The Strength of Loaves and Fishes in the Community


On Sunday, February 24, Loaves and Fishes Director Cathy Maes spoke during our MOtalk about Loaves and Fishes and the changes that have been made since we first began in partnership together.  “What started as food service for mentally disabled people forced onto the streets as a result of MN state hospital closures, has now become the largest public free meal service in Minnesota, serving eight counties. In 2018, Loaves and Fishes dished up more than 1 million meals.”

 The meals offer a chance to gather, serve and be in fellowship with community. “When we reached 1 million meals last year, we really struggled to say is that a good thing or a bad thing?” said Maes.  The truth is in the community of Plymouth alone 1 in 4 kids qualify for free or reduced lunch.  Many families in Plymouth and surrounding areas are struggling to make ends meet. “And it’s not just families who are hungry” added Maes. “In recent years we have seen a huge uptick in elderly coming to our meals.”

 “The real strength of the meals is the community that is created” added Maes. “For some of the people, particularly our elderly who are still living in their homes, this may be the only meal they eat with someone all week.” “For families forced to choose between rent and eating, a meal provides much needed respite and comfort.”

Maes shared an area map indicating food deserts and area of need. “We have a definite need in to extend service in this community.” she said “We are excited about the potential to partner with Mount Olivet for a meal site.”

Mount Olivet’s Loaves and Fishes liaison, Deb McDonald, has invited the congregation to get involved and come to an upcoming dinner. The only qualification is for serving, which requires individuals to be at least 8 years of age and up, and accompanied with a parent or guardian until the age of 15.

Community Meals:

  Wednesday, March 6: Holy Rosary Catholic Church // 5 PM // Serve and share dinner

 Thursday, March 7: Brunswick United Methodist Church // 5:30 PM // Share dinner

    *RSVP to Deb McDonald by March 1 (

 Wednesday, March 13: Oak Grove Church // Golden Valley // 5:30 PM // Share dinner

     *RSVP to Deb McDonald by March 6 (

Neighborhood Gatherings Bring Life to Mount Olivet’s BE OPEN Vision 


“What I love most about this experience is the people I’m meeting” said Ron Frehner. Chair of Mount Olivet’s Open Tables, phase I of the Be Open Vision.  “I opened up my neighborhood list and found someone two doors down that also goes to Mount Olivet!”

Mount Olivet leaders are inviting the congregation to homes and special events throughout February and March to share more about the Be Open Vision. This Vision is a comprehensive plan to continue to step out in faith and form community. 

“We are called to be together in community and that’s exactly what we are doing,” said Lead Pastor Beth Horsch “The Be Open Vision is pivotal moment in our history as we look at what’s possible because of who we are, called together as the community of Mount Olivet.”

Over the course of the next 8 weeks, there will be opportunities to gather with neighbors, small groups and friends as we share information about the Be Open Vision. There are no financial commitments being made at events, rather, they are a time to gather in fellowship and ask more about the Be Open Vision. Member of the church council and Be Open leadership team look forward to seeing you. 

“As a member of Mount Olivet, we share responsibility as a care taker of our church,” said Council President Mark Schmidt.  “We are doing what the leaders of our congregation did in those early years, listening to our community and discerning where God is leading us. When we think about Mount Olivet in 50 years, there will be a group of Mount Olivet members who will likely look back at our history and no doubt think about what we did.”

For a schedule of upcoming Be Open Events, click here

To read Pastor Beth’s letter to the congregation about Be Open, click here

To see a video from Be Open Leadership team, click here.

For more information about the Be Open Campaign, or to volunteer to help get the word out, click here.

Our Story - A Message from the BE OPEN LEADERS

ron and mark.2.jpg

During the past 18 months, this community has spent time thinking about our future here at Mount Olivet. We have listened to each other, our partners, and our neighbors in the community, as we have discerned what God is telling us. We have considered how we can improve and better utilize our buildings and grounds for our members and community both for today and for tomorrow. Our collective conversations have led us to creation of the BE OPEN vision. This vision is made up of four different segments, all of which will be accomplished over the course of time as our resources and energy allows.

We would like to focus on the Open Tables segment. Early on in the process, our congregation identified a need to have a shared meal in our church building. Further discernment and discussion highlighted a desire to work with our partner, Loaves and Fishes, to host a regular community meal. Unfortunately, our kitchen is no longer equipped to effectively provide for these needs. Built in 1968, it is outdated and not up to code. It is clear that it needs to be renovated if our vision is to be achieved.

A designated Building and Design committee, appointed by the church council and made up of Mount Olivet members, has been working with an architect to design renovations to the kitchen and the north entry. Specifically, the plan will expand the kitchen eastward into the current lobby and bring it up to code with new kitchen appliances, food preparation areas and a dish washing station. The north entrance will also be updated as part of this phase in order to provide a secure and inviting entrance. As part of that work, the architect has also looked at how to renovate the fellowship hall — the segment of the BE OPEN vision that we are calling Open Doors — so that what we do in 2019 fits with what may be done in the future. Now it is our time to BE OPEN and your help is needed to make this happen.

