Lifetimes: January 2020

Renew Your Life

During January and February explore ways to restore vitality to your life using the book, Renew Your Life: Discover the Wellspring of God’s Energy as a guide. Listen to the sermon series, join a Small Group, or learn more by clicking here.

PBF What? 

By Michael Vant 

This past August, I was blessed to be able to travel to the Dominican Republic with a group from Incarnation and Feed My Starving Children (FMSC). During our week in the country we visited with several FMSC partners and saw the incredible work these local missionaries are doing to “love thy neighbor”. One of our stops was a community known as Batey 106. A “batey” is essentially a shanty-town encampment run by the large sugar cane companies. Most bateys in the Dominican Republic are made up primarily of Haitian refugees who have left their homes in order to escape the violence and destitution in their native country.  The work is back breaking and the living conditions are heart breaking.   

Batey 106 was the site of an FMSC Project Based Food Assistance initiative that has been in motion for about five years now; it was truly amazing to see the transformation that has taken place there through the commitment of a meal a day for each person in the community. The joy on the faces of all the children who ran toward us as our tour bus pulled onto the narrow dirt road that led to the camp, was palpable.  

After spending a few hours talking with community leaders and other adults about their now hopeful future, and playing with the kids, we left for our next stop, Batey 28. To say it felt like driving out of North Oaks and into North Minneapolis would be the understatement of the year. We were greeted by looks of distrust or outright enmity by most of the young men, and eyed warily by most of the women and children. Fortunately, we were traveling with Pastor Mede, who regularly preaches in their community, so when he stepped off the bus, the tension eased at least a little. For more on the “before” picture of Batey 106 be sure to talk to Kristin Bloxham, Incarnation’s High School Director, who visited Batey 106 with high school students of Incarnation, just as this PBFA project began.   

It was truly undeniable how much of an impact the Feed My Starving Children PBFA program had on Batey 106. Instead of a hopeless existence in survival mode wondering where the next meal would come from, the villagers in Batey 106 were able to think about educating their children, take trades and English classes, and build homes and even a community center / secure meal storage building out of cinder blocks instead of only tin shacks. 

As many of you may have heard, Incarnation has recently made a three year commitment to engage in FMSC’s newest Project Based Food Assistance initiative through our All Hands On Hope MobilePack events. This time FMSC has chosen a remote community called Te Wouj in the mountains of northern Haiti near the town of Jeremie. If you haven’t heard, here’s a link to more information about the project on the Incarnation and FMSC websites: 

Please prayerfully consider gathering all your friends and family and joining us for a fun and rewarding experience this coming May 4-8, 2020 (Spring will eventually get here, I promise!) to help us meet the need that we, as a faith community, have been called to fill. 

May your New Year be filled with blessings! 

Advent and Christmas Generosity  – You Were Blessed to be a Blessing! 

Christmas is meaningful in many ways for all of us, and often for different reasons. Once again this year, LifeHaven is overjoyed at the support Incarnation has provided for us, our clients and young families receiving aftercare services. The generosity and thoughtfulness expressed bythecongregationthrough your gifts duringthe season of Advent far exceed material market value: the gifts you provide celebrate the goals a young mother makes for herself, the traditions a young family experiencing crisis looks forward to, the opportunity to feel like it’spossibleto create special traditions as a family just starting their journey, and, often, simply the peace of mind that one doesnt have to feel like basic needs items are unattainable. Young people are lifted up, moved to tears, when they learn that there are neighbors they’ve never metwho arethinking about them. It is no small thing. 

We are beyond grateful for your support. Thank you, especially to VickiEngelen who coordinated the LifeHaven Giving House for Incarnationand all those who helped wrap gifts the night before our holiday party. It is such a neat opportunity to share space and stories as we wrapped presents together. Oh! And, a special shout out to a perfect Santa Claus,Ken Grosch(+ his Mrs. Claus,Rosalie) for joining our celebration. 

This work inits entiretycouldnt be done without your love. Thank you.” 

These heartfelt words came from Katie Nichol, LifeHaven Program Manager, which express beautifully what your generosity meant to those of LifeHaven, a Lutheran Social Service program which provides housing and support for teenaged moms and their children experiencing homelessness.

As a community during Advent, you lived into Incarnation’s Season of Blessing in a number of ways including the abundant physical and financial gifts you shared with others: 

  • Through Incarnation, you contributed over $6,000 to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Good Gifts/World Hunger. These gifts will enable families across the world to move closer to self-sustainability.  
  • You donated 30 Christmas trees and $320 to purchase more trees so that all Solid Ground families living at East Metro Place who wanted trees, received them. 
  • You donated 972 Solid Ground welcome basket items so that new families entering Solid Ground in the coming year will receive important items necessary for establishing a new home. 
  • You donated 170 personal gifts to LifeHaven teen mothers and their children, including a number of gift cards and additional items requested for the LifeHaven house. 
  • Through the Intergenerational Worship offering, you gave over $1300 to support the ministry of Shobi’s Table, a pay-as-you-can cafe’ that prepares food and serves lunch to people on the streets in downtown St Paul.  
  • You donated $320 in grocery gift cards and 110 lbs of baking supplies to the Ralph Reeder Food Shelf in addition to your regular food and financial donations. 

