Pr. Laura’s new call

April 10, 2019

Dear River of Hope-ers,

I am writing to share news with you that marks a new milestone in the life of River of Hope. With both grief and joy in my heart, I will be leaving River of Hope. My last Sunday with you will be May 19.

Over the past eight years, you have taught me to be a pastor and a preacher. It has been a privilege to serve you and with you and I have loved each of you deeply. You have taught me how to love so well. It has been the most beautiful and terrible gift to be shared. You are part of my heart now, so I will carry you with me wherever I go. My departure will mean different things to different people. It might bring up other losses you’ve experienced, or you might be disappointed or angry. All these feelings are part of this process, and I am experiencing this loss as well. Let’s offer each other grace and forgiveness as we navigate these waters.  In the midst of our sadness, the Good News is always a new thing being born out of loss – this is our resurrection story that we tell every Sunday. This is our rhythm of life already as Christians.

The new call I have accepted is a brand new thing for the ELCA. I will serve as Pastor and Program Director at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter for the Continuous Growth Pathway.  I will resource and support pastors and deacons in the Southwestern and Southeastern Minnesota Synods to faithfully lead into the unknown and difficult terrain of the future of the church in healthy ways. I will commute regularly to and from Fairmont to St. Peter knowing that as the program gains steam, I will be able to work from home.

As many of you have heard me say, “Living in two places will work until it doesn’t.” Coming to this realization has been a gradual, prayerful process of listening to my life as your Pastor and as a partner with John. It has been difficult to feel my call to serve as your pastor change. The energy it takes to fully live in two places will not serve River of Hope or my marriage well for the long term.

This is a moment of hope for you as you continue your life together as a community. I know you’re ready to live into the future that God is calling you toward, discovering more about who you are as a people, and how you are called to be a specific place for hope and healing for whoever you encounter. A new pastor will bring new gifts and you’ll go in new directions! The Holy Spirit has so much up her sleeve for you. Hutchinson needs this community of faith so, so much. Mike Weisenberger, River of Hope President, will lead you well in this time of transition. Please include him and the River Table in your prayers as they lead you into and through this time of transition.

My life is forever changed because of how our lives have been brought together to follow Jesus. I am grateful beyond words. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

All my love and a little bit more,


 P.S. I would be grateful if you kept this news off of social media until after worship on Sunday, April 14.

Wading in the Word

Each week during worship, we wade into scripture together and see what we can discover.

It’s scary, isn’t it? The silence, the questions, the not knowing, the wondering? Yes, it is. It scared me, too. And yet, it’s one of my favorite parts of the service because it engages us. For it to work, it asks the community to trust each other and to actively wrestle with scripture. It’s a time for your curiosity to get the best of you. For that question to find traction. To show your kids that curiosity about the Bible is…normal. That you and they are in a safe place where a question is expected, not suspected. [Read more…]

Steady Eddy

River of Hope recently gathered its leadership together to look down river for what is next.  We “eddied out” as the river rats would say.  We looked behind us at the distance we’ve come. We looked where we are right now. And we looked down stream, all the while asking where God has been and is right now.

[Read more…]

What is the Bible?

“I’ve heard people say that they read it literally. As if that’s the best way to understand the Bible. It’s not. We read it literately. We read it according to the kind of literature it is. That’s how you honor it. That’s how you respect it. That’s how you learn from it. That’s how you enjoy it.

If it’s a poem, then you read it as a poem.
If it’s a letter, then you read it as a letter…
There are lots of ways to read it. In fact, right isn’t even the best way to think about the Bible.

How about dancing? You dance with it And to dance, you have to hear its music. And then you move in response to it.”

Rob Bell in “What Is the Bible?” pages 80-81

Wild West part 2

I wrote about the Wild West right here, if you’re so inclined to read it.

This sort of stuff just rides with me every day, like it or not. I think about relationships with the community and how we are connected or not connected to the reality of our own community. I don’t think we live into our true calling of being church without thinking about how we are connected (or not connected) to our community.

Last Sunday we celebrated the work God has been doing through us this past year at our annual Riverpalooza. It was a great Sunday of worship and hearing just how God has been working through our community. Our community is growing, our giving is growing, our “going out” is growing, our discipleship groups are growing.
What IS God up to? A lot.
The bells continue to toll that the church is dying. And just in case you missed it, at the heart of our faith is death and resurrection. Our identity as Christians is dependent upon the fact that Jesus Christ died and rose again, promising to us that we too die and are raised to new life. Again and again.  So while many are lamenting the “death of the church” I think there is good news in this tolling bell. There is new life.
New life! Will you show up at Laundry Love for a few hours once a month and risk meeting strangers and just, you know, being there?
New life! Will you learn about the new HOMES (Housing Options in McLeod for Emergency Shelter) and support it?
New life! Will you participate in the life of River of Hope in a discipleship group or a Bible study?
New life! Will you engage in daily scripture reading and prayer to stay connected with the story of God’s love for you and the world?
New life! Will you dare to find God up to all kinds of stuff in your daily life and in the community of Hutchinson?
This is being Church. Showing up to give and receive love.  Sure, maybe the church is dying, but the new life that is emerging is a whole different thing. It’s not resuscitation, it’s resurrection!

The Wild West

“It’s the wild west – who knows how this will go?” Another pastor I met this past week said this in passing after another day of presentations around the state of the Church. Not his church or my church but the Christian Church in North America. In a nutshell, the church is in trouble.

[Read more…]

Lent Goal: $1000 to Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service

Click Lent 2017 – LIRS to see what River of Hope is up to during Lent. Will you help us reach the $1000 goal to support the work of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service?

As Christians, our calling is to love God and love the neighbor. This season of Lent, join River of Hope in showing love for the most vulnerable in the world.  You can read more about Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service efforts here.

[Read more…]

Daily Bible Readings Week of January 14, 2018

  • Sunday: John 2:1-11, Wedding at Cana
  • Monday: John 2:12, Jesus Goes to Capernum
  • Tuesday: Psalm 104:1-9, God the Creator and Provider
  • Wednesday: Psalm 104:10-23, God the Creator and Provider
  • Thursday: Psalm 104:24-26, God the Creator and Provider
  • Friday: Psalm 104:27-30, God the Creator and Provider
  • Saturday: Psalm 104:31-35, God the Creator and Provider

Riverpalooza in the rear view mirror (objects are closer than they appear)

Just in case you missed all the fun on November 20, we brought stories to share about what God has being doing with River of Hope and where God is leading us. [Read more…]

wait + watch = hope

I don’t know how you’re feeling today, post-election, but my sense of hope I have in God through Jesus Christ has been tested today. Bodies are at stake when it comes to policies and life lived together in these United States. Some bodies are more at risk in the coming 4 years: bodies with darker skin; female bodies; bodies with parts that work in different ways from the accepted norm; bodies that have escaped war-torn countries and landed here; bodies that love bodies of the same gender.

[Read more…]