March 25, 2020 - Covid19 Virus Update
“I lift up my eyes to the hills — from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” –Psalm 121
Dear Members of our Mount Olivet Family,
Today I am writing to share with you the news that we will continue to suspend in-person worship and all Mount Olivet-sponsored activities through the month of April. We have been counselled by the top health officials and civic leaders in the state and country that April is likely to see an increase over March in terms of the numbers of those affected by COVID-19 in Minnesota. The absolute most important thing we can do to slow the spread of this disease and thereby give those affected the best chance of receiving excellent care is to avoid gathering in groups.
Please know that I did not come to this decision quickly, as there is no single week more important to the Mount Olivet family and Christians around the world than Holy Week and the services that lead to our Easter celebration. And yet in making this decision, we continue to follow Jesus’ command to love our neighbors as ourselves by doing everything we can to isolate the spread of this virus.
Though we cannot gather together in person, we will continue providing opportunities to worship online. You can find the most recent Sunday morning service on the homepage of mtolivet.org, and you will find all the Sunday services, along with other resources we have been preparing during this time of crisis, by clicking on the box labeled “Together @ Mount Olivet.”
It will be such a different Holy Week and Easter celebration this year! But it will still be a celebration of our God’s tremendous love for us and all the world – love shown by God’s complete immersion into our human condition, even to the point of death, in Jesus’ crucifixion, and love shown by God’s victory over death, disease, and all hardship through Jesus’ resurrection. We have, perhaps, never needed to hear this message of solidarity, hope, and triumph more than now. For this reason, I am working with my pastoral colleagues and our music and worship staff to prepare services that will be faithful, meaningful, and hope-filled. I look forward to worshiping with you during this important time!
Both to protect our staff and limit the spread of the disease, Mount Olivet staff are working from home and the building is operating on limited hours to complete essential in-person tasks. If you need to be in touch with a staff person, you can call 612.926.7651 to leave a message, and the appropriate staff member will respond as soon as possible. If you need to speak with a pastor regarding a pastoral emergency, you can call the pastor-on-call line at 612.916.9016.
In closing, I want to make two requests. First, please join me at noontime each day going forward in praying for our church, community, country, and world. Among those needing our prayer are those who are sick, those caring for them, those who are working to slow the spread of the disease, those who are put in harm’s way to help others, those whose livelihoods are threatened by this pandemic, and those charged with making the difficult but necessary decisions to see us through this crisis. Praying together makes a difference!
Second, as you are able, please remember to continue sharing your blessings with the church by fulfilling your pledges and contributing your offering. You can click here to do this online or by mailing your offering to the church. I know this is a difficult time for many, and so I do not make this request lightly. We are currently taking into consideration every possible cost-savings measure while also making sure that all essential tasks of the church continue to be completed with care and diligence, and your faithful support makes it easier to do so.
Having asked for your prayers and support, please know that I am regularly praying for you, for the well-being and health of your family and for our larger community and world. We will get through this, and we will get through it together, as we are bound together by faith in the Risen Christ, the one whom even death could not defeat!
Yours in Christ,
March 16, 2020 - Covid19 Virus Update
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“And remember, I am with you, even to the close of the age!” Matthew 28:20
Dear Mount Olivet Family and Friends,
I’m writing a day after we suspended in-person worship and all other Mount Olivet-sponsored activities to do our part in combating the spread of the coronavirus. On one level, this kind of health crisis reminds us of our vulnerability and even mortality, as this new virus has dramatically altered not just our church life but much of the routines and expectations of so many in our community, nation, and across the globe. On another level, however, this crisis has also reminded us of our shared humanity and of our resilience. People are pitching in. We have altered, but not abandoned, our routines. We’re making the most of the technology of our day to gather and support each other, even finding a way to practice social distancing without succumbing to spiritual distancing by sharing our Sunday worship online. All of these efforts testify to the strength of our community and our commitment to weather the challenges and crises of the day together. We will get through this, and we will be even stronger on the other side!
I am writing you with a few updates and an invitation. First, the invitation: In addition to providing a regular Sunday worship experience online, the pastors and staff at Mount Olivet are working to put together resources (emails, devotions, videos, etc.) to support you, our beloved Mount Olivet community, to strengthen our faith and to offer hope, guidance, and encouragement during this challenging time. I hope to send those out roughly three times a week. If you would like to receive these resources, please click this link to subscribe. (If you currently subscribe to our online devotions or receive Mount Olivet’s “This Week @ Mount Olivet” Friday email, you are already on the list.) Please note: When we have major updates – about whether we can hold in-person worship or significant changes in building hours at the church, etc. – we will continue to send those to our entire congregational email list; this invitation is for these additional resources and minor updates only.
