A few years ago, David Fortin was living the dream. He and his wife Carmel Froemke had two great children, Lydia and Avery. David loved his vocation as a teacher, he loved living in Dilworth, and he loved participating in the life of the church. “Honestly,” said David, “Dilworth Lutheran drew us in because we found a way to use our skills and gifts at church. We became active at Dilworth Lutheran because we found lots of ways to participate: call committees, youth committees, Wednesday School activities, Confirmation classes, etc. That is a great thing!”

While David loved being a teacher, he felt a call from God to do something more—something where he could live out his faith in more direct ways. “I was looking for something with more overt spiritual ties, more quiet ways that I might live my faith, in places that fit me. Instead of just talking about my faith, I wanted to demonstrate it for others. I think the church is anywhere people are.”

Through participating in the life of the church, David’s faith led him to make major career move. Leaving his teaching life behind, David started working at a local non-profit, Presentation Partners in Housing. As a Housing Stability Specialist, David’s job now is to walk alongside those who are chronically homeless, help them navigate housing, and help them find the resources they need to be independent. Through helping people find housing, David’s faith has deepened and grown.

“I have found that God is there for me, in helping others. If we allow God, God works through us in the mundane, where every gesture, and every word is important. Through my interaction I want them to know that God loves them. There is nothing more important than that!”

While major career moves are scary, God is doing great things through David. And we are grateful that David is sharing the love of God found at Dilworth Lutheran with our neighbors in need!

The first thing you notice about Julie Norman is her warm, beautiful smile. You might not guess that behind that welcoming smile is a woman who has dedicated much of her adult life to working in criminal justice. Julie has spent over forty years as an administrative assistant for the Department of Corrections, working long hours to ensure that work moves forward. Julie shares there are many challenges in her field. “In the decades I’ve worked in law enforcement, I’ve seen an increase in weapons, drugs and violence. It’s all out there.”

This work often shows an ugly side of life. How does Julie keep the faith after spending her days seeing things like this, day-in-and-day-out? Julie says, “Church and church music keep me grounded.” Julie finds that God’s Word of hope and good courage saturates her heart and mind through singing in the Dilworth Lutheran Adult Choir and with the worship bands. “Being in the church choir for most of my life has kept me connected with God and the church.”

This faith practice was nurtured in her youth. “When I was a kid at Dilworth Lutheran, we made a record with Shirley Bergquist. I loved it and I’ve just kept making music!” Being surrounded in songs of God’s Words strengthens her for challenges particularly at work. While she doesn’t usually quote chapter and verse in the Bible, she is grateful that so much scripture is a part of her life through singing.

And we are so grateful that the faith nurtured in her youth continues to bear fruit for us all at Dilworth Lutheran. Her voice and presence in choir have blessed us all!

Many of you know Larry Scott for his love of sports and all those articles he wrote as the Sport Information Director of MSUM (Moorhead State University of Minnesota) for 40 years! It was the perfect job given his love of sports, writing, and communication skills. “My hobby became my job,” he said. “And as great as that was, it was not everything. It was part of it, but there were some missing pieces. I was fulfilled professionally, but still seeking spiritually. I was always in search of a church that fit me.”

As Larry ventured out into the world, he initially thought bigger was better. Then he attended Dilworth Lutheran. “Jim would greet me at the door with a cup of coffee,” Larry said with a smile, “and folks were so welcoming and engaging.” Larry enjoys the good messages, the choir, and the traditional service with hymns he knows and loves to sing. “Church has enriched my life,” he said. “When I was young ‘I had to go’ to church, now ‘I get to go’ to church! It gives me substance and hope. It reminds me that small acts of kindness can give hope, and how we talk to others is important, like encouraging and giving comfort.”

