Check out the latest news from St. John’s.

What did you say in the transition activity?

At the annual meeting, the Transition Team shared what they learned from the activity the congregation went through in November. The team worked hard to compile everything that YOU, the members of the congregation told them without interpreting it yet. The next step will including interpreting the information and determining, “What does this mean?”

Much of the information they shared can be found in the report below:

2017 Annual Report

At St. John’s Annual Meeting on Wednesday, January 24, 2018 (7:30 pm), the congregation will review the annual report from 2016 and vote on business for the future of the congregation.

Download the 2017 Annual Report here.

Be sure to take a look at the Narrative Budget as well – it explains the ministry we do together as a congregation and how your financial giving supports that ministry. Instead of dozens of rows of numbers, you’ll see all the lives we touch through our spending in each of the following five areas (and see lots of pictures!):

MOE to Prairie Meadows

Next Ministry of Encouragement (MOE) recognition visit is to Prairie Meadows on Tuesday, February 6. Prairie Meadows, located here in Kasson, is a residence for senior citizens. Some residents enjoy independent living. Others receive daily care that extends through the end of life including memory care. We will be recognizing the complete 24 hour staff (50-60 people). Help by joining us to thank them in person and/or contribute treats or supplies. Sign up at the Welcome Center. For those coming on our short visit, we’ll meet inside St. John’s at 10:15 am and leave as a group. Contact Mary Adam at (507) 696-8469 or with questions. Ardis Grovdahl, co-chair of this group, may also help answer your questions.

What we learned from the transition activity

A Temple Talk by Jen Smith on January 7 & 10.

The transition team has been busy over the past 8 months. We have met 2 hours a week most weeks (including the summer and busy month of December). Most recently we met 4 separate times to process the information collected from the “game board” activity. We had over 300 people participate in this activity helping us understand who we are and where we are going as a congregation.


  • Nearly 300 participants.
  • Rich dialogue has been generate and should continue.
  • This activity was about more than the answers written on the board, it was also about the discussions it has generated.
  • Conversations need to continue. This is where the work continues giving us direction and also validating where we are.


We have a rich history which we are proud of. Of particular note is that MANY of them touched upon the importance of relationships. These relationships are instrumental in everything we do within our wall, through service and community. A wide variety of favorite memories were identified:

  • worship experiences
  • youth offerings
  • relationships
  • service opportunities

Something for Everyone:

We asked what makes St. John’s unique. In particular the response that there is something for everyone stood out. There is something for everyone. And if there isn’t, we want and need to hear about. We want St. John’s to be something to everyone. Lutefisk isn’t just about the fish. It is the spirit or everyone working together. Everyone makes the donation they are asked of in order to provide a meal and experience for the community. We open out doors and show them our best. What if this is what everyone saw every time they entered our building?

  • Over 40 programs were identified as important
  • Oasis Afterschool, including the big blue bus picking up kids at school
  • CKP
  • Variety of programs
  • Lutefisk


  • Our worship experiences are diverse and dynamic
  • Identified ways to enrich what we have
  • Looked at gaps
  • We are blessed with excellent musicians vocally and instrumentally – we need to utilized them more

Faith Formation:

  • We need to attract, train and support our volunteers. Our programming is only as good as our volunteers
  • Offer a variety of experiences
  • Find ways to incorporate technology
  • Enhance bible study offering for all ages
  • Celebrate our unique offerings such as Oasis


We formed this transition team to look into who we are as a congregation. After 8 months and several interactions with the congregation including discussions during coffee  and on Wednesday evenings, our open forum, and information gathered from the game board; one thing in apparent. Leadership is not the responsibility of the lead pastor alone. We need to look to our council, our lay leaders, our programming staff, and each other. We have done great work to gather a sense of who we are. This information has been compiled and can be handed off to each of our commissions. We have the information necessary to complete a rich and accurate site profile. We do know that what we need is someone engaged, visible and personable. Again, that someone isn’t just the lead pastor, that is each of us.

Inspiration at the annual meeting

The annual meeting for St. John’s is scheduled for Wednesday, January 24 at 7:30 pm.

Does this sound too “businessy”? This is your chance to be inspired by all of God’s work happening right here at St. John’s and help us determine where else we can share the love of God in 2018. We’ll hear about the transition process, get updates from our ministries, elect new leaders, and vote on our priorities for 2018 (also known as a “budget”).

There will be opportunities to ask questions about the budget in advance of the meeting: Wednesday, January 17 at 5:45 pm in the Fellowship Hall and Sunday, January 21 at 9:00 am in the Fireside Room.