Second, a few updates from Church and our affiliated ministries:
- In addition to suspending worship through at least March 31, we are also postponing all Mount Olivet-sponsored activities. A decision about Holy Week and Easter will be made later this month.
- Mount Olivet Preschool has closed as of today and the Mount Olivet School of Music is offering classes on-line only starting Wednesday.
- Mount Olivet Home/Careview Home is not admitting visitors except in end-of-life cases, effective this past Friday. The Mount Olivet Day Services Adult program will be suspended as of Wednesday; the childcare program will continue to be open, with child care providers having their temperature taken to assess health before every shift.
- Mount Olivet Rolling Acres and Mount Olivet Conference and Retreat Center are also implementing comprehensive plans to safe guard their clients and staff while continuing to be places of help, hope, and Christian hospitality.
I am very proud of our staff at Church and the leaders of our affiliates for their diligent and professional responses to this crisis. We will get through this!
Finally, I am mindful of both Jesus’ promise to his disciples to be with them always, as well as the context in which he made it. The scene St. Matthew describes is after Jesus’ resurrection, when he has visited with his disciples and is about to ascend to heaven. Which means that their initial joy at seeing their risen Lord has given way to tremendous fear about what their lives will be like after he leaves. Indeed, the very thought of his departure is nearly debilitating. In just that context, Jesus first offers what we often call “the great commission” – to share the good news in word and deed with all the world – and then makes what I like to call “the great promise” – that Jesus will be with them – and us! – at all times and in all circumstance to the very close of the age. That promise continues to be true and is something we may count on now more than ever as we face our own fears and concerns. We will get through this! Because Jesus the Christ, the one that even death could not deter from his mission of love, is with us, by our side, and for us… to the very close of the age!
Yours in good faith and Christian hope,
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Program Closure Update
The Mount Olivet Preschool will be temporarily closed beginning Monday, March 16th – Friday, March 27th, 2020. More information about the preschool schedule after spring break (March 30th – April 3rd) will be shared as it is available. Please contact Director Linda Healy with questions at email@example.com or 612.767.2216
March 13, 2020 - Covid19 Virus Update
“I lift up my eyes to the hills — from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” – Psalm 121
Dear Members of our Mount Olivet Family,
At 1pm this afternoon, Governor Tim Walz declared a “peace-time state of emergency” across Minnesota and urged all organizations – including faith communities – to suspend all gatherings of more than 250 people and to avoid gatherings of even smaller groups that include persons at higher risk. These measures are intended to slow the spread of COVID 19.
In response to the Governor’s directive, we will suspend in-person worship at both of our Mount Olivet campuses this Sunday and for the remainder of March out of a deep concern to care for and protect our neighbor. Similarly, we will postpone both our Annual Meeting and spring food drive. We anticipate making and communicating a decision about our Holy Week and Easter services by the end of the month.
On Sunday morning, we will make available a video of our worship service at mtolivet.org. I will be preaching on “Jesus the Savior,” based on the story of the raising of Lazarus. You will be able to access that video anytime Sunday morning and beyond. This service will also be broadcast on the radio at 11am on WDGY 740 AM.
I had looked forward to gathering with you to read Scripture, sing some beloved hymns, and pray together. While we may not be gathering physically, we will be joined in the Spirit of Christ and unified in our commitment to do all that we can to slow the spread of this virus and, in this way, obey our Lord’s command to love our neighbor.
We will be in touch regularly with any updates. In the meantime, know that you are in my prayers – prayers of gratitude for your faithfulness, prayers for health and safety for you and your loved ones and our larger community, prayers for the protection of all those responding on the front lines of this illness, and prayers for wisdom and courage for our community and civic leaders. I offer all these prayers in the confidence and faith that is ours through Jesus the Christ, our Savior, healer, and Lord.
Yours in Christ,
March 12, 2020 - Covid19 Virus Update
Dear Mount Olivet Community,
We are a community of hope, rooted in God’s promise through Christ to love and care for us and all the world. Anchored by that hope, I am writing because I know that many of you may have questions and concerns related to the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID 19) and our response. We are carefully monitoring updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Minnesota Department of Health. Further, we are meeting regularly with a team of specialists to be as prepared as possible to serve our congregation, be of assistance to our community, and bear witness to the hope that is ours in Christ.
This Sunday we plan to hold worship at both campuses, our Annual Congregational meeting, and the food drive as scheduled. To be faithful to our responsibility to limit the spread of this virus, we are taking the following steps related to our worship:
- We will not hold communion before or after worship.
- We will have soloists provide the anthems rather than the choirs.
- Nursery, Sunday School, and Choir Sunday School will not be offered.
- Rather than pass offering plates, please consider making an online gift or place your offering in one of the plates at the back of the Sanctuary as you enter or exit.
- Instead of the usual receiving line after service, pastors and greeters will greet you with encouraging smiles rather than handshakes and hugs.
To make our worship space as safe as possible, we are providing hand sanitizer in multiple locations, cleaning regularly, and encouraging all of us to practice the best hygiene practices (washing hands for at least 20 seconds and covering coughs and sneezes).
If you do not feel well or display any of the symptoms associated with COVID 19, please stay home. Keep in mind that Mount Olivet’s Sunday service in Minneapolis is broadcast live at 11am on WDGY 740 AM and we are now livestreaming all of our Minneapolis services (9, 10, 11am and 12noon).
We recognize that events are moving quickly and we are prepared to take all measures necessary to do our part in limiting the spread of the disease. As things change, we will continue to be in touch with our members via email and on our website.
As of today, March 12, 2020, we have suspended the following activities at both campuses through the end of March:
- Choir Rehearsals
- Sunday School and Choir Sunday School
- Midweek Lenten services (both 11:00 a.m. service and 7:00 p.m. Truth Talks),
- Pastoral hospital and home visits, to be continued through phone calls, texts, and notes
- All other Mount Olivet-sponsored activities.
For now, the Mount Olivet Preschool and Mount Olivet School of Music will remain open until further notice. We will continue to be in communication regarding activities.
A final word: In 1527, Martin Luther addressed anxious Germans who were themselves facing the prospect of an epidemic. His counsel to his parishioners and compatriots is still applicable. Above all else, he wrote, the Christian’s duty is to care for one’s neighbor. Taking care of the neighbor, according to Luther, includes caring for the most vulnerable, following the best medical advice available, and avoiding unnecessary risks. As we face our own challenges five centuries later, we may take heart in his confidence that God is living and active, working always for the good of God’s people, and equipping us to care for and love one another as Christ has loved us. We are, ultimately, a people of hope, and so I encourage you to pray with confidence for our congregation, for health professionals and first responders, for our civic leaders, and for the most vulnerable among us, that together we may weather the challenges in front of us with equal measures of courage and compassion.
Yours in the peace of Christ,
Dear Mount Olivet Members and Friends,
The Congregation Council of the Edina Community Lutheran Church (ECLC) has recently voted to recommend Pastor Anna Helgen as their new Co-Pastor. Pending a successful congregational vote on October 6, Pastor Helgen will conclude her service at Mount Olivet on Reformation Sunday, October 27, and transition to her new role at ECLC soon after. While we will miss Pastor Helgen’s creative and joyful presence among us, we are excited both for her with this opportunity and for Edina Community Lutheran Church as they will be blessed by her leadership.
Pastor Helgen came to Mount Olivet in 2017 and has played an important part in our ministry as the pastoral advisor to our Children and Family Ministry team. She has also overseen our Young Adult outreach, including coordinating events for Young Marrieds.
On October 13, Pastor Helgen will be at the West Campus to say farewell in-between services and will do the same at the Minneapolis Campus on October 27. In the meantime, we offer our prayers for Pastor Helgen and her family as they look forward to this exciting new chapter at Edina Community Lutheran Church.
Pastor David J. Lose
Pastor Rebecca Wold Freeman
August 6, 2019
Dear Mount Olivet Members and Friends,
At a special meeting this evening, the Congregation Council received the Call Committee’s unanimous recommendation to call the Reverend Rebecca Wold Freeman to serve as an Associate Pastor at Mount Olivet. The Council also set the date for a special congregational meeting to vote on this recommendation: Sunday, August 25, 2019, at the Minneapolis Campus at 12noon.
Pastor Freeman brings 12 years of pastoral experience to Mount Olivet, having served at St. John American Lutheran Church in Sioux Falls, SD (2007-2010), Spirit of Joy Lutheran Church in Sioux Falls, SD (2011-2014), and Bethel Lutheran Church in Northfield, MN, since 2014. She is a graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College and Luther Seminary. Pending a successful congregational vote, Pastor Freeman will serve as Pastoral Advisor to the West Campus with Pastor Dixon, and she will share responsibilities for our disability ministries programs with Pastor Hammersten. She will start her role at Mount Olivet on or about September 8.
Pastor Freeman eagerly shares that she loves God and loves people. As a Pastor, she enjoys connecting with people of all generations, walking with people on their journey of life, and helping them understand how deeply they are loved. She is married to Sedge and is a mother to two beloved children: a son, Stellan (age 10), and a daughter, Liv (age 7). Pastor Freeman was a three-sport college athlete at Gustavus and continues to love sports. She reports that her favorite things to do include spending time with family and enjoying a good cup of coffee.
Sunday, August 25, 2019 will be an important day for Mount Olivet, and so I encourage you and all members to come to our special congregational meeting at the Minneapolis Campus at 12noon on that day to vote on the Call Committee’s recommendation.
With joy and thanksgiving,
David J. Lose