Growing up, Larry went to church with his mom at Calvary Lutheran in Alexandria. “My mom’s faith and prayer life helped shape who I am. My dad worked as manager of Land O Lakes in Alexandria, and I continue to live by his example. He showed me that you can do something good without calling attention to yourself.” To honor his dad, he goes to the Dorothy Day House on a weekly basis to drop off a gallon of milk announcing, “The milk man’s here!” “And then I think to myself, ‘that’s for you dad.’”

Larry’s easy going, affable, and social nature make him a joy to be around. He still has coffee every day with family, staff, and students at the Dragon Café. After 40 years his workplace also feels like home, and he carries a wealth of knowledge and sports trivia that young people love. We’re so blessed to have you in our lives, Larry, and that you also made your home here at Dilworth Lutheran Church!!

Haley Meek and her husband Chuck love sharing their life with their young son, Eli. They have much to impart and pass down to him: a love of sports, close friendships, and a joy in spending time with family. Haley is also working to pass on a great gift that her grandparents and parents gifted her: the foundation of the life is finding hope and belonging in God.

Haley has experienced first-hand how faith can bring families through the most difficult of hardships. When Haley was a young girl, her two young cousins were killed in a house fire in Fargo while they slept. “The loss of my cousins was devastating for everyone in my family. When something like this happens, people respond in all sorts of different ways. My dad and grandparents responded by finding refuge in the church.” Haley’s family were committed to being held in their grief by God’s people at church and God Himself. “I experienced the power of the church to support her family through tragedy. I was held by God in my loss and ever since, I’ve known that God’s love bring comfort, even in the most devastating situations.”

As an adult, Haley conveys this great love of God to her family through her participation at Dilworth Lutheran. “Like the church of my youth, Dilworth Lutheran is great at sharing God’s love. I have a sense of belonging here that makes all the difference. People accept you for who you are.” At Dilworth, Haley knows and shares that she belongs to God, and is passing down this great gift.

When Dilworth Lutheran Church opened up after the pandemic, there was a large celebration. It was Lorna Kennedy’s 90th birthday party! For the past 70 years, Lorna had called Dilworth home. And, on this day, after a long time apart, the church came together to celebrate someone who gave so much to the church.

For Lorna, it was a homecoming. “For as long as I remember, Dilworth Lutheran was a place where I feel I belong. I feel comfortable and safe here.” Like many others, Lorna was so happy to be together again. “People stuck around to visit. We were home again.”

For Lorna, Dilworth Lutheran has always been a special place. When she was a young mother, she faced a crisis in her marriage and was divorced. As a mother of six young boys, this was a difficult position to be in. Dilworth Lutheran, however, provided her with support. “I made lifelong friends at church. All of us young mothers became so close, our families almost became interchangeable.” The church helped raise her boys in the faith—she still remembers by name the woman who taught all her boys in Sunday School. Dilworth was not simply a church, but it was home. “It is so much a part of me I wouldn’t know what to do without it.”

And Dilworth Lutheran Church wouldn’t know what to do without the leadership, kindness, and love of Lorna Kennedy. When we celebrated her 90th birthday, we celebrated someone who has made a real difference in the life of our church.

Paula Johnson is a leader—when she’s given a task, she works tirelessly to complete it. In the ND Air National Guard, she was a Chief Master Sergeant, the highest enlisted rank in the Air Force. She was also the first woman promoted to ND State Command Chief. At Dilworth Lutheran, Paula took the lead in our popular Annual Fall Dinner Festival from its beginning, and has served on our Stewardship and Evangelism Committees, on the Church Council, and, for the last 5 years, Paula has volunteered at the New Life Center Thrift Store.

Paula’s love for leadership goes way back. When she was in high school at Ulen/Hitterdal, her senior class motto was “Take the world as you find it, but leave it better.” She has aspired to live by that motto in everything she does. Her greatest inspiration, however, was her mom, Gert Johnson whose love, faith, and faithfulness kept her family going through some very difficult times. Paula recalled how her dad left her mom with 3 small children. “I was only 5 years old with 2 younger siblings,” she said. Her mom worked full time while raising her family and supporting all their activities. As she grew up, Paula’s relationship with her father was strained. It did not get easier as an adult. “I did not want to reconcile with my biological dad,” Paula recalled. The church’s emphasis on forgiveness and reconciliation, however, changed her heart. “One day God spoke clearly to me, ‘Honor your father and mother.’ I didn’t want to, but I did.” God blessed that decision, bringing healing and many blessings into her life.

