No One is too Old for Sunday School

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Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus!

I’m not sure when the idea was first embraced but somewhere along the line folks started to believe that Sunday School was just for kids. Don’t get me wrong - Sunday School is an important part of the faith formation of children and youth. Through learning about the stories of God’s love from the Bible, little ones grow in their faith. As a pastor, I am proud of the good work that Patty Seewald and her dedicated group of teachers do at St. James. They carry on a tradition of providing a fantastic Sunday School experience for kids.

Still, to think that somehow our need for studying scripture and growing in faith somehow stops after we pass the threshold of Confirmation is foolishness. Faith formation is an unending process that needs constant nurture through prayer, study, and worship. Faith is a journey and not a destination. Part of being in Christian community is to provide opportunities and encouragement to each other as we make our way through the ups and downs of life.

St. James Lutheran offers a variety of ways for adults to grow in faith. Each week there are three Bible Studies that I lead on Thursdays (7:30 a.m. at Jo Jo’s Rise and Wine in Burnsville, 9:00 a.m. at Augustana Regents in Burnsville, and 11:00 a.m. at Savage Senior Living in Savage.) We dive deep into the preaching texts for the coming Sunday. All are welcome - you don’t need to be a resident at either of the senior living facilities to attend.

Faith Teams - small groups led by others from the church - meet at other times to work through topical Bible Studies such as HOPE, LOVE, and FAITH. We are in the process of scheduling the next round of topics so keep your eyes open for a time that works for you.

During the seasons of Advent and Lent, I share devotions with a large group of adults each morning. I write these to support the preaching themes of these seasons. For the last three years, I have also shared a prayer daily during the season of Easter.

AND…. starting this Sunday, I’m starting up a Sunday School class for adults. We begin with BIBLE BASICS. This five-week course (come for one, come for all, come as you can) will take a look at not only what the Bible is, what it does, but also how we read it. For those who haven’t opened their Bible in a long time - don’t worry, NO JUDGEMENT, NO TESTS. For those whose Bibles are worn from use, you will discover new things - might even be challenged to read in new ways. For everyone - we will have some fun and I promise to keep things engaging. I will hold class in the Idunda Room, which is right off the narthex, where we will be serving coffee this year. Grab a cup of coffee - we begin at 11:00 a.m. Bring your Bible or borrow one of ours. If you don’t have a Bible - let me know, I’ll get you one to keep. Discussion goes until 11:45 p.m.

Teaching the Bible is one of the really fun things that I get to do as a pastor. I look forward to sharing this joy with you on Sunday.

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

In Christ’s Light,

Pastor Walt

Eighty Years of Raising Our Voice in Praise


On this coming Sunday, we will be celebrating eighty years of St. James Lutheran’s ministry in the Savage/Burnsville community. We will do it in grand style with our Festival Choir, a brass ensemble, organ and piano, and soloists. Worship begins with a bell fanfare and a full procession organized by Pastor Nancy Connor. Throughout worship there will be special prayers written by Vicar Sherri Lawrence. It will be inspiring and uplifting as we praise God for being faithful to our community over the years.

Last week, the Strategic Planning Team presented results of this past summer’s congregational vitality survey. I am glad that we had a large group turn out to hear the presentation of results. Be on the look out on the St. James website for additional information from this team as it seeks to discover, discern, and plan the next chapter in the history of this church. We desire everyone’s input in the work of figuring out where God wants us to go. Your feedback is extremely valuable.

In the multiple congregational surveys from the past decade, one of the consistent things that we have heard is a deep appreciation for music ministry. It remains one of the strengths of our congregation and our worship. I am grateful for all who lend their musical talents of voice and instrument. We are so blessed to have dedicated and talented musicians provide leadership to this critical area of ministry. Thank you Barb, Kari, Barb, Kjersten, and Jan. Special thanks go to our Minister of Music, Kelvin Miller, who has guided this ministry for half of St. James history. Throughout the month of September, we will share appreciation at the end of worship for our music.

