How does a person live their vocation? For some, it is in large acts, visible to all. For others, it is in seemingly small actions that have broad outcomes. This month we are learning more about an inspiring member of our congregation, Ilene Forde.

Ilene was born and raised near Brooten, Minnesota. She grew up in a Norwegian neighborhood and learned to speak Norwegian before she spoke English. Before getting married, Ilene worked as a parish worker, assisting the pastor and congregation by reaching out to others, helping with communication, and member visits.

She and her husband, Luther, were charter members of Peace. During her years at Peace, Ilene has taught Sunday School, has sung in the Adult Choir and, has been a member of various women’s groups and circles. She also has sung with the Plymouth Rockers, a community choir in our area that she joined at its founding. She is volunteering at Home Free (a battered women’s service in Plymouth) and with Interfaith Outreach. She has taught Norwegian language classes and has done rosemåling. She has also painted with acrylics and has done quite a bit of traveling. She has been to Norway six times, and one time was able to attend an event where the King of
Norway was present.

Ilene is a huge support to any of us who have been ill or troubled. She never hesitates to send a note or a card when she hears that someone has been struggling. Always uplifting and positive, Ilene’s notes had helped countless individuals who had heard from her just when they seemed to need it the most. This one-woman mission of hers bears testament to the difference a small gesture can make. Reaching out to others with a phone call or a kind note seems to be second nature to her. One of her friends says, “I can’t say enough about Ilene. She is a lovely and gracious person, and is someone you can confide in and trust.”

Ilene says that her life has been blessed and that she was raised with encouragement and love from her parents, grandparents, aunts, co-workers, and fellow students. She wants to pass along this love and encouragement to others simply. In speaking of her notes and phone calls of encouragement, she says, “I never know what lasting results there are. I can only pray that they see the same benefits I received.” She also gives credit to her husband, Luther, who, she says, was her most significant motivator in her outreach and in everything she did.

Ilene would tell you that she has not played a significant role at Peace and that she prefers to be in a supporting role to being a leader. Yet some of us lead by example, and Ilene is one of those people. Where she lives, in an apartment complex called “The Waters of Plymouth,” the motto for the residents is “THRIVE.” Ilene says, “they stress that having a purpose in life results in thriving. And that is true. Because God has redeemed me and promises to walk beside me, I want to be a witness for Him so others can know that He loves them, too.