Today Paula will tell you that faith, family and country are all very close to her heart. Along with the values of sacrifice and serving others, Paula finds these virtues nurtured at Dilworth Lutheran Church. This faith has bore fruit in her life. Paula was recently honored with her picture on the cover of the magazine AW (Area Woman). In an article entitled “Determined, Dedicated, and Decorated” Paula says, “My faith has helped ground me, and it’s also given me wisdom to face uncertain situations. It’s important to generously serve others without losing yourself. I’m reminded that I need to think about God not just when I’m sad, but to connect with Him to do the right things. It’s a guarantee that all of us will eventually mess things up when we try to do things on our own. We need God’s help to direct our steps.”

In 1 Corinthians, St. Paul tells us that while church is one body, it has many parts. Some people serve by preaching, others by teaching Sunday School; some serve by leading music, others by keeping the lights on. Some, like Perry Kleven, serve the church at Dilworth Lutheran in all kinds of ways: when he is not gracing the church with his trumpet or making pancakes between services, he is working behind the scenes, making sure that our electrical systems and IT services are running properly.

As the service manager for Bergstrom Electric, Perry has had the opportunity to live and work in many different towns. For Perry, the community of Dilworth felt different. “When we came to Dilworth, we knew we had found a place we wanted to call home, so we bought a house and we visited Dilworth Lutheran Church.”

They immediately fell in the love with the church. “It was easy liking the church! Our core group of friends had children our age, our interests were the same and they were members here. What made it special for me were the Pastors. Their sermons, the interest and care in the members, the warmth we felt as we entered, made it easy to make Dilworth Lutheran Church our home church.”

Over the years, Perry has found Dilworth to be a great place to serve. “I was fortunate to help start the Men’s Pancake Club which brought many wonderful relationships through faith, fun and many blessings. I enjoy supporting all the Committees in our church—what a great place.”

Perry finds that using his gifts at Dilworth Lutheran has been a great blessing in his life. “By serving, I have found that in the giving I have also received. As I work for the church, I have also received many gifts of faith and friendship.”

And through Perry’s service, we have received many gifts. As St. Paul reminds us, we are all one body with many different gifts. Each one of us can serve the whole by doing our part. And through Perry’s music, talents, and pancakes, we have all been blessed.

If you visit Irene Hill, you’ll notice that she’s a cat lover! What are the clues? Cat toys are strategically placed and there’s a shelf full of cat pictures. They are right next to the love of her life, Arnold Hill.

Irene met Arnold when he was a soldier serving overseas, and she was working at the Army PX (a retail military mega store) in Berlin, Germany. Germany was continuing to recover from World War II, and Irene was getting her feet under her as a young adult. Irene is from Berlin. She’ll tell you this with a laugh: “Ich bin ein Berliner!” (“I am a Berliner.”)

This German phrase also carries a powerful message. President John F. Kennedy made it famous in a speech he gave in Berlin on June 26, 1963. He said, “Today in a world of freedom, the proud boast is, ‘Ich bin ein Berliner.’ All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and therefore, as a free man, I take pride in it.” While the world’s press made light of the possibility that JFK accidentally said that he was a jelly donut, his words encouraged Berliners like Irene.

By the time President Kennedy spoke his words, the East German government backed by the Soviet Union began to erect the Berlin Wall, a barrier between East (the Soviet-occupied sector) and West Berlin. President Kennedy’s speech was a great morale boost for West Berliners who lived in an enclave deep inside Communist East Germany. People in West Berlin were cut off from the rest of Germany and the western, democratic world. It was a fear-filled and difficult time. Twenty-seven years later the Berlin Wall came down. People around the world rejoiced!

