A Worship Service to Honor Survivors of Sexual Violence


These last weeks have been tough ones for people who have suffered sexual abuse, sexual violence, and other experiences that felt less-than-consensual. I don’t know why those kinds of crimes committed against our bodies carry so much weight, but I know they do. For those of you who have been triggered by the national conversation and perhaps the dismissal of the story, or who have just been reminded of painful memories as this has played out in all the media, peace be with you. Know that you are a beloved child of God, and no one can take that away from you. 

Next Monday evening, consider attending a service of prayer honoring survivors of sexual violence Bethlehem Lutheran Church Twin Cities, under Meta Herrick-Carlson’s leadership, along with Pastors Sara Lynn Wilhelm Garbers (Minister of Connections at Colonial Church) and Sarah Brouwer (Associate pastor at Westminster Pres). I will be there, and there is space for you and your grief, pain, anger, confusion and whatever other emotions this has stirred up for you.

This event is one year since #metoo went viral, and October 15 was named “Break the Silence Day” in Minnesota by Gov. Mark Dayton. It will be an evening prayer service for survivors of sexual violence and all who hurt and grieve with them. God hears your cries and calls the church to show up in the weariness and suffering with comfort that whispers, “You are not alone.”


We know many who need this service care for children in the evening. Kids are most welcome! We’ll have a time in the service especially for them, nursery care and an area where they can wiggle and color freely. 


If you feel called, proceeds from the offering will benefit the Survivors Memorial in Minneapolis. Learn more at www.survivorsmemorial.org 

“The feeling remains that God is on the journey, too.” – St. Theresa of Avila

Need to talk? 

You can contact me, or another pastor, or RAINN The Nation’s Largest Anti-Sexual Violence Organization 1-800-656-4673 (HOPE).

Be gentle with yourselves and others-

Pastor Holly Johnson

Is Slavery just our Nature?

This post comes from the champion of our Partners-in-Giving, Michael (Bear) Meyer. This Sunday is Freedom Sunday, and we’ll hear more about their work in church, but here is a word from Michael about the work:

Is slavery just our nature?

There are two things I would like for you to take away from this blog. The first is to remember every slave is a human being with a name, a story, and a dream. The second is together, with the help of anti-slavery organization, the church, and our own involvement, we can send rescue and set them free.

Here’s some history: The word “slavery” evokes thoughts of a dark period (1619-1863) in US history when the slave trade existed in the United States. Fact is, reference to slavery had been around long before. We read about it in the bible, and we know humans have been practicing slavery since the beginning of time. I guess it’s just in our nature.

Slavery is still present, if not more so, than anytime in the history of mankind. “Modern Day Slavery” is how it is referred to today.

How real is “Modern Day Slavery?” Frightfully real. It is estimated 40 million people are trapped in some form of slavery. Modern Day Slavery takes on many different forms. Forced labor is just one. Sex trafficking involving children, teens and adult women is another. A property grab leaves widows with no income and unable to support their children. Entire families forced to do manual labor in a system rigged to never allow them to pay their debt. Young boys forced into dangerous labor. And the newest addition. Cyber sex trafficking.

The question is often askedhowis slavery still being practiced today. One answer: Money. Slavery generates over $150 billion annually.

What is being done to stop Modern Day Slavery? Fortunately, a lot. International organizations, such as International Justice Mission (IJM), are mobilized and working in slavery hot spots throughout the world, including the United States.

Rescuing victims is only a small part of the solution. Helping to rehabilitate individuals or entire families by placing them in a safe environment requires medical care, housing, education and counseling. Establishing judicial systems where none exists, training, prosecution and arrests helps put an end to the perpetrators.

I am only one person, so what can I do? Actually, quite a bit.

  • Awareness of the problem is the first step, and it’s only a click away. Visit the International Justice Mission web site (ijm.org) and you will find a great source of information. Knowledge is power, and the more you learn the more you will pass forward.
  • Be an anti-slavery activist. It’s easier than it sounds and very effective. Our elected officials want (and need) your input. There are countless ways to become a champion for those who do not have the ability to speak for themselves. IJM has a Minneapolis chapter. Meet with them.
  • Include Modern Day Slavery victims in your daily prayers. IJM believes in the power of prayer. In fact IJM stops operations and their entire organization spends an hour in prayer every day. Their founder, Gary Haugen, states, “The work we do is so difficult there is no way we could do it without God’s help.” The power of prayer is one reason why Spirit Garage participates in Freedom Sunday where churches around the world come together in prayer to eliminate slavery.
  • Donate to IJM, or, an organization of your choice. Spirit Garage includes IJM in our Partners In Giving program. Also, every dollar, quarter, dime, nickel and penny in the Lose Change To Loosen Chains jug helps with the rescue of someone trapped in slavery.

