New Ideas for Ministry - Spotlight  Across the State 

The constraints of this season have nurtured incredible creativity in faith communities across our state. We'll be sharing short stories here about innovative practices from our siblings in ECMN as we all seek to cultivate connection, depth, and care with those we serve and lead. Each week we'll highlight practices from a faith community or leader in ECMN.

Between the Trees - Virtual Podcast

St. John in the Wilderness White Bear Lake, The Rev. Art Hancock and Megan Jahnke

Here at St. John in the Wilderness, we have begun a new virtual podcast on Wednesday evenings. We are calling it Between the Trees, and the program consists of an interview between Father Art and particular parishioners or other special guests. The idea is that, even in these times of physical distance from each other, we can still come to know each other better. In particular, we are interested in the marvelous and varied ways that God is working in our lives. We call it Between the Trees for a couple of reasons. The most obvious reason is that we have placed two trees in the chancel of the church that serve as the spatial bookends for the interview (and honestly, they aren’t real trees but rather tacky fakes, but you get the point). The other reason we call it Between the Trees comes from a deeper explanation.

In one of his popular spiritual short films, Rob Bell, a Christian writer, speaker, and former pastor of a mega-church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, points out that there are trees at the beginning and at the end of the Bible. In the book of Genesis, there is the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It is planted by God in the middle of the idyllic Garden of Eden and is thus at the heart of the Kingdom of life that God speaks into existence. Close to the end of the Bible, in the book of Revelation, we are told of another tree. It is the tree of life. It bears fruit all year long, and the Bible says that its leaves are intended for the healing of all nations. This tree of life sits in the apocalyptic Kingdom of God where all things have been made whole and have been reconciled, one to another and all to God.

So there is a tree at the beginning when all things were right, and there is another tree at the end when, once again, all things are made right. The rest of the Bible and all the stories of love and hate and triumph and defeat and bondage and freedom are set between these two trees. Our lives are also set between the trees. And just as the biblical stories of human relationships with each other and with God are a mixed bag, so are ours. We, too, live between the trees.
And so, on Wednesday evenings at 6pm, we have conversations about our lives Between the Trees. It is our hope that these conversations will help you reflect on your own lives and discover new ways to experience the Kingdom of God more fully here on earth as it is in heaven.

Our next episode of Between the Trees will take place on Wednesday, December 2 at 6pm. We will be talking with Megan and Ross Jahnke and their three sons. You can join the livestream via our YouTube channel or our Facebook page. Find out more here.

Zoom Calls with those in Care Facilities

The Rev. Tom Garrison of Sts. Martha and Mary in Eagan

Do you have church members in care facilities that you have been unable to visit? Try contacting the social worker or chaplain at the nursing home and set up a Zoom call with them. "It's really lifted the spirits of everyone involved," says Rev. Tom Garrison of Saints Martha & Mary in Eagan ( "We also reserve time for out-of-town family members so they can have private time together."