Here’s the most fun job description you may ever hear…
“We just PLAY!”
This was Lou Ann Rossler’s answer to what she and the rest of the Nursery Team do at Trinity on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings. Of course, it’s more than that, but judging from the conversations that she and daughter, Leslie, were having with 3-year-old Ellie on a recent Wednesday evening in the nursery, the Rosslers are pretty serious about their playtime.
Ellie served up some scrumptious “meals” from the play kitchen, hand-delivering them to each adult in the nursery, and she also adored playing with all of the “people” in the amazing dollhouse. Lou Ann and Leslie asked her questions now and then, and of course, Ellie’s answers were priceless.
The Rossler women obviously have a knack with children and are two of the most caring people you will ever find. Lou Ann, also Trinity’s Administrative
Assistant to Congregation Life, explained that Trinity historically had women who watched young children in the nursery space, which also shared the Sugar Plum Preschool space on the 1st floor. “But now…we have our own space!” Leslie exclaimed. “We got to design it the way we wanted to.”
The Nursery at Trinity is located on the 2nd floor and is a welcoming spot filled with kid-friendly toys and furniture. Lou Ann pointed out the benefit of the all-window “wall” where “people could see inside.” She said, “It’s a comfort for parents and kids to see in and out.”
It’s a great spot for babies through 3-year-olds to be when their parents are attending church or a Wednesday Night Alive program, and the kids love it. “We’ve had so many kids here from the time they were babies,” Lou Ann said. She mentioned that so many times those same kids (now older) will stop by the nursery just for a hug.
Trinity’s Nursery has a long line of women to thank. Two of them are Shirley Kalvig and Leona Torkelson who were in the 1st-floor nursery for many years. Pastor LaVerne Hanson asked them to be in the nursery every Sunday, and then rotating volunteers showed up sporadically to assist them. Confirmation students and high school students could earn volunteer credit, so many times, these young people could also be seen helping with the children.
In 2013-14, Lou Ann vividly remembers a young couple wanting to join Trinity, but after discovering there wasn’t a “real” nursery, they went elsewhere. This moved Lou Ann to push for a staffed nursery with paid positions for two individuals to be in the nursery when it was open. Three paid staff members operate the nursery now: Lou Ann Rossler, Leslie Rossler and Dee Matton. They are currently searching for one more person in their rotating schedule.
Dee pointed out that there’s especially a need for helping on Wednesday nights “so Lou Ann isn’t here 12 hours!”
Interested people need these requirements: be at least 18 years old; fill out an application; have a dedication to working Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings on a rotating schedule, and of course, love kids and be willing to play and have fun with them.
Lou Ann explained that potential nursery staff members will have First Aid training and go through a background check. “It would be great to have another person on our staff!” she exclaimed.
And what a staff Trinity’s Nursery already has! Lou Ann has spent a lifetime working in various churches as an administrative assistant/secretary. Her caring personality shines through when she interacts with anyone…young or old. She and her husband, Cliff, lived in Paynesville, MN, and she worked in the Lutheran church there for 13 years.
Their children, Leslie and Matthew, grew up in the church. “The church was very fun for them,” Lou Ann laughed. “Church was just a big playhouse!” Leslie added, “We were the ‘church babies,’ my brother and me!” Since the Rossler children were around the church so much because of Lou Ann’s position, they learned to help wherever they were needed, sometimes helping put newsletters together, and certainly “getting to know the pastor and the little old ladies,” as Leslie mentioned with a smile.
“As kids, we saw our mom doing God’s work,” Leslie said. This is perhaps one reason she remains so committed to her nursery ministry at Trinity. LouAnn added, “This is also one reason Matthew has such a servant heartand is going to be a pastor.”
Helping her mom in the nursery since she was in middle school, Leslie just gravitates toward kids. Her full-time job also is an example as she works with the 1-year-olds at Laketown Charlie Brown in Clear Lake. “I absolutely LOVE it!” she beamed. “I just love that age!” she said.
Dee Matton is a more recent addition to the nursery staff, helping now for three years. Initially, her son, JJ “was the one who got the family back into church,” she explained. He was in 8th grade and attended Confirmation while she sat in Trinity waiting for him. Past custodian, Gretchen Klemesrud, saw her there and told LouAnn that she’d be a good person to serve in the nursery. “I just like kids in general,” Dee said, “I always have extra kids at my house.” Her son, Xavier, a freshman who likes to help his mom with Trinity’s nursery, added, “And they all call her ‘Mom!’”
A NIACC student in the RN program, Dee has had experience with kids since she was a young girl. From babysitting at 7 years old in her tiny neighborhood to being mom/stepmom/grandma to several children in a wide variety of ages, Dee said, “It’s fun just to be with the kids. I laugh when they laugh because it’s contagious!” Leslie added, “And Dee has the magic touch with babies!”
Leslie said she’s known Dee’s boys (JJ, Randy and Xavier) since they were kids themselves. Dee said her sons are really good with kids, even allowing her great niece (who calls her sons “MY boys”) to do makeovers on them.
Xavier was in the nursery with Leslie and Dee one recent Sunday morning, and was down on the floor, playing with blocks and action figures with 20-month-old Paxton, who seemed to adore having an older playmate. Dee looked down at the two of them, smiled and said, “Since we’ve been at Trinity, it’s been like a second family!”
That’s what Trinity’s nursery feels like…family. In fact, Leslie said that one of the kids in the past even called LouAnn “Grandma LouLou.” Leslie pointed out, “One of the joys [about working in the nursery] is the kids treat you like family!” LouAnn added, “It’s really about the parents and the family and offering a good, safe, loving environment. Jesus said, ‘Let all the little children come unto me’… and they do!”
This nursery ministry of Trinity’s fits in well with how Pastor Dan Gerrietts encourages young families to be in church. He shared, “I love that Trinity is so welcoming to children in worship, but that we also offer the opportunity for parents to worship without their children, if that’s a blessing to them. If we’re honest, there are certain parts of worship that are probably less child-friendly than others. And sometimes parents enjoy being able to just sit and listen without distraction. This is a huge blessing that our nursery team provides. At the same time, I love that those who want to worship with their little ones know they can do that and that our congregation celebrates having children in the sanctuary at all our services.”
Pastor Dan Dahl agrees, saying: “The nursery is a time for the young children to be themselves and it gives the parents an opportunity to participate in worship with more focus. It is always a joy to have children in worship. I have never been distracted by any child who decides to communicate in his or her own style during worship. The nursery is not meant to be a babysitting service, but rather a ministry. The people in charge of this ministry let the love of Jesus shine upon the little ones in the nursery setting.”
And that’s what it’s all about. Letting the love of Jesus shine…and Trinity’s Nursery Team does just that in an atmosphere of love, caring, and precious laughter.†