Associate Pastor Update #4

We are pleased to announce that Joel Bergeland has been called as the new Associate Pastor for Mount Olivet during the congregational meeting held October 9.

We look forward to Joel sharing his abundant gifts and call to preaching, teaching, pastoral care and mission in our community.

Joel will begin at Mount Olivet on Monday, October 17.  Now that Joel has received an official call from a church, he is eligible to be ordained into the Office of Word and Sacrament through the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).  Joel’s ordination will take place 2:30pm on Sunday, October 30 at Mount Olivet. All are invited to attend this special occasion.

Thank you to the call committee, Mark Schmidt, lead, Nancy Darnall, Kim Dunford, Ruth Epping, Linda Finley, Joe Standing, Dawn Strommen and Mark Wadman for their leadership during this call process.

Please join us in welcoming and supporting Pastor Joel Bergeland as our new associate pastor – His first day preaching will be Sunday, October 23.

Pray for Pastor Joel and the Mount Olivet community as we move forward into this new day.

God’s peace,

Pastor Beth Horsch                              Michele Pletcher, Church Council President


Associate Pastor Committee Update #3

We’re very excited and so pleased to announce that the Associate Pastor Call Committee has made a candidate recommendation to our Council, and they have agreed with our top choice!  You will have several opportunities to meet and talk with Joel Bergeland during Community hour this coming week, in, and after worship.  You will see Joel a lot over the coming couple of weeks leading up to the congregational meeting and vote on October 9, so please take the time to introduce yourself! We know you’ll find Joel to be a faithful and talented pastor who we believe is a great fit for Mount Olivet!

Joel will be at Mount Olivet:

  • Sunday, 9/25 in both worship services. Come to MOtalk at 10am for a Q&A and longer introduction.
  • Wednesday, 9/28 in worship, and will be around for a longer introduction at 7pm.

A congregational meeting and vote is scheduled for Sunday, October 9 at 12pm in the Mount Olivet worship center. Must be a Mount Olivet member to vote – see eligibility requirements on the website:

Joel provided an introduction below:


Hello, Mount Olivet! My name is Joel Bergeland, and I’m very excited to meet you. Here’s a quick sketch of my life so far:I grew up in Minnetonka, graduated from Hopkins High School, and went on to St. Olaf College. After graduating in 2008 with majors in Religion and Political Science, I worked in the Minneapolis Public Schools for three years serving students and families in under-resourced schools to help them get ready for college. I left my job to start seminary at Yale Divinity School, where I did my field work in congregations in New Haven, CT, and New York City. My yearlong church internship in 2014-15 took me to St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Santa Monica, CA, where I enjoyed learning to be a pastor while living five blocks from the beach! Since last October, I’ve worked supporting adults with disabilities in a group home while waiting for my first call. When I’m not at work, I enjoy riding my bike, gardening, brewing beer, and solving crossword puzzles. I can’t wait to jump in to the work God has been doing in and through you as your associate pastor.


Mount Olivet’s New Organist!

alexwhitaker.pngWe are happy to announce that  Alex has joined us as Mount Olivet’s new organist!

Alex recently moved to Minneapolis after completing musical studies abroad at the Musikhochschule in Germany. Apart from playing organ, he also plays harpsichord and other historical keyboards.

From Winston-Salem, North Carolina, he has studied organ and harpsichord with Edoardo Bellotti, Robert Hill, John Chappell Stowe, and Jack Mitchener. Alex studied at the Eastman School of Music, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Oberlin College.

He’s interested in both modern and historical improvisations, and we will probably hear a few during worship! Alex is also into computers and technology, and is currently learning to program. He loves cooking, dark chocolate, and can speak German too!

His first day is Sunday, September 4th! Hear Alex at worship during our 9am service.


Associate Pastor Committee Update #2

Read the update from the Associate Pastor Call Committee that was sent out to the Mount Olivet community this week!

Dear Mount Olivet Community,

The call process for Mount Olivet’s next associate pastor is underway.  Bishop Ann Svennungsen came to Mount Olivet for a special meeting in July to get to know our community and hear more about the leader we seek.  Based on this conversation, the synod has started identifying qualified candidates for us.  

During this meeting, Bishop Svennungsen invited Mount Olivet to be open to all candidates regardless of gender, age, disability, marital status, race or sexual identity.  The call committee and church council discerned this invitation and wholeheartedly agree that we should be open to all qualified candidates.  We are focused on the ability of the candidates to fulfill the needs of our church, and thus we have no restrictions, or preferences, other than finding the best fit for Mount Olivet.

