m.

I look forward to seeing you in worship (whether on Wednesday or Sunday or both!)

In Christ’s Light,

Pastor Walt

Affirming Faith


On Sunday, May 19, eighteen young persons will be affirming their faith at St. James. This is following their participation in a three year course of study and experiences known as Confirmation. It will be a joyous day, filled with many smiles as families celebrate. Please join me in giving thanks to God for:

8th Grade: Grace Affeldt, Leo Christenson, Maxwell Corcoran, Annika Froyum,
Camelia Fuerst, Alanna Moe, Dhimitrios Mohamud, Cole Osterkamp, Hailey Peterson,
Paige Schwenn, Evelynn Shero

9th Grade: KateMarie Andrews, Jonathan Engebretson, Kaia Gastony, Carson Gigstad,
Xavier Mohamud, Alex Thompson, Juliann Will

It is my prayer for each of them that their Confirmation is one of many markers along the trail of their faith life’s journey and that each will continue to grow in faith. I know that we helped to plant some seeds, nurtured questions, and provided a few experiences and resources that expanded their spiritual imagination. I am grateful for the presence, participation, and compassion of a committed group of small group leaders that worked throughout the year with our students. Please share your thanks and appreciation for

Siana Adrian, Donna Andrews, Starlett Drader, Tasha Gastony, Christin Gigstad,
Bethany Jarvis, Brenda Nygren-Moe, Helen Osterkamp, Amy Shero, and Jaime Way.

The Rite of Affirmation of Baptism is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. on Sunday. Everyone is invited to come and join in the festivities. If you are unable to take part in the worship, say a prayer instead of thanksgiving for the ministry that we share in Jesus’s name at St. James that continues to encourage youth and provides multiple opportunities for folks of all ages to grow as disciples.

In Christ’s Light,

Pastor Walt

Walking in the Direction of Our Vision

Our vision for ministry at St. James is simple. God is calling us, through Grace, to build and deepen loving relationships with God, with each other, and with our neighbor. Across a variety of ministries, we are heading in the direction of strengthening and supporting relationships among young and older alike. Our vision literally keeps us on our feet.


This is especially true in a new ministry that will start on this coming Sunday, May 12. Between the 8 and 9:30 worships, a group will be gathering to walk along the newly installed path that runs alongside our parking lot. We gather at 8:40 (leave at 8:45 a.m.) in the narthex. The plan is to walk a half-hour together (we will return in time for 9:30 worship.)

During that time we will get to know each other better, building and deepening relationships with each other. In an effort to build and deepen relationships with neighbors, we will also hand out water bottles to those we meet along the trail and pick up the trash that we see. Since we will be walking in God’s creation and taking care of our bodies either before/after worship, we are working on building and deepening our relationship with God.

EVERYONE (all ages - no exceptions) is invited to join the weekly walk, which we will continue until September. This is one of those “where two or three are gathered” ministries; as long as there are at least two people who want to walk, we will do it.

So wear your sneakers to worship on Sunday and join me for a little healthy practicing of our congregational vision.

In Christ’s Light,

Pastor Walt



This weekend, there will be something unique happening once again at St. James.  We will be hosting a garage sale.  This in itself is not unique.  Many churches and organizations host Rummage or Garage Sales.  It is a popular way of raising funds that involve a bunch of folks.  Although we will be engaging a lot of people - we are not in it for the money.  In fact, no money will exchange hands.  St. James' Garage Sale is FREE! That is why - we are calling it the GREAT GIVEAWAY! 

 It is a ministry that seeks to serve our neighbors.  We are so richly blessed by God's Grace that we gracefully share with others.

True to our vision to build and deepen loving relationships with our neighbors, our GREAT GIVEAWAY will bring neighbors together.  There will be something for everyone.  Those who give their time and treasures will receive the satisfaction of helping others out.  Those who come and receive the many items (clothes, household goods, toys, books, etc.) will be blessed with items that will be given a good 'second' home.  Together we will reuse and recycle.  

A ministry this large takes many hands and I'm grateful for everyone who freely gave of themselves in the planning, gathering, sorting, and setting up of this ministry.  Special Thanks go to our Ministry Host, Kari Owens.

It is a blessing to serve in a church community that is always reaching beyond itself.  This GREAT GIVEAWAY is just another example in a long line of ways that we share God's love with others.

As always, I look forward to seeing you in worship,

In Christ’s Light,

Pastor Walt

Daily Celebrating Easter - A New Opportunity to Nurture Your Faith

Happy Easter!