With your help, IJM has a plan to end slavery in our lifetime. Please consider becoming a part of the solution.

Michael Meyer

Anti-Slavery Activist










All Square is Opening!

A Word from All Square’s Partners-in-Giving Champion, Maria Anderson:

On September 8th, 2018, there will be a new restaurant opening in the Longfellow neighborhood of Minneapolis.  The restaurant is All Square, which will be offering a selection of gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches using local ingredients, and who can resist a grilled cheese on almost any day of the year?  But All Square is also an active nonprofit offering an educational 13-month institute available to formerly incarcerated felons that offers a paid internship and professional development, as well as training in financial literacy and personal wellness.  Participates in the program will work in the restaurant as well as attend classes.  The name All Square conveys both a message and a mission statement – that those who have offended and returned to the larger community are considered to be “all square” and to have made their restitution.  All Square was founded by Emily Hunt Turner, a civil rights attorney, and the board of directors is comprised of lawyers, activists, and people who have formerly been incarcerated.  Together they have developed a business and rehabilitation concept aimed at ending the stigma and discrimination experienced by those who have a criminal record that affects their ability to find housing, jobs and government assistance, and that may subsequently contribute to recidivism.

All Square was selected by Spirit Garage as one of three Partners in Giving for the year 2018 and will receive two financial gifts from the congregation, one mid-year and another at the year’s end.  We also hope to provide support from our congregation and our broader church family through Bethlehem Lutheran as after-church lunch customers and also by stopping by regularly in support of the restaurant and its role in the community.

As a Partner in Giving, Spirit Garage identifies a champion who can be a contact for the recipient and act as a liaison for communication, such as sharing information with members, helping to organize lunch outings, and rallying the cause.  I volunteered to be a champion for All Square because their goal is one that brings home a daily message for all of us.  Who among us has not offended in some way against another person or against a societal, religious or cultural norm?  And who among us has not needed to make restitution and be considered “all square”?  Supporting others who are in the process of remaking their lives helps all of us to build a strong community.

My professional background also made volunteering to be a champion for All Square seem natural as my work as a mental health professional in the prison system in Minnesota brought me in contact with many offenders who turned to criminal activity because they did not have jobs or who worried that they would not be able to work upon release because of their record. Lack of opportunities upon release many times contributed to recidivism.  We don’t all have employment opportunities about which we feel passionate but all of us need housing, food, and a way to obtain necessary goods and services.  Persons who have been incarcerated experience discrimination and stigma and those outcomes affect their ability to provide for themselves and their families.  We can help by welcoming and supporting an organized effort to help train and employ persons who can both benefit from these efforts and go on to become successful and contributing individuals within our community.

Eventually All Square intends to expand their rehabilitation program throughout Minnesota and the country.  We are fortunate to have an opportunity to give to All Square and support those who are remaking their lives in our own community.  Be sure to sign up for a group lunch on September 9thafter church services and taste one or more of the nine signature sandwiches (there are also vegan options), soup, fries and beer and wine. Hope to see you there!

Maria Anderson

What’s up with the Baptismal Bowl?

If you come to Spirit Garage on a regular basis, you may have noticed that a few months ago, the baptismal bowl became a permanent part of our worship space. I got a lot of questions asking, “are we having a baptism today?” 

Yes….and No…will most often be the answer! 

My belief is that baptism is a way of recognizing God’s claim on us as children of God, and a tool for this life for when you don’t feel adequate enough. I don’t believe it is about us deciding anything about God, or keeping us out of hell. I think it is about a moment when we hear God say “Yes” to us, and the Christian community around us also says “Yes.” Yes, you are a child of God; Yes, you are a part of this big Christian family. 

(For the record, I believe God says yes to you even before you are baptized, but this is a moment when we hear and experience that word of grace)

The font is out all the time because it can serve as a daily reminder of God’s “Yes” to us. So when you walk into the worship space, you can dip your fingers in that water, maybe make the sign of the cross on your forehead, say to yourself, “I am a child of God” and remember that God says yes to you. Maybe that is helpful on days when it seems like the world has said “no” to you, or on days when you can’t quite say “yes” to yourself. 

You might ask…what about the water? Last week as we were cleaning up, I asked someone to empty the font, and they looked at me…and said, “just like…outside?” Yep. Because for us, it is just water. God chooses to communicate God’s grace through the most ordinary of physical elements (water, wine, bread), with words of promise attached to those elements. But I don’t do anything magical to the water or wine or bread that makes it something different than ordinary. So it is okay to just dump it. (Though sometimes, when I do this, I remind the earth that it too is a child of God.) 

