Insight: A time to listen and look ahead

Image of a clock with text introducing the project

Dear Mt. Carmel members:

We hope this letter finds you well. As a faith community, we want to commend you for how you have adapted to this new time with grace and positivity.  It’s a strange journey we’re all on, one where it’s not clear when we will come out of it, or how the future will be changed. One thing we do know: God is good at improvisational leading and ensures a productive future if we will follow in faith.

On our faith and life journey, often we do not see the meaning of what we’re doing at any given time, or the importance of the person we’re talking to. This was certainly the case with two of Jesus’ followers on the road to Emmaus. But as they watched and listened to their visitor, suddenly over dinner they gained both insight and a clear sense of direction!

“When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?’ That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together.” (Luke 24:30-33)

We are writing to introduce you to a listening campaign that our faith community will be participating in entitled, Insight: A Time to Listen and Look Ahead.

The word “insight” says it all: first, we seek to gain insight into what is stirring in the hearts and minds of our members. Second, we do this so that we can better see what’s in sight ahead of us and where God is leading us as a congregation.

To do this, we’re asking 50 of you to participate in a 15-20-minute phone interview with one of two outside consultants we are working with on this project, Pastors Mary Halvorson and Jerry Wahl. This is a council decision, based upon the Minneapolis Area Synod’s recommendation (bios below).

The questions will focus on your perceptions of what is strong at Mt. Carmel, where we struggle and where you believe God might be leading us as a community. The interviews are scheduled for the first week of June.  If you are interested in being scheduled, please visit and pick a time that works for you. If you do not have access to a computer, call Karen Matthes, our council secretary, at 612-716-7395 to sign up.

Your answers will be confidential and will be a part of a group profile that will help our leadership chart our course over the next few years. The report from our interviewers will be made available to members as well. After all, wherever we go, we need to make sure it comes from our members hopes and dreams—along with the Holy Spirit’s leading!

We hope you will choose to participate. You will be helping steer the future course of Mt Carmel. We thank you in advance!

God’s Peace,

John Strommen

Tim Quinlan
Council President

Pastor Mary Halvorson is co-lead pastor at Grace University Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. Pastor Mary is a trained BridgeBuilder and experienced congregation consultant with expertise in leadership development, conflict management, mission planning, congregation spirituality, church health, vitality and congregations as systemic communities. She is a frequent retreat and conference presenter and called upon by colleagues as well as the Minneapolis Area Synod bishop and staff to serve as a congregation consultant.

Pastor Jerry Wahl recently retired after 18 years in congregation ministry and 19 years as assistant to the bishop in the Minneapolis Area Synod and Florida-Bahamas Synod. He has experience and advanced training in congregation redevelopment, leadership development, pastoral counseling, conflict management, vision and mission planning, congregations as systems and church spiritual health. Pastor Jerry is a BridgeBuilder trainer.  He has served as consultant to over 100 congregations and serves as pastoral coach, resource to congregations in transition and is a trained Holy Cow! congregation assessment tool consultant.


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