Love Abounds – Family Convocation

October 21-22, 2022

Bethel Lutheran Church & Ramada Inn, Bismarck


Friday 11am-2pm: Mercy Meals

Friday Evening: Bear Making Activity with Youth Gathering

Saturday: Rev. Dr. Mark Wood, Lutheran Family Service; Comfort Dog Gideon; Lunch Provided

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How to Manage Your Anxiety

I experienced dark times in my life as a child and at every stage of my growth into and through adulthood. I became a prisoner of my anxiety; especially in my earlier years. 

I was gripped by obsessive thoughts and worries; phobias (in my case excessive handwashing to ward off germs); inability to slow my thoughts and worries which interfered with my concentration and sleep; ritualistic behaviors that I thought were necessary to fend off terrible things happening; and intrusive thoughts of frightening situations that had actually occurred in my life. These symptoms did not happen all at once. They were strung out over time and abated to just a very few occurrences in my mid-thirties.

Anxiety shows itself in all of these ways and more. Diagnostically, anxiety disorders include Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Phobias, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Panic Disorder, and Social Anxiety Disorder. When we experience anxiety in a manner that interferes with our daily functioning, it is time to take a look at how to manage this condition.

The ADAA– Anxiety & Depression Association of America reported (

  • Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S. affecting 40 million adults aged 18 and older or 18% of the population every year.
  • Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only 37% of those suffering receive treatment.
  • People with an anxiety disorder are three to five times more likely to go to the doctor and six times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric disorders than those who do not suffer from anxiety disorders.
  • Anxiety disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.

Managing the physical aspects of anxiety along with the cognitive processes that feed anxiety can be extremely helpful to improve daily functioning and quality of life.

Managing Anxiety Physically

When anxious, our body responds in “fight or flight” fashion. We physiologically prepare for battle, though there is no physical battle to fight. Our breathing becomes shallow and rapid, our muscles tense, our heart rate increases, we may perspire, and we may experience stomach aches, weakness, headache, and shakiness. The more we notice these effects, the more anxious we become, sometimes believing that we may be having a heart attack. While it is essential that we take potential heart attack symptoms seriously, once we have determined that is not happening. it is time to look at how to manage these symptoms.

The best way to prepare for physically reducing the effects of anxiety is to practice relaxation techniques to the degree that we can utilize them when the signs of anxiety begin to develop.  Our body cannot respond in an anxious way if we are relaxed. Practicing progressive muscle relaxation and deep breathing exercises are very effective techniques for this. Progressive muscle relaxation is purposely tensing, then relaxing muscle groups moving from toes to head. Deep breathing exercise is purposely breathing from the diaphragm rather than shallow chest breathing and monitoring inhaling and exhaling to slow down respirations. A great resource for this is YouTube which can provide hundreds of guided exercises that will address breathing and muscle relaxation. Peruse what is there and find the ones that work best for you. 

Here are two video links to show you examples of progressive muscle relaxation and deep breathing:

These videos give you a general idea of what you are looking for. However, it might be more beneficial to search for videos that have the voice and background music that feels best suited to you. To utilize these techniques when you need them most, you will need to PRACTICE! Practice before you are in a state of high anxiety so that when you have to use these tools, you are familiar with the technique, and you know it works. 

Managing Anxiety Cognitively

The cognitive portion of managing anxiety involves talking rationally and reasonably to yourself. This is where my “go-to” Bible verse comes in.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

This verse was not in my repertoire when I was younger, but now that my faith has developed and strengthened, it provides me with immediate reassurance. God tells us not to worry. He tells us to come to Him. We can be assured that He will handle our situation in the way He deems fit. We do our personal part, but what we can’t control, we have to work at not trying to do so.

At a time when my children were high school age, my husband’s job of 33 years ended due to reorganization of the company. I was working part-time as I wanted the freedom to be involved in my children’s lives while they were at home. With the loss of his job, came the loss of insurance benefits. I was able to access insurance through my work, but the cost took most of my part-time paycheck. My husband went almost a year without steady employment despite a wide search. The fact that he was in his mid-fifties probably played a role.

