Stories are powerful. They can open doors, build understanding, and remove barriers.

The impact of good storytelling accounts for why many of us find it meaningful to read the newspaper. Without stories, there would be very little content left in the paper!

Especially compelling to me are personal reflections on spirituality and participation in religious communities. Over the last year, I’ve had the opportunity to share a few of these stories through a column called "Worship Life," which highlighted various southeastern Minnesota congregations and their members.

That occasional column will now be combined with this weekly column, "Holy Everything." About once a month, local individuals and families will be featured here sharing their thoughts on God, church life and spirituality.

I’ll do my best to share reflections about these encounters without any signs of agreement or judgment. The purpose of these interviews is to expand our collective awareness of the variety of ways the people of our community make meaning. The point is not to affirm or discourage any particular belief system.

Today I’d like to introduce you to Catherine Lexvold from High Point Church in Rochester. High Point Church is just off U.S. Highway 14 on the west end of town.

Lexvold was hired in the summer of 2016 as the congregation’s worship director and youth leader. She’s been involved in the faith community since the church was founded nearly a decade ago.

Starting at age 14, Lexvold and her siblings were the volunteer musicians for the church. "We started out as a worship team at a home church from when I was 9 to 14. Then we started helping at Word of Life Christian Center," she said.

That was the former name of High Point Church, which was founded by Pastors Shaun and Amy Gustafson. At the time, the new congregation was meeting at the Rochester Athletic Club, where they had to set up and tear down each week.

Initially, Lexvold and the rest of her family were only going to serve as musicians for a few weeks until a more permanent team could be identified. A few weeks has since turned into about 10 years. Lexvold is now a full time member of the staff.

Part of her responsibilities include coordinating the music and volunteer worship leadership of all three Sunday services. She finds a lot of meaning in that role: "Being so involved in music, faith is part of every aspect of my life," she said.

In addition to a deep appreciation for music, Lexvold also finds that her degree in English comes in handy in a variety of aspects of her role on the church staff. A graduate of St. Catherine’s University, she’s especially fond of proofreading and grammar.

"When I worked at St. Olaf, I used to get a lot of compliments on my emails," she said with a smile.

In describing what the congregation feels like these days, Lexvold reflected, "What’s a hipper term than hip? It’s a really hip church," she said, laughing. "It’s exciting. It’s a very upbeat church. Welcoming. Friendly. We’re always pushing forward."

Lexvold’s husband, Tyler, is very involved in the congregation as well. He’s currently studying to be an airplane pilot. They were married nearly two years ago. Faith plays an important role in their marriage.

"I started dating Tyler when I was 16, and we got married when I was 21. We were really glad to be able to do premarital counseling with the pastors," she said.

Theology is a word that describes the study of God and religious truth. Each congregation and denomination has its own unique theology.

In describing the theology of High Point Church, Lexvold said, "I’ve always been non-denominational so I don’t necessarily know the difference between non-denominational and other denominations but at High Point Church, the only way to come to God is by accepting Jesus into your life. They focus on the God’s desire to bless you and a personal relationship with God."

Lexvold’s spiritual life continues to evolve. "Since I was hired by the church a few years ago, it has really helped with my leadership — not just my ability to share my faith but my ability to be patient with people and to be able to set priorities. It’s helped me to be a more positive person. I feel like I’m actually going somewhere with my life."

A special thanks to Lexvold for her willingness to share her faith story as well as a bit about High Point Church. The interviews featured in this column will highlight people and families from a variety of spiritual traditions.