Because of your generous hearts and sense of calling to bless others through your gifts, life will be a little easier for many of God’s children as we begin 2020. Thank you for recognizing that you are indeed blessed to be a blessing and living into that calling! 

Staff Update

Janet Karvonen-Montgomery, Pastor for Wellness and Generosity

Pastor Janet Karvonen-Montgomery will begin an unpaid three-month leave of absence from January 1 to March 31 for family health reasons. She said, “This request for a leave comes only after prayer and discernment regarding my mom’s changing health, but also for my immediate family and for my own wellness. As a pastor called by the gospel, I also feel a strong sense of obligation to the other calls in my life requiring my immediate attention. In the meantime, I’m grateful for this gift of time and for your prayers.”

Janet serves in a part-time position as Pastor of Wellness and Generosity. In her absence, contact staff for the following areas:
For weekly wellness questions, contact Julie Durbin at in the Incarnation Office.
For stewardship and endowment matters, contact Pastor Kai Nilsen at
For giving and financial matters, contact Financial Secretary Amy Faymoville at

Apostles Library Book Review: Wormwood and Gall: The Destruction of Jerusalem and the First Gospel 

by R.W. Holmen 

Did you read the novel A Wretched Man from our library collection? If so, you know well that author R.W. Holmen writes historical fiction with great attention to history, cultures and the politics which abound within those cultures. Holmen’s newest novel, Wormwood and Gall: The Destruction of Jerusalem and the First Gospel is a sort of sequel to his former title. This new title chronicles the life of Markos (also known as Menachem) who is known to us as Mark, the purported author of the first written of the four Gospels in the New Testament.  

A Greek-Jew from Damascus, Markos participates in the annihilation of a Roman legion by Eleazar, a brigand turned rebel, which eventually leads to the destruction of Jerusalem, the burning of the Temple, and the deaths at Masada, when Rome snuffs out the rebellion. Markos, forced soldier, self-judged murderer, scribe, loosely observant Jew, seeking to extract meaning from the events of his life as they happen, is drawn along a path towards determining who he really is.  

You, too, will be drawn into the story and no doubt led to re-read that first gospel with new eyes and a new heart. 

Among the Congregation
Sympathy to: Shelly and Todd Maesse on the death of their nephew; Bill Fox, Kara Galvin and Chris Fox on the death of their mother/grandmother; Anne Cremons and family on the death of her brother-in-law; Dick Pontinen and family on the death of his brother; Kami Bandt and family on the death of her father; the family of MaeEtta Jarvis on her death.
Recently Baptized: Jasmine Marie, daughter of Kristie and Garrett Giese.
To be added to the public prayer concerns list, please contact the Incarnation Office at 651-484-7213. If you would like to add someone else to the public prayer concerns list, please obtain their consent first.

Renew Your Life Small Groups
Four sessions in January and February
Connect with a Small Group and engage in a lively conversation around Pastor Kai Nilsen’s book, Renew Your Life: Discovering the Wellspring of God’s Energy. Find out more here. Contact Denise Floe at to register or for more information.

Shobi’s Table Volunteers
January – February
Be a part of Shobi’s Table, a pay-as-you-can café during the months of January and February 2020, by preparing food on Monday nights or serving prepared meals to guests in the neighborhood near Christ Lutheran Church on Capitol Hill, during the noon time on Tuesdays. This is a great opportunity for friends, small groups, families or anyone 12 years and older, to serve together. Or, step in as a single or couple, and meet some new Incarnation friends. To learn more or sign up for a shift click here.

Preschool Registration
Along with the traditional half day class options, the Preschool will be offering longer sessions during the 2020-21 school year as well. Visit the Incarnation website and Preschool pages for details. Registration packets for the 2020-21 school year are available for pick up in the Preschool or Incarnation Office. Forms may also be downloaded from the Incarnation website and submitted anytime. Forms will be date stamped when received and held in order for processing following the registration timeline below. Forms/fees may be submitted early. Confirmation of enrollment status will be mailed within two days of processing. Call Kirsten Barie at 651-766-0723 for more information, to schedule a tour or to have a packet mailed to you.
  • Now – Thursday, January 16: Open enrollment period for currently enrolled children
  • Friday, January 17: Processing begins for forms received from returning/previously enrolled families and NEW children from Incarnation families
  • Tuesday, January 21: Processing begins for enrollment forms received from NEW families for both age groups

Dominican Republic Adult Food in Action Mission Trip
Deposit due January 24, trip will be August 10 – 14, 2020
Join others for an adult Incarnation food in action trip to the Dominican Republic (DR) with Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) and Praying Pelican in August 2020. The trip is planned to be part service, part retreat/camp, as you are given opportunities to experience the distribution of FMSC food in the DR while building relationships with others from Incarnation. To learn more, click here.  Cost: approximately $2,000/person. Your $250 non-refundable deposit secures your spot. Contact Becky Benson with questions at

Feed My Starving Children Monthly Packing in January
Monday, January 27 from 6 – 7:30 p.m.
Join the Incarnation monthly packing group to assemble meals at Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) in Coon Rapids. Make your reservation by clicking here. Children five and older are invited to pack with appropriate supervision detailed on the FMSC page of Incarnation’s website.

