Mount Calvary families have been involved in the Milestone Ministry for 15 years. They have been recognizing and tending those baptismal promises faithfully. Now we are tending the ministry itself by giving it a fresh look, some tweaks AND added fun!

You will see the latest look, experience the tweaks, but the additional fun is optional. Each Milestone currently consists of a learning event for the child and a parent or two during a worship time – this will continue. It will be considered Part 1. The addition is a Part 2. Part 2 is the learning and practicing how we live our Milestone out in the world and in our own lives. Each Milestones Part 2 will take place on a Sunday evening. It will include a fun learning experience and dinner for the whole family and will be an amazing way to celebrate your child with your church family. More specifics will be coming soon, but start marking your calendars.


If you work in the business world, you are probably familiar with the term “best practices.” Many businesses use the best-practices format as part of their process-improvement planning. In other words, they look at what’s being done across the company, or even in other companies, to see what practices and procedures work best.

Here at Mount Calvary, best-practices helped to develop our “CrossPaths” Bible study series. CrossPaths uses the best of other Bible study formats to create a more effective and accessible experience for our members. The series combines the learning and study of a teaching and presentation format, with the intimacy and camaraderie of small-group interaction.

Each week, participants get a little reading homework and begin having a personal encounter with the Word so they’ll be ready to come and discuss the assignment with the other members of their small group. Well, you know what happens where two or three are gathered – there is God in the midst of them! And when people meet, and talk, and come to new understandings, wonderful, faith-filled friendships are born. After small group time, everyone gathers together for large group learning at a presentation by Pastor Dave.

When asked to reflect on her CrossPaths participation, member Heidi Westlind shared, “I was worried about adding a weekly evening commitment to our full family calendar and getting the homework done, but what I found was that being imperfect on those fronts was ok, and that the experience was still completely worthwhile. The lectures were interesting, the conversations in small group were meaningful and I really valued the opportunity and space to explore my own understanding, thoughts and opinions on a wide variety of topics.”

This year’s CrossPaths series is in three parts. It begins on Tuesday, September 26, from 7:00 – 8:30 p.m., with the first session, four weeks of “The Parables of Jesus.” The series is designed to work for anyone, whether you are a seasoned Bible student, or just a beginner. As Pastor Dave says, “This is not competitive Bible Study. This is hospitable Bible study. No one will walk away without having been engaged in a meaningful way.” Future sessions will be January 16–February 20, “Seeing Gray In a World of Black and White” and April 10-24 on the book of James.

You’re invited to one or all. Come check it out. You may find that CrossPaths is one of YOUR best practices.

Kara Paulson


Summer brought over twenty young artists to the gallery through our Summer Arts Camp. Through our art projects, we explored words and ideas that engage us in what our relationship with God means to us and to others. Seeing the children work with color, line, shape, and imagery using paint, canvas, metal, and clay in a way that is so natural to them is seeing the Holy Spirit in motion!

September begins a new theme for Mount Calvary and an opportunity for Epiphany Gallery to invite artists to share work and create space for us to see whatever we may see in their work. We begin “God’s Stories Written on the World,” with artist Sonja Hutchinson, a watercolor artist and Signature Member of the Minnesota Watercolor Society. She has been painting in watercolor since 2001 upon an invitation from an artist friend to join her class. (Right here is a good place to insert that everyone starts somewhere! If you have a fancy to create art, start anywhere – this is your invitation!)

Sonja’s story goes, “I started painting the things that I love…creating a gallery of family and friends. In the process, I discovered joy in capturing the essence of characters that form our community, the personality of places in our environment and the things that enrich our days.”

Sonja describes, “painting in watercolor is where spontaneity and intention collide.” She uses positive and negative space seamlessly showing us that there really is no negative space in art. That space is an integral part of the composition. She fills that space with movement and color creating wondrous places for the viewer to wander. We look forward to seeing the stories within Sonja’s paintings! Her work will be on exhibit in the Epiphany Gallery the first week of September. Sonja is a celebrated watercolor artist in the Twin Cities and we are honored to have her work in the gallery!

Going back to the seed that was planted earlier in this article about YOU creating art…look for a Call for Art in the October Caller! We are reaching out to our congregation to bring together “God’s Stories Written on the World,” through your art! Creators of visual art: be thinking about what you may have to contribute, details to come!


My first Caller letter asked: “Who is Mount Calvary and what makes us unique?” Back then, I proposed Mount Calvary is an enrichment center focused on Spiritual, Community, and Personal growth. My three years as Council President demonstrated Mount Calvary is this and much more.

