Springtime of Life

Martin Luther once said that prayer opens our hearts wide like an apron to receive God’s gifts. It reminds me of a print I have in my home of a painting at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.  I am kind of embarrassed by how much I love it!

You see, I fell in love with this painting the first time I saw it at the Minneapolis Institute of Art as a teenager.  It seemed to fit my wistful, idealistic view of the world since I hadn’t actually encountered much of “real” life yet.  The painting is called “Springtime of Life” by Jean Baptiste Camille Corot, a French painter from the 1800s. 

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I visited the art museum many times in college. I even dragged my boyfriend to see it.  “Isn’t it just amazing?” I asked him.  He agreed it was great (mainly because he thought I was great.) And that painting came to that same boyfriend’s mind when he needed a creative way to propose marriage to me, (after his original plan of taking me flying in an airplane in mid-September of 2001 was not possible due to the terrible events of September 11). So he took me to the art museum and when we got to my favorite painting, I noticed that he seemed really nervous. I looked over at him and was about to say, “I know, this painting just GETS me.” But he wasn’t looking at the painting; he was down on one knee and whispering “Will you marry me?” I whispered “YES.” And we lived happily ever after… 

Actually we lived, and continue to live, “realistically” ever after with all the battle scars that accompany building a life together for almost 16 years – after many moves, transitions, new jobs, having a child, losing a child, having another child, and figuring out how to be grownups.  Our lives don’t look like a French meadow where we catch flower petals in our aprons (and I could never get my husband to put on a pink frock anyway).  Our lives are more real than that.

Reading Martin Luther’s words about prayer brought me back to this painting: God wants us to share our needs and concerns through prayer, “not because he is unaware of them, but in order that we may kindle our hearts to stronger and greater desires and spread our apron wide to receive many things.” 

The word “Lent” means spring.  And this painting seems to offer a Lenten/Springtime prayer posture to us: heads bowed down and aprons open wide to receive the good things that only God can give us (French meadow and pink dress optional!).

Blessed Lent to you all! 

Pastor Mary

Reflecting in Times of Transition

Dear Friends,

We are in a time of transition at Good Shepherd. We are thankful for three and a half years of ministry that Pastor Dan Dornfeld shared with us, and we pray for him as he discerns where God is leading him next. Good Shepherd is a healthy and vitalized congregation and has journeyed through staff transitions before. In every transition, we continue to live out our mission: to Gather, Grow, and Go, so that ALL may know the Good Shepherd.

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In times of transition, it is good to revisit how to BE the church in the “in between” times of change. One way to do that is to remember healthy faith practices! The faith practices that I find most helpful come from Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He was a Lutheran pastor and professor in the time leading up to and during World War II in Germany. He led an underground movement of pastors that opposed Adolph Hitler. He wrote about this experience in a book called Life Together.

His community tended to seven key faith practices, or ministries, that helped them hang together as a community and deepened their faith in God during the uncertain times they found themselves in. Here are his seven ministries (I teach them to the Confirmation students, and I have actions connected to each one):

1. The Ministry of Holding One’s Tongue. Bonhoeffer said that learning how to hold one’s tongue teaches us how to stop harshly judging our brothers and sisters and helps us to see them as valuable. (Action that goes along with this discipline: Literally holding your tongue)

2. The Ministry of Meekness. Meekness is NOT to be confused with weakness. Meekness is restrained strength! It means being strong enough to hold others up! (Action: Raise the roof gesture)

3. The Ministry of Listening. See James 1:19. Bonhoeffer said, “He who can no longer listen to his brother will soon be no longer listening to God either.” (Action: Hand to the ear)

4. The Ministry of Helpfulness. Bonhoeffer challenges us to be “interrupted by God” and to help those who cross our paths. (Action: Patting your neighbor on the back)

5. The Ministry of Bearing. Galatians 6:2 tells us to bear one another’s burdens. As I tell my Confirmation students, each one of us is annoying in our own way, and so this is a gift we can offer to one another. (Action: Growl like a bear!)