As I pondered the situation, there was so little we had control over in terms of his finding another job. It was possible we might not be able to pay bills, might lose our home, might even struggle with putting food on the table. As I thought of those things as the worst possible scenarios, I had a sense of peace that wafted over me. That was the peace of God’s promise. If all those worst possible things happened, I was certain that God would take care of us as He always has. The most important part, that we stay together as a family, didn’t hinge on whether we had our own home. We could manage a life anywhere, as long as we were together.

I look at many situations that create anxiety for me now with that perspective; that God has a plan for my life. He will provide for me and my family. And, when I’m anxious, it means that I’m forgetting God’s promise and is a reminder that I need to return to it. The Bible is filled with these promises. Perhaps several bible verses are coming to you that may help you remember His promises. If not, do an internet search for “bible verses for anxiety and depression,” and you will find a plethora of reminders that God has us in the palm of His hand.

Take a look at what you are telling yourself about the situation that is creating anxiety. Challenge the negative thoughts and the “ain’t it awful” thinking. Replace those thoughts with the promise of scripture. Replace those thoughts with a rational perspective that you might offer a friend who you are trying to reassure or comfort. Our thoughts dictate our emotions. If we can alter what we are thinking about our situation, we can alter our emotional reaction, including anxiety. Pairing this type of thinking with the physical tools of progressive muscle relaxation and deep breathing is a powerful and positive response to combatting anxious feelings.

There is a time when you may need professional help coping with anxiety. Our counselors are experienced, Masters-level prepared Christian therapists that are equipped to assist from a practical and spiritual perspective. Learn more about mental health counseling or reach out at

Toni Larson, LISW

Director of Church Worker Wellness

Lutheran Family Service

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“Main Street Living” Media Ministry – June Update

A Christian friend of mine usually adds the words “It’s all about Jesus!” along with his signature. I am reminded of how very true this is whenever I read the words of Colossians 1:16-17: “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

Please continue to share information about our LCMS “Main Street Living” media ministry with others. In addition to being broadcast each Sunday morning, you can view archived programs anytime at – then click on the link under the picture identified as “Fargo.”

Thank you for your much-needed financial support! Checks may be sent to “Main Street Living NORTH,” 821-5th Ave S, Fargo, ND 58103, or donate by Credit Card or your PayPal account on the website. God’s blessing in Christ!    

-Ken Koehler / MSL North Volunteer Coordinator

MSL North” Programs for June 2022:

June 5th:  Lutheran Bible Translators will be presenting a special service. “This Is The Life” program: “A Will To Live: – A man leaves a large portion of his money to the church and hospital then has his will contested by relatives.

June 12th:  Rev. Toby Heller, Concordia Lutheran Church, Beulah, ND, presents the message: “Christ, The Wisdom of God,” based on Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31. This Is The Life” program: “Interlude”– A husband and wife are having marital issues.

June 19th:  Rev. Nathan Schieber, St. John’s Lutheran Church, Underwood, ND, and Trinity Lutheran Church, rural Hazen, ND, presents the message: “The Word of God is all you need,” based on Luke 16:19-31. “This Is The Life” program: “Man in the Middle” – Two Men are left with a “secret” when one tells him he has terminal cancer.

June 26th:  Rev. Matt Thompson, Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Bismarck, ND, presents the message: “Set Free in Christ,” based on Galatians 5:1, 13-25. “This Is The Life program: Return Trip” – The modern-day story of a prodigal daughter.

“MAIN STREET LIVING” is a locally- produced TV program that includes a 30-minute worship service led by participating pastors of the Minnesota North and North Dakota Districts of our LCMS, along with a 30-minute Lutheran Hour program (normally “This Is The Life,” along with occasional church-season specials).

Programs are broadcast starting at 9:00 am Central time on the following FOX stations:

Fargo-Moorhead:                                KVRR Channel 15.1

Thief River Falls-Grand Forks           KBRR Channel 10.1

Jamestown                                          KJRR Channel 7.1

Pembina                                              KNRR Channel 12.1

Programs are broadcast starting at 10:00 am Central Time / 9:00 am Mountain time on the following WDAY XTRA Channels:

Fargo-Moorhead                                 WDAY Xtra Channel 6.3

Grand Forks                                        WDAZ Xtra Channel 8.3

Bismarck/Dickinson                            KBMY Xtra Channel 17.3

Minot/Williston                                   KMCY Xtra Channel 14.3

Please check your cable and satellite providers for the corresponding channel on your system. MSLN programs are also archived for one year and can be viewed at any time on then click on “(Fargo)”.