Watch other communications in the month of January for a notice about the annual report. A printed and electronic version of the report will be available mid-January. This will have more information about what to expect: stories from all our ministries, the agenda and business items for the meeting, and the proposed budget including a narrative of what we can do as a congregation with the gifts we receive.

Another chance to hear the Christmas message

If you weren’t here at Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, Pastor John’s Christmas Eve sermon and Pastor Nirmala’s Christmas Day sermon are available online. You can also find all our Wednesday and Sunday sermons on our website, so check in any time you want to catch up!

Listen at

2018 Large Group Sessions

All ages are invited to learn more about the Bible and the catechism at the upcoming confirmation large group sessions. These intergenerational opportunities will be Sundays from 1:00-3:00 pm in the Fellowship Hall. We will go through the different sections of the Bible with group activities, video, and study. The schedule is as follows:

  • Sunday, January 7 – The Pentateuch, or the 1st five books of the Bible/Old Testament
  • Sunday, January 28 – The 4 Gospels
  • Sunday, February 4 – The History books of the Old Testament
  • Sunday, February 11 – The Book of Acts and Paul’s Letters
  • Sunday, March 4 – Wisdom Literature and Poetry (Psalms, Proverbs, etc/Prophets of the Old Testament
  • Sunday, March 18 – General Letters of the New Testament and the book of Revelation

Within the Old Testament studies we will also learn about the 10 commandments, 1st and 3rd articles of the Apostles’ Creed, and the people’s covenant with God. Within the New Testament studies we will cover the 2nd and 3rd articles of the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the sacraments.

Time for worship this season

As we read through Unwrapping the Names of Jesus, our Advent devotional this year, we are reminded to slow down and reflect to prepare our hearts for Christmas. Here are some of the ways you can focus on Christ this Advent and Christmas:

  • Unwrapping the Names of Jesus Advent Devotions
    Now through Dec. 24
    This book is available in the Narthex – please take one for your family! And follow along with us on Facebook as we have daily prompts and ideas.
  • Lessons & Carols
    Dec. 10 | 8:00 am & 10:15 am
    Dec. 13 | 6:30 pm (shortened version)
    This joyous service of spoken word and music will tell the Christmas story from the prophesy of the ancient prophets to the celebration at Jesus birth. More…
  • Grief Support Gathering
    Dec. 14 | 11:00 am
    Anyone who has lost a loved one is invited to celebrate your memories at a dinner and program on Thursday, December 14 at 11 am in the Fellowship Hall. A grief support counselor from Season’s Hospice will be our guest speaker. Bring a dish to share as you are able. Please RSVP by December 10 to the office (507-634-7110). Come to receive comfort and peace.
  • Children’s Christmas Program
    Dec. 17 | 10:15 am
  • Senior Community Worship
    Dec. 21 | 2:00 pm
    Senior Christmas Worship will be held December 21 at 2:00 pm. Refreshments will be served in the Fellowship Hall following the service. All are welcome.
  • 4th Sunday in Advent
    Dec. 24 | 9:00 am
    Christmas Eve happens to fall on the 4th Sunday of Advent. We will still worship Sunday morning, but at one service at 9:00 am instead of our regular 8:00 and 10:15 am times.
  • Christmas Eve
    Dec. 24 | 2:30 pm, 4:30 pm, 7:30 pm
  • Christmas Day
    Dec. 25 | 9:00 am

Service of Lessons & Carols

The music ensembles of St. John’s will present a service of Lessons and Carols Sunday, December 10 at the 8:00 am and 10:15 am services. A shortened service will also be presented the following Wednesday, December 13 at 6:30 pm. This is the twenty-fifth year the musicians of St. John’s have shared advent and Christmas music with the congregation. String players from the congregation and flutist Sarah Vinzant, from Kasson-Mantorville Schools, will join the ensembles this year.

A service highlight is four short movements from a Christmas Cantata entitled “For Us a Child is Born” for choir, bass soloist, and instruments. This piece was originally thought to be composed by J.S. Bach. Scholars now attribute it Johann Kuhnau, Bach’s predecessor at St. Thomas Church in Leipzig.

This joyous service of spoken word and music will tell the Christmas story from the prophesy of the ancient prophets to the celebration at Jesus birth. Please invite your friends to join us.

Thank you for helping with the transition activity

Jen Smith

Temple Talk by Jen Smith

This week we lit an advent candle of Hope. We are hopeful for so many things in our lives as individuals, Christians and as members of St. Johns. The transition team has spent several hours reflecting on the data we collected from over 300 individuals through our game board activity. We appreciate the time you each took to partake in helping us realize the hope we have as a congregation of St. Johns.

