The Mount Calvary Foundation Belongs to You

Greetings from your Board of Trustees. From time to time, I remind us all that the Foundation is owned by the entire adult congregation. The Board represents you as we strive to maintain proper stewardship of your assets. We also follow the guidelines established over twenty years ago, that we split our grants among three groups: Local Support of MCLC, Regional Assistance to non-profits in our community, and International Support to projects where our assistance can make a definite difference.

In our last meeting, we voted to provide a $5000 grant toward the synod’s support of Gethsemane Lutheran Church in north Minneapolis. They have recently received a warning that their kitchen must be brought up to code by August. This will require a major overhaul. The kitchen enables the church to provide community meals, a major outreach; and to provide food to the in-house preschool and day-care center. This is a major revenue source for the church. MCLC members are helping plan and make the necessary alterations to the kitchen, which will total about $30,000. Pastor Dave is personally involved in making this a successful venture for the inner city.

On the other side of things, we adopted a proposal from RBC Wealth Management to alter our relationship as we manage our asset base of now over $600,000. “FLUID strategies” uses new technology and data analytics to better stay on top of the vagaries of the market and be more reactive to keeping their actions in line with our investment strategies and tolerance for risk. We expect a slight improvement in the return on our investments, but not a major change in how we manage our growth. David Distad and I are very encouraged to move in this direction. See either one of us if you have questions.

We continue to invite interested “owners” to consider joining the board. The time commitment is quite small, about ten meetings a year that last from 7:30 to 8:30am. We meet the second Tuesday of most months. See any trustee if you are interested.

The Call from His House

It seems like every summer I write about local homeless issues. I looked back on some of my previous Caller articles about families sleeping in their cars at the His House Thrift Store, at churches, and other parking lots in this community. I’ve written about driving the homeless to a shelter only to be turned away because the shelters are full. We have bought tents so families can “live” in the campground indefinitely. And His House created an emergency hotel fund that every year is used beyond the balance.

This article is not about a success story…because I don’t have one. I only have my experience of meeting people so desperate that they are standing at the local grocery store asking for help.
I’m not sure this congregation knows that the His House team has taken this difficult challenge on: to address the needs of a person that feels there is no other solution but to hold a sign at the corner. We receive phone calls, texts, and emails from community members letting us know at what intersection they see someone with a sign asking for help.

This work is the most difficult, heart wrenching, and wonderful work we are called to do. Someone is so desperate, so broken and tired that they see no other option but to stand at an intersection. We can meet this person and offer hope.

I don’t have an answer or idea about solving these issues…that’s for people smarter than me. This article is just about a “call.” The His House call that many in this church and community receive. The call to lift up the broken and tired and share our blessings with others who are desperate and tired.

It’s All About the Why

“It’s not what you do, it’s why you do it that matters.”

This is the message of a TED talk Council member Steve Benson shared at our May meeting. In the video, Simon Sinek observed how companies that market an aspiration or outcome are more successful than those promoting a product. (

I was wishing Mr. Sinek’s video had preceded this recent conversation with a friend in Atlanta:

ME: Starting around July 1st, Mount Calvary is finally upgrading the parking lot and restrooms. Parishioners will have to put up with construction dust and alternate facilities until it’s done in 6-8 weeks. But at least there are no porta-potties.

HE: Seriously?

ME: You betcha. We have amazingly generous members, a talented finance committee, and a Leadership team who knows how to work the City permit process.

HE: I know Jesus was born in a stable, but don’t you think bathrooms and a car park is taking the stall concept a bit too far?

ME: (long pause). So how about them Twins?

HE: Don’t you mean Braves?

Not one of my better exchanges. Perhaps I would have been more successful explaining why these Mission Forward investments are so important.

