MARCH | 2023
Throughout my life growing up, I used to think that prayer was a time where we asked God for things, and where sometimes we gave God thanks. As my parents put me to bed, we’d try to start by giving thanks for our blessings, and then we’d jump right in to asking God to take care of stuff: We’d pray for those who were sick and those who were poor, we’d pray for peace on earth and for God to make bad people stop doing bad things. We’d also pray that God would watch over our loved ones, and I’d list off siblings, all my aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. And for good measure, I’d include my godparents and my friends and whoever else would come to mind, if for no other reason than it allowed me the chance to stay up a little longer. It wasn’t until I was older that I started to question whether that’s what prayer was supposed to be, or if prayer could offer us something more.
It was in seminary and afterward that I learned that prayer isn’t just asking for stuff, but it is simply the practice of making space to be in tune with God’s presence. It can be listening to your life, and where you might be experiencing joy or sorrow and asking yourself questions like “Is this part of my life something God would want for me, or do I need to go in a different direction?” Prayer can also be going for a walk and appreciating God’s beauty all around you. It can be in the act of serving someone else and encountering God in that other person. Really, it can be simply “waking up” and noticing the God who is active and alive in your life every moment, if you pause and make space for God’s voice to speak to you.
Because of our busy world, we can often miss the ways that God is there with us. And so for the season of Lent, from February 22 to April 2, we as a congregation are going to “make space for faith.” We’re going to spend some time being intentional with our lives, not just going through the motions, but listening to where God may be saying something to us through our everyday activities. Instead of only praying for a loved one, maybe you’ll choose a new family member to call each week to check in on. Instead of only praying for those who are poor, maybe you’ll choose to volunteer at a local service organization. Instead of sitting in a chair with your eyes closed and your hands folded, maybe you’ll go for a walk and look around you at the beauty of God’s world in nature. And maybe as you try out these different forms of “prayer” you’ll hear God speaking to you in a whole new way, or in a way you hadn’t in a while.
What do you think? Could you commit to making some space in the next several weeks to see what God might have to say? Maybe as you do, you’ll start to re-connect with the life that Jesus wants for you, an abundant life of faith, where God is with you all the time.

Pastor Dane
In our busy lives and world, we don’t always make space for God to enter in and speak to us. As Christians, we believe that God is always there, working with us, but we don’t always take the time to intentionally listen and look for God’s presence in our lives. So how can we be more in tune with what God might want for us and for our world? 
During this season of Lent, we’re getting down to the basics, working together on everyday things each of us can do to notice God in our everyday lives. We’ll start paying attention: to nature, to our own thoughts and feelings, to the needs of those around us, and we’ll see if we just might find the God who has been there the whole time, showing up in a way that we hadn’t seen before. Maybe as we walk this road together, we’ll hear more clearly what God wants for us each and every day. 
Sundays: 9:30 am
Wednesdays: 6:00 pm
(come early for delicious youth fundraiser
suppers each week at 5pm!)
Holden Evening Prayer   
Sundays: March 5 and 19
Wednesdays: March 15 and 29
Lenten Mentoring  
Each Wednesday through April 12
(no mentoring on March 29)
Holy Week  
April 2—April 7
Vinje is excited to announce that Lily Sargent has been hired to serve as Vinje’s first ever Director of Engagement and Worship Life beginning this month. She is a gifted vocalist and pianist (and a 2016 Willmar grad), and studied worship leadership at North Central University. She has served as a worship leader for multiple churches in the Twin Cities over the past several years and she and her family have recently moved back to Willmar. We look forward to working with Lily as part of the Vinje team. She will work closely with the pastors, Karen, and our many volunteers to ensure that Vinje continues to provide a meaningful and engaging worship experience for all! While Lily brings new knowledge and gifts to our team that will allow us to pursue our goal of a more modern expression of worship, she has a deep respect and admiration for the traditions of Lutheran worship. Vinje’s commitment to traditional worship including organ music, choirs, and the continued singing of favorite hymns does not change with Lily’s arrival. We look forward to working with Lily as we continue to build upon the great musical foundation that Vinje has.
Hello! I am so excited to be joining the team at Vinje! Here’s a little bit about myself…
I attended North Central University in Minneapolis for Worship Leading and was fortunate to also tour the US with the college’s worship team. I’m looking forward to bringing my experience, training and passion for music to your congregation. I am 25 years old, married to my husband Brady (who played drums for the touring team I mentioned!), and we have a one-year-old little boy named Aden. After graduation from Willmar High School in 2016 and attending college in the Twin Cities, my husband and I moved back to the area to be closer to family. In my free time, if I’m not doing something music related, I am probably watching The Office with my husband, playing with my little guy, or working on a mindfulness project. We look forward to being a part of the community here at Vinje and look forward to meeting everyone in person! 