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Messiah, Mandan Joins St. Paul’s, Minot to get work done at Shepherd’s Hill at the Crossroads

–And issues a Challenge to other congregations to help too!

We are super excited about the Shepherd’s Hill Work Weekend this summer! What is this Work Weekend, though?

Last year, St. Paul’s, Minot took around 40-50 volunteers to Shepherd’s Hill to tackle many projects. Using Thrivent Dollars and Special Funds from St. Paul’s, plus manual labor from the volunteers, we shingled a cabin, trimmed trees, painted, etc. We estimate that it was a $25,000 equity improvement to the camp with all the labor and supplies in just three days.

Messiah, Mandan also brought a group up to finish some projects last year and are poised to bring more people along to get even more done this year.

This year St. Paul’s, Minot and Messiah, Mandan are planning to do the same thing but would LOVE to have more churches involved. St. Paul’s has set up a special page on their website for project details and ways to get registered.

Messiah, Mandan will be bringing their group up on June 10-12.

Either of these congregation groups would love for you to join them! Or Let Rev. Jon Bonine know that you would like to set up a date for your group. ( | 701-244-5225 | 701-389-9033)

Our goal is for this not to be a huge burden to the camp but for us to come in, work hard, make improvements, and then clean up.

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Confronting your Addiction

Ever wonder how much is too much?

This is a great question for all of us to ask ourselves as we examine our coping strategies for our lives. Learning how to cope and adapt to life’s stressors is a good thing, but sometimes our choices for coping can become problematic and lead to addiction.

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” Corinthians 10:13

For questions to ask to assess your situation, read the entire article at:

Toni Larson, LISW | Director of Church Worker Wellness | Lutheran Family Service

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ND Lutherans for Life Essay Contest Winners

North Dakota Lutherans for Life held their Essay Contest in support of life in March. The theme for this year’s essay contest was Blessed for Life from Psalm 41:2: “The Lord protects him and keeps him alive; he is called blessed in the land; you do not give him up to the will of his enemies.”

In the 6-8th Grade age group, our 1st Place winner is Connor Olson of Zion Lutheran Church, Gwinner; and our 2nd Place winner is Audrey Weidner of Grace Lutheran School, Fargo and a member of St. Andrew Lutheran Church, West Fargo.

Yours in Christ, Rev. Matt Thompson | Board Member, ND Lutherans for Life |

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St. Paul Lutheran Church, St. Thomas, to celebrate 140 years!

The 140th anniversary of St. Paul Lutheran Church – St. Thomas, ND, will be celebrated on June 26, 2022. There will be a Divine Service at 11:15 am followed by a meal. The 140th Anniversary Service begins at 2:30 pm with bars and coffee served following the anniversary service. Please come join the faithful to celebrate God’s mercy in St. Thomas, ND.

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Bismarck-Mandan LCMS Ascension Day Service

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Call Day 2022

The Seminaries held their call days at the end of April. The call day ceremonies are where the pastoral candidates get their first calls and vicarage/deaconess intern placements.

The North Dakota District will be receiving one candidate and one vicar this year.

<– Candidate Christopher Durham

Pastor – Redeemer Lutheran Church Lisbon, ND

(Candidate Durham served his vicarage year 2019-2020 at Zion, Bismarck)

Ordination and Installation Service for Christopher Durham at Redeemer Lutheran Church, 801 Forest, Lisbon, North Dakota on Saturday, June 25, 2022, At 2:00 p.m. Central Time. Reception to follow.

Vicar-elect Jason Kohm –>

Zion, Bismarck

Vicar-elect Kohm is standing with Rev. Arie Bertsch, district president on call day.

These candidates and vicars-elect also have ties to the North Dakota District.

