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Mary Mahlberg

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When Mary moved to Buffalo as a newlywed for her new husband’s first job, she was still in her last year of college at the University of Minnesota. Finding a church home was important to them and they attended several churches in Buffalo. Mary had been brought up in a Christian home and was finding her in-laws to be wonderful Christian people who also provided a strong example.

While visiting Zion we connected with Pastor Ed Blair. Pastor Blair called us the day after, made a home visit the following evening and we joined Zion shortly thereafter!

It turned out Pastor Ed had grown up in Worthington, as had both Mary and Wes. Wes and Pastor Ed had both attended First Lutheran Church (Mary had attended the Presbyterian Church), and Mary’s father, a car dealer, had sold cars to Pastor Ed’s father.

Mary’s favorite Bible verse is Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

The seasons of Mary’s working life have included 16 years as an at-home parent, 13 years as a Family and Consumer Science teacher (she retired from Buffalo Community Middle School in 2009), and four years driving for New Beginnings alcohol and drug treatment facility in Waverly. She also enjoys golf, reading, crocheting and waterskiing, and volunteers as a math tutor with the Adult Basic Education program and childcare worker with Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS).

Over the years Mary’s involvement at Zion has included volunteering as a Sunday school teacher, being part of a women’s ‘Circle’ Bible study, playing handbells, serving on various committees (Personnel, Social Ministry, Outreach, Pastoral Call Committee), volunteering as a confirmation guide, and being part of the Sub Sandwich and Breakfast teams for Wednesday Night Suppers .

Mary loves being part of a congregation that is known as a leader in the community for its programs and recognized as being open to many outside groups.

We have wonderful facilities and we share that space. The church is not just a Sunday morning facility. The staff and members are welcoming and encouraging. I am very comfortable inviting others to visit Zion as I know they will be welcomed and hear a Christ centered message.

Zion’s formal outreach ministry had been inactive for several years when Pastor Ted invited both Mary and Wes to be part of reinvigorating the Outreach Committee in 2010.

Zion has had a reputation for being a welcome church but I think progress has been made and some gaps filled in this area as we have tried to increase the awareness of what a welcoming church looks like and does.

The Outreach Committee involves working with other members of variety of ages and life stages who share an affinity for the ‘Celebrating on Sunday’s’ part of Zion’s vision: creating Sunday morning experiences that invite, welcome, engage and inspire people to live for Christ. The Outreach Committee as a whole has guided a number of changes in a visitor’s worship experience: from small tweaks like providing coffee at a cart in the Narthex for those who find entering the physical space of Fellowship Hall to be intimidating, to big changes involving a number of volunteers like implementing Sunday Welcome Crews.

What Mary most enjoys about working with the Outreach Committee is being part of the full-circle experience of welcoming people into our mission as new members of the congregation:

…meeting people visiting Zion/looking for a church home, introducing them to other Zion members or appropriate staff, showing them around the building, answering questions, and often reconnecting with them at a New Member Orientation.

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