JUNE | 2020
We know that it has been a difficult few months, but we wanted to focus on some of the really wonderful ministries we have still been able to do as a congregation.
LSS Meals for Homeless Youth
This past month, our outreach team has coordinated care packages including food, hand sanitizer, and cloth masks for homeless youth in Willmar.
Donations to Food Shelf
We are still finding ways to support our local food shelf both through members’ personal gifts and congregational funds. Thank you for your ongoing efforts!
Servant of Christ Award
Our congregation was notified that we were selected by Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota for the “Servant of Christ Award” in Southwestern Minnesota for this year. Last year, we were able to provide over 1,000 shelf-stable meals, with hand-written cards of love and support for those in need. This is quite an honor for our church, and just think how those meals have been a powerful gift during this time!  
Getting to See One Another Through Technology
We may not be able to gather in person, but we have certainly found ways to connect with each other. Over 80 families have participated in worship services through liturgy and music. We have held weekly bible studies and connected for “Zoom” hangouts. We are so glad to see one another’s smiling faces and to see the body of Christ is still together in Spirit.
Care Packages for our Members 
We reached out to youth to encourage them in their studies with care packages including sweet treats and homemade s’mores. We had fun distributing May Day gifts to members who could use a pick-me-up in this time. We also provided some love for our community through heart crafts created by our Grace Notes students to decorate windows.
Musical Gifts
Many Vinje members have been sharing their musical gifts for worship services on Wednesdays and Sundays. Our very own Karen Wojahn has not only been working hard to produce music for Vinje services but she has also been sharing her talents on the harp. In the coming weeks, her recordings will be shared with residents at Bethesda, Rice Care Center, and Copperleaf to provide some comfort. It is a wonderful thing that we are able to share these gifts not only within our Vinje family but out in the world around us.
To say the last few months at Loving Arms have been a challenge would be a huge understatement. Months filled with blessings and bummers might be more accurate. As the pandemic set in, our lives in the childcare field changed forever. Greeting parents with a touch and warm smile, visiting with them in the rooms in the mornings, watching them check their children into the computer, all things of the past. Hugs and snuggles are now frowned upon in society, and I know more about any cleaning supply and Governor's updates than I ever thought possible. 
Although our childcare setting has changed, we still are able to provide the warm, loving, caring, nurturing environment that our Loving Arms families are accustomed to. The staff at Loving Arms has been simply remarkable! The devotion these teachers pour out everyday never ceases to amaze or surprise me, always giving the extra love and care needed. We strive to keep things as normal as possible for all our littles as they have enough to deal with in the real world right now. 
The congregation of Vinje has been simply incredible! The amount of love that has been shown with treats, gift cards, handwritten messages, prayers, meals, and just knowing that you are all here backing us means so very much to us all.
We are currently running at about 55% capacity, which means a decrease in revenue, resulting in the furlough of some staff. We have been fortunate to receive the Governor’s peacetime grant for childcare, which will help to replace revenue lost for two months. With that grant we are required to hold the slots of children not attending with no charge to parents. Cub Foods has been helping us get the cleaning supplies that we need. We have had many donations from families and staff of items we need, including masks.
Through all of this I have truly believed this is what God has called us to do, and although many days are faced with struggles, knowing that we are helping in this fight against this awful pandemic makes all those little struggles worthwhile.
Karen Wojahn, Director of Music
A big thank you to all the musicians who have shared their talents and contributed music for our online worship broadcasts! Since we will continue to worship online for awhile, more music is needed. How about singing a duet with
a family member? Do you play an instrument? If you would like to share a song or two, email me or one of the pastors. If you need the accompaniment, that can be arranged. Stay safe! 
Tired of seeing most of your life through a computer, phone, or television screen? We have a summer resource that will help you connect to God through a worship service that can be done without any screens. On our website, you'll find four different worship services that you can do as family right from your own home, or wherever you choose. Let’s be honest, even before COVID not everyone was coming to worship during the summer, and having something for the campfire might be just what you need.
We all can and should pray, and it makes a difference who the God we pray to is and what kind of answer we expect.
God is not a distant, inactive God who needs to be convinced with our insistence, promises or sacrifices. God is not a God who measures the intensity of our prayers and who listens more to the prayers of one person more than another. God is not a God who only takes care of those who think about and try to protect and satisfy God. No, God is, on the contrary, a God for others. God knows what we need before we ask, and is always actively loving and caring for each and every one of God’s creatures.
God will not necessarily answer our prayers directly. God will need you and me to do our part to make the prayers come true. We don’t need to pray in order to convince God. We need to pray, with words borrowed from my fellow Argentinean, Pope Francis, in order “to strengthen our faith and our patience, meaning our ability to strive together with God for the things that are truly important and necessary. In prayer there are two of us: God and I, striving together for the important things.”
