I expect that by now you’ve been introduced to our new three-year capital campaign, titled “all in.” It’s such a short and simple campaign name, yet it offers more than just one message.

Most people would likely say “all in” refers to being fully committed, and that was clearly one of the intended meanings when this theme was selected. In this case, the key commitments we’re referring to are to continuing the strong support of our benevolence activities, and to making the necessary ongoing updates to our church facilities.

About a decade ago, the US economic pullback forced Mount Calvary to severely reduce its benevolence activities. Over the past two campaigns, Mission Ready and Mission Forward, we have been able to restore our benevolence activity to an appropriate level, and now we are affirming our commitment to continuing this level of spending because it is such an integral part of who we are and what we do. Similarly, we are making a commitment to perform the necessary ongoing upgrades to our building and facilities to ensure we can continue to offer the high caliber of programming and events expected by our congregation.

All Inclusion
Reflecting further on our campaign theme, “all in” also refers to inclusion. This is truly a campaign for all of us! There is no gift too small (or too large!), and no donor too young (or too old!). We would be thrilled to see every member of our congregation participate in this campaign, no matter the amount of the gift. This is our primary source of funds for the many programs we support in our community and beyond, as well as the sole source for the enhancements that are planned for our gathering spaces. We hope everyone feels inspired to join the campaign and support these efforts!

Once you’ve decided you are all in, we offer several ways to get your donation all in. Donations can be mailed, brought to any church service, or you can conveniently make your gift online at our new website. Or if you prefer, you can always brighten Pastor Brenda’s day by making a visit to deliver your donation to her in person.

Thanks in advance to all!


After reading story after story in our scriptures, are you convinced yet that our God is a God of surprises? Are you convinced yet that every single life issuing from the hands of God is a life filled with purpose? A teenage girl becomes pregnant with the world’s savior; poor fishermen and wealthy tax collectors drop everything to follow a wandering rabbi; a son disgraces and abandons family only to return to a royal welcome; and a man named Peter goes from being a pebble in Jesus’ shoe to being the Rock on which Jesus built His church. If that wasn’t enough, the blind purchase reading lamps, the deaf put on iPods, and the lame enter decathlons; a dangerous enemy becomes a great evangelist, and Jesus makes it possible for Jairus’ daughter and Lazarus to attend their own funerals. Do caterpillars know they’re going to be butterflies, or does God surprise them too? What do you think?

I pray that as you enter this season of Easter, you have eyes wide open for God’s grand surprises. New life, resurrection, renewal and rebirth! Transformation, faith formation and reformation! Child of God, you are not yet what God is fashioning you to be. This side of death, every one of us is a baptismal work in progress and a workshop of the Holy Spirit. If anything, I hope our worship together this Lent has lifted your antennae to discern how Jesus is calling and shaping you. Caterpillar Christians are always willing to go out on a limb, turn over a new leaf, become larvas not fightas, and draw inspiration from the butterflies we have known. We are people of pupas!

I am convinced that our God is a God of surprises. You are one of them. Live like it. Celebrate it in others. Value it in your children, spouses and loved ones. Look for it, listen for it, give thanks for it. When God calls or Jesus unfolds a new sense of purpose for you (Surprise!), don’t tell Him you were hoping to finish your life as a caterpillar. Easter, the most amazing and abundant surprise of all, is the signature the Creator scrawled across the universe. It is written on your heart; it is written above the Cross; it is written wherever two or more are gathered in Jesus’ name. Amen and amen!


By all accounts, India is a failure. It has a population approaching 1.4 billion, five times the United States. Everyone is born into a ‘caste’ that defines their life and prospects. There are 23 officially recognized languages while 13% speak English as a second language. The population is 80% Hindu and 15% Muslim, with 6% Christian, Buddhist, Jain and Sikh. For nearly 160 years, India was run by a foreign corporation (1612-1858) followed by 89 years of British colonial rule (1858-1947). Most marriages are arranged, with astrological sign as the primary pairing criteria. Dead are cremated on public pyres with remains cast into the river where many bathe. Yet India thrives, living in relative peace and harmony. How is this possible?