As a young adult in Germany, Irene was blessed by her job working as a civilian for the US military. Irene and Arnold married and moved to the U.S. in the 1960’s where Arnold continued to serve in the U.S. Army. Despite the constant moves, Irene thrived in an environment that was new: new jobs, new people, new cultures, new living situations and new cats. When asked, “Where were you the happiest?” Irene replied, “Be happy where you are at!”

Irene was happy growing up in the church in Germany, but reflected that it was less personal. “We never got to know the pastors in Germany,” she said. Once back in the U.S. they attended the Presbyterian church. After moving to Dilworth (from Glyndon) they decided to give the Lutherans a try. How did that go? “We really liked the pastor at Dilworth!” she said. What is Irene most thankful for? “I’m still here!” she exclaimed. Yes, you are, Irene, and we are so thankful for you. She is a true witness that with steady faith in God and a kitty beside you, you can be happy where you are at!

Bonnie Miller is a spunky, fun-loving, devoted member of Dilworth Lutheran Church. She is married with two children and two grandchildren. A retired cardiac pacemaker nurse, she now loves singing in the choir, playing the French horn in the Red River Valley Veteran’s Band, and, most of all, taking care of her grandchildren.

As a child, Bonnie attended an Episcopal Church, but was more active in the Lutheran Church with their youth activities. “I loved being a part of both churches. It reminded me that while we may have differences, we are all one.”

When a job opportunity brought Bonnie and her husband Greg to the FM Area, they checked out many churches. “After we visited a lot of places, we loved the warm, welcoming feeling of Dilworth Lutheran Church. The Pastor was gentle and compassionate, and the sermons were what we needed to hear. The church made such a difference for our young family. We wanted to raise our children in a faith-based environment and Dilworth Lutheran provided it. And, as a bonus, they even had a choir!”

Through their time here, Bonnie and Greg have faced many trials. Along with her faith and family, the love and care from her Dilworth congregation has given her the strength to carry on to serve others as they have served her. “Dilworth has been a great church home. The messages continue to speak to me wherever I’m at and they help carry my faith outside of the church, to work and life. The longer we have been here, the more my faith grows. I find myself praying more and getting deeper into the Bible.”

The church continues to inspire and provide love and support to Bonnie. “What I love most is the way so many people get involved. People love this church, and they continue to inspire me to become more involved. There is something here for everyone.”

Recently retired accountant and current grandchild baby-sitter, Cindy Andrew grows in her faith through Dilworth Lutheran’s mission of “Love God. Love Neighbor.”

When Cindy Andrew moved to Dilworth twenty years ago, she knew almost no one. Her kids were busy in elementary school, and she was establishing her career as an accountant. “My family’s move to Dilworth could have been a lonely and difficult transition. Instead, I found a family at Dilworth Lutheran Church.”

For Cindy, Dilworth Lutheran provides opportunities for growth in her love for God and for love of neighbor. “Dilworth Lutheran has given me so many opportunities to grow in my faith. During the week, I am able to be a part of the women’s devotional group, and I am able to mentors students in confirmation. These opportunities to learn, grow, and share my faith are so important to who I am.”

Dilworth Lutheran’s energy in helping our community has expanded Cindy’s faith. Through serving with her church family, Cindy’s faith and world has grown. “As I’ve practiced loving my neighbor at a Habitat for Humanity build site or serving at a funeral, I’ve found deeper love for God.”

This past Christmas, when Cindy walked into the Faith Life Center with gifts for children in need from our local elementary school, tears sprang to her eyes, “When I saw over a thousand gifts for people in our community and women in the jail, I was overwhelmed by the superabundance of God’s grace. Wow!”

The church is her family here in Dilworth. She knows that she’ll always have a home here for loving God and loving our neighbors.