Month: August 2013

St. Timothy

The adventure began on a beautiful summer Monday. We ate lunch on the shore of Lake Superior in Grand Marais and then headed up the Gunflint Trail to Wilderness Canoe Base. I was excited. As a former guide at WCB, I knew the importance these outdoor experiences and I was eager to hear the stories and witness the transformations of these young people after their adventure in the BWCA. As the current youth mentor at St. Timothy Lutheran Church, I was excited for families from our congregation to arrive at this special place so they too could experience the beauty of God’s creation in this unique place.
Our church tried an experiment this year. We sent three groups (19 people) out on trail on Tuesday morning. Then, on Thursday afternoon, families (45 people) from St. Timothy arrived to spend the weekend at camp. When the three canoe trips arrived back to camp on Saturday morning, their St. Timothy family waited on Canoe Beach to welcome them home.
We had an amazing week. The youth and adults who went on the canoe trips shared reflections with the rest of St. Timothy in the open-air chapel at camp. It was fun for children and adults to ask questions of these youth when the experience was still fresh. Youth shared about moments when they experienced God—in a successful catch of a fish, in a beautiful sunset amidst blueberries aplenty, in a friend who helped portage a canoe, in a prayer from a loved one back home, and in a community that worked together to accomplish something big.
Intergenerational camp was a great opportunity for families and adults to relax away from home. With no distractions of television, smartphones, and schedules, we were able to immerse ourselves in creation and in relationship with one another. It was beautiful to see adults with children (not their own!) paddling in Voyageur canoes or walking the orienteering course together. Many adults shared that this week at camp brought back memories of spending time in beautiful places with their parents when they were kids.
This week reminded me of the importance of spending time with one another. We see each other week after week on Sunday mornings at worship and over coffee, but there is something powerful to be together away from this place. We see each other with fresh eyes. We remember that our church is more than a building. Our church is a people—a people of many generations. And we, as a people, are called into relationship—to love, support, and value one another as the people of God.
My heart overflows with joy for the people of St. Timothy, the staff at Wilderness Canoe Base, and the beautiful creation that we have been given to enjoy. God is present in these places and we are blessed to be a part of this community!


–Anna Helgen, former WCB Canoe Guide and Youth Mentor at St. Timothy Lutheran in St. Paul

Nature Is Wise. Michaela Rice, Naturalist, WCB

        “If you knew Wilderness in the way that you knew love, you would be unwilling to let it go.”

I awoke with a tender feeling in my heart; it was a new day. A tender feeling in the way that tenderness feels when a mother kisses her child, when a mother moose licks her calf’s neck. The tenderness I felt was from the fact that God had given me, all of us, today to enjoy what he had created us; Mother Earth. As I crawled out of my warm sleeping bag and trudged outside, the sun gleamed through the clouds kissing the new Quaking Aspen and Paper Birch and other plants in all directions I could see. This was an act of thanksgiving and love from God, as if commending the flora for growing and giving them energy for the day to come. My feet scraped the rocks along the path, startling grasshoppers and to my surprise, a mother White-throated sparrow. Her wings fluttered with fright as she erupted from the grass next to the path into the safety of the Black Spruce to my right. Life was all around me. Red, luscious raspberries hung with might from the tips of the spiny plants tethered into the shallow soil with little,white roots, bearing the plants weight against the force of the sparkling, morning wind. A five minute walk to First Word exposed so many gleaming berries, and leaves that were waking up to the warm sun, just like I was. Unlike me, they had been bathed by the refreshing dew that was now dropping down from the tall trees and short bushes alike. I could feel the grass stretching in the wind, it probably had a stiff nights sleep like I had. All of the plants’s stomata were breathing slowly, “no rush up” here the plants and birds always whisper to us. But being the busy bees we are, we tend not to listen. 
The world is quiet if you let it, but also unbearingly loud if you let it. The voices inside our heads scream at us to be productive, to be happy, to please others. The forest floor is littered with competition and death, but in little ways that makes the forest beautiful. The plants and the animals work together to find their niches, they bond, they grow; they grow together. Only if we could do that as well as they do… Our lives would be so much easier. We depend on ourselves instead of others to give us things that we need. If a tree tried to live alone, purely alone- it could not do it. If the birds, and the insects tried to do the same; nothing would work. They need each other, and so do we. They take their time, and enjoy each breath of life for it sustains them, and so should we.
Enjoy the nature around you. It is beautiful and all knowing. It loves one another, as we should love it back. 

