Peace with God through Jesus Christ

The Olive Press — November 2016


Election Year Encouragement

Are you getting anxious for Election Day, November 8th? Some people that I have talked to would describe it as not being “anxious” but rather having “anxiety,” “distress” or even “panic” as they consider the candidates who are up for the election! In fact, according to Public Policy Polling, a poll taken in June showed that 13% of those polled would rather vote for “Giant Meteor hitting the earth” than vote for either candidate from the major parties! Certainly there is a lot of frustration over the candidates and genuine concern about the future of our country. It seems especially challenging for Christian individuals this year as they must choose between candidates that seem to have positions and lifestyles that are far from our worldview and core beliefs. It becomes very frustrating for Christians when it seems that we are left “choosing between the lesser of two evils.”
I want you to know that you are in my prayers as you wrestle with your ballot—not only for whom you will vote for President, but also vote to fill the other positions. I do not presume to tell you how to vote, but I do encourage you to let your Christian faith shine as you submit your votes.
Now, let’s fast forward to November 9th. And let’s suppose that you are disappointed and concerned with the outcome of the elections. What now? Should we do as so many Hollywood types have threatened in the past (and have seemingly not done…)? Do we uproot ourselves, moving to some foreign country? Or should we stay, but in the meantime, make use of every opportunity to complain? Do we become bitter and harden our hearts against people who voted against us? Do we try to work against and undermine our political opponents? Certainly NOT!
In Jeremiah 29, God had His prophet Jeremiah write a letter to the Israelite exiles who had been carried off to Babylon. In this letter God gives instruction to the people as to how He wants them to live and act even in a corrupt, evil, godless country. He says: “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf” (Jeremiah 29:7). In this section, God reminds His people that in spite of the difficult, challenging situations they face, He is still in control. He is still at work and will continue to work for the good of those who love Him. He encourages them to trust Him and to place their faith in Him in spite of how dire and disappointing everything looks! A few verses later, we hear a great, comforting reminder that in spite of the frightening political situation, hope is not lost—“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).
We can still draw application from “Jeremiah’s Letter to the Exiles” for ourselves and to our own situation. When we as Christians find ourselves in an increasingly corrupt and godless society and country, what should we do?  We too can “Seek the welfare of the city where I (God) have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf” (Jeremiah 29:7).
Firstly, we can “seek the welfare” of our country. In a similar way, Jesus encouraged His people to be the “Salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13). In Jesus’ day salt was a preservative. It helped food from becoming spoiled and ruined—and even a little bit made a big difference. As Christians, we can “seek the welfare” of our country and be “salt” as we show love to the people around us. God will bless our efforts to be a positive influence—and has promised to continue to work through our efforts for the good of His Kingdom, even if we find ourselves in a foreign and hostile land!
Secondly, we can “pray to the LORD on its (—our country’s) behalf.” When we find ourselves facing difficulties that seem overwhelming to us, we must realize that nothing is overwhelming to God! In fact, God does His best work when it seems that everything is doomed and when we feel as if all hope is lost! Turn to God in prayer. Pray for our leaders—even those we didn’t vote for. Pray that God would guide and direct them, that He would work through them for the good of His Kingdom. Even when our leaders may seek to harm or persecute the church, continue to pray for them. We know and trust that God has the power to change hearts and minds. He is able to let His power shine through the fiercest hostility that His church and people might face. Remember the amazing things God did in Babylon for His exiled people—how His name was glorified even by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar. This is the same God that we trust in, worship, and pray to still today!
So I encourage you to take heart this November and especially as Election Day comes and goes. As we appreciate the many blessings that God has given us in our country, we can turn to Him knowing that whatever happens, He will continue to bless His people. With this assurance in hand, we can continue to “seek the welfare” of our country as we also “pray to the LORD on its behalf.”
-Pr. Luke Ulrich

Meet Micah Degner

Micah Degner was born in St. Peter. Schooling started with grades 1-6 at Trinity in Nicollet and grades 7-8 were at St. Peter Lutheran, followed by High School for 3 years at MVL. He finished senior year at St. Peter High School.
College was at Minnesota State with Bachelors in Geography and Meteorology. He went back to get a teaching license in Special Education. He has taught Special Education at Mankato West for four years.
If the Degner name sounds familiar, his Dad Charles Degner is a pastor and a WELS District President. His mom, Linda, is a teacher.
The family has five boys and one girl. Brothers Sam, Abram and Isaiah are all pastors.
Micah plays in amateur baseball, playing all positions except pitcher and catcher. He is a baseball coach at East High School in Mankato. Besides baseball, he likes hunting, fishing and traveling. He has travelled to Puerto Rico, Scandinavia, Mexico to see a volcano and also Uganda, Africa, where Micah actually climbed up a volcano.
~by Jim Tessien

Important Dates at

Mt. Olive Lutheran School

Wednesday, November 2
Grandparents’ Day
Early Dismissal/No End of Day Busing
Thurs–Sun, November 2-6
Scholastic  Book  Fair
Thursday, November 3
Picture Retake Day
Parent / Teacher Conferences
Friday, November 4
No School – Parent / Teacher Conferences
Mon-Thurs, November 7-10
Tuesday, November 8
No AM Busing
Friday, November 11
No Busing
Wednesday, November 16
Large Group PTF Meeting/Guest Speaker, Paul Bernabei
Wed-Fri, November 23 –25
No School – Thanksgiving Break

Bible Classes at Mt. Olive

The following Bible Classes are offered at Mt. Olive:
9:40AM Sundays (BIC)
9:40AM Sundays (Bible Study)
10AM 2nd & 4th Mondays (Veteran’s Bible Study)
8AM Tuesdays (Ladies Bible Study)
8AM Wednesdays (MOM’s Bible Study)
9AM Wednesdays (Bible Study)
Bible Information Class (BIC) is available for anyone interested in learning more about our Christian faith.  Please talk to one of the Pastors if you’re interested.

Online Worship Services

Our Services are ARCHIVED ONLINE!  Mt. Olive has a page on VIMEO where our services are archived. Check it out:

Serving Mt. Olive

     1st Service: Arden Olson (capt.), Eldon Sting,
Peter Finken, Joe Finken, Mark Graham,
Greg Costello
2nd Service: Don Lehne (capt.), Mark Johnson,
Aaron Heyn, John Weber, Matthias Leyrer
     1st Service: Steve Beilke (capt.), Nate Beilke,
Don Westphal, Eric Westphal, Elias Bonnet
2nd Service: Mike Pleiss (capt.), Keith Eisberg,
Loren Halvorson, David Liverseed,
Andrew Zondervan
1st Service: Ernie & Marge Lillo, Eldon Sting,
Keith Anderson
2nd Service: Connie Long, Peggy Harstad
Mike & Anita Smith
1st Service: Mark & Michelle Graham,
Eldon Sting, Keith Anderson
2nd Service: Steve & Lois Jaeger,
James & Carolyn Gates
Altar Guild
November: Carol Petersen, Sherri Bukowski
December: Heidi Graham Sharon Madson
November: Dan Gerdts, Joe Meyer
December: John Foede & John Baumann

New 2 You

Mt. Olive volunteers are scheduled to work at New2You for the first Saturday of each month. There is a morning (9:45-12:15) and afternoon (12:15 – 3:00) shift. Would you consider helping at one of them – JUST ONCE A YEAR? The sign-up sheet is on the table in the narthex.  If you would like to become a volunteer, you may also call New2You at 507-385-1455. Thank you!

Red Cross Blood Drive

Mt. Olive will host a Red Cross Blood Drive on November 25, from 10AM-3PM. To schedule an appointment call 1-800-733-2767 or sign up online at and enter sponsor code: MTOLIVEKATO.

Flower Calendar

There is still one Sunday remaining in 2016 when you may donate flowers for church – December 11. If you wish to provide flowers for this date please sign the flower chart in the entrance. SINCERE THANKS to all who have provided flowers throughout the year!

Coffee & Donut Volunteers

We are looking for more volunteers who are willing to make coffee before our services and pick up donuts/treats and bring them for our Bible Study time. If you would like to volunteer in this way please go to the Mount Olive website and click on the link at the bottom of the page titled “Coffee Servers Sign Up”.  If you have any questions, please contact Sam Barbosa. Email: or call: (507) 382- 4928. We also extend our thanks to the Barbosas and to the Waltzes for providing coffee and treats in the past years!

Open Position Extended—Nursing Faculty at BLC:

We have re-opened the nursing faculty position. Information is available in the church office. Application review will begin November 1, 2016, and continue until the position is filled.

Daylight Savings Ends

Don’t forget to set your clocks back on Sunday, November 6!

Guest Speaker

Mt. Olive will be hosting a guest speaker, Paul Bernabei, on Wednesday, November 16th! Paul Bernabei is the co-author of Top 20 Teens, Top 20 Parents, and Top 20 Teachers.  He directs Top 20 seminars all over the United States. The Mt. Olive teachers heard him last fall at their annual teachers’ conference, and we are thrilled that we are getting him here at Mt. Olive!  Put the date on your calendars and please join us! Schedule of activities include:  5:00-6:00 Walking Tacos supper served by Fourth Grade students and families; 6:00-6:30 large group PTF meeting; 6:30-7:30 presentation by Paul Bernabei.   Don’t worry about childcare; bring the kids along!  Childcare will be provided!  Paul Bernabei will also be presenting to the Mt. Olive students during the school day and the teachers after school.