6. The Ministry of Proclaiming Christ. The first 5 ministries lay the foundation for this practice! We need to witness to Christ in how we treat one another. In other words, walk the walk! (Action: Make a cross sign with your two pointer fingers)

7. The Ministry of Authority. All authority belongs to God! Bonhoeffer wanted his community to not place their faith in their leader, but in their Lord. No matter who leads a congregation, we all need to remember that God is the Lord of this church!

Thank you for being part of this community of faith! I am looking forward to where God leads us this year!

God’s Peace, Pastor Mary


Marriage Enrichment Retreat at Rustic Oaks

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Sunday, February 11th from 3-7pm

$30 per couple (Dinner and dessert provided!)

Led by Aaron and Mary Suomala Folkerds

Sponsored by Good Shepherd and Christ the King Lutheran Churches, open to the public!

Marriages can’t run on auto-pilot. They need to be maintained. Healthy marriages enrich individuals, families and communities. Aaron and Mary Suomala Folkerds are both pastors, and have been married for 16 years. Pastor Aaron is also a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, and brings a wealth of experience working with couples and families. Please join us for this fun and meaningful afternoon!

Important Meetings Coming Up!

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Budget Forum & Preview of the Annual Report on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2017 9:30 a.m. to review the proposed 2017 Budget

Good Shepherd’s Annual Meeting: Sunday, January 28, 2017 9:30 a.m. in the Sanctuary

**Important** If you have questions and/or want more information and time for discussion on the budget, please attend this Budget Forum or talk with a Council member before January 28. With the Annual Meeting between services, our time is limited.

New Teaching Series! - Pastor Mary Suomala Folkerds

In Traveling Mercies, author Anne Lamott says there are really only two prayers. One is "Help me, help me, help me." The other is "Thank you, thank you, thank you."

Sometimes these are the only words we can muster, and that is enough! Starting January 3 and continuing for 6 weeks, we will be doing a teaching series on prayer. Even though our prayers can be as simple as “help me” and “thank you,” there is mystery and complexity when it comes to communicating with God. Maybe you have asked yourself these questions:

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Is God listening?
Why should God care about me?
Does prayer really help with physical healing?
Why does God seem sometimes close and sometimes far away? Does prayer change God?
Does prayer change me?

We will be digging into the Bible, and also be drawing inspiration from a book by Philip Yancey called Prayer: Does it Make a Difference. We encourage you to find a copy of this book for your personal reading. Other books on prayer that have inspired me are:

  • Help, Thanks, Wow: Three Essential Prayers by Anne Lamott A quirky and honest book about prayer.

  • Too Busy Not to Pray: Slowing Down to Be with God by Bill Hybels. A great read for how to get started in your prayer life.

  • Thoughts in Solitude by Thomas Merton. A Roman Catholic monk who drew a deep connection between silence, solitude, and prayer.

  • Before Amen by Max Lucado. How to have a richer prayer life. A number of people at Good Shepherd have done a Bible study with this book, and it has changed many lives!

  • Praying Our Goodbyes by Joyce Rupp. A book about how to express your grief through meaningful prayer rituals.

  • Fingerprints of God: What Science is Learning About the Brain and Spiritual Experience by Barbara Bradley Haggerty. This book is for those who get excited about the mind, body, and spirit connection discovered through science.

    Happy reading! Happy praying! And Happy New Year!

    God’s Peace, Pastor Mary 

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Closing Out 2017! - Pastor Taylor Wilson

As we close out 2017, I look back with thankfulness, and I look forward with excitement for the year that is to come. One of the powerful things we did this fall, as a congregation, was launch a second worship site for Good Shepherd in the FM area. While many of you might never step foot in that Holy space, please know that we’re in this mission together, and your prayers and encouragement mean the world to me as the Mission Developer.

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Each Sunday, we have over 20 volunteers serve in a variety of roles at our Fargo location. This might be news to some of you, but it’s something I’ve become quite aware of, and inspired by, every Sunday! They come in a variety of ages and backgrounds, but one thing that’s evident among our leaders is their love for Good Shepherd. Some have spoken of the warm welcome they received when they first came to Good Shepherd and their desire to share that same welcome with others. Others are grateful for a way to serve “outside-the-box.” No matter their role, they serve with a smile on their face, as they lead in areas of Hospitality, Worship, Production, and Children’s Ministry. With each interaction, the mission “... that ALL may know the Good Shepherd...” is lived out through our leaders. It’s inspiring... and it’s making a difference.

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One guest remarked, “I went to service here yesterday and left completely blessed and renewed. I really need a place to help me reconnect with God and give my faith a boost, and Good Shepherd helped me do that and so much more! Incredible staff, friendly members and fellow attendees, and the experience as a first timer was one I will not soon forget.” Another said, “I felt at home the minute I stepped in, and knew that this is where God wanted me. Everyone is so welcoming. Services are contemporary with amazing teaching that you will think of through the week, and apply to your life. The music is so great as well. Hands down, I'd recommend Good Shepherd to anyone!”

It might not be for everybody... but it’s for somebody. By the grace and empowerment of God, we’ll continue to live out our mission in 2018 with joy in our hearts. If you’d like to serve in Fargo, let me know! Come check out a service, and as always, keep this location in your prayers.

- Pastor Taylor Wilson

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How to Talk to Kids and Teens About Death - Pastor Mary Suomala Folkerds

Many people are uncomfortable talking about death, especially with children. As hard as it is to face, death is a natural part of life. Everyone encounters death at some time. If we want to help children through the death of a loved one, we (adults) must be okay with talking about it, and we have to let them know it is okay for them to talk about it. 


How to Talk to Kids and Teens about Death

Helpful tips for talking to children:

  • Use clear and concise words when talking about death. Small kids do not understand abstract language. Check to see if the child understands what you have said. Consider the age of the children. Older children can have a few more details, and may ask more questions. Younger kids need simple, but true answers.
  • Let your child know that expressing emotions and asking questions is natural and okay. 
  • Do not avoid your child’s questions. Avoidance may heighten their anxiety. Each question deserves a simple and relevant answer. 
  • Don’t be concerned if you are not able to answer every question. It is better to say, “I don’t know” than to give a misleading response. 
  • Remember that children often realize much more than we give them credit for, and that their ability to cope often exceeds our expectations.
  • Children have a short attention span, and that applies to grief as well. They may bounce between emotions, and that is okay. 
  • Reassure them that there are caring adults who love them and will always try their best to keep them safe. 

Things not to say: 

  • “The person who died is sleeping.” This makes them fear sleep. 
  • “God needed another angel.” This may make them think that God randomly takes children.

The Teens Five Tasks of Mourning

1. To accept the reality of the loss 

When someone dies, even if it is expected, there is an initial feeling that it hasn‟t really happened. One of the first things we need to get is that the person is really dead and we will never see them again, hear their voice again, talk to them again…at least not in this lifetime. Helping create, or at least attending the funeral, wake or memorial service can help. So does talking about how the death happened and sharing memories of the person who died. 

2. To experience the pain of grief 

When we lose someone we love, it hurts really badly. As we tell stories about the death and about the person who died, we have strong feelings like sadness, longing, anger, guilt, fear, confusion, and loneliness. These are normal. The more we love someone, the more it hurts to lose them. We can think of painful feelings as expressions of love for the person who died. Some people might be uncomfortable with our strong feelings, so it is important to find understanding people to hang around with. Journaling, doing art, and playing or listening to music can help to. 

3. To adjust to a world in which the deceased is gone 

The realization of what it is like to live without the deceased person usually begins to emerge after about three months. Sometimes we find ourselves thinking we hear their voice or see them driving down the street. We might even pick up the phone to call them. Each time this kind of thing happens is another opportunity to remember the truth: they are gone forever. When an immediate family member dies, there are big changes in family roles and duties. When a best friend, pet or close relative dies, that special someone who occupied our time is no longer there, so our time is spent very differently. Life has dramatically changed. It takes time to get used to this different life. 

4. To reinvest in other activities and relationships 

Sometimes we fear that we will forget our deceased loved one. But really, we never do. Being touched by someone is a forever thing. Some of us worry about replacing the person with someone new, but we can never really replace people since they are one-of-a-kind. If we try to replace someone, things are sure to fail. And if we resist loving again, for fear of replacing them, that, too, is tragic. In healthy grieving, we eventually stop investing so much of ourselves in grieving our loved one. We begin to form other relationships and invest in other activities. This is the way we go on living, even though someone we loved died. 

5. To accurately remember the deceased 

It is normal during the grief process to have all kinds of memories of the deceased and of our past times with them. Some memories are good, and some are not so good. If the relationship was mostly positive, we tend to remember good things at first. If the relationship was hard, we will tend to mostly remember the bad things at first. Eventually, it is important to have a well-rounded memory of the one who died, and of our relationship with them. Our memory is, after all, what we have left of them. 

Adapted by WinterSpring, from William Worden‟s Four Tasks of Mourning.

One Church. Two Locations. - Pastor Dan Dornfeld

A brand new poll has been conducted by leading church consultant Thom Rainer, which shows that 35% of churches in the U.S. are actually growing right now! That is amazing news given that it has been well established that only 20% were growing just a couple years ago. But here’s the startling and shocking reality: according to our ELCA national office only TWO PERCENT of the 9,000+ ELCA churches are growing at all. That is a stark contrast to the national trend, and highlights the utterly unique position we are in at Good Shepherd, as a church that is actually exploding in every conceivable metric. That’s something I don’t take lightly and is something I ask you to join me in giving thanks to God for this very real blessing.

I am amazed at what God continues to do through us together. I am overjoyed that we have raised the full scope of our capital appeal in order to better connect people of all ages with our Good Shepherd. And we cannot “rest on our laurels” knowing the kind of impact that I truly believe God wants to make through us outside of our walls. Because of how very rare our congregation really is in the ELCA, it's a tremendous responsibility we have to push further into our mission together. There are so many others that need to know the promise and grace of Jesus.

That is one of the reasons that the birth of our downtown Fargo campus is such an exciting and pivotal time in the history of Good Shepherd. The last time a Moorhead church birthed another one in our denomination? Over SIXTY years ago, when Trinity Lutheran birthed Our Savior’s! I just heard some very compelling reasons on a recent podcast for what multi-sites and new campuses do for a “parent” congregation. More growth, evangelism, discipleship, engagement and financial blessings all occur in the vast majority of multi-site congregations. That is exciting on every level because these are all signs of the real gift: that we are able to serve and love God in helping ALL to know the Good Shepherd in our mission together.

And just how can we serve and love God and others?


CHEERLEAD this with others.

WE set the tone for our mission, so grab those pompoms!

JOIN us on Sunday and welcome our guests. Be friendly. Sing out and praise God!

INVITE others. MOST people will come when invited!

SHARE your time, talent, and resources. YOU can make the difference.


Pastor Dan Dornfeld

Lead Pastor 

ReFORmation! - Pastor Mary Suomala Folkerds

October is the month where our teaching series moves from the theme of “FOR Fargo Moorhead” to “ReFORmation!”

On October 31, it will 500 years since Martin Luther started what became known as the Protestant Reformation by nailing 95 theses, or grievances, to the doors of the Wittenberg Church. But church historian, Dr. Christopher Gehrz, says, “If we Protestants are ‘reformed and always reforming,’ then commemorating the Reformation should cause us not so much to celebrate the past as to renew our mission and ministry in the present.”

Martin Luther’s central conviction was that in Christ, God has freed us from sin

and death, and thus has freed us FOR service to our neighbors! This has been the focus of our “FOR Fargo Moorhead” teaching series.

As we move into the “ReFORmation” teaching series, we will look at how the early Reformers shifted the way that the church of their day witnessed to Jesus, and how we can faithfully witness to Jesus in these changing times!

Here are some fun facts about the Reformation that I found in the July 2017 issue of Living Lutheran. As you read about these changes, think about the ways that social media, worship styles, and church planting impact how we do ministry today:

  • There were reformers well before Luther and what became known as the Reformation, but Luther and other reformers of his time harnessed the power of the printing press to give their ideas a wide audience.

  • Prior to the Reformation, congregational singing—and even talking—during church services wasn’t standard practice in Germany.

  • Reformation is still needed as recent research and surveys reveal that about one-third of mainstream Protestants believe eternal life depends on our actions and living a good life, despite the biblical understanding and teachings of the reformers that salvation is a gift from God received through faith in Christ, through no effort of our own.

  • The Reformation emphasis that God sees ALL believers as spiritually equal had profound repercussions in the church—especially when applied to women.

  • Today, more than 200 denominations and churches in North America have histories connected to the Reformation.

    Happy October! I am excited to see how we are still ReFORming! - Pastor Mary 

New Family Directory!

Be included in our new church family directory! We need you to make our new directory complete! 

Our directory will:

1. Put names with faces!

2. Help us connect with each other!

3. Help us reach out to new families!

Each participating family receives a free directory and complimentary 8x10 photograph. 

Precious Memories

- Professional photography

- Dedicated customer service

- Upfront pricing

- Fast delivery

Bring meaningful items to your photography session. Invite your extended family for a special photograph. Wonderful gift ideas & greeting cards.

Schedule your photography online here!

Tuesday-Saturday: Aug. 22-26

Tuesday-Saturday: Sept. 19-23

Tuesday-Saturday: Sept. 26-30

Weekdays: 2-9 p.m.

Saturdays: 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

We look forward to seeing you!


What does The Church need to work?

What does a cell phone need to work?” asks Coach Mitch.
CHARGE!” yell 25 excited kids at the morning session of Cross Training Basketball Camp here in the Gym at Good Shepherd (22 more kids were in the afternoon session).

How do we get charged up?” asks Coach Mitch.
By staying connected to Jesus!” answers a bold 2nd grade boy!

These same answers apply when we talk about the Church! We, THE CHURCH, stay charged by staying connected to Jesus. We stay charged by living out our mission at Good Shepherd:

We GATHER, GROW, and GO so that ALL may know the Good Shepherd and have abundant life in His Name!

One way we want to live out our mission is to add an Education Wing to CHARGE UP more followers of Jesus of all ages!

We are down to the wire for collecting pledges for this Capital Appeal! We need a full-court press to fully fund this new addition! It is time for ALL of us to be ALL IN! Every gift of ANY amount is needed to turn this dream into reality!

We want EVERY household to be part of this appeal at ANY LEVEL OF GIVING so we are throwing down a FUN challenge to raise the rest of the FUNds! When we get 100 more gifts or pledges of ANY size, Pastor Taylor will get a pie in the face (yes, a literal pie)! When we get 50 more gifts, Pastor Mary will get a pie in the face (Eeek)! When we get 50 more gifts, Pastor Dan will get a pie in the face!

If we harness this 4th quarter momentum, we will get to our goal of providing educational space for all ages WITHOUT incurring more debt! So who else would you like to see with a pie in the face? Oh, the possibilities!

What does THE CHURCH need to work? CHARGE!

How do we get charged up? BY STAYING CONNECTED TO JESUS!

Go Team!

Pastor Mary