Mount Olivet is looking for a pastor who is called to our community, gifted in preaching, worship leading, teaching, and relationship building both within Mount Olivet and our broader community.  We seek a leader with a heart for justice and advocacy to engage with new mission opportunities, and lead our existing relationships with PRISM, HomeFree, Northport Elementary, etc.

This discernment and process flows from our identity:

  • a community who believes in the life-giving God, revealed through Jesus, who shows up in daily life – engaging us in God’s work in the world.
  • a community who experiences a faith journey together, with openness and compassion, trusting in the promises of Christ.
  • a community who practices being church in the world – listening to God and neighbor, pointing to God’s active presence, and doing what God calls us to do.

Guided by our identity and the Holy Spirit, the call committee, with Pastor Beth, will recommend a final candidate to the church council.  The church council must approve the recommendation before proceeding to a congregational vote.  That means all Mount Olivet members are part of this call process.  

Your feedback is important to us, and we’ll be hosting conversations each month to check in with the community on the call process. The next session will be held on Sunday, September 25th from 10:00-10:45am and on Wednesday, September 28th from 7:00-8:00pm.  We trust the Holy Spirit guiding us as we take each step in the process, and we are hopeful in what is ahead for Mount Olivet as our new pastor is called. 

Please contact Pastor Beth and Mark Schmidt with thoughts or questions on the call process. 

Thank you for your continued prayers.

God’s peace,


Pastor Beth Horsch
Mark Schmidt, Call Committee Lead
Michele Pletcher, Church Council President


Soda Wada

Mount Olivet is working with our partners,Trinity Lutheran, St. Peders, and Nokomis Heights, along with Dar Al Hijrah Mosque, to sponsor a refugee family’s  resettlement here in Minnesota. Mount Olivet member, Lisa Hansen, is one of three mentors from these congregations that will work along side the family through the coming year.

We will follow both Lisa’s, and this family’s experience through her blog – Riverchilde: A Servants Journey – where she will be posting reflections about her ongoing role as a mentor.

Check back, or visit Lisa’s blog for continued updates.

Riverchilde: A servant's journey

Refugee welcome photoI’m standing at the Arrivals door at Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport holding a piece of tagboard with Somali and American flags and the words “Welcome” and “Soo Dhowaada” pasted on it. Soo Dhowaada, the Somali phrase for welcome, is pronounced SO da Wah Dah—like soda water. Good thing it’s easy to remember how to pronounce, because it’s the only Somali word some of us standing here know, and we’ll be helplessly repeating it over and over again in an attempt to be hospitable. I’m surrounded by people I don’t–or barely–know, but the poster is quite popular with the local Somali Americans who are also waiting for new arrivals to the U.S., so I pose over and over again for smartphone photos.

It’s a 90-degree Minnesota summer day, but I decided to wear a calf-length skirt and lightweight long-sleeved sweater in an attempt to be culturally respectful. I’m hoping this small gesture will be…

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Associate Pastor Committee Update #1

Associate Pastor Call Committee Update #1

Now that we have Pastor Beth firmly in place as our Lead Pastor, we have formed the team that will follow a similar process to identify and recommend a candidate to serve as our Associate Pastor.  We again are being guided by Pastor Craig Pederson from the ELCA Minneapolis Area Synod to help us understand our role as a committee, how the Synod will help us identify and learn about candidates, and ensure we will select the best possible Associate Pastor fit for our church community.

Having just completed our Lead Pastor call, things are moving fast.  We’ve met four times over the last month; we’ve already modified our congregation’s Ministry Site Profile, identified roles within the committee, created a position description, and drafted the interview and selection process we will follow.  We were fortunate to have Bishop Ann meet with many members of our congregation earlier this month so she could get to know us better and thereby inform her search for our open leadership position.  Pastor Craig and Bishop Ann have begun to provide us with excellent candidates to review already and we’ve begun to set up initial meetings.

The Call Committee will continue to be open and transparent with where we are in this process.  We invite you to reach any member to ask questions, and to check the website for updates frequently.


Linda Finley
Associate Call Committee Communications Lead

Mount Olivet Lutheran Church of Plymouth to Have First Female Lead Pastor in 135 Year History

For Immediate Release
Contact: Joe Kaatz
Mount Olivet Lutheran Church of Plymouth

Mount Olivet Lutheran Church of Plymouth to Have First Female Lead Pastor in 135 Year History

Pastor Beth Horsch called as Mount Olivet’s Lead Pastor in near unanimous vote of approval.

Plymouth, Minn. (June 2, 2016) – Mount Olivet Lutheran Church of Plymouth reached a significant milestone at a congregational meeting on May 22, when 240 members called Pastor Beth Horsch to be Lead Pastor. Pastor Horsch became the first female lead pastor in the congregation’s history with a 98% vote of approval.