So also, that water that reminds you that you are a child of God doesn’t have to be in a baptismal font at church. It could be in your sink when you wash your face.

And you might ask…What if I’m not baptized? As I said earlier, I believe God says yes to you before or outside of baptism. But I’m also super happy to talk with anyone about being baptized, so contact me if you’re interested in or thinking about hearing and experiencing those words with the water spoken over you, and being claimed as a child of God and part of the family of God. Baptism is known as a sacrament, which basically means it is a gift of God’s grace communicated and experienced with words of promise from God attached to ordinary elements, and we do them because there was some place in the gospels where Christ said, “you should do this.” 

So yes-since a baptism is for every day, it is happening today, and if you are baptized you can remember that this promise was made over you. And no, most weeks we aren’t having a baptism. But it is part of what we are about all the time.

Have other questions about baptism? Feel free to ask me—either email me with questions or to set up a time to meet. 

Holly Johnson

Pastor at Spirit Garage



A Word from the Drivetrain

Dear Spirit Garage Members & Friends:

Hard to believe that 2018 is over halfway through! What a year it’s shaping up to be at Spirit Garage! We were thrilled to “officially” install Pastor Holly this summer after welcoming her as our Pastor in 2017. 

Some of our other year-to-date activities include:

1. TWO community chili cook-off’s – Longfellow and Hook & Ladder

2. Longfellow Community Council’s Pie-no-Pie resource fair 

4. Bible study at Peace Coffee 

5. Theology conversations at Sisters’ Sludge

6. Book discussions at Moon Palace books

7. Open Streets

8. May Day Parade 

9. Concerts

10. Outdoor worship at Minnehaha and Lake Harriet (coming up on 9/2!)

We don’t talk much about finances, and that is on purpose. We don’t want our friends, members or people checking out Spirit Garage for the first time to feel pressure to give. However, from time to time, it is important to point out where we’re at from a financial perspective, in order to continue the good work that Spirit Garage has been up to the past 20+ years in helping people grow in their relationship with God and each other. 

Spirit Garage is behind on our offering. Through 6/30/18, actual giving is $35,232, and our budget was $47,790. There is still time to make up our deficit! 

This is a great time to re-evaluate your offering and consider making a one-time gift, or consider beginning or increasing your regular donation, if your budget allows. If you’d like assistance or resources with budgeting, please feel free to reach out to me. 

As a reminder, you can give in the following ways:

  • Text-to-Give is remarkably easy! Send the amount you want to give to (612) 255-1603. You’ll be taken to a webpage to enter your information.  A “thank you” for your gift will be sent via text and email. At any time you can type “repeat” or a new amount and the gift will be made from your account. 
  • Electronically by visiting the Spirit Garage Donation Page to make a one-time or recurring gift
  • Send check to Spirit Garage at 4100 Lyndale Ave S., Minneapolis MN 55409
  • Come to worship, and put your cash or check into the oil cans that are passed around during announcements. 

Thank you for your partnership in growing God’s kingdom! I look forward to celebrating Spirit Garage’s 21st birthday with you in October!

Melissa Johnston

Drivetrain Team Member (leadership team) and Children’s Ministry Parent Coordinator

A Word from the Drivetrain – John Lawyer

The Drivetrain is the leadership team of Spirit Garage, the group that makes things move!

Greetings from the Drive Train!

Can you believe summer is already half over?  As we steam through July (literally!) we hope you are joining in some of the summer fun we’ve been having. We’ve had worship in the park at Minnehaha Falls, the Earth Day clean-up and picnic,  and the Longfellow neighborhood walk. Coming up we have Revealed live at Carbone’s Pizza and Three on the Tree rocking it at Open Streets. And don’t forget to get your tickets to the August 17th Saints game! You can find information about these events on the calendar page.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes we are already planning for fall. The Connectors Marketing Team has been working hard on a new outreach plan, and we have a new logo and a new look in the works. We’re also reaching out to old friends as we plan our 21st Birthday/Homecoming party for this fall in October.

Summer’s moving fast, as it always does. We hope you have time to get out and enjoy it and meet this wild God of ours in the warm sunshine!  Good things are on the horizon but for now …back to the pool!

-John Lawyer

Worship Services (or NOT) the next two weeks! Things are different!

July 15- Minnehaha Falls Bandstand Worship

When: Sunday, July 15, 10:30am

Each year we hold worship at Minnehaha Falls Park. Our annual free community picnic will follow at 11:45 at the picnic tables adjacent to the bandstand. Look for Spirit Garage Signage to guide your way.

While the picnic is free, you are welcome to bring something to share! Please sign up here so that we are sure to have all our bases covered.