The season of Lent is just around the corner, so we want you to know about a few worship opportunities coming up! We'll begin a new sermon series "Making Space for Faith" where we explore everyday ways we can connect with God. We'll hear unique sermons on both Wednesdays and Sundays where we explore the ways we can notice God in everyday life ​(you may even hear a couple sermons from your pastors' spouses!). We'll also be offering Holden Evening Prayer on select Sundays and Wednesdays for the season.
Ash Wednesday Worship  
February 22, 6 pm
Making Space for Faith Sermon Series
February 26—March 29
Holden Evening Prayer   
Sundays: March 5 and 19, Wednesdays: March 15 and 29
Holy Week  
April 2—April 7
Lenten Mentoring  
Weekly: February 22 through March 22
The annual meeting of Vinje Lutheran Church will be on February 5 at 11:00am. All confirmed members of the congregation will have voice and vote at this meeting. We will vote on new council members and a budget proposal for 2023. See you all there!
Vinje Quilters will meet this month on March 9 and March 23. Join us!
February brought about Valentine’s activities, winter-themed fun and, well, just smiles and laughter with some of the cutest kids in town!
The ozone layer around the earth combats global warming, but chemicals, such as those used in refrigeration and air conditioning, can cause thinning of that layer. In the Montreal Protocol of 1987, multiple nations agreed to phase out production of those chemicals, and recent studies have shown that the ozone layer is thickening. It’s nice to know that countries can work together to benefit of all people.
This month pastor Andrés asked Tim Ostby to share his recollections of the “Vinje Dinner Club.” 

The Vinje Dinner Club was formed and active in the early 1990’s. This was an effort to provide a venue for socialization and fellowship among the congregation and was successful for several years. Barb Youngquist, Val Nielson and several others were involved in forming and organizing the activity. 
The club was organized to provide four meals per year: September through May. Those interested submitted their names and they would be grouped with approximately three or four couples in each group. The participating couples or individuals would not be the same for each of the four dinners per year, but different couples would be assigned to provide as much opportunity to get to know others as possible. The commitment of the members was to host one of the meals each year. They would be scheduled for specific time frames (i.e. September-October, November-December, January-March, April-May) with one of the couples assigned to host. The hosts would then coordinate the date with the others who were in their group. Each group would not necessarily meet at the same time but whenever the group members were able to attend within the assigned timeframes. And the meal could be a brunch or a breakfast, whatever worked with the groups schedule.  
Marie and I moved to the Willmar area and became Vinje members in 1992. As new residents and church members, we sought opportunities to get to know the community and become involved in Vinje activities. We enjoyed participating in the Dinner Club and met many other Vinje members through this activity. Being welcomed into a home and welcoming others into your home was a wonderful fellowship. Food is a great icebreaker! Vinje has decided to bring this opportunity back in the form of a Lenten Dinner Club (see below!). I highly recommend signing up as it is sure to be a great opportunity for fellowship, learning and fun! 
Lent is a great time to try new things. This year Vinje is bringing back a past practice that may be new to some of you. We are inviting you to join other Vinje members for dinner. We will coordinate a couple of small supper gatherings at a host’s home throughout the season of Lent. If you’d like to enjoy a great meal and a night out of the house with a small group of new friends just let the office know. You’ll be matched with a host and once groups are formed you will pick a date and time that works for everyone. It promises to be a fun evening and all you have to do to be included is call or email the church office by March 13 and let them know you’re interested! 
Please check the April Witness for updates from both the February & March meetings. Thanks!
Vinje youth will be hosting a bake sale before and after worship on Palm Sunday! Donate goodies (wrapped and ready for sale) or buy goodies to enjoy! Your free will donations support youth mission trips! Donated cookies, bars, breads, cupcakes or pies would be greatly appreciated and can be dropped off before the service on Sunday.
Pastor Erika asked us to pass along her thanks for your prayers, meals and cards! She is happy to report that the surgery was successful, cancer has not spread to other areas, and it was considered to be "Stage 1." She optimistic, recovering well and appreciates your continued prayers.
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, 180 Sundays at 2:30 pm and 8:30 pm and Tuesdays at 8 am and 5 pm.