OCTOBER | 2020
BACK ROW: Pastor Dane, Max Muzik, Ceci LaRue, Eli Hanson, Cecilia Buzzeo, Zoe Schroeder, Pastor Justin
FRONT ROW: Keegan Kessler-Gross, Jorja Reynolds, Allie Rosendahl, Katrina Pallansch, Kim Joneson, Carson Brown
Not Pictured: Sophia Smith
On September 27th, our tenth grade Vinje youth gathered with their families in the sanctuary to worship. Considering all that has happened in 2020, that was a pretty extraordinary thing all in itself. And yet, as each of them stood up and shared stories of their faith, it became obvious that the truly extraordinary thing was how God’s Spirit has been working in their lives. Each offered a beautiful statement of why their faith in God is important in their lives and how God has led them to this point. Each also made promises that they would continue in the relationship that God began years ago at their baptisms.
Sadly due to Covid-19 these special moments were not part of our congregation’s Sunday morning service. However, we invite you to visit the Vinje website and watch the service in its entirety. The faith statements from our youth are an excellent witness to God’s faithfulness for our entire congregation. Thanks to all the members of Vinje who have supported the faith formation of our children and youth.

"During lows and hardships I’ve come to realize that my faith and trust in God can help me through anything. No matter what the circumstance, God has always been there to help me through the tough times." Max Muzik
"I can't help but realize how much God has done for me. God has been looking out for me since the day I was born. God helped me find my forever home and crossed my path with many special people along the way, some of which became my best friends." Kim Joneson
“I’ve never had moments where I felt God talking to me or felt like he was by my side, but in the back of my mind, I always know he’s right there with me for every step of the way.”
Carson Brown

Vinje Friends,
I would like to thank everyone for the prayers, cards and phone calls . Progress seemed slow but things are finally looking up. Thanks again. 
Ray Groff
Our Vinje Family,
Thank you so much for all the ways you have joined us in celebrating Remy’s birth. We are deeply grateful for the ways that you have shown us your love in the gifts, notes, cards, meals, and Justin’s time away so we could enjoy our first weeks together as a family of five. Remy is growing fast and has already started at Loving Arms. His sisters love spending time with him and he loves having three mothers.
Justin, Seyward, Brooklyn, Magnolia, and Remy Ask
Vinje Prison Ministry
Pastor Andrés is digging into Vinje’s unique history. This month, he asked Kris Swanson to share her memories of her time working with Vinje’s prison ministry team.

Val Gieseke was instrumental in developing a relationship with the chaplain at the prison. For many years, several Vinje members conducted a Sunday church service for the inmates 4-5 times a year. We were responsible for providing an accompanist and someone to deliver a message. The inmates usually read the scripture. I believe the volunteers got more back from the inmates than we gave them. Their enthusiasm for hymn singing was incredible. We needed to be at the prison well ahead of the service time to get checked in and escorted to the chapel. As the programming at the prison changed, and the chaplain retired, volunteers had an opportunity to start going to the Appleton private prison. A mission congregation of the SWMN synod was actually formed within the prison. Of course, when the prison closed, so ended our involvement in prison ministry.

It is harvest time at the Vinje garden. Potatoes, onions, and carrots abound. The bounty of the harvest was shared with those who attended the worship service on September 28th. Since the harvest was so plentiful we also shared much with the hungry in our community. Thanks to all who put in many hours this summer to grow these delicious vegetables.
Fall means a return to Faith Formation programs at Vinje. Even amid the Covid pandemic, we have returned to many of our activities. Confirmation classes have been meeting at Vinje on Wednesday evenings for grades 6-9. Sunday School gathered to kick off the year on September 20. We are now sharing weekly online resources for children that include a craft, music, and faith lesson.

We’ve also been back in the sanctuary for two worship services recently. The family and friends of Pastor Lowell Larson gathered for his funeral on September 19th. That marked our first worship service in the sanctuary since March 11. That is 173 days! We also gathered on Sunday, September 27th to celebrate the confirmation of our 10th grade youth. If you would like to watch either of these services you can find them on the Vinje website.

Things continue to change at a rapid pace and planning remains extremely difficult. Every day is different as we currently watch the local infection rate climb. We hope to be gathering together in person more often in the near future, but we will continue to do so only when it is safe. Online resources will continue to be offered throughout the months to come for those who prefer to stay distanced at this time. Throughout it all, we are grateful that God is with us, and we are grateful that God has given us each other.
Over the summer, we had 35 small gatherings in people’s backyards and outside care facilities. Even when we had to hide our faces behind the masks and keep the physical distancing, we enjoyed getting together again in person. Thank you to all those who hosted and those who attended the gatherings. We look forward to meeting again in this way next year, regardless of whether the pandemic is over.
After careful consideration, it’s been determined that we must cancel the 2020 Lutefisk & Meatball Supper. We appreciate your understanding.  
30 minutes is all it takes to save lives! Please call
Carol Schmiesing at 222.5048 or the church office at 235.1441 to schedule your appointment! Thanks!
Loving Arms is celebrating our 25th Anniversary this month!
And although we are not able to host you all for cupcakes and classroom tours as we had hoped, we’ll still be celebrating this milestone with our kids and staff! We’ve got fun activities planned for the week of October 19th. We will share about our anniversary fun in next month’s Witness as well as in worship on October 25th! Thank you to all those that have supported this ministry over the last 25 years. We are truly grateful for our wonderful Vinje family!

September Council Highlights…
  • Loving Arms enrollment continues upwards and we are looking to hire more staff.
  • Council is working to fill the youth position on council after the resignation of Torri Muzik
  • Council discussed the current Covid situation and the priorities of in person worship and Confirmation classes.
  • There is an opportunity to assist Saint John’s Lutheran Church in Raymond following the retirement of their pastor. Further conversation and investigation of details are forthcoming.
  • Council had conversation around possible focuses for the 2020 stewardship campaign.
Get your kiddos in their costumes and join us for our social distanced Trail of Treats! We’ll have a little trail of treats and fun set up in our parking lot for our Vinje kids to walk through! *In the event of inclement weather or health concerns, this event would be canceled. Please watch your weekly emails for updates.
If you’d like to help us provide this fun and safe experience for our Vinje kids, please considering donating money towards the purchase of candy and supplies for our Trail of Treats! You can donate on our website at the “Give” link, just note “Trail of Treats” in the “Special Gifts” section. Or send a check with “Trail of Treats” in the memo!
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.