<– Candidate Caleb Worral

Pastor – Shepherd of the Lake Lutheran Church, Garrison, MN

Minnesota North District

(Caleb is the son of Rev. Bernie and Carolyn Worral, Immanuel, Fargo)

Ordination Service for Caleb Worral at Immanuel Lutheran Church, 1258 N. Broadway Fargo, North Dakota on Sunday, June 19, 2022, at 4:00 p.m. Central Time. Potluck to follow ordination service.

Candidate Benjamin Ramthun –>

Pastor Our Savior Lutheran Church, Escanaba, MI

North Wisconsin District

(Candidate Ramthun served his vicarage year 2020-2021 at Zion, Bismarck)

<– Candidate Charles Nemec

Pastor – Redeemer Lutheran Church Lubbock, TX

Texas District

(Candidate Nemec is married to Christianna, daughter of Tom and Andrea Eckstein, Concordia, Jamestown).

Candidate Eric Souer –>

Pastor – St. John’s Lutheran Church Barnesville, MN

Minnesota North District

(Candidate Souer is married to Becca (Trautman) from Immanuel, Fargo)

<– Vicar-elect Joseph Greenmyer

Zion Lutheran Church Mitchell, SD

South Dakota District

(Joseph is from Stirum, ND)

Vicar-elect Owen Duncan –>

Hope Lutheran Church Plant City FL Florida-Georgia District

(Owen is from Immanuel, Fargo)

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Turtle Mountain Outdoor Archery Shoot to benefit Shepherd’s Hill at the Crossroads

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Main Street Living North Media Ministry – May 2022

EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY is of course the strongest of testimonies! The New Testament Church grew as the Holy Spirit used the eyewitness testimonies of those who had SEEN JESUS ALIVE after having personally seen him crucified and dead. This is what motived the disciples and apostles to preach the resurrection of Jesus – even to their own imprisonment and death! And so, we too have the privilege and responsibility to pass along these testimonies of Jesus’ death and resurrection – for the forgiveness of our sins and the salvation of our souls!

-Ken Koehler, Volunteer Coordinator

“Main Street Living North” Programs for May 2022:

May 1st: Rev. Thomas Marcis, Zion Lutheran Church, Bismarck, ND, presents the message: “Fishing With Jesus,” based on John 21:1-3. “This Is The Life” program: “No Place to Hide” – A pastor, who has to face the death of his wife, cannot find comfort.

May 8th: Rev. Zelwyn Heide, St. Peter Lutheran Church, Hannover, ND, and Zion Lutheran Church, New Salem, ND, presents the message: “Sheep Listen to the Shepherd,” based on John 10:22-30. This Is The Life” program: “Dead Wrong” – Because of frustration with his life, a man turns to drinking and another woman.

May 15th: Vicar Aidan Moon, Zion Lutheran Church, Bismarck, ND, presents the message: “Joy Comes in the Morning,” based on John 16:12-22. “This Is The Life” program: “The Main Event” – A boxer who is hit by a car becomes embittered until he meets a cheerful 8-year-old girl.

May 22nd: Rev. Lester Wolfgram, Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church, Bismarck, ND, presents the message: “Keys To The Throne Room,” based on John 16:23-24. “This Is The Life program: “The Prisoners” – An elderly woman is attacked by a teenage gang.

May 29th: Rev. Jonathan Walla, Bethel Lutheran Church, Bismarck, ND, presents the message: “A Prayer for Unity,” based on John 17:20-26. “This Is The Life” program: “A Dream of His Own” – A father and son are at odds when the construction company will evict an Indian family.

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The LCMS ND District Office is hiring!

The Office Manager will coordinate office administration and procedures to ensure organizational effectiveness and efficiency. The Office Manager is an energetic professional who doesn’t mind wearing multiple hats. Experienced in handling a wide range of administrative and executive support-related tasks and able to work independently with little or no supervision. Well organized, flexible, and enjoy the administrative challenges of supporting multiple programs. Essential job duties include customer service, relationship building, accounts receivable, accounts payable, writing, publishing, and file management. The position is located in Fargo and is 20-25 hours/week.

Contact Tami Ulland at or 701-360-1469 for more information.

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