During lunch, CD Onofrio is going to share some music with us. CD is a musician from Niagara Falls, Canada, and Berkeley, CA and likes to travel the world sharing music. You can hear his sound here.

After lunch, take some time to enjoy the park walking and bike trails down to the falls and creek below. Bike and Cart rentals are available at Sea Salt Restaurant.

Traffic may be tricky this day, as Lake Street is supposed to be closed.


July 22-NO WORSHIP service but come out for Open Streets!


Open Streets: Lake+Minnehaha

When: Sunday, July 22, 11 AM-5 PM

Where: The Hook and Ladder, 3010 Minnehaha Ave

Art Vandalay will be playing at 12 noon; 3 on the Tree will be playing at 2pm.  Volunteers are needed to help with they day including string art & crafts table, making cotton candy, live music setup/teardown, etc. You can sign up here to help! This is a great way for us to connect with the neighborhood we call home. So if you’ve been wondering why anyone hasn’t found us hidden away in our little building for a couple hours a week….well, it’s because we need to be out in the street! This is a great time to do that. We will mostly be in between the police station and the Hook and Ladder Theater, so we should not be hard to find.

Summer always has a lot going on, because we have to be outside when we can! Here’s hoping it is not too hot. As we think about that, we’ll just remember that it has only been 3 short months since our last blizzard.

#GodisWild #soistheweather

See you in the Wilderness!

Pastor Holly

God is Wild Summer Exploration


We often try to domesticate God, but what if God is wild?

This summer we have a summer exploration theme: God is Wild. Lots of times, we think we know what God is up to, and people think they have a pretty good sense of what God thinks. This is what I like to call our “God box.” We think we know what is in that box. But I wonder if by doing that if we make God too small? And what if God is wild and can’t fit in a box?

Each week this summer, we’ll focus on a different story from scripture where God acts in a way that seems contrary to the order we might expect. Why would someone plant a weed in a garden? Why did God make such strange creatures? Why doesn’t God know how to dress for a party? Does God change God’s mind? What is that crazy dream about? All these questions have something to do with the texts we found that tell us wild stories about God.

Along with that, you’ll hear “Wild” songs all summer long (You can read John Kerns’s post about the wild songs), and hear poetry that is about the wilderness or wild things.

We also have a summer book read, and three dates for discussions if you’d like to participate: Brené Brown’s newest book, Braving the Wilderness will help us form discussions about being brave in unknown territory; being brave in the face of vulnerability, and finding true belonging. Join us for a book discussion night upstairs at the Moon Palace Bookstore, 3032 Minnehaha Ave. There is also a cafe there if you want to grab food or drink.

There is one book behind the counter with my name on it that you are welcome to buy from Moon Palace! I put it there just for you!

June 12th
7:30-8:30 PM
(Chapter 1)

July 10th
7:30-8:30 PM
(Chapters 2-4)

August 14th
7:30-8:30 PM
(Chapters 5-7)

Join us for a God is Wild Summer Exploration!


State of the Spirit (Garage)

On February 25, following worship, we’ll have an annual meeting following worship, with LUNCH included just in case the regular BREAKFAST isn’t enough. Two meals in one day!

At this meeting you’ll hear from:

  • The Think Tank that has been planning short-term next steps
  • The Connectors who are working on some of those next steps
  • Our (fairly) new pastor on first impressions and more.

We’ll discuss:

  • Our financial state, and hopes for this next year
  • Our membership state and our hopes for next year
  •  New initiatives

As with everything at Spirit Garage, your participation is key to the ongoing success of Spirit Garage! See you there, February 25, from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.

FAQs Bible Study

Wednesdays during Lent, 7-8 PM beginning February 21st
Peace Coffee, 3262 Minnehaha Ave in Longfellow

As we continue to “Live the Questions” in the season of Lent, consider this Lenten practice:
Wednesday evenings from 7-8 PM you’ll find me sitting at Peace Coffee with the scripture for the following week. (Except March 7th).

One of the best ways to study the scripture is to ask it a lot of questions, so I’m calling this “Frequently Asked Questions” bible study. The main goal will be to ask the text as many questions as we can, and see what that might open up for us.

Here are some examples of questions we might ask:

Who is in this story?
Who is this story written for?
Who is this story written about?
Who wrote this story?
What did they want their audience to think when they read this story?
What should we think instead?
What happened before this story?
Why did he say THAT?
What does this mean?
In what tone of voice do you think he said that?
What did the setting look like?
Who else might have been there?
What was that silent character thinking?
Why don’t the women have names?And lots more…you get to ask. I don’t guarantee answers, but Jesus didn’t either. Often he just asked more questions.

Then come on Sunday and see how these questions get woven into the fabric of the message.

From the workbench of…

Holly Johnson
Pastor @ Spirit Garage