04/28/19 I continue to receive notes from folks sharing through the MET process. They have gained much joy in their time at VELC and through the connections made in a welcoming congregation.  My journey here began in the ʼ70s, as did Lorry Taylor’s.

                 “I moved to River Park Estates in 1976-1977, a married mom with 3 children.  At that time there were lots of people moving out of Milwaukee to the suburbs in search of security.  Kids were all over, riding bikes and playing with more freedom than kids have today.”  Unfortunately, Lorry’s husband had a stroke and died and she searched for a Pastor to officiate the funeral.  She remembered the nice Pastor from VELC who rode his bike in the neighborhood and always took time to talk.  Contact was made and Pastor Paul agreed to handle the funeral.   “I joined the church with a thriving Sunday School with over 100 kids attending and adults attended Bible study while Sunday School was being held.”   Finding a deep spiritual connection at Vernon, Lorry made many amazing friends and considers VELC her home.  Her daughter, Heather, was baptized here, all three children were confirmed here, and two of the three were married here.  A gentleman, Jerry Taylor, offered her a mint at a church meeting. After marrying, Jerry and Lorry have been “minted together” for 35 years.  Jerry, a member of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Mukwonago, was confirmed at Mount Olive and joined VELC in 1974.  Others, also, have come to find VELC a Christian home.

Michelle and Mike Simonson joined since they “wanted to get back to a Lutheran-based church.  We wanted a local church and to stop travelling to West Allis where we were married.  Vernon offered ‘community’ and Josh’s Eagle Scout dedication and Court of Honor achievement was greatly abetted by the level of involvement and support from the congregation.”  Haley Kulakowski was brought by a friend to Sunday School and has been coming ever since.  She began earning community service hours and “has experienced life in someone else’s shoes from all three life-changing mission trips” she’s been on. 

“I had just had our first child,” noted Karrie Henning, “so I wanted to raise our family with a religious upbringing.  Our kids are forming bonds, our kids are growing spiritually – the church teachings are congruent with our morals and values we teach our kids at home.  I have formed relationships at Vernon and feel a sense of belonging.  Pastor Dave’s sermons are relevant to me and remind me to keep faith present in my life.”  Karrie remembers going to church the morning her grandma died.  “We weren’t planning on going that morning, and then I got a phone call that my grandma had died.  I felt drawn to go, and so I did – alone.  I cried through almost the entire service, but I felt my grandma’s presence there (along with other family members who had passed).  It was very healing for me.”  

Chris Peterson was drawn to VELC on an invitation from Bev Johnson to consider being the choir director.  “I was raised a Methodist and Bev used to work at the greenhouse.  She invited me to visit VELC – I became choir director.  My children were baptized, went to Sunday School, and were confirmed at Vernon.  Vernon has a great family environment.”  Chris’ personal goals and needs are also fulfilled because “VELC gives me the ability to use my music and organizational skills as well as supporting important mission ministries.  The more you do for a church, the more you get out of it.  The more you give, the return is tenfold.” 

Many, like myself, came to VELC during a search for a faith connection, a ‘church’.  Pat Ptasinski “was looking for a church to have my daughter baptized.  I found a loving and caring congregation with great musical worship and many opportunities to serve and find fellowship.  My daughter played violin from many years so she played at a church talent show and then played for numerous services after that.”  I hear so many similar stories – that first impression of Vernon as welcoming, loving, and caring.  They find God’s message and the saving companionship of Christ and guidance of the Holy Spirit.  Our numbers may seem small, the building a bit hollow at times, but bodies in the pews just is not the “church.”  The heart of each member, the rich souls blessed by a faith life supported in this church, a church that offers truth based on the Word of God – this is the foundation in joy that we offer.  May God continue to bring these voices forward to hold forth the blessings of our church without walls. submitted by Dave Smith