Mills-Knutsen found her calling in a different kind of renewal. Like so many material things, hopes and dreams were broken that March day. Survivors needed help reconstructing their spirits too. Through her affiliation with the church, Mills-Knutsen chaired the Spiritual and Emotional Recovery team for March 2 Recovery, an organization that supervised the allocation of funds and provided other resources for victims of the tornadoes. As the efforts progressed, she would go on to chair the March 2 Recovery Steering Committee.
“We dealt with helping people get access to mental health and pastoral care if they needed it because in the wake of a disaster, often times people find that it is a spiritual crisis,” Mills-Knutsen said. “It awakens a lot of questions about how God works in this world. And so people need a place to process that.”
St. Luke’s congregant Jack Vissing didn’t need any time to understand why he nominated his pastor for the humanitarian honor. The local attorney extolled Mills-Knutsen for her ideas and enthusiasm. Among many impressive qualities, those were why he and the other selection committee members hired her as their pastor.
“I have been around leadership all of my life. I’ve seen good leadership and I’ve seen bad leadership. And she does exceptional,” Vissing said. “I’m humbled by the fact that she is my pastor.”
Humility resonates with Mills-Knutsen as well. Receiving the award isn’t something to which she aspired, but she remains grateful for the honor. Serving her community in ways she believes Jesus would sanction, though, is her ultimate reward.
“For me, it all goes back to the idea of call and the idea of following Jesus. That’s what I do. My life is about living the life that God can use and that Jesus would want me to live. And that means being willing to serve,” Mills-Knutsen said. “If you’re doing it in Christ’s name, that’s what it’s all about.”