Today I offer my last Caller letter as your Council President. Lots of water has flowed down Minnehaha Creek since you entrusted me with this mantle. On Sunday, September 24, 11:45am, at the Congregational meeting, the flag will transfer to Vice President Mike Kasprick.

Much has happened at Mount Calvary over these years. Our pastors led us through nearly 600 worship services. We baptized many children of Christ, confirmed a record number of youth, hitched a bunch, and said too many goodbyes. We called and installed Pastor Aaron after seven years of Pastor Doug’s leadership. We established a Pastoral Transition Plan as preparation for Pastor Dave’s inevitable final curtain.

Our Preschool is fully-enrolled and financially self-supporting after adopting a new extended services model.

Thanks to the generosity of our members, the Mission Forward capital campaign expanded our hug-of-hospitality with more convenient restrooms, an accommodating parking lot, tighter Preschool security, and an improved web presence. We also distributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to vital mission partners. We welcomed Kowalski’s as a neighbor and Mount Calvary cafeteria.

Church leaders made a concerted effort to be more visible and responsive. A comprehensive congregational survey confirmed members are engaged and see Mount Calvary as a vital part of their lives, also revealing several areas for improvement. After incorporating staff ideas and Council wisdom, your Council adopted a multi-year strategic plan to tackle the challenges and opportunities.

Despite these accomplishments, the Council still wrestled with my original query. The breakthrough came two months ago when we realized the question was not “Who are we?” but “Why are we?”. That discussion led us to four defining Pillars:

  • GRACE: God Seeks Us
  • INCLUSION: God Includes Everyone
  • LOVE: God Expects Us to Care and Love Everyone
  • SERVICE: God Challenges Us to Serve

I will leave it to the capable hands of my successor to share the ‘what’ and ‘how’ actions we choose to further this journey.


From my earliest remembrances, my life began taking shape around stories. I remember the stories played from the 45rpm records at bedtime in the room I shared with my sister and brother, stirring my imagination in the moments before sleep. I remember the Bible stories told in Sunday School with the aid of a flannel board and the stories we read in our school’s elementary readers. I can still picture the covers of story anthologies titled Singing Wheels, Down the River Road, Day in and Day Out, Engine Whistles, Through the Green Gate. Then, of course, there was the recreational reading about the Hardy Boys, books by Mark Twain and Robert Louis Stevenson, or later the science fiction paperbacks that friends traded around like baseball cards. At family gatherings, a too rare but favorite moment was when grandpa, aunts and great-aunts, occasionally even mom and dad told stories about our family and their fond remembrances of relatives and events in Norway or of growing up.

Stories open up for us a world of imagination, knowledge, perspective and relationship. Stories invite us in and sometimes become a part of us, become a part of informing us, entertaining us, and shaping us. And the older I get, the more I am aware of the story that is us. The story that is uniquely me and the stories unique to others I meet. One of the most amazing, blessed and privileged things I get to do as pastor is hear people tell me their stories. Hearing couples about to be married telling how their two stories are becoming one; hearing families dealing with death reminisce with me about the one they have lost and loved; hearing people at a crossroads in life sharing how they got there and the choices they see ahead of them; hearing young people tell me of their passions, questions and insights.

Throughout this worship year, in a variety of ways, we are focusing in on the theme “God’s Story Written on the World.” It is an amazing, compelling, life-affirming and life-changing story written on the events in people’s lives, the pages of Scripture, illustrated on the canvas of creation and through images like the Cross and empty tomb. For us, the heart and soul of it is the story of Jesus. We love to tell that story and we love to learn it and learn from it. We love it when people share their stories of faith and life events and invite us in to the miracle that is unfolding in and around them.

So, here are the seasonal themes: Fall: We Love to Tell the Story, Advent and Christmas: Once Upon a Manger, Epiphany: Seeing Jesus in a World of Black and White (book study on Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White by Adam Hamilton, the author of our book study last January Half Truths), Lent: Life Is Not A Fairy Tale ,Easter: Turning the Page, and Summer: The Story that Is You.

Expect to hear the stories of Scripture and faith. Expect to hear about our Lutheran story and our Mount Calvary story. Expect opportunities to share your story or hear someone tell theirs. Expect that the story God has written and is writing on the world will guide and inspire you. And know that it matters deeply that you know and share the story God is writing on, with and through you. It’s why we’re here!