Tom and I have been attending worship at Zion Lutheran Church this summer. One of the wonderful things about the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is that they often have Wednesday night church services. We loved the Vesper services at the Trinity ELCA church in Hovland, Minnesota when we worked at Grand Portage. And we are loving the Wednesday night worship services at Zion Lutheran.
Zion Lutheran is only 12 miles from Fort Union Trading Post, so it is practically next door in this part of the world. The little town of Fairview only has 1,000 residents, but Zion Lutheran is large enough to have a full-time pastor. When their previous pastor moved on to another church, Zion spent two years looking for another pastor. They were afraid they would have to close, but they found a new pastor in May.
Pastor Tim O’Shields is a second career pastor. He worked as a chemist for 20 years before starting over as a music minister, going to seminary, and then being ordained in the ELCA. We love his style of worship leadership. He is in his 40’s and is very relaxed at the Wednesday night services. The services are held outside in the courtyard between the sanctuary and the education wing of the church. Pastor Tim makes an altar appropriate to the liturgical season and prepares communion for each service. When we attended worship recently, the wind was so strong that the Holy Spirit dove kept blowing off the table. The Holy Spirit moves where it may.
There is a printed liturgy for each service, which Tom and I appreciate. Pastor Tim is assisted by a young woman, Grace McPherson, who Tom and I originally thought was a college student. Turns out she is a 15 year old Sophomore in high school. She reminds me of a younger (much younger) me. In the liturgy this week, the last line of the hymn, “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” was left off, so Pastor Tim encouraged us to make up our own last line.
The congregation for the Wednesday night services is small with less than 20 people attending. But the people who attend are enthusiastic singers well led by Pastor Tim. The first week we were there he accompanied the hymns with his conga drums. That was different. Pastor Tim gives a ten-minute message each week. He has been working through the Fruits of the Spirit and we always get something good out of the message. They are easy to follow and interesting.
I am very thankful to find a warm and welcoming place to worship on Wednesday nights. We will continue to enjoy Pastor Tim and the people at Zion Lutheran as long as we are at Fort Union Trading Post.