All In

All in. I love the name for our upcoming three-year capital investment appeal! It makes me think of disciples leaving their nets to follow Jesus, signifying they were “all in,” holding nothing back. It makes me think of what happens when all of our folks unite around a common mission or effort and we can say that we are “all in.” Simple. Decisive. Bold. Depending on how you use it, “all in” signifies hospitality, community, and/or commitment. I say “all of the above”!

Six years ago, we began a series of capital appeals to raise funds for the improvement and upgrades of our facility while also raising funds for outreach. Six years ago, the building focus was on the sanctuary and its technology, which after 20 years had become dated and worn. It was a huge step that made the space more attractive and functional, and embraced the advances made in sound, lights and video. Three years ago, we set out to expand our hospitality by replacing and improving access to our parking and create new restrooms just off the atrium. The new layout allowed us to create a lock-down facility for our preschool. You spoke, and we listened, upgrading our website and database technologies with increased content and capacities, as well as ease of navigation. All of these projects required funding far beyond that which would have been available from the operations and program budget. In addition, dating back almost 30 years now, Mount Calvary has always designated a portion of capital appeals to ministries outside of our congregation. In the last six years, we have been able to partner in projects to build a teaching hospital in Nigeria, bring clean water to thousands in Haiti, support Public Safety Ministry’s outreach to our police community, and help Luther Park camp build the first stage of a long-desired retreat center for adults and families.

These next three years we will be focusing on our larger group gathering spaces, especially the atrium, to improve them functionally, acoustically, and visually. We will continue addressing the technology upgrades needed and do some refreshing of other spaces around the building. Our 50,000 square foot building is key to our grace-filled worship, programming, community service and inclusive hospitality. On a typical week, easily 4000 people come through our doors. Many are not part of our faith community, but count on us for a place to gather, learn, and serve. Our plan is to focus on a different portion of the building every three years to keep it functional, welcoming and fresh. We will also continue to designate and invest one-third of all funds raised towards benevolence outside our walls. For this appeal, rather than special projects, we are focusing the funds on our benevolence partners including Lutheran Social Services, Rezek House, Many Hands Many Meals, the Minneapolis Synod, and Gethsemane in the Camden neighborhood. While we are investing in our facility, we also believe our calling is to invest in ministries outside of our congregation locally and globally. It’s who we are.

In the next weeks and over the next three years, our goal is to have us all in. You are invited to make a pledge, a gift, or both. We only ask that you consider prayerfully and faithfully what you are capable and willing to do and let us know. It has been a great source of satisfaction to see and hear how Mount Calvary and community folks have made use of and responded to our last six years of improvements. I expect to hear more of the same for what we are investing in next and seeing the fruit of being all in.

Radical Hospitality

Up until about a year ago, I can honestly say I had never heard the following two words used together: radical, and hospitality. Yet, when they were combined in our strategic plan it made absolute sense! Our fourth strategic initiative, focused on inclusion, states “We seek to develop radical hospitality.”

Taking a quick look at how these words are commonly defined, it seems almost too obvious that they belong together;

Radical: very different from the usual or traditional.

Hospitality: offering a generous and friendly welcome.

Mount Calvary has a history of pursuing new paths and setting new standards, so why not with hospitality and inclusion too? Why should we simply settle for the same old way things have always been done? We choose to do it differently and better!

And so, as there are families in our local community who have nowhere to go, and need a temporary home to help them stabilize and get back on their feet, we will offer an extraordinary and generous welcome. This is why we participate in Families Moving Forward (FMF).
Does it make a difference? Absolutely! All of the families we hosted last year were able to move into their own housing within a month of our hosting week. This is a great experience for all those who are involved … the families we host, and the Mount Calvary volunteers. It inspires hope and smiles, and lives are changed.

Mount Calvary is one of about 80 congregations participating in the Families Moving Forward program. During the day, participating families work with FMF staff to address their specific needs, from seeking employment to locating housing, so they can regain stability in their lives. In the evening, the families return to the church where they find a warm meal and a welcoming place to sleep.

Our next hosting week is scheduled for March 18-25, and we can definitely use your help! Please contact Chris Anderson with any questions or to volunteer. You can reach Chris at or 952-474-8893.