Throwback Thursday

Legacy of a Founding Partner: Bob Evans

The outdoors was “home” to colleague Bob Evans. He grew up with a fishing pole, paddle and hockey stick in his hands. The International Falls area is known as a sportsman’s paradise. Bob joined his Dad in taking full advantage of the abundant resources. His woods and water expertise was well known. So too, his skill as a hockey player and youth mentor. His family shared extensive camping adventures. As could be expected, Bob carried his passion for hockey, his love of nature and his commitment to spiritual direction throughout his St. Olaf College years. 

Kneeling Bob (L) and Oz confer on route 
plans as campers await departure
The Luther Seminary “cadre” that worked together on inner city mission outreach all brought varied backgrounds with similar consciousness. The passion included urban inquiry, justice, peace, care for the poor, one on one mentoring, civil and human rights, racism, environmental education and communication of the Gospel thru camping were arenas of common interest. The inner-city probes encouraged by Dr. Andrew Burgess helped to bring pastoral ministry into a more sustainable context. Bob brought his wide range of life experience, his redemptive work at Ramsey County Totem Town and his understated good humor to our renewal table. 
It was quite amazing to see how many Seminary students brought their respective talents and interests into the outreach tent. Youth at-risk were being contacted; the Gospel took on legs. We were learning by doing…trying to share thru new opportunities, new avenues. 
Bob and Oz put together a pilot canoe trip in 1953. They recruited a group of eight teens for their camping adventure. They shared their Christian faith. 
Final debriefing with Bob and Joel

This pilot expedition encouraged additional trips led by Ray Miklethun and Mark Reinertson, Bob and Joel Anderson. All helped to focus later camping conversations that would lead to our WILDERNESS commitment within the PCYC ministry. 

Bob returned to the Seminary for the senior year following his internship in Montana. As you could expect, that western year was laced with Bible Camping and life outdoors. He had followed from a distance the growth of PCYC. An energetic “Plymouth Project” foundation was being established to meet a variety of physical, education and spiritual needs. There was remarkable flexibility and potential for urban mission. Bob, Bob Nervig and Curt Johnson all returned to surround our PCYC team and the dozens of volunteers. Oz continued his Red Wing work and northside partnership. We all felt we needed to stay the course. PCYC and its many spinoffs were, we believed, making a dent…a renewal difference. 
Pastor Bob shares the Gospel
The American Lutheran Church agreed to issue ordination calls to PCYC for both Bob and me. It was a bold undertaking by the Board of Trustees. The Division of Charities, under Dr. Magnus Dahlen, signed off on the certification. We accepted this challenge knowing that it was truly a mission-filled “faith venture.” To help make ends meet, we lived on the third floor of “the old hotel.” We did what needed to be done so that this fragile but promising ministry could continue. With a poultry/chicken operation adjacent to our east and a liquor store adjacent to our west, our Center door was symbolically placed. 
For almost four years, Bob and I shared leadership at PCYC Our responsibilities and assignments were mutually shared. Our “Tent” expanded: one-to-one kin mentoring; Camp Knutson participation; the beginnings of our Frontier Farm at Effie; continued close collaboration with Oz at Red Wing State Training School; numerous small educational and spiritual direction groups; worship services; community-wide celebrations; family counseling; parish and Sem volunteer training. WILDERNESS emerged as an integral component in 1956 with the acquisition of Fishhook Island on Seagull Lake near the end of the Gunflint Trail. Bob was a consummate pastoral partner in all that transpired during those very complex, challenging years. 
Wilderness co-founders: Pastor Ham and Pastor Bob
The pastoral leadership shaping WILDERNESS beginnings was spirited, focused and determined. Bob and Oz brought special skills and experience. No one could handle a paddle or filet a fish with finesse like Bob Evans… and it was done with grace and gratitude. His primary camping responsibilities centered at Frontier Farm. His heart and influence were also clearly evident in WILDERNESS beginnings. 
From International Falls ordination in 1956, to his call to the Prince of Glory projects parish in 1960, Bob was a faithful, beloved pastor and leader at PCYC His imprint on the North Side and North Woods ministry was deep. He brought steady direction, creative counsel and integrity to his service. His energy in the earliest of The Founding Years helped to establish a WILDERNESS future. He was blessed in partnership with wife, Alice…who undauntingly shared third floor “hotel” quarters, compassion for urban mission and maximum personal flexibility…in order to sustain and support their mutual ministry. 

Bob and Alice at commissary bell tower
The gift of Bob’s presence and passion are a WILDERNESS legacy to be long remembered.
I thank God for Bob… and his wonderful gifts for ministry.

– Ham Muus (Founding Director)