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Even though the supermarkets already have the Easter candy marked for clearance, the Easter celebration continues. On the church calendar, Easter is not a single day but a season that lasts for fifty days.

To help us dwell in the spirit and joy of Easter throughout the next seven weeks, I am offering a brand new devotional series. Sign up below to receive a daily devotional that we’ll send you early each morning in time for your wake-up coffee. It will contain a scripture reading, inspiring images, prayer, and an excerpt from my book, Lighting Your Way, With Love. I’m offering this series free of charge (I’m still celebrating the publication of my first book.)

Starting the day with a few minutes in thoughtful reflection and prayer does a world of good for our spiritual health. It helps us to make the connections between our life and God’s. It can also remind us to follow Jesus’s teaching as we interact with others. Focusing on our spirits helps them to grow and strengthen.

As a pastor, it is my continual prayer that each person that calls St. James their church home might develop spiritually. May we each make the time to tend to our spirits through regular worship and daily prayer. As we do, we will find that Easter lives in our hearts for more than a season. Easter becomes part of who we are as the baptized children of God.

In Christ’s Light,

Pastor Walt

Unique Opportunities To Worship


Each year, Holy Week at St. James provides unique opportunities to worship that are active in nature. Last Sunday, we began with a palm waving procession that involved the entire congregation. All generations participated as we marched into the sanctuary with noise makers and palms singing “All Glory, Laud, and Honor.” To be sure, it was a lot of fun - organized chaos.

Tonight (April 18 at 7:30 p.m), worship continues to involve the FULL participation of everyone gathered. Instead of worshiping in pews, we will sit at tables throughout the sanctuary. This innovative worship, developed at St. James, involves eating light snacks and drinking. We share a table fellowship as we gather to celebrate the last supper that Jesus had with his disciples before his crucifixion. We will hear again the commandment to love one another, as command Jesus gives as table as he washed his disciples’s feet. At the end of worship, after we share the sacrament with each other, everyone helps to strip the altar. Once again, everyone gets involved as we remove tables, chairs, paraments, altar ware, etc. We leave in silence as we head into Good Friday.

On Good Friday, there are three opportunities to participate in worship. At 10:00 a.m. we offer an interactive worship for children that is designed just for them. At noon, we gather around the cross with readings as we place nails into a large wooden cross. At 7:30 p.m., traditional Tenebrae worship involves the use of prayers, scripture, story-telling, songs, and sermon to reflect upon the cross and Jesus’s death.

On Holy Saturday, at 8:00 a.m. we gather not to worship but to decorate the emptied sanctuary for our Easter celebration. Many hands make light work and we could use yours to help with the many tasks needed to get ready for Sunday’s worships.

It is a busy time but one that I look forward to each year. Lutheran worship has long encouraged participation from the entire congregation. In these days of Holy Week, we take it to the next level. I hope that you will be able to take part and that these unique opportunities might lift your spirits and strengthen your faith. I look forward to seeing you.

in Christ’s Light,

Pastor Walt

Before You Know It - Easter Will Be Here


With all the beautiful weather that we have been having, it is hard to believe that the weather people are forecasting significant snow in the next couple of days. Only in Minnesota! I suppose the best that we can do is to let it get it out of its system.

Maybe it has been the heavy winter or the quick start to spring or the way that the school breaks fell this year, but I have to make a confession - Palm Sunday has snuck up on me. Perhaps this is true for you as well. In just a week’s time, we will be in Holy Week and at the doorstep of Easter. Next week, I will share more about the incredible opportunities that Holy Week affords us to worship. For now, mark your calendars - Palm Sunday (8 and 9:30 am), Maundy Thursday (April 18, noon and 7:30 p.m.), and Good Friday (April 19, children at 10 am., noon, and 7:30 p.m.)

With Easter right around the corner, the time is running out on our Lent/Easter Offering. To date, we have gathered just over a third of the money that we need to close the gap between where our annual pledges are and our actual expenses. Each year, our seasonal offerings have played a critical role in funding ministry that benefits all ages and goes beyond our doors to share God’s love.

I want to share a word of thanks to everyone who has already made a financial contribution to support ministry at St. James. If you are not yet part of this group, fear not, there is still time. Thank you for considering a gift that will strengthen the important work that we do together in Jesus’s name.

You may bring your gift with you as you come tomorrow night for the last of the mid-week Wednesday Holden Evening Prayer worships for this Lent, or maybe on Palm Sunday. On Sunday, during the 11:00 a.m. Faith Formation Hour, confirmation students will be sharing their faith statements with us all. Worship and Faith Formation are just two of the areas that are made possible through our generosity.

As we have much to be thankful for when we consider our church home, may we be bold in sharing gifts that will allow St. James to continue and grow in the building and deepening of loving relationships with God, with each other, and with our neighbor.

See you in worship -

Pastor Walt

With Thanks for Partnerships and Time Away

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This week, I am grateful for the opportunity to take some time away with my family. In my absence, St. James will be well cared for by Pastor Nancy Connors, who will be covering emergency calls for the first part of the week, Pastor Scott Simmons and Lydia students, who will be covering emergency calls for the second part of the week. The Pastoral Care Team and Befrienders will continue to make contacts and calls. St. James welcomes Pastor Rebecca Thurman who will preach/preside during Holden Evening Prayer on Wednesday night and Pastor Mhando Kishe who will preach/preside on Sunday, April 8.

I am grateful for them all and for their care.

As always, after this time of renewal, I look forward to seeing you all in worship (on Wednesday, April 10 and Sunday, April 14)

In Christ,

Pastor Walt

About That Book and Lutheran Campus Ministry Sunday


Two weekends ago, I published my first book, Lighting Your Way, With Love. I wrote it on the occasion of having a son leave home to attend university. There was so much I wanted to say to him as his father, who also happens to be a pastor.

Over the years, I have collected some thoughts and perspectives about life and faith. So, I took pen to paper (actually fingers to keyboard) and wrote down a few things about God, creation, evil, neighbors, and self. I connected prayers, stories, and scripture. It is meant to be a companion during times of transition. Already, folks are telling me that they found it helpful in their lives.


This coming Sunday, March 31, I will be making copies of Lighting Your Way, With Love available for sale between and after worship for $15 (which is a slight discount from what you can buy it on Amazon.) All net proceeds from Sunday's sales will go to support Lutheran Campus Ministry - Twin Cities.

I am excited to welcome Connor Fell as a student trained preacher on Sunday. He has worked with Lutheran Homiletician (fancy word for a teacher of preachers), The Rev. Barbara Lundblad to develop his sermon. In the small world department, Connor is a member of the Lutheran Church that I served when I was in New Jersey. I was there on the day of and participated in his baptism!

Connor is an excellent example of the way that LCM engages and supports the faith life of students at the University of Minnesota. Lutheran Campus Ministry seeks to provide a space for students to ask questions, struggle with issues, and receive the comforting message of God's abiding presence. It is sacramental - connecting students with Jesus through table fellowship. St. James Lutheran is making a gift to support the Lutheran Campus Ministry from our endowment fund.

So I hope that you can come to worship on Sunday (either 8 or 9:30). As always, I look forward to seeing you there.

In Christ's Light,

Pastor Walt

p.s. As I have written Lighting Your Way, With Love outside the regular course of my ministry at St. James, it is not my intention to sell or promote the book at church. Sunday is the only opportunity to buy it at St. James this Spring. Of course, folks can always get copies through my website, Lightfromthishill.com or on Amazon. Thanks.

Towels and Soap - NEEDED

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Towels and soap are not usually things that I think about on a regular basis. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I use BOTH of them multiple times each day. They are just among the basic necessities that I have in life and take for granted.

Not all people, however, are so privileged to have either towels or soap. When homes are destroyed or people flee from violence, rarely do they grab these items. Refugees around the world are in need of basis items for survival.

This Lent, as part of our weekly worship, we have been packing health kits that will be distributed around the world by our ministry partner, Lutheran World Relief. For the past two weeks at our 9:30 Sunday worship, young and old have been putting toiletries (comb, nail clipper, and two bars of soap) into towels. This has been done following communion as a visible sign of extending the Communion table out into the world. We are served at God’s table so that we might serve others. While we are packing the kits, the choir for each week is singing about Jesus’s commandment to love one another. There is an important tie for us to make between God’s command to love and our response.

Already we have assembled over 60 of these health kits. Our goal is to put together at least 200 of these kits by Palm/Passion Sunday. To do this, we need everybody’s help. Not only do we need hands to pack the kits on Sunday but we also need folks to bring in the items that we are packing. WE NEED TOWELS AND SOAP!

I have made it a part of my Lenten observance to stop each week at the local Wal-Mart and purchase a few towels (they are selling for $2.74 each), a 12 package of soap, combs, and a few nail clippers. Each kit costs less than $5. Will you join me in this effort?

As I’m standing on line with my items, I think about the folks who will be standing on line at some Refugee camp to receive the very items that I hold in my hand. I say a silent prayer asking God to bless these simple necessities that they might help someone else. I have also been asking that they might help me to focus during this Lenten season on my broken & beloved nature as a Child of God. How do I have both a positive and negative effect on others near and far? How do I share the gifts that I’ve been given? How do I respond to Jesus’s love for me that I experience at the communion table each week? Lot’s to think about thanks to a few towels and bars of soap.

Bring your towels and soap to worship this week and join me in this time of Lenten renewal and spiritual growth. I look forward to seeing you.

in Christ’s Light,

Pastor Walt


Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ!


I wrote last week about the many opportunities for spiritual growth that St. James Lutheran is offering this year. From expanded worship to multiple small group Bible Study to the packing of health kits for Lutheran World Relief we will be interacting with each other in person. In addition, I’ve created a few resources that you can access online through the St. James website.

Daily Devotional - This is sent out each morning to your email inbox in time for your morning coffee. It features encouragement to breathe, scripture, a reflection/story/image/poem, and a prayer. It is not too late to sign up….

Weekly Bible Study Video content - You can access the video content that is being used for the Bible Study discussion.

Weekly ONLINE CHAT - I will be hosting an online discussion on Wednesday evening at 8:30 p.m. and you are invited to pop in. Just follow the link below

LIVE STREAMING of Wednesday night and Sunday worship. A link appears on the HOME page of the St. James website when the worship is live. Just click it and join in our worship from wherever you might be. This has been a wonderful resource (thank you Jeff Andrews and crew) during these winters months when folks have needed to stay home.

It is my intent that these materials will provide additional reflection and spiritual growth for us all during this important season of renewal.

As always, I look forward to seeing you in worship.

in Christ,

Pastor Walt

The Opportunity of Lent is Upon Us


Each year Lent comes around like an old friend. Beginning in the cold of winter, it is a time that pushes toward spring. As such, it is full of potential and opportunity. It is a time of spiritual renewal if we let it to be in our lives.

I have come to learn that spiritual growth is best fostered in an environment where we are intentional. Sure, you can never tell when or were the Spirit is going to move and give new life. Taking the time, however, and making a plan to seek God, worship, pray, study, and talk with other helps to set the table for such an encounter. These spiritual practices encourage and engage God and others in such a way that growth is more likely.

So what is your plan for Lent? How will you take the opportunity of the time between Ash Wednesday and Easter morning to nurture your faith?

Let me suggest four steps that you can take that will benefit your spiritual growth.

1) Worship -

We start on Ash Wednesday (noon and 7:30 p.m.) and continue worships on Sundays (8 & 9:30 a.m.) and Wednesday - Holden Evening Prayer (7:30 p.m.) On Sundays, during 9:30 worship, we will be packed health kits for Lutheran World Relief. Our goal is 1000. Bring in supplies throughout the week. click here to learn more.

2) Daily Prayer/Devotion -

I am in the process of writing a daily devotional that will give you a daily lift of inspiration and invite you to breath, dwell in God’s word, and pray. It will be in your email inbox in time for your morning coffee.

3) Study Scripture in a Small Group -

We are offering six different small groups - one each night of the week plus Sunday morning. Take the time to dust off your Bible and get to know someone new from church. (for more information/sign up.)

4) Give -

We are gathering a Special Offering to fund ministry at St. James closing the gap that allows us to continue ministries that reach young and old with God’s love and grace. Our needed goal is $15,000 and every gift gets us closer. 10% of the amount gathered will be passed on in equal amounts to Lutheran World Relief and CATCH (transitional housing).

As you get ready to start Lent, I invite you to incorporate these elements into a plan to grow in your relationship with God. May the Spirit be alive in all of our lives this Lenten season and grow Christ’s church from within so that we are better equipped to share Jesus’s love with the world.

See you in worship,

Pastor Walt

Blessed with Leadership

Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus! Last evening, St. James’s new Council met for the first time and elected congregational officers.