Advent Meals

We have dates available to any group who would like to serve a meal before our Wednesday Advent services coming up. Meals are served from 5-6:15PM. Please call the church office if your group is interested in serving a meal.

Be a Treasure Hunter at Our Scholastic Bookaneer Book Fair!

Hunt for treasure among all of the great books at our Scholastic Book Fair beginning on Wed., Nov. 2 and running through Sun., Nov. 6.  Students will have an opportunity to preview the fair and fill out their wish lists on Tues., Nov. 1.  It will also be open special hours for Grandparents Day on Wed.
Hours are:
Wed., Nov. 2: 7:45-1:30
Thurs., Nov. 3:   2:35-8:00 p.m.
Fri., Nov. 4:  10:45 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Sun., Nov. 6:  9:30a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Please come and support our book fair.  All profits are used to purchase more books for our school library.  Our goal is to reach $2,400 in sales, which would allow us to receive $600 in cash.

Mount Olive’s Community Thanksgiving Dinner

Overflowing with gratitude for all the Lord has done for you?! Join Mt. Olive’s Evangelism Committee to help host our 5th Annual Thanksgiving Dinner, serving both members of area churches and the unchurched in the community who may not have family around with which to celebrate. Here are several ways YOU can help:

  • If you would like to attend, please sign-up in the church office, or call Mt. Olive’s office at 345- 4966 by Sunday, Nov. 20. Consider volunteering with set-up, serving, or clean-up.
  • If you cannot join us, consider volunteering to prepare food in advance. A list of needed items is located in Mt. Olive’s narthex, or ask by calling Mt. Olive at 345-4966.
  • Let your friends and neighbors know about this opportunity!

“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” Galatians 6:10

Bethany Lutheran College Fine Arts

Art Lecture and Reception, Thursday, November 3 at 7:00 p.m. in the YFAC Gallery- Art-i-facts, with cast metal sculptor Kelly Ludeking. On display through November 23.
Christmas at Bethany tickets will be available starting Nov. 1 at or by calling the Fine Arts office at 344-7365. Concerts are daily at 4:00 pm in Trinity Chapel from Wed., Nov. 30 through Sun., Dec. 4. Tickets are free with a free will offering collected during the concert.
Bethany’s fall play is Icehouse by Peter Bloedel. Performance dates are Fri. and Sat. November 11, 12, 18 and 19 at 7:30 p.m., matinee on Sun., November 13 at 2:00 p.m. Starting October 31 you may order tickets at or call the box office on weekdays between 1-5 p.m., 344-7374. $10 for all ages.

Familiar Faces around Mt. Olive

Sean and Shaylene and their two daughters, Taylor and Kaitlyn, moved to Mankato this past May. They moved from Phoenix, AZ for Sean to attend the Seminary starting in the fall of 2017. He is currently finishing his second year of Greek and preparing for seminary classes, while Shaylene is taking care of their newborn son, Luke, who was born in late August. Taylor and Kaitlyn are enjoying their first year in school at Mt. Olive.
Shaylene met Sean in Arizona while attending Redeemer Lutheran Church in Scottsdale, AZ. Shaylene moved to Arizona from Illinois, where she was working with State Farm. They moved her to AZ to help the company expand out West. She worked many years in their bank/mortgage department. Sean moved to AZ from California to attend seminary, where he eventually became a Lutheran and started going to Redeemer where Shaylene was already attending. After some time, they were married in the church where they met.
It was a hard decision for them to move across the country, leave their jobs and move their kids out of their school, but they both know that the Lord has a plan for them and they want to serve the Lord wherever He may send them. They are also really enjoying Mankato so far and the differences it brings compared to living in Phoenix. They are excited for the next 3 or 4 years while at seminary and attending Mt. Olive.
Wendy Herfendal replaced Patti Butzow as our Office Manager. Wendy grew up on a farm outside of Lamberton, MN and is the daughter of Art and Judy Lehne. She has 4 brothers and 3 sisters. Her husband is Greg and they have been married for 23 years. Greg has been employed at Home Depot for almost 20 years. Greg is from Albert Lea and also works part-time at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in North Mankato where they are members. Greg and Wendy have 2 daughters; Kelly and Haley. Kelly is a freshman at Wisconsin Lutheran College and Haley is a 9th grader at Minnesota Valley Lutheran. Kelly and Haley both attended grade school at Mt. Olive Lutheran School and were confirmed here. Wendy has an administrative background and is grateful for the environment here at Mt. Olive. She thanks everyone for the warm welcome she has received from the members at Mt. Olive and by many others.

Bethany Auxiliary

The Mankato chapter of the Bethany Auxiliary will meet on Tuesday, November 8 at 7 p.m. in Trinity Chapel on the Bethany campus. The featured program for the evening will be “Teaching Music Composition” with Professor Tim Tollefson. Prof. Tollefson will discuss the advantages of teaching traditional music theory through the creative act of music composition. We will also have the opportunity to sing some examples of student-composed hymns. Following the program the members of the auxiliary will hold their regular business meeting.
Anyone who is interested is invited to attend the program. And new members are always welcome to join the auxiliary!

Board for Home Outreach Newsletter

“A Thankful Thanksgiving”
A journalist was on assignment in a third-world county. Walking the city streets, he struck up a conversation with a young boy. The boy had no home, no family. He lived day to day. His shelter was a cardboard box. As the journalist asked his age and found out that his birthday was the next day, the journalist asked him, “If you could have anything you wanted, what would you want for your birthday?” The boy answered very quickly, “A piece of plastic.” The rain, you see, often would soak the cardboard box, and all he had would be wet and cold. The plastic would keep him dry. That was the most wonderful thing he could imagine.
A story such as this helps us realize how many things we have to be thankful for, doesn’t it? The trouble is that even a story about the boy’s simple wish for some plastic cannot guarantee that we will feel thankful at Thanksgiving. Maybe our joy has become disappointment. Maybe heartache has devastated our family. Maybe we are in poor health. If our joy and thanksgiving depend on how well our lives have been going, then holidays like Thanksgiving will often be bland and empty. Even hearing about the poor boy living in a cardboard box will not make a lasting difference.
That’s why our source of joy and thanksgiving needs to come from something greater. God’s Word leads us to the truth, “Thanks be to God, Who always leads us in Christ’s triumphant procession…” 2 Corinthians 2:14. No matter what our circumstances are, as we believe in Jesus Christ, our lives are lives of triumph. Our source of joy and thanksgiving is found only in our Savior! The message of full forgiveness through Jesus’ life, death on the cross and His resurrection can transform a thankless Thanksgiving into one filled with gratitude. It transforms defeated lives into triumphant ones. In the end what matters is not whether our home is made of wood, brick, or cardboard. What matters is knowing and trusting in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.
To learn more about Jesus and how He will change your lives, please join us for our Thanksgiving service or any of our worship services. See you there.

Mt. Olive Building Committee 

November 2016 Update

The Building Committee and members of the architectural team from ISG are working together in the “pre-design” phase of the proposed building project for Mt. Olive. Here’s what has been going on during the month of October:

  • October 10: Architects and engineers from ISG met at Mt. Olive with Juel Merseth and Greg Lieske to tour the facility to examine current spaces and mechanical/electrical capabilities as well as proposed expansion area.
  • October 18: The Building Committee met to prepare for the upcoming Information Meeting with the congregation and to create a list of potential personnel to provide input for the “user study” that will soon be conducted by the ISG team.
  • October 19: The still photo video slideshow of past Mt. Olive projects was completed and posted on the church’s website and on Facebook.
  • October 23: Current information was presented to the congregation at the Information Meeting between services and questions were addressed.
  • October 25: The Building Committee met with project manager Justin Steffl, lead architect Bryan Paulsen, and interior designer Staci Flemming from ISG to answer their questions concerning details of specific areas of the proposed project, prioritization of areas of the project, and to set a timeline for the next steps in the “pre-design” phase.
  • Final days of October: Sally Sorensen contacted selected members of the congregation, faculty and pastoral staff regarding their participation in the “user study” and set dates and times for them to meet with the team from ISG.

Here are the next steps in the process:

  • Early days of November: The members of the ISG team will meet with personnel from Mt. Olive contacted by Sally Sorensen in the first “user study” meetings. These will focus on the following areas:
  1. Narthex and fellowship requirements
  2. Administration, security and storage
  3. Education and school-related areas
  4. Facilities (janitorial, mechanical/electrical)
  • Mid to later November: The ISG team will begin schematic design work based on information gathered from the Building Committee and the “user study” meetings.

As always, please keep this process and all the people involved in your prayers as things move forward. Above all, please pray that all that is done may be done to the glory of God and the good of our beloved Mt. Olive congregation in the mission to proclaim the Gospel of Christ.