FLC Considers Calling The Rev. David Severtson As Associate Pastor

Dear Congregational Members and Friends,

On behalf of the Congregation Council, we are pleased to introduce you to the Rev. David Severtson, the candidate to serve as associate pastor. He is recommended by the Associate Pastor Call Committee and the Council.

We invite active members* of the congregation to attend the Congregational Meeting this Sunday, March 5, at 11:15 AM in-person or via Zoom. At the meeting we have two items on the agenda: 1) vote to call Pastor Severtson to begin work on June 1, 2) vote on compensation for Pastor Severtson. The Rev. Steve Brackett, assistant to the bishop, will represent the synod to facilitate the call process and votes.

Pastor David is currently serving as the associate pastor of Calvary Lutheran Church in Willmar, MN, where he leads faith formation and congregational care ministries. He grew up in Clear Lake, IA. He graduated from Luther College in 2001, and Luther Seminary in 2020. He also earned his Doctor of Music degree in piano performance from the University of Minnesota in 2007.

Please read the attached/linked documents. Paper copies are also available in the church office and sanctuary.

Recommendation of the Call Committee, which explains the call process and rationale for calling Pastor Severtson.
Associate Pastor Position Description, which was approved by the Council last October.
Pastor David Severtson Biography, which narrates his faith and vocational journey.
Compensation Agreement, recommended by the Council in accord with the Synod Compensation Guidelines.

Deep thanks to the Call Committee members who have been serving faithfully and diligently since elected by the congregation in June 2022: Laura Storlie, Melinda Hanson, Evan Neubauer, Ruth Caldwell, Doug Van Sloten, Jenna Mockler-Gjerde, and Pastor Mike Wilker.


Troy Whitehill               Rev. Michael Wilker
Council President        Senior Pastor

*According to the congregation constitution, Active Members are those who have shared in Holy Communion and contributed at least $1.00 in the past year.

February Council Member of the Month: Johanna Bergan

Hi FLC! I’m Johanna Bergan (she/hers) and am currently serving my 3rd year on Council and just completed one year as Vice President. I live in downtown Decorah with my husband Joel Zook and children Margret (15) and James (11). Our family are long-time Decorahians and are glad to call FLC our church home. I’ve worked the last dozen years in nonprofit mental health advocacy spaces and am celebrating a few months of rest between my last career and what comes next. Days are full with middle and high school activities (all things theatre and music for Margret and basketball for James). My creative pursuits include yoga, knitting, weaving, lots of reading, and leading indoor cycling classes at T’d Up Fitness. At First I’m excited to support the newest small group for parents of teens and invite you to join me in a reading plan to read the Bible in one year.

Call Committee Recommends a New Associate Pastor

At Tuesday night’s Council meeting, the Associate Pastor Call Committee prayerfully, confidently, and joyfully recommended a candidate as our next associate pastor to begin on or near June 1, 2023. The Council accepted the recommendation and voted to forward the nomination and a compensation package to the Congregation. The Congregational Meeting will be Sunday, March 5, 11:15 PM in-person and via Zoom.

In order to respect the candidate’s current congregation, the candidate’s biography and the Call Committee’s full recommendation will be available a few days prior to the March 5 congregation meeting. The Call Committee members are Laura Storlie, Melinda Hanson, Evan Neubauer, Ruth Caldwell, Doug Van Sloten, Jenna Mockler-Gjerde, and Pastor Mike Wilker.

Council Hires Joseph Company as Construction Manager

At its meeting Tuesday night, the Council voted to hire Joseph Company from Austin, MN, as the Construction Manager for the For Generations to Come Capital Campaign project. This is the next step forward toward construction. As was previously reported, we received bids from two general contractors that were higher than our approximately $5 million budget. Joseph Company will work with 4-6 members of the Building, Sanctuary, and Fundraising teams to hone the project down to a manageable size. We expect this pre-construction work to be done and ready for congregational review and approval in mid-May. After that we’ll begin construction on a beautiful, accessible, well-designed, and affordable project.

Creation Care Team Green Tip for Lent: Break Free from Single-Use Plastics.

First Lutheran’s Creation Care Team suggests that congregation members and their families work to avoid single-use plastic for the 40 days of Lent. In the AfterWord each week during Lent, we will include specific tips toward achieving this goal.

First, a Request: Do you have a surplus of reusable shopping bags? The Creation Care team is collecting extra bags to be available to those who need them. Please bring extra newly-laundered bags to the church Fellowship Hall and deposit them in the bin provided.

Second, the Background: Prompted by synod resolutions and by the group Lutherans Restoring Creation, the ELCA Churchwide Assembly last year committed to seriously work for restoration of God’s earth, encouraging and equipping individual congregations to reduce harmful consumption habits. In response, the church’s young adults proposed a Lenten relinquishing, the #NoplasticsforLent initiative, calling us to pray for creation, to lament how we are all complicit
in the earth’s degradation, and, in caring for our neighbor, to “fast” from the things that are significantly harming our planet.

Third, the Plastic Problem: Many of us are really disciplined about collecting recyclables and taking them to recycling receptacles. But in fact 91 percent of all plastic isn’t recycled at all. Single-use plastics in particular—thin plastic bags and small items like plastic straws, bags, and cutlery—are hard to recycle and often are not accepted by recycling centers. We produce 300 million tons of plastic each year worldwide, half of which is for single-use items: plastic packaging, beverage bottles, produce bags, shipping envelopes, and customer shopping bags.

Although plastic was invented in the nineteenth century, production and use of plastics—as a cheap and adaptable substance which can be either soft and pliable or hard and durable—has exploded and revolutionized modern life since the 1970s. Plastic is produced from the earth’s organic materials (mostly crude oil). The problem is that plastic is a nearly permanent substance. Bacteria normally cause decomposition or biodegradation, but plastic contains chemicals that bacteria cannot eat. Theoretically, plastic could decompose, but it would take up to 450 years and only if it’s exposed to the sun. Landfills typically cover each day’s deposited waste with a layer of soil, so landfill plastics are exposed to the sun so briefly that they cannot break down.

Plastics that do break down simply become smaller and smaller pieces, called microplastics or nanoplastics, which end up in rivers and streams and eventually in the ocean, causing serious damage to marine animals and seabirds; when animals eat plastic, thinking it is food, it gets tangled up in their digestive system and often causes death. Every 45 seconds, a garbage truck’s worth of plastic waste is deposited in our oceans — killing over 1 million marine animals every year. Much of this plastic from the past and into the present ends up in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the North Pacific Ocean, made up of large plastic items (such plastic things as lighters, toothbrushes and pens, water bottles, baby bottles, and cell phones) and microplastics. This large patch of trash spans 620 square miles. And research suggests that it has increased ten-fold each decade since 1945.

Such a huge problem needs political action by governments on a large scale—and a couple of bills have been introduced in the US Congress—Break Free from Single-Use Plastics Act (2020 and 2021) and the Protecting Communities from Plastics Act (2022)—but neither has yet passed. But we as consumers are a crucial part of the problem, and we as individuals can do a lot to highlight and reduce the problem. As Christians, we believe it is our divine charge to steward—protect and preserve—God’s Creation for the future of living things.