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Before sharing their names, I would like to thank the 2018 executive leadership team. Many thanks go to President Jeff Owens, Vice President Brenda Nygren-Moe, Secretary Steve Hawks, Treasurer Jim Collins, Financial Secretary Sid Aarestad, and Director of Ministry and Operations Doreen Evans. Additional thanks go to the 2018 Council: Jeff Owens, Brenda Nygren-Moe, Steve Hawks, Jim Collins, Chris Clark, Ainsley Fuerst, Pam Larson, Bjorn Pearson, and Paul Wojahn. Because of your dedication, commitments, and faithfulness, we were able to navigate changing waters and strengthen the overall ministry of St. James to build and deepen loving relationships with God, with each other, and with our neighbors. The entire St. James Lutheran community owes you its gratitude and appreciation for your service. Thank you, also, from the bottom of my heart.

On Sunday, March 3, during the 9:30 p.m. worship, we will install the 2019 Council and its officers. Please join me in giving thanks for them: Birdie Olson (President), Jeff Owens (Vice President), Brenda Nygren-Moe (Secretary), Jim Collins (Treasurer), Sid Aarestad (Financial Secretary), Chris Clark, Ainsley Fuerst, Steve Hawks, Bjorn Pearson, and Jon Zimmerman. We ask God’s guidance, vision, discernment, and imagination for these elected/appointed leaders.

At the end of every Council meeting since my call to St. James as Lead Pastor, I have prayed the following:

Lord God, you call your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils and possibilities unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, amen.

Have a blessed day and I look forward to seeing you in worship,

Pastor Walt

Gathering Small Group Leaders to Grow the Church


There were many things that I learned from Pastor Mponzi’s visit to St. James last fall. The Lutheran Church is Tanzania is the fastest growing Lutheran church in the world. Not only are they growing in numbers but more importantly they are growing in faithfulness and discipleship.

One of the things at the heart of this growth is a small group ministry model. Each week, there are about 62 groups that come together for a few hours to check-in with each other, pray, and study scripture. The Diocese (their version of the Synod) provides study materials for groups to use and to grow in their faith. Pastors have supported this growth, grounded in the study of God’s Word, but it is being made possible by a variety of adult leaders.

Lent is traditionally a time for spiritual growth. This year, inspired by the ministry of our sisters and brothers in Christ in Idunda, I am forming small groups to come together, pray, and study the scripture that we will be using on Wednesday evening. I have written a brand new Bible Study to accompany our Lenten theme: Broken and Blessed. Also connected is a daily online devotional.

I am looking for ten people who would be willing to facilitate discussion and serve as a Ministry Host for a small group. The Ministry Host is responsible for setting the time and place that the group will meet for the five weeks in Lent (in Holy Week, I will be doing a combined evening for all small groups). It is my intent that we have a variety of choices for people to sign up for a group that works best for them.

I will provide weekly videos (which will contain the Bible Study content), discussion questions, and a proven format - everything that the leader needs to be successful. In addition, on this coming Sunday, at 11:00 a.m., I will be hosting a Ministry Host training.

Growing the church is a step-by-step process that involves us all. As a pastor, although I would like to see numerical growth, I am concerned that we grow spiritually as followers of Jesus. There is no easy way to do this. However, regular scripture study, prayer, and conversation head in the right direction. Combined with worship - these practices will nurture growth for our church.

If you would like to help the church grow, then I need your help. Again, I can’t do this by myself. Please prayerfully consider volunteering to serve as a Ministry Host for this Bible Study effort. Sign up using the form below. Not sure? Come to Sunday’s training (Sunday, February 24) at 11:00 a.m. and learn more about it.

As always, I look forward to seeing you in worship,

In Christ’s Light,

Pastor Walt

Ten Years Together


I’ve reached that point in my life when I’m reminded on a daily basis how time flies. This is certainly the case this week as we celebrate a decade of being in ministry together.

On February 15, 2009, I preached for the first time as St. James new Lead Pastor. My family moved into our new home just two days before.

Ten years later, I remain grateful for the home that we found not only in Savage but for the church home that we found in St. James Lutheran. Through challenges and opportunities, we grew together and sought to follow Jesus. It has been a time of perpetual transition as we have had to face the overall changing nature of the church in our times and St. James’s need to resize and refocus from a program-based ministry to a relationship-based ministry. Over that time, we laughed and cried. There was both joy and sadness as people came into and departed from our community.

I look forward to seeing you all in worship this Sunday, as we begin our 11th year of ministry. May God continue to renew and reshape us according to Jesus’ love.

In Christ’s Light,

Pastor Walt


On Winter Retreat...


This week, I am taking a few days to be on a winter’s retreat. I type this note from the corner room of the top floor of a Benedictine monastery. The view from the window is spectacular. Snow is falling while the hoarfrost covers the trees. It is a winter wonderland. A good time and place for praying, thinking, and writing.

