My name is Caroline Kaker, and my husband Matt and I have been a part of the St. Mary’s community since December 2006, when I visited for the first time and was warmly greeted by Paulette Briese and Anne Nickoloff. After the warm welcome, I stopped church shopping, and we have been part of St. Mary’s ever since. We now attend the 9am service with our three boys Charlie (15), Miles (12) and Quincy (9). Matt has been a Shoveler for many years, and he also is a set-up/tear-down helper for many of St. Mary’s special events. I have served twice on vestry, once as the Outreach representative, and once as warden. While I was warden St. Mary’s launched its sanctuary upgrade project and developed and implemented the plan for LeeAnne’s sabbatical absence. I also am a founding member of the 9am service team, I serve as a lay leader and chalice bearer, and I recently have been facilitating a community conversation gathering between the 9am and 11am services.
I hold a Bachelor of Science degree from Northwestern University, and a Master of Arts degree from Gonzaga University, where I studied Organizational Leadership and earned a concentration in Global Leadership. Professionally, I am a General Manager for Sodexo Health Care, serving Fairview Health Services as its Director of Nutrition Services at Southdale and Ridges Hospitals. I work with a team of 10 managers, and we oversee a staff of approximately 150 people. My leadership style is highly relational, driven by values including integrity and transparency. You can learn more about my personal leadership philosophy and studies here: https://ckaker.wixsite.com/caroline-kaker.
Navigating change is a challenging but necessary process, and I would like to help guide our St. Mary’s community into the next chapter of our history. My belief is that we—in community—can determine what our future looks like, steadfast in our mission to express God’s love to all people. I imagine us leaning on God’s love and grace, leveraging our foundational strengths as we address our challenges—such as the implications of the Title IV process and the threat of our financial state—while inviting conversation, ideas, and creativity bringing to life the stories of our tomorrows. I imagine a larger vestry, increased community conversation, ongoing commitment to community outreach and learning opportunities for young and old alike. I am not at all confident that I know what’s best for St. Mary’s, but I am entirely confident that together, we know what’s best for St. Mary’s.
Our family has been attending St. Mary’s for 7 years. We were drawn here by the inclusive worship, excellent preaching, and focus on social justice. A lot of life has happened in the meantime, but St. Mary’s has been a constant. We baptized Otto and buried Colin’s mother here. Our children have flourished in the children’s ministries. We’ve nurtured deep friendships and been challenged spiritually. As a potential future vestry member, special topics of interest to me are children and worship and hospitality/ new member welcoming.
Full disclosure: I do have a busy job and two busy children.
I am submitting my name for consideration to be elected to the vestry at the June 9 special meeting of the congregation, being called for the purpose of electing vestry members and diocesan delegates.
I have been a member of St. Mary’s for 48 years. I have served as warden three different times for a total of 8 years. I have also been a vestry member two other times. I have served on one Search Committee. One of the times I was a warden was during a time of substantial distress in the congregation (1984 – 87) in that our rector resigned his position at the urging of the bishop, and there were many difficult issues to address in the aftermath. I think my experience in addressing these issues will be very helpful in our current situation. I also had experience leading the congregation in the only formal long range planning process that I am aware of during my first term on the vestry as chair of the planning committee. Lastly I regularly attend the 11:00 service and I think a balance of people from different services will be important in the upcoming years.
Since I’ve been at St. Mary’s, I have been on the vestry several times and am a past Jr/Sr Warden. Among the committees that I have chaired are finance, stewardship, property, communications, hospitality and worship. Having been a warden before, I am familiar with that role on the vestry and within the parish.
I have been a member of St. Mary’s since December 1976. I arrived on the first Sunday in Advent, met Bruce Briese at the coffee hour and was at choir practice the following Wednesday. I’ve been singing in the choir ever since. I also play in the Recorder Consort and have played in the Hand Bell choir. I attend the 11:00am service and am currently a member of the Altar Guild and on the Music Director Search committee. I am a cradle Episcopalian guided by honesty, integrity, compassion and reason as the cornerstones of my life and faith.
Being a long term member of St. Mary’s, I bring history, experience and stability to the vestry. I believe that our vestry should be representative of all three services, a mix of men and women, a mix of ages plus long-term members and short-term members.
With three distinct services, we’ve become a community that doesn’t know each other very well. I’d like to see us come together as a community through more interactive events and social get togethers. I am excited to once again have a larger vestry to take a leadership role in the parish and be a place where parishioners can address both their concerns and their passions; a place where St. Mary’s can grow, welcoming all, embracing our differences while respecting each of us as individuals.
Perspectives on St. Mary’s
When we found St. Mary’s about a decade ago, our family was attracted to the vibrant, loving, Christ-centered community that St. Mary’s is. In particular, the notion that St. Mary’s welcomed everyone completely resonated with our family. We strongly believe that God’s love knows no bounds–God loves all people all of the time. It was wonderful to find a community that truly embraced this idea.
Through the years, our entire family has become involved at St. Mary’s, each in their own way. In particular, our three children have all found meaningful ways to express their faith, and have been warmly embraced by the entire community. Our children have engaged in activities including the vestry, to youth group, to teaching Sunday school, playing in the music group or asking for blessings during the service. I have been grateful for the opportunity to serve as lay leader. Indeed St. Mary’s has become an integral part of our family’s activities. We have been blessed to be active in this loving community.
