SOS: Mark CarlsonStories of Service – Mark Carlson
Written by Janis Peterson
Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at Westwood to get ready for our worship services? There are many people involved, but on any given Sunday, you’ve probably seen Mark Carlson quietly going about his usual Sunday morning routine, setting up PowerPoint, lighting candles, filling the baptism font with water, rehearsing in a brass ensemble, and a variety of other assorted responsibilities needed to be done on Sunday mornings prior to worship.
Mark arrived at Westwood in 2001 when he moved into the neighboring community. His mother worked for many years in the ALC office (now the ELCA), so when he moved to Minnetonka, he asked her if she knew of a church in the area with a strong music program and a great pipe organ. Westwood was obviously the place she sent him. The music was great as he worshiped here, but what really sold him were the friendly people who welcomed him the first time he visited. Rod and Connie Olson greeted him and immediately invited him to come back. Although his background is 100% Swedish and he previously had been active in a St. Cloud church with Swedish roots, he decided he’d give this church with so many Norwegians a try.
Having served in leadership roles on worship and music teams in two other Lutheran churches, it only seemed logical he would become involved in music ministry at Westwood. Mark has served on Westwood’s Worship and Music Team for many years, serves on the Visual Arts Team, and has taken on additional roles elsewhere. You may even see him watering plants or washing dishes.
Volunteering is an important part of Mark’s life. After hearing all he does at Westwood, I was surprised to learn that he has time to volunteer outside our walls. If you ever attend Orchestra Hall, you’ve probably run into Mark because he is a lead volunteer usher. He says he sees Westwood people there all the time. Mark also volunteers at the American Swedish Institute (of course!) with marketing and development projects. He’s still waiting for some of Westwood’s Norwegians to visit the Swedish Institute. As a volunteer project developer for an organization called Single Volunteers Twin Cities, he has helped plan fun-runs and silent auctions for non-profit businesses. Beyond that, he still has time volunteer at the Ridgedale Library every Thursday night.
Mark views volunteering as an important part of his faith journey. When talking about his faith, he says faith involves two elements, worship and finding ways to help serve other people. That’s what he tries to do in his daily life. He knows God is always creating opportunities to serve. The challenge is being open to seeing and accepting them. I asked Mark how serving has had an impact on his life. He believes that volunteering here at Westwood has made it easier for him to volunteer with other organizations. Mark’s faith has given him patience to find quality job connections, and he feels his faith is essential to his perseverance in seeking a permanent job.
Thank you Mark for all you do here at Westwood and in our community! You are an inspiration to us all.