Dear Vinje Members,
Since becoming President of the Church Council I have wanted to make our actions more transparent. You may have noticed that our monthly newsletter, “The Witness,” now includes our church council agenda so you know the issues we deal with on a monthly basis. Communication is key to understanding what we are up to as your church leadership, and we want you to keep you informed.

In that spirit, we want to address a few topics that have been brought to our attention as your church leaders and ones that we feel need further clarification: The kitchen project, our hiring process, the Columbarium and the parking lot.

First of all, the kitchen project: Your church leadership is excited about this building project! It is an update of a facility that has been needed for some time, and making improvements to this kitchen will accommodate and enhance many ministry areas at Vinje. Our Wednesday night dinners are a huge benefit to families, youth and others in need of fellowship. Loving Arms, another ministry at Vinje, will be able to provide nutritious, allergy sensitive foods for our smallest members. This is not to mention our historically traditional annual Lutefisk supper, as well as the exceptional way we serve families in times of grief following funeral services. There are so many other ways we will be able to utilize this updated space and we appreciate your patience as we make it happen. Please also remember that this update will not be an HGTV makeover, rather a way for us to do better ministry here!

In terms of the hiring process, we are blessed to add two very gifted people to our staff. We have heard concerns about both our Music Director and Visitation Pastor not being “local” people and how they might connect with our congregation and community. However, we have already seen in both cases that these individuals have been well-received in their roles and a blessing to our community in new and fresh ways. We are grateful to have Karen Wojahn as she continues our long tradition of excellent music experiences at Vinje. We are also grateful that Pastor Andres was available to us to fill the role of Visitation Pastor at a time when we had an unexpected vacancy. There were two candidates for this position. But through conversations, we found that Pastor Andres was a good fit with his kind and compassionate personality and we are already finding that to be the case in his time here. We do not know how our visitation ministry might evolve in the future, but we are grateful to have Pastor Andres at this time, and we will continue to look for new and creative ways to serve a most valued segment of the Congregation.

The long standing issues with the parking lot are being addressed. We are hoping to have resurfacing, striping and new entrances to the parking lot completed in October. The Property Committee has a new chairman, John Hafner, and will be meeting on a quarterly schedule. As our facility ages this committee's role is important and the Council relies on the input we receive to better budget for emergencies as well new projects. Thanks to Rick Loseth for his leadership with dedication and enthusiasm for many years.

Many of you have wondered why we are also considering constructing a columbarium at Vinje. The idea of the columbarium arose from a discussion with the members of the Congregational Care Committee. Cremation is a growing trend. We will continue to explore the cost, companies available to hire, and potential location along with judging the interest of Vinje members. Nothing has been decided, but meetings will continue.

We want you to know our excitement about where our congregation is going. Good work happens at Vinje! Our growing youth involvement is one example. The Youth Board and Torri Muzik, Youth Council representative, has spunk, commitment and drive. Something we have not seen in a long time at Vinje. They're in the process of revamping the old nursery...old computer room...old, whatever it was last room! The other shout out is to the work of the Funeral group. At one of the last funerals it was overheard, “Vinje sure knows how to do funerals with class and dignity”.

Please keep asking questions, giving suggestions and using your positive pride in Vinje to move us forward. Council members are available for conversations on any topic and will seek answers/clarifications on these topics or the many others that surely will come up in the future. Know that we are grateful for you and the wonderful things God is up to here and in our community!

Jan Dahl
Vinje Council President