By Deacon Erica Larson, Director of Faith Formation
Celebrating graduation with our high school seniors and families is a tradition at Lake Nokomis Lutheran. Even though we can’t gather together in our sanctuary, we still honor and celebrate this significant faith milestone and pray for the bright future of our graduating seniors!
Amber Atkinson will graduate from Roosevelt High School at the top of her class with a 4.0 GPA! What a testament to her intelligence and stellar work ethic. She hopes to be able to spend time with friends this summer and join our high school group in an adapted service trip experience, helping our congregation and community. She’ll be attending the University of Minnesota Twin Cities this fall to major in neuroscience.
One of her favorite memories from LNL was participating in the Montana Service Trip in 2019 at Rocky Boys Reservation, which included painting a house and battling it out in an epic game of Monopoly. Someone who has meant a lot to her is her confirmation mentor, Adria Myers, who has always been very nice and welcoming.
Michael Fernandez is graduating from Washburn High School. He and his family were long time members of our neighboring church, Hope Lutheran, before coming to LNL several years ago. He attended Lake Wapogasset Lutheran Bible Camp for many summers. Michael is very excited to depart for Colorado in July to learn the trade of welding at Lincoln Tech!
Some of his favorite memories are from the annual all-night event Moonlight Madness, where he (mostly) managed to stay awake until 7:30 a.m. In his words, “They were fun!” One person from LNL that Michael admires is John Walsh because of his incredible singing voice.
Emma Horstman graduates from Roosevelt, where she’s been a student athlete playing soccer and basketball. She is thrilled to be attending St. Olaf College in the fall, where she’ll major in elementary education with a possible minor in music therapy.
Her favorite LNL memory is from her very first Boundary Waters canoe trip. “I will never forget the wholesome memories and unforgettable laughs we all shared together that week.” Her strong leadership and work ethic resulted in an invitation attend the Nominations Trip at Wilderness Canoe Base the following summer, an honor only given to a handful of campers each year. Two people from LNL who have had a significant impact on Emma are Patti Grube and Erica Larson. They “have been real mentors in my life and faith journey and I cannot thank them enough for the amount of joy they have filled in my life!”
Owen Kimmes is graduating from Roosevelt, where he excelled in wrestling. He’s still serving up meals and sharing his love with LNL members and friends at Nokomis Square Senior Living Community. He’s been accepted into the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) and will be attending the University of South Dakota to pursue a business major.
His favorite memories at LNL are from our Senior High Lock-ins, which included going to Lock & Key Escape Rooms in January, where he helped us escape from Professor Jones’ Office, without any help from Indiana Jones himself. Like Emma Horstman, Owen was also selected to participate in the Nominations Trip at Wilderness Canoe Base! He holds a special place in his heart for Nancy Johnson, saying that she is “someone who means a lot to me because I’ve known her for literally all of my life. My parents met her and her husband Dale at Nokomis Beach Coffee even before coming to LNL. We used to go over to her house for dinner and did yard work for her for many years, and now I get to visit her while I’m at work!”
Julia Zaepfel will graduate from Henry Sibley High School, where she has participated in the theater program, building sets, helping the tech crew, and acting on stage! She will attend St. Olaf College in the fall and is considering majoring in computer science.
When reflecting on her experiences at LNL, she has especially enjoyed the summer Girls’ Group Slumber Parties as well as Senior High Camp at Lake Wapogasset Lutheran Bible Camp and Ox Lake. She has also shown her courage and shared her gift of singing with our congregation, and says, “It’s been really meaningful for me every time I’ve sung for church services.” When asked who has had a significant impact on her, she shared, “Everyone I’ve interacted with at LNL is really cool, and it meant a lot to me that Nancy Johnson was willing to be my confirmation mentor.”
The warm reassurance of God’s love in our lives is both a comfort and a motivation to share that warmth with others. As a gift to our seniors from this congregation, we presented them with a fleece tied prayer blanket as a reminder of God’s love and the nurturing of our faith community. As they begin new adventures in their faith journey and are kept warm at night, wrapped in their blanket, we pray that it will help them remember who they are and whose they are.
We pray: Precious children, we bless you and thank God for the gift of you in the life of this church. Wherever you go, you will always be a part of us. Wherever you go, our love goes with you. Wherever you go, may your blanket remind you of God’s comforting love.
God of creation, pour out your Spirit on these students as they enter a new period of life and faith. Bless them as they begin new adventures in their journey, help them proclaim your love and grace through words and deeds, and serve all people while doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with God. We pray all this in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.