A New Comfort Zone

Al grew up in the Catholic faith. After their marriage 31 years ago, he and Jenny decided on a Lutheran church in St. Louis Park as the first church home for their family.

That family now includes eight children: Doug (serving in the Army National Guard and living in Howard Lake), Jessica (living in Riverton, Wyoming), Zachary (living in Buffalo), Ben (serving in the Air Force in Japan and married to Sachi), Vinnie (serving in the Air Force in Japan), Ally (married to Jonathon Halverson and living in Baxter, MN), Willie (living at home and planning to enter the Air Force sometime soon), and Kenny (a sophomore at BHS). They have a grandson, Jacob, a granddaughter, Jovie, and three more grandchildren expected this Spring.

Pastor Ed Blair was a big part of the welcoming feeling when we visited Zion, and he remembered us and all of the children’s names. We have heard this same sentiment from several members of Zion since. Zion had a small church feel even though it is quite large. Zion has been a very caring family to us and I’ve seen others be embraced by this church also.

They joined Zion in 1989 and Al soon got involved as a member of the Senior Choir and the softball team. Later, he joined Jenny in volunteering as a Sunday School teacher.

Being Sunday School teachers has been a very rewarding experience. It has put me in a position to interact with families I may not have known otherwise. Working with such wonderful people such as Holly, Roxie, Tammy, and Randy, has inspired me to be a better person in many ways.

While volunteering in Sunday School, Al heard Tammy talk about a time in high school when she was approached to be on the speech team.

She was not comfortable in front of people, but took a leap of faith that she could do it. Sometimes we have to expand our boundaries to get the most out of life. Suzie and Pam had been trying to get me to join First Sunday for a while, but I didn’t want to be in front of the church, exposed. I had little confidence and didn’t want to put myself in that kind of uncomfortable situation. I could relate to Tammy’s story.

Al decided to step out of his comfort zone and try singing with the First Sunday group in 2009.

Many people relate to the contemporary music style and they can find the music we play on several Christian radio stations in our area. As many believe that our time on Sunday is to be festive, we try to create an upbeat worshiping atmosphere. Our group has grown closer over these past years and our families will get together periodically just to have a good time.

The worship team also serves together in other ways at Zion, including serving Wednesday Night Suppers and performing in the Variety Show fundraiser for senior high trips.

For a few years, Al also served on the Finance Committee.

I would encourage members to take part in committees at Zion to better understand how the church operates as a whole. It is very challenging, but rewarding to take part in the decisions of the church.

Al’s career has seen over 30 years in the information technology field, working with insurance, financial, and now with the standardized student testing industry. He has been involved as a volunteer with Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts for over 20 years, and also enjoys bowling, singing, cooking, making teas, supplements, remedies and small batches of unique wines.