If measure is by involvement then Vern and Casey Baardson are way off the chart engaged on a daily basis in countless giving acts that are forever helping people and changing lives.
The West Fargo Exchange Club viewed the couple in that exemplary light recently, honoring them with the prestigious Book of Golden Deeds Award in a special ceremony on Feb. 26.
The recognition is made annually to those who have made significant and beneficial contributions to the community.
The Baardson’s definitely fall into that category.
Vern is the lead pastor at Triumph West Church in West Fargo; Casey volunteers her time in many correlating capacities; with both serving as chaplains for the West Fargo Police Department, a position Vern first held and Casey later trained for and achieved.
Guest speakers at the program included Pastor Jeff Seaver of Triumph Lutheran Brethren Church in Moorhead and West Fargo Police Chief Arland Rasmussen. During his talk Rasmussen used an analogy of packing a parachute properly as a much needed lifeline, to the invaluable support that Vern and Casey provide to the police department and community. “Everyone has someone who provides what they need to make it through the day,” Rasmussen stated. “ And Vern and Casey are our parachutes.”
The couple says they are indeed humbled by the award.”While we feel there are others that are far more deserving, we’re very honored to have been nominated and chosen,” Vern and Casey stated. “It was a blessing to have our Triumph Lutheran Brethen staff, family and friends, and our West Fargo PoliceDepartment friends with us on the day of the ceremony. We couldn’t do what we do without them.”
Through the years their life in the ministry coupled with community ties has provided a sound inspirational base.
North Dakota born and raised Vern grew up on a farm near Parshall; received an Associate of Arts Degree in broadcasting from Dickinson State; a B.A. in communications from Minot State; and a Masters of Divinity degree from Lutheran Brethren Seminary in Fergus Falls Minn.
Casey is a native of Hawaii. The couple was married in 1976; and they have one son, Nathanael, who resides with his wife, Emma, in Moorhead.
Vern and Casey have traveled full time in a ministry of music and evangelism for over 14 years; also spending several years as church planters, realizing churches in Jamestown, N.D., Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., and after moving to West Fargo in 1991 helping establish Triumph West Church in West Fargo beginning in 2005.
Shortly thereafter -- April 3, 2006 -- Vern started volunteering his time at the West Fargo Police Department.
Casey also commitment to the department by helping out wherever she could, continuing her training to reach the rank of chaplain.
As a result, they spend countless hours speaking with staff and helping out on calls where families have suffered a death or injury and need someone to visit with and offer consolation. Vern and Casey accept these calls 24 hours a day and most often are called late at night or in the wee hours of the morning.
In addition, Vern spends many hours just dropping by and visiting with officers as well as riding on patrols allowing them time to get to know him as well as private time in which they can express their feelings and maybe get a little guidance if they so desire.
Through the church, Casey and Vern have also started a program they call, “Cookies for Cops,” where each week someone from Triumph West bakes cookies, bars or other goodies for the police officers and delivers them to the office. It has becomea much anticipated and appreciated event throughout the week.
Besides volunteering at the police department and ministering to an ever growing church, Vern and Casey are very dedicated to “World Vision” and helping find sponsors for desperate children in foreign countries who often have lost their parents and have very little on which to survive. They also regularly open their home to people who have need of a meal or have no place to stay.
No matter what each new day brings, the Baardson’s say they are committed to whatever the cause or need and thankful for the relationship building in the process. “Our West Fargo police department friends and family hold a special place in our hearts as they allow us to come alongside the work in our community. And we especially love the work of World Vision around the world as they care for vulnerable and needy children. But every door that opens to share the love of Jesus is a blessing to us and we hope and pray to be faithful.
“Sometimes we think it takes such big things to make a difference in this world, but Jesus said that a cup of cold water given in His name makes a difference to the one getting it. So, if cookies will bless a cop, we will keep them coming.”
And for that, Rasmussen said the department is eternally grateful. “Vern and Casey are kind of our 911 call. They help us when times are worst for some of our clients.They are also a great source for officers and staff that need to cope with sometimes extreme situations.”