Mount Calvary is an open and welcoming congregation. That message of accommodation demands a place for everyone, including within our parking lot. We want to welcome congregants to a church, not a bank. We wish to uplift the spirit without a Sunday demolition derby. We strive to strengthen our Kowalski/Oppidan partnership with simplified lot sharing. We long to be a better neighbor offering improved parking facilities to Excelsior visitors. We seek to enrich our invitation to community groups enjoying our building.

Likewise, we want everyone that enters our facility to feel comfortable and safe. It is bad enough that regulars must trek to the restroom. Consider the quest required of infrequent visitors. Also, by eliminating traffic through the preschool, we enable improved security for our kids.

As with all construction projects, July and August will be a bit challenging. Please accept our apologies if your favorite parking space is a crater or your restroom journey is a bit elongated. We appreciate your patience as we work to extend Mount Calvary’s warm embrace.

Questions? Write me at

Doug Affinito,
Council President

Vacation Bible School (VBS) Do good. Seek peace. Go after it!

It’s summer! Hurray! No more homework! No more books! No more teachers’ dirty looks! Kids can’t wait for school to get out. The sun is warm, the sky is blue, and the ice cream is cold. And one of the best parts of summer? VBS at Mount Calvary!

VBS is a program for children ages 3 through the 5th grade to learn about Jesus, the Bible, being Lutheran, and what it means to be a good citizen of the world, in a fun, active environment. This year’s VBS theme, “Hero Central: Discover Your Strength in God” promoted the idea that within each one of us is the ability to be God’s super heroes.

This week, I had the opportunity to observe a session of group worship, and to interview the Youth Director, two of the counselors, and two campers. It was so great to see how the older counselors interacted with the young campers. I mean, who is cooler than a high school kid to an elementary student?

Charlie Dutton is a counselor now, but he remembers how he loved the older counselors when he was a camper, and it’s obvious the kids love him. His buddy, Jack, was with him when we talked, and Charlie was helping Jack perfect his superhero jumping skills. The kids made superhero capes in art class and Charlie said Jack’s superhero cape said “Jumping Jack” on the back. As Andrea F-G says, “Faith is built through trusted relationships. When they can connect with their people, God’s story makes sense. Kids are living out this story.”

Charlie Groton also grew up attending VBS as a camper. He went on to become a counselor, and now leads the camp’s outdoor recreation. The kids love the outdoor games, especially tag – (and this is not your grandma’s “tag”). They play Blob Tag, Freeze Tag, and – everyone’s favorite – Fastest Tag in the West.

Playing outside, crafting, and singing together is great for making friends. Like Charlie D says, “Everybody makes friends at VBS”. Campers Lillian J. and Ruby told me they had made many friends already, and it was only Tuesday! I asked them their favorite part of VBS, and they said “Everything!” They definitely had a favorite song though – “I Want My Life to Make a Difference” which is a great song to go along with the Bible verse of the week – “Do good. Seek peace. Go for it!” These are wise words for a superhero, and it’s good to know these superheroes are on the job. After all, their little hands are safeguarding our future.

Save the date for VBS next year: June 18-21, 2018!

Families Moving Forward is Back

We are excited to continue hosting for our second year of the Families Moving Forward Program! Families Moving Forward (FMF) is a church-led program for hosting homeless families in our area. It involves around 70 churches, with each church hosting 4 families for two weeks during the year.

In March we had life-changing experiences with our volunteers and families, and ALL of the families moved into their own stable housing within a month after our hosting week! We are pleased to announce that Mount Calvary will be hosting our second group of families from August 6-13, 2017!

You can learn more about FMF on our church website, by picking up an information sheet at the Welcome Center, or by contacting Chris Anderson.

We are currently looking for individuals, families, and groups to help with various needs for this program. There are many ways you can become involved, including the following teams: Leadership/Planning Team, Activities Team, Food Team, Setup Team, and Supplies Team.

If you are interested in one or more of these teams, or just in finding out more about Families Moving Forward, please contact Chris Anderson at 952-474-8893.

We will be hosting an information session in July for anyone interested—you can sign up for this session with Chris.