With this understanding, I invite you to join me in this prayer loosely inspired by a prayer by President Thomas Jefferson: 

Almighty God, you have given us this good land as our heritage. Make us always remember your generosity and constantly do your will. Make us good and generous stewards of the resources and talents you have entrusted to us.
Bless our land with honest industry, truthful education, an honorable way of life, and visionary leaders.
Be with all who are doing essential work. Be with the doctors, nurses, researchers and all medical professionals. Be with the daycare workers. Be with the workers who sustain the entire food production system, the employees at our grocery stores, the mail carriers, the people who deliver our packages, and the people keeping our public spaces clean.
Expand our morality beyond the narrowness of personal piety into the broadness of public policy. Help us make sure that everybody receives a just wage, and gets access to education, healthcare, affordable housing, daycare for the kids, and unemployment benefits when they lose their jobs. Give us the strength to be self-critical, and to look upon our imperfections and decide that it is in our power to remake this country and align it more closely with our highest ideals. Give us the strength to challenge racism, poverty, unchecked militarism, and ecological devastation. Always remind us that change depends on our actions, our attitudes, our votes, and the things that we teach our children. 
Save us from the fear that prevents us from working together and helping one another. Save us from the violence that creates more violence. Save us from the pride that can make us claim invulnerability. Save us from every evil course of action.
In this time of danger and trouble, comfort those in distress, give us patience to endure the waiting, and grant us courage and hope to face the future; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
We have been continually praying for Karina DeJong and her family as Karina deals with significant health issues ( click here to learn more). Some of you have reached out to ask how you can support her in this time. You are welcome to write a check to Vinje noting “Karina DeJong” on the memo line and we will get the funds to her. T-shirts are also available for purchase with 50% of each sale going directly to Karina. Click here to learn more !
May Council Highlights…
  • Council received an update on the ongoing ministry of Loving Arms. Teachers are doing an incredible job and showing deep commitment to children and families. 
  • Council extended the contract for Pastor Andres to continue to serve as our Visitation Pastor. 
  • A review of the current status of our Payroll Protection Plan loan from the Small Business Administration. 
  • Council discussed the current state of Vinje related to COVID-19 and decided that no changes would be made at this time. A plan to allow small groups to meet will be shared with council in June and a return to worship in the sanctuary is not likely to be soon. 
  • Members reported on the phone calls that they made to Vinje members in the last month. 
Recent announcements from the President and Governor have left many of us asking when will we  be back to in person gatherings as part of our life together. The short answer is: we don’t know, but not yet. Your council leaders continue to follow the recommendations of local and state medical experts that warn of the increased risk of spreading the virus through large gatherings. Due to the rapid spread of the virus through aerosol transmission, the risk is even higher when the groups are singing and multiplied by the amount of time you spend in those circumstances. Thus it is safer to go to the grocery store than to worship in person. In the weeks ahead we will return to some of our in person ministries when it is safe to do so. Vinje’s council leaders will continue to prioritize the advice of our doctors in making these decisions, but please know that worship, as we knew it, will be one of the last things to be brought back. 
JUNE 14-JUNE 20, 2020
Family Promise is still working to serve homeless families in our community. Because of COVID-19, churches are unable to host families in their buildings, but the Day Center has continued to be open for families. There are 7 children and 5 adults staying at the Day Center. Vinje is scheduled to host Family Promise the week of June 14-June 20. And while we won’t be able to physically host families in our building, we can still help. We are in need of home-cooked dinners for all seven days. We also need help with breakfast and lunch delivery twice that week. Click here to sign up to help or contact Jenifer Leitch at 320-979-1426 or leitchjenifer@gmail.com with questions.
We know that we are never really alone. God is with us. We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. We have all the support of our Vinje family and others that God places into our lives to care for us. However, during this time of isolation we can certainly feel alone. If you are feeling lonely here are some ideas:
Call Someone: Pick up your phone and call a friend or family member. Check in with a person you haven’t heard from for a while or give an update on what is going on in your life. Call the Vinje office and connect with one of the pastors. There are many people who care about you and want to hear from you.
Get Creative: Make something, knit, paint or sing along with the radio. Even those of us with very little craft or musical skills can find joy in these activities. Adult coloring has become very popular in the last few years as a way of reducing stress. Build something. Cook something. Get creative and use your imagination.
Take a Walk: Getting outside and appreciating the beauty of nature can help center us. Even spending some time on the porch or looking out the window can do a lot of good. God’s creation is there for you in the chirping of the birds, golden sunsets, calming rains and so much more.
Ask For Help: Recognizing and naming that you are feeling alone is helpful. Techniques like the ones above help too. If you still feel like you need help, there are great resources in our community. Never hesitate to ask for help.
RADIO Listen on Sundays at 9:30 am on KWLM, 1340 AM.
INTERNET Watch anytime! (go to youtube.com 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.