Sharing Stories

I grew up in the Uniting Church of Australia, which was formed in 1977 by the merger of the Methodist and Presbyterian denominations. Although my parents and most of their friends weren’t church attenders, my brother and I (and most of our childhood friends) attended Sunday school every week in the former school house and the meeting hall near our small town church. Our church didn’t have a confirmation program or a youth group, but after finishing Sunday school in about 9th grade, I started helping with the younger classes. The highlight of the Sunday school year was the Sunday School Anniversary each November, when the students would present a program on the stage of the meeting hall, and receive a book from the congregation.

My maternal grandparents attended a church in the same parish about 15 minutes away, and I have fond memories of sitting with my grandmother at that church, listening to my grandfather sing in the choir. My grandparents said grace before each meal (which we didn’t do at home), and my grandfather was known for repeating the brief prayer so fast that it was difficult to pick out the words.

For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly thankful. Amen.

My parents and my brother’s family still live on the same farm outside of Launceston, in the state of Tasmania, Australia, and my brother runs the family farm.

I came to Zion by way of marriage. My husband’s ancestors have been members of Zion since Carlslund was founded in 1866. After high school, I spent a year at Buffalo High School as a Rotary exchange student, where I met Kirk through an agriculture class and FFA. We built a house on Kirk’s parents’ farm, and have three children. Karin is a senior at Phoenix Learning Center, Trevor is a freshman at the University of Minnesota in Duluth, and Emily teaches grade 5-12 band in Hinckley.

I think the first thing I got involved with at Zion was Harvest of Hands. In those days there was a small group of young moms like me who met with a large group of older ladies including Kirk’s grandmother, Evelyn Krause. Every Tuesday morning the group worked on tying quilts, cutting denim strips for woven rugs, and other craft projects. For a few years I was a co-coordinator with Margaret Luckow and Karyl Blair. In the 1990s I also served as a confirmation small group leader, Sunday school superintendent, church council member, and on several committees. I have been a member of the Joyful Ringers handbell choir for many years.

What makes Zion special to me is the people. First it was Kirk’s extended family, and then the Harvest of Hands ladies, the parents of the kids’ friends, the staff and their families, the amazing volunteers, and the online community. More than anything, Zion is my community center.

When I started working at Zion in 2001, it was for 4 hours per week, split between office support and children’s ministry support. My position has evolved over the years. When Audrey Bacik retired I took on membership duties, when Sue Lungstrom moved on I took on the monthly newsletter, and as needs have evolved I’ve helped develop much of Zion’s website, social media, and other digital communications. My position is now 32 hours per week.

One of my favorite parts of my job is pulling together the wonderful stories of members, like this one (although it is very different to provide the content AND edit it). Everyone at Zion has a story, and all of our stories are part of Zion’s story. Most people find the interview process easier than they expected. In most cases it is about 15 questions they answer by email or on paper, and occasionally volunteers interview homebound subjects. I love taking those answers and weaving them into something that can be shared in many ways to highlight some of the wonderful things going on at Zion. Being part of the 150th Anniversary Committee was a treat for me because of the connection to my husband’s family history, and because I was able to weave some of those member stories into the history displays and the book which was produced.

Being involved in Zion’s online community has been very satisfying for me. I enjoy seeing connections made … from Sunday to weekday, from member to member, and from church to community … and now the beginnings of a new online prayer group. What do I want people to know about the ministry of online community? Every click, comment, share, tag, check-in, event response, and ‘like’ helps the congregation share Zion’s stories further into our physical community. It isn’t unusual to see 1,000 to 10,000 views of photos in Facebook albums after a Zion event, and that’s outreach.