In February and March, members will be inviting you to have a conversation about what it means to BE OPEN and to learn more about the specific plans for 2019. In March, pledge cards will be sent to document your commitment to this effort. We will ask you to contribute your time and money in support of the Open Tables phase of the BE OPEN vision.

Over a century ago, the founders of our church took the bold step to build the first Mount Olivet church building.

Today, that church is still serving the needs of our community as the Mount Olivet Chapel. Please join us in taking the next step in our church’s history as we continue our legacy of service and building community.


Mark Schmidt.  Council President

Ron Frehner BE OPEN Leader

Immigration and Process of Humanity


Many of you have been asking about and praying for the unfolding situation at our nation’s border with Mexico over the past month. Shocking images and audio of children being torn from their parents and left in detention centers have been swirling in the media as our nation struggles with how to deal with the reality of many people from Central America and Mexico travelling to or across our border. Breaking the silence around this situation is difficult for some of us – how can we speak in a way that is clear and faithful, yet does not give into the political polarization of our times?

As people of faith, we all are called to think and pray and act around situations of suffering, knowing that God calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves, and Jesus promises to be made known among people who are hungry, thirsty, strangers, naked, sick, and imprisoned (Matthew 25). This is hard work, but it is the work that gives us true, abiding, abundant life in God.

How can we think and pray and act about this situation at the border from the perspective of our Christian faith?

It’s an odd place to start, but I’ve been thinking about the Small Catechism this week. Martin Luther wrote the Small Catechism in 1529 to teach ordinary folks the basics of Christianity and how they were to live their lives in light of God’s grace for them. I am struck by Luther’s explanation of the 8th commandment, “you shall not bear false witness against your neighbor”. Luther writes “What does this mean? We are to fear and love God, so that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray or slander them, or destroy their reputations. Instead we are to come to their defense, speak well of them, and interpret everything they do in the best possible light.

What might it mean to interpret people’s actions in the best possible light here? There is a lot of rhetoric right now that makes it hard for some of us to see these asylum-seekers in the best possible light. We hear about people from these countries “infesting” our nation, or that they are part of gangs and therefor are sub-human animals. Sometimes we even reduce someone’s personhood to one title: “an illegal.” This rhetoric falls short of what God asks of us.

The voice we are called to raise is one that is clear that people who cross our border legally or not are human, and deserve to be treated as such. We can be sensitive to claims about child trafficking and people not telling the truth so that they can live in America. But, as Luther says, our posture must first be to interpret what people do in the best possible light. In this situation, that means showing compassion toward and listening to the people who are arriving to our country. What has prompted them to make the trek? What are their fears? What obstacles have they faced? What needs do they have? Before wising they wouldn’t break a law, we should ask what motivated them to break it. Before we get tough, we should get wise. We miss God when we miss the humanity of people in need.

And as we discuss policy responses with one another and how our government ought to respond, it would be good for us to have Luther’s words ringing in our ears as we engage with people with whom we disagree. What might it look like for us to interpret where they are coming from in the best possible light? What if we made the conscious choice to ask a question of the ones we disagree with before responding to them with our obviously correct answer? We gain nothing if we assign humanity to these asylum seekers by taking it away from somebody else.

Unfortunately, meditating on Luther’s writings does not point to a solution to this crisis, but it does help us understand how we might begin to interpret the things we see, monitor the things we say, and clarify the things we act on. I rejoice that our government has reversed its policy of family separation, but this is only the beginning of enacting a fair and compassionate immigration process which holds at its center the humanity of everyone involved. And whatever lies in the days to come, I pray that we would heed God’s command to see people in the best possible light, and refuse to give in to impulses that strip anyone’s humanity away from them.

To learn more about how the ELCA (our denomination) is thinking and acting around immigrants, refugees, asylum-seekers, and the situation at our border, I commend these resources to you:

-          Bishop Elizabeth Eaton’s Statement on Family Separation

-          Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services

-          AMMPARO

-          Lutheran Social Message on Immigration (1999)

And as always, we are here to engage you in conversation and prayer. Please reach out to Pastor Beth or myself if you’d like time to process the events of recent weeks.

In God’s great love,

Pastor Joel

stories change us: a reflection at the end of our community book read

stories change us: a reflection at the end of our community book read

Many of you now realize how you’ve been brought up to think about race and how those ways have helped and hindered you along the way. Many of you have confronted prejudices you’ve picked up along the way, or biases you didn’t know you held, and you thought critically about how you might learn to let them go. Many of you have been unable to get this book out of your mind when you’re at your workplace, or the grocery store, or your school – thinking about how this space might feel to someone of a different race than your own. This is what it feels like to be changed by God through the gift of entering a neighbor’s story.

Stories Change Us: A Reflection on Taiyon Coleman's "Disparate Impacts"

Stories Change Us: A Reflection on Taiyon Coleman's "Disparate Impacts"

“We can’t actually say that this one incident of unusually high temperatures at the North Pole is a direct result of climate change. But what we can say is that incidents like these are growing more frequent, and when you take them together, it is climate change. One fluctuation in temperature like this could be explained by other variables, but the overall pattern points to climate change as the culprit.”

I think Coleman is saying something similar about racism in Minnesota.