As in Advent, we are patient in knowing careful reflection, prayer and listening will lead us in the right direction. I am confident that the enthusiasm, criticisms and dedication of all of you will help us as the transition team define who we are and how we continue to move forward. This is evident in the words and ideas that have been shared. We continue to discuss all that has been gathered both formally and informally and cannot wait to share with you what we have found. At the very basic level what we have seen so far is that we are a congregation ready to engage in forward progress. We ask for your prayers as we translate the words, ideas and suggestions you have shared.

He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young. Isaiah 40:11

Update from Chile – November 2017

We received this letter from Karen Anderson on November 17, 2017:

Dear Friends in Christ,

Please download the November 2017 EPES Update to get a glimpse of what we have been up to the past few months. It has been a busy time!

In the Update, you will read about our annual human rights activities with the health teams – a visit to the National Stadium which was the largest center for torture during the dictatorship and today is a memorial site. With the health promoters, we also organized a gathering at EPES to discuss emerging human rights issues related to the “new immigration” in Chile. There are also updates about our various EPES projects and a page of photos from our 35th Anniversary Concert in Minneapolis in September. The update ends with photos from the church service to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation led by the Bishop of the IELCH, Rev. Oscar Sanhueza with the participation of the president of Chile, Dr. Michelle Bachelet.

Thank you for your ongoing support and accompaniment that reminds us that we are not alone in this journey to work for justice and dignity in health. 

And speaking of not being alone, as I write this, we are anxiously waiting for the arrival of a group of 20 people from Trinity Lutheran Church, Owatonna, MN (my hometown and my home church) and Christ the King, Mankato, MN. They will be visiting EPES from Saturday the 18th until Saturday the 25th. During their time here, they will meet the community health teams, worship at the Good Samaritan congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chile (IELCH), have a guided tour of the Park for Peace (an ex-center for torture and extermination under the dictatorship), travel south to visit our center and staff in Concepcion and they will participate in two community health actions. It is going to be a very busy week—they even get to be here for the presidential elections! We pray that their experience in Chile is one rich in hope, faith, friendship and love. We will also be visited by a delegation from the Western Iowa Synod that is a companion Synod to the church in Chile. Accompanying them will be Paulina Dassé from the Global Mission staff of the ELCA. It is going to be a wonderful time.

As we prepare for Advent, however, it feels like the world is in an overwhelming state of fear and despair. I find comfort and challenge in the Advent reflection of Katharine Jefferts Schori, former Bishop of the Episcopal Church:

To live as Jesus did is to embrace the world’s suffering —in as full a way as possible — and yet to endure, knowing that God is still in our midst, and in the heart of the pain. Patience in this season of waiting is not just about putting up with delay, but having deep compassion for all who wait for justice, healing, and peace. It is about solidarity, and suffering- with (which is the literal meaning of compassion). John the Baptizer is announcing the presence of compassion in the flesh — and reminding his hearers that God’s road builder toward that future is coming. Not only will a fellow sufferer stand with you, but he will help unfold that path to a healed world. The pathway isn’t finished yet, but if you’ll turn around, you will see it and become part of it.

In this season of patience, what suffering claims your heart? What do you wait for, in solidarity with another? Will you join in building that road through the wild and fearsome darkness? 

God of holy patience, help us to offer a compassionate witness against the fear and despair of our time. Amen.*

Blessings and Peace,

* From a Series of Advent Devotions available at

Participate in the Transition

After months of dialogue within our group, the Transition Team has come to a place where we can comfortably and confidently engage in productive, informed conversations with the greater congregation. The most effective way to develop a clear sense of identity, purpose, and mission, as well as build consensus and commitments for the future, is to draw from continued input that represents the whole congregation.

October activity included a well-attended Sunday forum in the Fireside Room, a “Keep, Change, Add” exercise that elicited some wonderfully creative and insightful responses, and a meeting with Bishop Delzer that was incredibly informative and served as a valuable opportunity to grow a healthy understanding and linkage to the Southeastern Minnesota Synod (Missed it? Watch or listen at

In November, we are excited to introduce an interactive game board activity that has been created to deepen and widen congregational conversations. We will be offering several opportunities for Transition Team-led participation (see below). We ask that you make a special effort to be part of one of these opportunities. We can also provide your group (commission, family, friends) the materials to self-facilitate the activity.

We thank you for taking the time to talk with us and with each other and for praying for our congregation. God continues to lead us into a very exciting and promising future!

Interactive Game Board Dates:

11/7 – 6:30 pm – Commission and Circles
11/12 – 9:10 am – Coffee Hour and Sunday Confirmation
11/15 – 4:45 pm – Wednesday Club 56
11/15 – 5:30 pm – Families with Free Pizza provided!