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


I wanted to write on the idea of “Selah” today, but the topic felt familiar so I checked back in my files and found a previous “Selah” message dated April 2013. Well, to keep my message fresh, yet keep my intentions for today’s message intact, I added “Part 2” to spice things up!

Selah is a word found in some of the Psalms of the Old Testament. I first noticed it in one of my favorites, Psalm 46. There have been many debates and studies about what the word means, but the general consensus is that the word is not directly translatable and doesn’t have a clear definition. But one generally accepted idea is that the word indicates a pause in the verse, a time of instruction possibly saying, hear this. The interpretation of the word that I like best came from a musician friend of mine; to pause and consider….

So I write to you today to join me in a Fit Spirit Exercise of Selah. I’m going to take some time this summer to pause and consider some changes in my ministry work. After 10 years of providing spiritual care to cops, firefighters and medics throughout Minnesota, I’ve decided to bring my work closer to home. I’m going to narrow my scope of services and start focusing on agencies within Hennepin County. That also includes more direct care work in the Excelsior area.

Part of the ministry I’m going to spend some time considering is the idea of this spiritual fitness exercise. I currently use a pretty random approach to writing these exercises. I’ve given a lot of consideration to creating a more systematic approach to spiritual exercise, and with the help of one of my pastoral mentors, I think I’ve got a good plan. But I want to work out the kinks over the summer. So, I’m going to take the next couple months off from my random Fit Spirit writing, and be back in the fall. Enjoy your summer and don’t forget to Selah!

Take Care,­­
Pastor Dan Carlson


If you sing the praises of an unsung hero, is that hero still unsung? Semantics aside, this month I would like to share an ode to Mount Calvary’s amazing staff.

Our church has approximately 4,000 energetic and involved members. Behind the scenes a paid staff, hovering around 25 ordained and lay individuals, work tirelessly to meet the daily needs and expectations of our diverse congregation and world community. That’s like running a 4000-passenger cruise ship with a crew of 25.

To pull this off requires an extraordinary level of skill, experience, dedication, and commitment to our Christian mission; attributes that apply to our entire Mount Calvary team. Where else can you find a group of nationally recognized experts with a long aggregate tenure providing leading edge programs that get results?

The fruits of their labors surround us every time we walk through Mount Calvary’s doors. We are greeted by a warm, inviting worship space reconfigured daily to service the ever-changing needs of our members and the surrounding community. Parishioners crowd the pews to participate in music-filled worship services worth experiencing. The halls ring with the sound of youth seeking Mount Calvary as a peer destination. People of all ages congregate to learn, socialize, and feel God. Our neighbors down the block and on the other side of the world feel the love. We seek Mount Calvary as a place of worship as well as a home for preschool students, aspiring musicians, and the hungry across the world. We freely give of our time, talent, and treasure because we have confidence those resources will be effectively managed and expended.

I take keen satisfaction in watching masters at work; everything seems so effortless and often invisible. For the performer, this is usually a mark of pride. The risk is that the required time, effort, and skill go unrecognized.

So, I would encourage you to reach out to Mount Calvary’s backstage crew and let them know you appreciate what they do for us. Help them understand how their efforts impact you and your family. Sing their praises. But don’t go overboard. These are, after all, Minnesota Lutherans. We don’t want to embarrass them.

If you prefer, send your thoughts to I will be sure to pass them on.

Doug Affinito,
Council President

New Season of Litchicks

As one season comes to an end, another begins. So it is with LitChicks. We are pleased to announce our selections for our 2017-2018 season. Some of these books have a wait list at the library, so make your requests soon!

July 13, 2017
Still Life With Breadcrumbs by Anna Quindlen (a love story, romantic comedy of manners)

September 14, 2017
Faithful by Alice Hoffman (a young woman’s struggle to find her way after a tragic accident)

November 9, 2017
Homegoing by Yaa Gyaasi (follows the lives of 2 Ghanaian half sisters and their descendants, from slavery to contemporary America)

January 11, 2018
The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick (widower embarks on life-changing adventure)

March 8, 2018
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (2 sisters in WWII France)

May 10, 2018
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult (courtroom drama explores race and prejudice)

LitChicks is a fun and easy book club for women. We meet every other month on the second Thursday from 7:00-8:30pm in the Fireside Room. Anyone is welcome to come to any meeting, and no commitment is needed—just come when you can. More information is under our listing in the Small Groups section of the Mount Calvary website.
Men’s Ministry Stadium Tour!