I hope that you can join me in worship on Sunday to celebrate this milestone in the life of our community. Following the 9:30 a.m. worship, we will gather in the Fellowship Hall for a Pancake feed. We have invited Chris Cakes, a traveling restaurant, to serve up the flapjacks. They will bring their automatic pancake machine and flip the pancakes onto your plate. It is dinner and a show! I’m sure that we’ll have fun while we fill our tummies. Be sure to come - there is no charge as this event is being funded through our regular generous giving.

See you in worship!

In Christ’s Light,

Pastor Walt

We begin ANEW


This coming Sunday, September 8, is RALLY DAY. Traditionally this has been a time in the life of the St. James community to start up Sunday School and get back in the swing of our regular ministry. Families and teachers are back to school. Summer has ended. Plans are being put in motion for another year of building relationships with God, each other, and with our neighbors. So much goes on at St. James and in the coming days we will shift into a higher gear. It is always such an exciting time.

This year is no exception. In fact, this year our Rally Day celebration will have an extra special component. At the end of our 9:30 a.m. worship we will commission our Strategical Planning Mission Team. This group has been charged by Council with the task of discovering, discerning, and dreaming. In partnership with members and leaders of this church, they will gather information, prepare reports, share learnings with the congregation, and then craft a plan for how we might be faithful to God’s dreams for our congregation and community. The goal is to have a Strategic Mission Plan to you for review prior to the Annual Congregation Meeting at the end of January 2020. At that meeting, we will take action as a congregation on a plan to move us forward into God’s future as a church. Our Strategic Planning Mission Team consists of Starlett Drader, Jon Zimmerman, Dave Fuerst, Gary DeKrey, Chris Clark, Doreen Evans, and myself. Please keep us all in your prayers as we carry out this important work.

Following worship, during the Coffee Hour, the Strategic Planning Team will present the results from the survey that we took at the beginning of summer. It provides insights to where we are as a church including both our strengths and areas of growth. It is my sincere wish that you will be able to attend this presentation, which will be held in the sanctuary.

I look forward to seeing you in worship as we give thanks and praise to God for creating all things new in Christ. That, after all, is our rallying point as a community of faith and struggle.

In Christ’s Light,

Pastor Walt

Welcome Vicar Sherri


Grace and peace to you in Jesus’s name!

It was a joy today to welcome Sherri Lawrence into the role of Vicar at St. James. A daughter of the congregation, Sherri is an approved candidate to be an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Finished with seminary and internship, she now waits for assignment and to enter a Call Process. This will take some time and has produced an opportunity for St. James. In the same manner as we did a few years ago with Vicar Andrew Lewis, we welcome Vicar Sherri onto our church staff. Vicar Sherri brings rich gifts to work with worship planning, youth, and confirmation ministry.

Although I’m looking forward to the extra help, I am really excited about the chance to work with Vicar Sherri. Please join me in welcoming her back into a role of leadership within the St. James Community.

Come tomorrow evening for the Fall Ministry Planning night or on Wednesday for Campfire Communion (with Animal Blessing) and welcome back Vicar Sherri.

As always, I look forward to seeing you in worship - whether on Wednesday night or Sunday morning.

In Christ’s Light,

Pastor Walt

Get Ready to Bring Your Puppy to Worship


In just two weeks, on Wednesday August 21, St. James will be offering a Blessing of the Animals during our mid-week campfire communion worship. I’ve already told my dog, Dazzy (pronounced ‘Daisy’,) and she is very excited. Dazzy made twenty new friends the last time we offered this worship a few years ago. I’m sure she can’t wait to see them again and meet others.

The Blessing of the Animals has a time-honored place in Christian worship and goes back to the days of St. Francis of Assisi. St. Francis understood the important place that animals play in God’s overall creation and celebrated their presence.