I’m taking this retreat, which is part of my continuing education, in these days that lead up to Lent. This wonderful season of the church year is a time for us all to reflect and reconnect with God. There will be extra opportunities for worship and study to allow you to deepen your relationship with God and through that relationship to others.

The purpose of my retreat is two-fold. First, it is important for me to take time apart on an occasion basis. This time always me to recharge my proverbial batteries. More importantly, it allows the needed space away from my daily duties of a pastor to work on my spiritual connection with God. After retreats, I find that I’m always better able to offer spiritual care to others.

Second, I will be taking the time on this retreat to prepare Lenten materials for us to use at St. James. It will be a writing retreat. I will author the Lenten daily devotional series, which you will be able to receive free-of charge starting on Ash Wednesday, March 6. Also, I will create a weekly Bible Study that will be shared among a variety of small groups. Last, I will work out basic sermon outlines for the season. I will be busy but I am grateful for the opportunity to do this work in Jesus’s name.

I invite your prayers for a productive and meaningful retreat. Please know that when I am away, there is pastoral care coverage in case of emergencies. I am thankful for Pastor Nancy Connor, St. James Visitation Pastor who has gracious agree to provide coverage in my absence.

I return in time for Wednesday’s Meal Pack (6:30 p.m.-8:00 p.m.). As always, I look forward to seeing you in worship.

in Christ’s Light,

Pastor Walt

Smiles All Around


Almost thirty years ago, before I attended seminary, I went to Clown Camp. It was a training camp for adults in the arts of clowning. I spent a week on make-up, magic tricks, juggling, stilt walking, and physical comedy. At the time, I was was in college and had formed a clown troupe at my church. We would go and visit folks in the hospital and entertain children at Sunday schools, V.B.S., church camps, and town picnics. It was lots of fun and a great way of sharing God’s love. In fact, I credit my experience of clowning instrumental in my decision to go to seminary. It was a compelling joy for me to share the love and grace of God.

Over the years, I have incorporated clown arts into my ministry with children. Sometimes, I would don my colorful red wig and put on makeup. Other times, I would leave my clown character, Talofa, at home and just be goofy Pastor Walt (be kind!). The kids and teachers of St. James Lutheran Early Education Center have experienced this side of my ministry on a weekly basis as I do ‘Jesus time’ with the kids.

This coming Saturday, I will be doing my first full “kidshow” at St. James. It will be on Saturday morning from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and feature a variety of things from stories, magic, juggling, puppets, and general silliness. A snack and balloon animals will be provided to each child that attends. The theme is centered on God’s love - the source of all our smiles. Though I will be leaving my make-up at home - I will be wearing a big (natural) smile on my face.

An additional joy for me is that my son Mark will be taking part. He is amazing with puppets and will bring a bunch of his furry ‘friends’ with him.

Although the show is designed for children ages 3 to grade 1, kids of all ages are welcomed to attend. With the cold weather that we have been having, causing schools to close multiple days, I’m sure that more than one parent will be a little stir crazy by the time the weekend comes. Parents, see this as an opportunity to get out of the house and let them enjoy something a little different.

Like God’s love, there is no charge for the program. So that we can get an idea of how much snacks we need, if you could sign up (Click here) it would help matters.

I look forward to seeing many smiling faces on Saturday… and, of course, on Sunday too.

in Christ’s Light,

Pastor Walt

With Thanks and Appreciation for a Bright Year.

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

As we prepare to leave 2018, I am filled with a sense of gratitude for the ministry that we do together. I thank God for many memories and blessings of 2018. It was a year that was bright with good things.

Over a decade ago, I encountered theologian Letty Russell’s definition of a church as a community of faith and struggle. We believe as a group of God’s children in the sure and certain hope of resurrection. We baptize and celebrate throughout our lives God’s promises of life, forgiveness, and God’s constant presence. We share God’s goodness with others. We come together to worship around Word and Sacrament. We celebrate with joy across the generations. In these and other ways, in our community there is faith. AND. We also struggle as a broken people. We don’t always follow God’s lead as we should. We aren’t always as kind as we could be with our words and actions. We struggle also with the harder sides of life. We cry and grieve. We hurt.

Over this past year, as a community of faith and struggle, we have grown in our relationship with God, with each other, and with our neighbors. I am looking forward to what lies ahead in 2019. Led by the Spirit, we are in for a wonderful journey of building and deepening those loving relationships.

Blessings to you and your family,

in Christ,

Pastor Walt