JULY | 2020
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Acts 2:1-2
Long before there were buildings that came to be called “churches,” the Church was active in the world. Followers of Jesus met in their homes to pray, read scripture, share stories of their lives, and support one another in their journey of faith. In these uncertain times, Vinje has returned to these ancient practices, trusting that as we do so the Holy Spirit is present with us. We have started to gather in the backyards and on the porches and decks of our members. As we have gathered we have felt our burdens lightened by the presence of the Spirit and one another. As we share stories of the past and our hopes for the future, it has become evident that our faith is a meaningful part of our lives.  It is the shared faith we have in Jesus and the relationships that we have with each other that makes us “Church.” Vinje has been forced to be creative in seeking ways to to share our faith life together and support one another, but clearly the Holy Spirit is still guiding our church. May the Holy Spirit continue to work among us, and all of the followers of Jesus, to find ways for us to gather with each other.

It was when I saw all those beloved Vinje members in person that I realized how much I had missed them. Although I had imagined them listening to the radio or watching the screen, and I had interacted with some of them at Zoom meetings, it was different to see them in person. The instinct told me to go and give hugs. Fortunately, reason told me to abstain, no matter how much contrary to right standards of behavior it seemed to be. There was no doubt that we had to follow the advice of health professionals, and everyone agreed that this advice protects rather than challenges our individual freedoms.” Pastor Andres

“I had the pleasure of gathering at the homes of Bonnie and Lyle Lange and Kevin and Kim Hanson. We shared a few beverages and a few laughs, talked about life and church, and enjoyed two beautiful sunsets. As a bonus, at the Hanson's, everyone gathered got a chance to meet Vicar Kate and hear a little about her. It was good to catch up on what has been going on in our lives. Most of all, though, this experience made me realize how much I miss being with all of you. There is something hard-wired in us for connection and relationships, and simply being together can be so life-giving. It was so good to see so many smiling faces and I hope we can find more opportunities to safely gather in small groups to see more of each other.” Pastor Dane

“Each gathering has had a unique flavor to it based on who has shown up but every one has come with plenty of smiles and stories of recent months. We have clearly missed being in each other’s proximity. I’ve been surprised at how a number of people have expressed the positive developments of the pandemic and sheltering in place. It seems that, at least for some, we have grown to appreciate a slower paced life with less on what were once hectic calendars. Perhaps it is the extra time or the struggles we face that has led many to talk about their increased reliance on prayer and trust in God.” Pastor Justin

“With an open schedule my first week at Vinje, I was able to stop in at four backyard gatherings. In bite size pieces, I started to get a feel for the history of Vinje and its members. It strikes me only now, as I’m reflecting on these gatherings of 10-12 people, that Jesus also gathered in a group about this size, doing many of the same things we’ve been doing: telling stories, sharing food, praying, mourning, celebrating, and laughing together. Though I’m sure this isn’t how many of us imagined gathering as a church, it’s also clear that the work of the Vinje Lutheran Church and its people is still alive and well.” Vicar Kate
Greetings Vinje Family. I hope this message finds you all well and enjoying summer as much as you can. I wanted to provide a brief update from your Vinje Council. First, we want to thank you for your support and flexibility during this time of uncertainty. It is at a time like this that we can truly reflect that our mission of following Jesus is not bound by the physical walls of the church. Reaching out to find new ways to worship and support our neighbors in this time of crisis has been a challenge for us all. From Council’s end we continue to monitor the situation and follow the recommendations of local health and emergency management personnel, ELCA guidelines and the Governor’s orders. Difficult decisions have been made which were not taken lightly and made with the best interest of EVERYONE. At our June meeting, Council has agreed to continue with the status quo with on-line worship through July, but starting to have some small group gatherings hosted by Vinje members. While we all want to gather together again to worship as soon as possible, Council has agreed we need to be prepared and do it the right way. To that end we have formed a task force to establish new policies and procedures that will allow us to look towards reopening the building in a planful manner that will be mindful of the health and safety of our members. We will be looking at worship practices, bringing office staff back into the building and how we will be interacting with Loving Arms who continue to operate during the pandemic. Our goal is to have some initial guidelines in place for the July council meeting where we could approve a reopening plan with the hope of slowly opening the doors beginning in August.
We also applied for and received a PPP loan to support our financial well being and avoid any employee layoffs, including Loving Arms. We are grateful for the commitment of all staff and willingness to take on new job responsibilities and remain flexible as things have changed from week to week. Loving Arms has continued to operate trough the crisis. Their enrollment has dropped and there were a few layoffs, but the remaining staff has been committed to their responsibilities despite their daily exposure to families, most of whom are Tier 1 Essential workers. Thank you to ALL Vinje staff for your dedication and for the congregation for your prayers and support.
I want to extend a thank you to everyone who have continued to support Vinje financially though this uncertain time. Monthly giving has been steady and higher than expected when this all began back in March. THANK YOU to all for your support! Folks, we don’t know what lies ahead. We don’t know if the decisions we are making are right or wrong. Collectively we will all get through this together.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. 
Romans 8:38-39 (NIV)
In Peace,
Kevin Hanson
Vinje Congregational President
Religious gatherings are considered highly contagious events for several reasons. COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, spread by inhaling contagious air particles. The rate of transmission greatly increases when people are together for 15 minutes or longer. In light of that it is important to keep in mind all of our congregational members, leaders, and staff members who are in high-risk and vulnerable population categories, or who live with someone who is.