2019 Year-end Financial Statements
2019 Year-end financial statements will arrive in homes at the end of January. If you need a re-print after February 1, contact Amy Faymoville, Financial Secretary at

Stock Donations
Incarnation received a few stock donations during 2019 that we weren’t able to link to a donor. If you donated stock in 2019 and it does not appear on your year-end statement, please contact Amy Faymoville, Financial Secretary at so we can credit it to your giving account. If you plan to donate stock in 2020, stop by the Incarnation Office to pick up stock transfer information and\or contact Amy for transfer information. We do not get electronically notified of the donor’s name, so it’s important for us to know the stock name, number of shares and the approximate value so we can link the appropriate donation to a donor.

Camp Sunday
February 2, after 8:45 a.m., 10:05 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. worship services
It may be cold outside but we’re thinking warm thoughts inside at Incarnation. Stop by the Children, Youth and Family table in the Atrium/Gathering Space after all morning worship services on Sunday, February 2 to find out more about the summer camp opportunities we have available this year! Fundraising information will also be available.

“Wall O’ Money” Fundraiser – Support Children, Youth and Families Participating in Summer Opportunities
February 16, February 23, and March 1
Children, youth, and families participating in summer ministry opportunities will be “selling” envelopes off the “Wall O’ Money” in the Atrium and Gathering Space on February 16, February 23, and March 1 to raise money for summer camps and mission trips. How it works: The “Wall O’ Money” envelopes range in value from $1 to $150. Choose an envelope with the amount you would like to contribute to the fundraiser and place that amount of cash or check listed on the outside into the envelope and return it to the table in the Atrium or Gathering Space, or you can return it to the Incarnation Office by Monday, March 9. More than one envelope can be purchased at a time.

Family Dance
Friday, February 7 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Come to the Family Dance and listen to DJ Mike and enjoy cookies and lemonade. Signup in the Incarnation Office by Monday, February 3 so we’re sure to have enough treats for everyone! There is no cost for this event. We will be collecting an offering for Shobi’s Table that evening or disposable compostable items.

Annual Congregational Meeting
Sunday, February 9: lunch is at 11:30 a.m., the meeting is at 12:15 p.m.
There will be a congregational meeting on Sunday, February 9 at 12:15 p.m. in the Sanctuary. The meeting will be preceded by lunch in Grace Hall at 11:30 a.m. All confirmed youth and adult voting members are invited and encouraged to attend this meeting. Printed copies of the annual report will be available from the Incarnation Office for the meeting. If you have questions prior to the annual meeting, please contact Danette Griffith, Administrator at in the Incarnation Office.

Constitution Amendments
It is recommended that Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) congregations and synods review the adopted amendments for their constitutions as soon as possible after each churchwide assembly to incorporate the required changes and to consider the recommended changes. The churchwide assembly met in 2019 and in coordination with the following amendments, the 2019 Churchwide Assembly authorized the secretary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to:
  • strike “synodical” and replace with “synod”
  • strike “the congregation” and replace with “this congregation” where appropriate
  • make editorial changes so that the Model Constitution for Congregations follows the Constitution, Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Constitution for Synods.
A copy with the proposed amendments is available by clicking here. Copies of the constitution are also available in the Incarnation Office. The congregation will vote on these amendments at the annual meeting.

Introducing Realm
Incarnation has recently moved to a new church management system called Realm. It is an online tool designed for real time connections between people in the Incarnation community. Realm allows you to manage your personal information, who can see it, control your giving and helps you keep in touch with the groups that matter to you. When we have Realm ready, we will send out an invitation to you for you to manage your account. Please note: if you currently give online there will be special communications on how to transition to the new system, so please wait until you receive the instructions before trying to manage your online giving through Realm.

Church Safety: Experience, Expertise and Volunteers Needed
A task force is being formed to explore the ways Incarnation can become a safer community. If you have medical, emergency, law enforcement, fire prevention or legal experience, or if you are interested in exploring the issue, please consider this as a way to serve. If you have questions or you are willing to serve, please contact Danette Griffith, Administrator, at or 651-484-7213. Other congregation members that can answer questions include Dave Deschene, Bob Holt and Jon Nisja.

Online Giving
Electronic giving options make it easy to contribute remotely. You can donate online or make a contribution with a textFor more information about electronic giving, click here. Thank you for your faithful generosity!