Pictured above – Members of Carver Lifelines – Back (l-r): Carolyn Wetzel (Christ Victorious, Chaska), Lou Pomeroy (St. John, Chaska), Betty Giesselmann (St. Mark, New Germany), Marlene Beneke (Trinity, Waconia), Gerta Hoberg (Emmanuel, Hamburg). Front (l-r): Helen Bunge (Zion, Mayer), Sally Beckendorf (Christ Victorious, Chaska), Majel Wendorf (St. Mark, New Germany) and Vernetta Schwichtenberg (Trinity, Waconia). Not pictured: Sheila Burandt (Trinity, Waconia), Marla Good (St. John, Norwood Young America), Karen Roepke (St. Mark, New Germany) and Pastor Greg Snow (St. John, Chaska)
We sometimes find ourselves taking a deep breath to inhale a little more oxygen required to take that next step in completing an important task. That can be the case with many working to affirm life, as it isn’t always easy. Yet, what a blessing it is, when people persevere knowing the Lord is right there beside them holding them up and carrying them on. When our work is finally done, we long to hear those words from our Master, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”
I have had the opportunity to sit down with several LFL chapters in Minnesota in recent months and hear about their work. Each and every one of those conversations has been uplifting. Most recently, I spent time getting to know Carver Lifelines from Carver county, just west of Minneapolis, Minnesota. In 2014 Carver Lifelines is celebrating their 30th anniversary as an LFL Chapter. What a tremendous legacy they have developed with their long-term dedication. This chapter’s territory is all of Carver county and they work with 13 churches and 7 elementary and secondary schools in promoting the sanctity of life. They have been humbly talking about this being their 30th year as a Life Chapter and in doing so their focus has been on doing for others as a means to celebrate. A practice they no doubt have learned over the years. Surely the churches and schools in Carver county have been blessed by the efforts and dedication of Carver Lifelines over these past 30 years.
In my first visit with Carver Lifelines, in January, there were ten people in attendance at Trinity Lutheran Church in Waconia. On a cold and snowy day, that was certainly impressive. I expected a lot more absent on that blustery winter visit. I sat through their business meeting and it was amazing to me how some very large endeavors were discussed and handled as routine. I was particularly impressed with their “Chest-of-drawers Project.” It’s been going on for a while but still has an impact on the community within Carver county. They find used chest-of drawers, clean them up and put them into one of their many churches. That day, they discussed one at Zion Lutheran in Mayer. People are encouraged to fill the chest-of drawers with baby items needed for the first year of life; like clothing and diapers. When the county nurse calls and provides information about a mother in need, the chest-of drawers is loaded up and delivered. All of this is done in the strictest of confidence. To date they have provided 134 completely full chest-of-drawers to appreciative mothers.
Chapter members made it clear that Sally Beckendorf, their current chapter president, is the champion who faithfully keeps the group focused and moving forward. She resides in Young America and is a member of Christ Victorious Lutheran Church in Chaska. As a retired schoolteacher, she uses her leadership skills to inspire and guide their work. Marlene Beneke, from Trinity in Waconia, serves as secretary, and is the behind-the-scenes information mover required for a group this large. Every vital member of the chapter showed enthusiasm and encouragement to each other.
The first champion, who organized Carver Lifelines in 1984, was Carolyn Wetzel, who also belongs to Christ Victorious, and still serves on the board. She shared with me that in 1984, she attended a panel discussion at Mayer Lutheran High School where she saw the instruments used in abortion. The discussion that ensued touched her heart. Around the same time she suffered a near death experience with complications in giving birth prematurely. She and her tiny daughter survived but both experiences made their mark on her life and proved to be the motivation that inspired her to organize the chapter and ultimately become the first chapter president. In those early years Carolyn did a lot of speaking for life at various churches in Carver county to tell the truth about abortion. That began a long history of orchestrating credible and recognized speakers on various life topics at churches and events. However, that was just the beginning.
This incredible chapter exemplifies what LFL chapters provide. Some of their activities may sound familiar or perhaps will provide encouragement to others. An annual Mother’s Day event found them making and selling corsages. With flowers from local flower shops with ribbons and “Thanks MOM for Life” pins from Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, that labor of love promoted the value of motherhood for many years. Making and selling pie and ice cream at Mayer Lutheran High School basketball games gave them great exposure and helped to fund their For Life work. Sponsoring a poster and essay contest and abstinence speakers in the schools has helped to educate many on life issues. Displaying at the county fair and reaching out with life messages in a regular newsletter and talks with women’s groups is all part of their living legacy.
Physically it’s a little harder today as most everyone is 30 years older. Yet, in just listening for a few minutes to them talk about their work, one can tell that all these members are people with deep convictions. Their passion to do the Lord’s work in this service ministry is quite evident.
We serve a God who desires life to be valued and He provides resources to fulfill that desire, especially LFL chapters as they work to protect and preserve life. We are so grateful and fortunate to have all of our LFL chapters. Carver Lifelines’ projects may have changed over time to meet new challenges yet their faithfulness and dedication remain the same.
If you want to know more about Carver Lifelines you can follow them on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/carverlifelineslutheransforlife. We all wish Carver Lifelines a happy 30th anniversary. May the Lord keep them firm in their purpose and give them the strength, courage, and determination needed to continue their amazing work, with God’s blessing, for years to come.