According to state and CDC guidelines, which we are required to follow, worship attendance would be limited to social distancing of 6-feet between family units and no more than 50% of the sanctuary's capacity. With these numbers in mind, we believe we could safely have a worshiping congregation of no more than 75 people. Upon arrival at church, you would be required to wear a mask, and strict physical distancing would be enforced. During worship, there would be no congregational singing, and afterward, there would be no fellowship time, as we would not be able to serve coffee or food. We would also limit the use of bathrooms to emergency use only, and we would ask people to use proper hand washing and hand sanitizing.

An important factor that we have to consider is the effort it takes to have outdoor sound and video equipment. Currently, there is no video equipment that could be transported outside. We don’t have a stage so worship leaders couldn’t be easily seen. We also have concerns about what to do in the case of inclement weather. After many discussions centered around these concerns, leadership has decided that our best two current options are online worship or some form of modified worship in the sanctuary.
As we continue to navigate through our new normal at Loving Arms, we want to thank everyone for the love support and prayers we are receiving. Our goal is to keep everyone safe and healthy and to consider the social emotional well being of all our little ones. We are excited that a few new friends have joined us, but we have also had to say goodbye to some others. We are running at about 60% capacity and are very fortunate to have received a Peacetime Emergency grant again this month. This helps us recover a portion of the revenue we have lost. 
We are enjoying the warm weather and are excited to do a lot of outdoor activities again. It’s a real blessing to get to be surrounded by all these kids’ infectious joy each day! Please keep your prayers for health and well being of all the staff and children at Loving Arms, we truly appreciate them.
Karen Wojahn, Director of Music
If you haven’t already seen it, be sure to check out Vinje’s YouTube channel for videos with highlights of this past year’s anthems by the Vinje Choir and JuBELLation. Our year was cut short, but many great anthems were shared. 
At this time of year, we usually are looking ahead and making plans for the coming year, selecting music and planning schedules for our music groups. But this year, in so many ways, is different. All the information we’ve read about how the Corona virus is spread tells us that singing together in choirs and in the congregation is not recommended. How alarming for those of us who love to sing!  Singing makes us take deep breaths, improves our posture and lowers our stress. 
Even if we can’t sing together, don’t let your singing voice get rusty. Sing at home, in your garden, or in your car. Sing along with our online worship broadcasts. We’ve heard the saying, “He who sings, prays twice.” So fill your lungs and make a joyful noise to the Lord with songs of praise!

Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God;
for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.
Psalm 147:1

According to an article by livinglutheran.com, the praying hands emoji symbol was used 27% more on Twitter in April 2020 than in April 2019 and has now become the 8th most popular emoji.
June Council Highlights…
  •  A new dishwasher for the kitchen
  •  Insurance Renewal
  •  Custodian/Cleaning Services
  •  Payroll Protection Loan Update
  •  Hazard Pay for Loving Arms Employees 

If you’d like a copy of the quarterly Christ In Our Home devotional, copies are available in the new pick-up box located by the main entrance. Or, if you’d like for one to be mailed to you, just let Melissa know.

The LSS Homeless Youth program is in need of personnel hygiene supplies. They are specifically requesting travel/hotel sized shampoo, body wash, hand sanitizer, toothpaste, etc. If you’d like to donate any of these items, you can leave them on the table inside the Loving Arms entry way.
Make a one-time contribution or set up reoccurring giving here . Need help? Call the church office!
RADIO Listen on Sundays at 9:30 am on KWLM, 1340 AM.
INTERNET Watch anytime! (go to YouTube and search Vinje Willmar). 
TV Watch local access channel, WRAC 8/180, Sundays at 2:30 pm and 8:30 pm, Tuesdays at 8 am and 5 pm or Saturdays at 6 pm.