St. Mary’s is now in a period of transition. I have great faith that these challenges will make us an even stronger, more vibrant community. I would be honored to serve on the vestry during this transition because I have helped other organizations in our community through similar periods. I currently serve as the Chair of the Greater Twin Cities United Way, and Chair for Greater MSP, the region’s economic development partnership. In the last year, both organizations have experienced leadership changes, and I have been part of the team helping to navigate through these changes. I would hope to bring the insights from these experiences to bear as a go through a similar period at St. Mary’s.
If selected to serve on the vestry, I would be very committed to the work of St. Mary’s. Travel for my job would like mean that I could not attend every meeting in person, but I have managed this complication in all of the other volunteer work in which I have involved.
Vestry Application Statement
Who I am:
My name is Nina Johnson and, along with my husband Mike and kids Zack (19) and Max (15), have been attending St Mary’s for 10+ years. I am a parent, an administrative sub at a school, an artist, and an anti-racism student and activist. I was part of the group that founded the 9am service, and I am a Lay Leader, sing with the music team, and am part of the 9am liturgy committee. I serve on one of the hospitality teams and co-led the St Mary’s Auction one year. I have also been active in anti-racism and social justice activities at St Mary’s.
Why I’m running:
In the wake of the recent losses and resulting uncertainty, many in our community feel that we are in crisis. This has indeed been a rough time, full of questions, doubts and departures. Throughout all this I have found myself wanting to come to church more, not less. The people here are my church, you are my people, and I want us to work through our difficulties together, not apart. I have been heartened to see many St Marians being activated and energized to make change in a variety of ways. I see that this time in the life of St Mary’s is ripe for creativity and positive evolution, and I’d like to be a part of that.
My hope/vision for St. Mary’s:
My hope for St Mary’s is that we work together to create and sustain a sense of stability, wholeness, trust and vibrancy to all parts of our multifaceted community. I envision a St Mary’s that expresses God’s love in a way that embraces our current members and attracts new ones. Our liturgies will both ‘comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable’, we’ll have thriving music and children’s and youth programs, a rich social life, a loving group of people who know how to take good care of each other, and who are active in co-creating the ‘beloved community’ in our church, our city, and in our world.
What I can bring to the vestry:
If elected I look forward to being part of a newly enlarged vestry, drawing on the wisdom of our seasoned leaders, and helping to provide some fresh energy. I have experience serving on and working professionally with boards and can offer a policy nerd’s interest in making sure we govern our church in a healthful and sustainable manner. I also see myself as having the ability to empathize with multiple sides of a story, and I think this will be valuable in representing and communicating with a congregation as varied as ours.
“Re-treasuring” Saint Mary’s
My desire to serve on the Vestry is motivated by love and appreciation for our community’s amazing qualities—welcoming spirit, embracing diversity, and willingness to work through pain and challenge. Now is a time of re-growth for Saint Mary’s when these qualities are needed and valuable. As a Vestry member I will focus on building relationships and financial sustainability. They go hand-in-hand.
Jesus says where our wealth is, that is also where our heart will be. As we strengthen our ‘connective tissue’—relationships, worship vitality, music, and education—our hearts will lead us toward investing financially also. This is a path to “re-treasuring” Saint Mary’s and including everyone in the process.
I have been a member of Saint Mary’s for 9 years, and in the Episcopal church for about 15. I am a Spiritual Director, trained at St. Kate’s where I also got my Masters in theology. My most recent job was Program Director for City House, a nonprofit that brings people in the mainstream together with people in the margins for
mutual spiritual growth and transformation. This training and experience helps qualify me for Vestry service.
And… I am an Isaiah leader, currently working on grass-roots funding and racial justice teams. Vital work for me at Saint Mary’s has been helping to start the contemplative prayer group, and facilitating racial justice study groups—The New Jim Crow—that Nina Johnson and I co-taught.
My family (Julia, Lucas, and Clara) and I have attended the 9:00 AM service at St. Mary’s for eight years. We were drawn to St. Mary’s because of its inclusive nature, the thought-provoking sermons from Rev. LeeAnne Watkins, the music and children’s programs, and the way St. Mary’s focused on patterning our lives after Christ to make a difference in the world.
From 2014-2017 I served on the Vestry as chair of the Outreach Committee prior to the Vestry downsizing, and have continued to fill that role in a more limited way outside the Vestry to the present. Highlights in that capacity were working with others to organize several fundraisers for Outreach causes (e.g., Galtier School, First Nations Kitchen, Bonne Nouvelle in Haiti), events such as Foodshare month, the formation of the Refugee Committee, and the church’s annual charitable giving.
My family and I have been part of our community here at Saint Mary’s for about 20 years. I was on the vestry once before, about 15 years ago, as the buildings and grounds representative. I am considering to serve on the vestry as I love our community, I believe in the mission of our church and I think we have so much potential to continue to move forward as a meaningful place of worship and a positive influence in the world.
I’ve been in and around the Episcopal Church since high school, though I was baptized, we were married, and we baptized our eldest at University Lutheran Church of Hope in Minneapolis. Our three younger children were baptized here. We attend the 11AM services and, personally, I prefer traditional liturgies. I very much appreciate all services and liturgies, both in our church and in other church communities. I like to visit other churches during my work travels around the US. I hope we continue to expand our offerings and reach more people in ways relevant today. I think this is an important part of our mission and integral to who we are.
I believe we build community through our common works – every activity we do together, every chore we finish inside our walls, every cause we take up take up to make the world a better place, and every mission we support to reach beyond ourselves. I hope to help us continue to pursue our many works.
I can’t accept nomination for Building and Grounds; at this point, I can’t dedicate the time needed to do it well.