We will follow this example on August 21 when at the start of our usual campfire communion worship, we will say a special prayer of thanks for our pets and all animals. You are invited to bring your favorite critter to join in this celebration of God’s awesome creation.

We only ask that you keep your pet on a leash or in its carrying container so that it doesn’t cause a ruckus with the others who have gathered.

Of course, if you don’t have a dog or cat or elephant to bring and the MN Zoo won’t lend you one of their animals - you are still invited to take part in this celebration. I know Dazzy will be happy to meet you.

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

in Christ’s Light,

Pastor Walt



St. James has a history of reaching out beyond its doors to engage those who live in the surrounding neighborhood. We do this through vital partnerships with 360 Communities and CAP Agency, helping to support and stock food pantries. We also financially support the good work of CATCH, who received a half tithe of our Lenten offering (the other half tithe went to support Lutheran World Relief.) Currently, we are collecting cleaning supplies to residents in seven CATCH housing units (click here for more info)

St. James also provides space to community groups - such as Boy and Girl Scouts, Al-anon, AA, TOPS, an African prayer group, and the Prior Lake High School Knowledge Bowl team. We open our doors and share our wonderful building to as many groups as we can extend hospitality.

A few years ago, we took sharing space to a new level as we welcomed a SDA Hispanic congregation to use our sanctuary. What a joy it is to know that each week praises to God are lifted in our sanctuary in both English and Spanish! I guarantee you that God - who happens to be multi-lingual - smiles regularly on this relationship.

The neighborhood surrounding St. James is changing. We are becoming more diverse as an overall community, even as the demographic make-up of St. James remains largely the same. This poses a challenge as we seek to engage neighbors who are increasingly from other traditions, cultures, and languages. I have been talking with other leaders as to possible ways we might rise to the new ministry opportunities that at our front door.

As I think about ministry this week, I wonder if others share a passion to engage particularly our Spanish speaking neighbors. Who speaks Spanish? Let me know by sending me an email -

I look forward to being with you in ministry and worship (on either Wednesday or Sunday) this week. Blessings to you during these warm summer days. Don’t forget to hydrate and while doing so remember your baptism.

in Christ’s Light,

Pastor Walt

God is Good, Even in Badlands


I am looking forward to the opportunity this week of traveling to the Badlands and Black Hills of South Dakota with a group of eighteen others from St. James. Together we will discover the beauty, brittle, and sometimes brutal nature of creation. Our group is diverse and consists of three different generations. Nine are high school youth (with three recently confirmed), two are college students, and eight are adults.

For the purpose of the trip, I have put together a daily devotional, which we will use at our morning campfire. I am sharing this with anyone who is interested. Also, it is my intention (if the internet works) to share daily photos and a Travel blog throughout the week. These will all be posted on my website: You may also access it through the home page of St. James Lutheran’s website. You can also sign up to receive a free daily email with links to all three of these resources.

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For fun, I am running a contest - What is the Bison thinking? Fill out the thought bubble of the picture by noon on Thursday, July 19 to enter the contest. You can submit multiple responses. The Badlands Travel group will vote on the funniest one at their closing campfire. Winner will receive a prize purchased at Wall Drug store. You can enter the contest through the Badlands page or the home page of St. James website.

Whenever I travel with a group, I ask that those who remain at home keep us in their prayers. Please pray for safe travel and that God might bless all those who travel with new perspectives, understandings, and growth in faith.

Although I will miss Wednesday night’s campfire worship and my Thursday morning Bible Studies this week, I will return for worship on Sunday, July 22. While I am gone, Pastor Nancy will be covering worship leadership and pastoral care along with our pastoral care team. Should you need any help, don’t hesitate to call the Church Office.

Blessing on your week and I will see you in worship.

In Christ’s Light,

Pastor Walt

P.S. Here are the links to the Badlands Travel page and to Sign Up for the Daily Emails

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, 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