Pastor Beth served alongside longtime Senior Pastor John Strommen for eight years. Following Pastor John’s resignation in January, the congregation began a five month discernment process for finding a successor. The Church Council found Pastor Beth to be the best fit for Mount Olivet’s congregational identity, and brought their recommendation to be voted on by the congregation.

Pastor Beth formally accepted the call, stating, “We are the church in how we live each day; our presence individually and as a community extends compassion, generosity and love to those we encounter…  I feel called to this work and our growing sense of community.”

Mount Olivet will now begin the process to find a new Associate Pastor. There will be a formal installation ceremony in the fall for both pastors.


About Mount Olivet Lutheran Church of Plymouth

Mount Olivet is a missional congregation in the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) that seeks to be a community partnering with God in the world. As a church that recognizes faith as a journey, the ongoing mission, “Finding our place in God’s unfolding story,” is central to congregational life through dwelling in God, connecting in community, and engaging in callings.


Mount Olivet brings in Wisconsin powerhouses for fifth year of outdoor music benefit.

5th Annual BLUES BREWS N BBQs music line up announced.

Plymouth, Minn. (May 17, 2016) – Mount Olivet’s BLUES BREWS N BBQs (BBNBBQs) music fest returns for a fifth year on August 6, once again benefiting PRISM and Twin Cities Habitat. To celebrate the fifth year, event organizers are going all-out and bringing some of Wisconsin’s best blues performers to Plymouth, Minnesota.

The Jimmys are a seven man blues and soul powerhouse out of Madison, boasting a three piece horn section and named one of the top ten blues fest acts by Elmore magazine. They bring tight harmonies, powerful horn lines, and award-winning keys from band leader, Jimmy Voegeli.

Reverend Raven and the Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys are a raw, unadulterated, Chicago-style blues ensemble from Milwaukee.  The “Reverend”, a south-side Chicago native, lends his charisma and vocals, keeping the band true to Chicago blues the way it’s meant to be.

Staying with the tradition of showcasing local music, Twin Cities staple, Lisa Wenger will kick the day off with a mix of rockin’ blues classics and contemporary soul.  Cole Allen, lead guitarist for Sena Ehrhardt, is bringing his blues-rock band to play the tent stage between the main sets.

BBNBBQs started in 2012 as a fun idea where music, beer, and barbeque could benefit local nonprofits. Four years later, BBNBBQs has distributed $56,000, entertained over 4,000 music lovers, and become the summer showcase in Mount Olivet’s Higher Grounds music series.

BLUES BREWS N BBQs is set for Saturday, August 6. Gates open at 3:30 p.m. and close at 10:00 p.m. Profits will benefit PRISM and Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity for the fifth year in a row.

$12 early bird tickets available through Eventbrite at


About Mount Olivet Lutheran Church of Plymouth

Mount Olivet is a missional congregation in the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) that seeks to be a community partnering with God in the world. As a church that recognizes faith as a journey, the ongoing mission, “Finding our place in God’s unfolding story,” is central to congregational life through dwelling in God, connecting in community, and engaging in callings.


Higher Grounds is a yearlong music series at Mount Olivet, started in 2001 with a vision of supporting nonprofits through music. In 14 years, Higher Grounds has distributed $72,000 to organizations making a difference in the world.


Helping Haiti Work

HaitiKaren Anderson helped found Plymouth-based nonprofit, Helping Haiti Work, to provide small business loans to women in northern Haiti. Every  year, Karen, who is a graphic designer, has created greeting cards that help support the organization and directly fund these micro-loans. This organization is working to end the cycle of poverty in Haiti, and equip women to run their own business.

WomenHelping Haiti Work has also equipped two sewing centers, employing Haitian women to construct reusable menstrual pads and diapers, which are then marketed to the Haitian public. And by making sanitary, reusable pads available, girls are encouraged to attend school regularly, even when reaching puberty.

Karen“God has given me a real joy in Helping Haiti Work! I pitched in several years ago to help my friend and doctor, Leslee Jaeger, with an idea after her annual medical mission in northern Haiti. Reading how microfinancing women’s businesses can help break a cycle of poverty, we started Helping Haiti Work. It is exciting to be part of this nonprofit from the ground up and to use my graphic art skills for its marketing and fundraising, providing almost 250 small business loans for women in Haiti and equipping two sewing centers. Though I am not one to go into the field, I am able to use the talents I have to make a difference in the lives of some underprivileged families. It is humbling to know how hard our loan recipients work with their $200, and how determined they are to pay back their loans in order to provide for those still on the waiting list.


A big thanks to my church family at Mount Olivet for your generous donations that are empowering women and improving communities in northern Haiti”

Contact Karen for more information-

Karen Anderson, Helping Haiti Work
On the web at: