Congregations all across the ELCA rolled up their sleeves (on their yellow “God’s Work, Our Hands” shirts) and served in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. We had over fifteen churches just in our synod participate in service projects in celebration of God’s Work, Our Hands Sunday. Most congregations celebrated and served on September 8, but some did it beforehand and some will be participating in the coming month. In the next few editions of Northern Lights, we will feature stories and pictures from congregations lifting up the great work they did: God’s Work, with their hands.
Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in Sebeka, Minnesota
Members of Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church (OSLC) chose to focus on three main mission projects for this special Sunday, and to also acknowledge the many missions that are done on a regular basis by church members. Members of the many projects work their bright yellow shirts during church to visualize for congregational members the many projects of our church.
On September 22, the Sunday School leaders and children went to two assisted living facilities and sang songs for residents and staff. “Shake a hand” and other fun parts of the songs led to interactions with the residents and brought out many smiles. The children, the adult leaders and the residents enjoyed the time spent together.
A second project took place in the kitchen after worship and fellowship. Several adults and youth chopped vegetables and meat, measured tomato sauce and spices to package ready to cook meals for senior church members. These were frozen and will be delivered by the confirmation students.
A third project was planned to highlight the ongoing quilting mission done weekly by women at Our Saviour’s. Church members had the opportunity to tie a quilt and get a sample of what a small group of women do weekly. Many quilts are made and sent to various place in need of warmth and comfort, on the local, national and international level. We also make quilts for graduating seniors and babies at baptism.
Our Saviour’s has many other missions. One of these includes a monthly second collection to causes such as Operation Warmth for local elementary students’ winter clothing, our local food shelf, our county holiday program for children, ELCA malaria, World Hunger campaigns and the Campus Ministry. We have an annual Thanksgiving dinner at the church, cooked and served by members and free to the community. Our members volunteer at the food shelves, sell fair exchange coffee during fellowship hour, and weekly visit long term care facilities, and more. There are many ways members of OSLC share their time, and their talents with others, doing “God’s Work” with “Our Hands”.
September 22 was a joyous, fun-filled, exciting day at OSLC. We plan to continue the GWOH projects, using our shirts to promote our work, reminding all of us of the celebration of our missions within the community.
Underwood Lutheran Parish
St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Crookston, MN
Twenty-three volunteers gathered to pack and load 413 quilts, 65 health kits, over 100 school kits, and 100 baby care kits for Lutheran World Relief. Congregation members have been collecting donated items since May as a congregational project. The Crookston Inn & Convention Center donated all of the hotel’s old linens and material, which made it possible for 413 quilts to be made and packed.
Trinity Lutheran Church in Pelican Rapids, MN
About 90 Trinity members in Pelican Rapids, MN put their faith into action after worship, September 15, in celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The theme was God’s Work, Our Hands. Immediately after the 9:30 worship, hands were anointed with oil and blessed for service. Members chose one of 18 service projects:
- Serve in the Church: 2 complete quilts were tied, many windows washed, washed all the church pews, landscape in front of church, prayed for church in the prayer room, paint touched up Sunday school classrooms and painted the light poles by the ramp.
- Serve in the Community: Members sang at both nursing home, delivered 50 door knob decorations and visited at nursing home, cleaned up the park, weeded at the community garden, cleaned basement at Welcome Place, and collected food for food shelf.
- Random Acts of Kindness: Gave away over $250 worth of $5 gift cards at McDonalds, washed windshields at McDonalds, delivered 30 loaves of homemade bread to neighbors living around the church,. Each random act of kindness included a card that read: Jesus is the bread of Life. A free gift from your friends at Trinity. No strings attached. A list of our worship times and phone number is on the back of the cards.
Everyone returned to church for a potluck meal after completing their work. During the meal slides from 2013 mission team were shown of our hands doing God’s work in Uganda, Africa. Many stories of God sighting and blessings were shared following the event.
Bethesda, Calvary, First, and Shalom Churches in Alexandria, MN
The four ELCA churches of Alexandria (Bethesda, Calvary, First and Shalom) joined forces on October 6 to celebrate “God’s Work Our Hands Sunday” in honor of the 25th anniversary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in “America (ELCA). Projects included cleaning various parks and trails in Alexandria and visiting nursing homes. According to Pastor Greg Billberg, “They were a fun, enthusiastic bunch who were ready to do a project in spite of wet and cold conditions.” Shalom Lutheran hosted the Bread for the World letter writing project. Over 60 letter were written and sent to Congress urging them to oppose food support cuts and to vote in favor of bills to increase benefits that will assist low income individuals and families to work their way out of poverty. 25 Quilters from all four congregations gathered at Calvary Lutheran to make quilts for Lutheran World Relief. In the afternoon, 17 people came to Luther Crest and cleaned up the retreat center, cabins, program center! “It was incredible!” said Luther Crest Director, Dave Holtz. In between the morning and afternoon work sessions, nearly 200 folks gathered for a “Lutheran Potluck Tailgate Party” which was held in the First Lutheran basement, due to cool weather.
Esther Lutheran Church in Parkers Prairie, MN
Esther Lutheran Church or rural Parkers Prairie, MN participated in God’s Work Our Hands Sunday on September 22nd. We donated and installed landscaping materials at a local camp, Smokey Timbers of Miltona, MN. A good time was had by all and we were able to get much work done in just a few hours. Attached are a few pictures of our time at Smokey Timbers. Smokey Timbers is a non-profit camp which serves local schools, Boy scouts, Girl Scouts, and other groups. All work done at that camp is done through donations and volunteers. They were very grateful for a helping hand and we all felt good about the work we had accomplished.
Comstock Lutheran Church
On September 8, the congregation worked to repair water damage experienced this summer.
Zion Lutheran Church in Amor, MN
Zion Lutheran Church of Amor completed many projects during God’s Work, Our Hands Sunday on September 8. The council approved a $1,000 benevolence (over and above their planned benevolence) to be split between three charities: Weekend food backpack programs in Perham and Battle Lake, Zion Local Outreach (RLO replacement) and the Philippians Medical Mission. The congregation then voted on how the money was split – the outreach program received $500, the weekend food backpack programs $300 and the Philippians Medical Mission $200. Members celebrated becoming a Red Cross disaster shelter. Folks visited our shut-ins and dedicated a new prayer garden (in the rain!). Many wrote cards of encouragement to Zion’s past interns. To end the day, they enjoyed a wonderful potluck and concert by world renowned pianist Rebecca Davis.
Bethel Lutheran Church in Karlstad, MN
The members of Bethel Lutheran Church in Karlstad wanted to participate in the ELCA program, “God’s Work; Our Hands.” and decided that they would like to bring their ministry and fellowship to the local senior care center. The congregation planned a Sunday afternoon worship service with lots of singing. Members sat with residents afterwards and visited with them while enjoying coffee and bars that they brought. Bethel’s efforts were both mutually enjoyable and appreciated.
New Salem Lutheran Church in Turtle River, MN
New Salem of Turtle River is located in Minnesota’s recreational lakes and woodlands. So it made sense for New Salem to celebration the 25th Anniversary of the ELCA by cleaning up creation. After a good pot luck, they took to cleaning public boat accesses, a county park where they have held worship and baptized children. They also invested time in by helping a neighbor with yard maintenance.
Family of God Lutheran Church in East Grand Forks, MN
Family of God Lutheran Church in East Grand Forks celebrated God’s Work, Our Hands Sunday on September 8th. On that day, after gathering together for a Volunteer litany, songs, scripture, prayer and a commissioning service sending the folks out into the world for service, half of the congregation went to the East Grand Forks Food Shelf (which was closed on Sunday) and gave it a good cleaning (washing floors, shelves, windows, chairs, walls, blinds, etc.) While one group was cleaning the Food Shelf, the other group stayed behind at the church and assembled “Personal Care Kits” for the Food Shelf as well, since grant funding cannot be used to buy these personal care items. It was a wonderful day as they put our faith into action.
Zion Lutheran Church in Warroad, MN
Nearly 100 members and friends of Zion Lutheran Church of Warroad donned yellow T-shirts and lent a helping hand by pulling weeds from some city flower beds, raking and weeding at the beach, towing and removing submerged logs from the Warroad River, while the youth participated in a “Noodles and Doodles” project during Sunday school registration. We enjoyed a potluck lunch to finish up the celebration! From Christian Education Director Shawn Brunelle: “We wanted to do something special for the community, and what better way than to help take care of the wonderful scenery around Warroad.” From congregational president Brenda Baumann: “Our congregation taking part in this experience is one of the most amazing things we’ve been a part of in years!”
Faith Lutheran Church in Evansville, MN
Faith Lutheran Church in Evansville participated in a Lutheran World Relief care kit scavenger hunt! About three weeks before Sept. 8th, on their narthex bulletin board, they placed a number tags that had different kit items on them. Congregation members were to take tags, find and purchase the listed supplies, and bring them back to church. The goal was to buy enough supplies to make 100 kits: 25 care kits, 25 school kits, 25 quilt kits, and 25 baby care kits. Then, on September 8th, after worship, they gathered into the fellowship hall and began assembly line construction to put together each kit. Enough supplies were purchased and provided to pack over 130 kits total! What was also really cool (and the Holy Spirit’s good timing!) was that shortly after they started the scavenger hunt, Faith’s church secretary got an email from LWR requesting kits!
Moe and Messiah Lutheran Churches in Roseau, MN
Moe and Messiah Lutheran Churches in Roseau incorporated a God’s Work, Our Hands event in Roseau on Sunday, September 8 into the second annual Moe vs. Messiah softball event. Prs. Michael Beery (Moe) and Lisa Beery (Messiah) started the game as a way to bring together the congregations and have some fun. They collected canned goods and were a presence in the community of blue and purple shirts.
Baudette Lutheran Parish / Lake of the Woods Bible Camp
The Baudette Lutheran Parish held a joint worship service at Lake of the Woods Bible Camp with guest speaker, Rev. Steve Peterson, Assistant to the Bishop of NWMN Synod. They collected food items for the local Food Shelf, and they made cards and delivered them to the Care Center. But most of all, the congregations celebrated not only the 25th Anniversary of the ELCA, but also their parish’s 107th anniversary of mission together – Clementson, First and Wabanica Lutheran Churches.
Dilworth Lutheran Church
Dilworth Lutheran Church had their 3rd annual “Labor of Love” Sunday on Sunday, August 25th. Since they already hold an annual service event, they did this in partnership with “God’s Work, Our Hands” Sunday. Dilworth Lutheran had members tying blankets at Serenity Assisted Living in Dilworth, sweeping and cleaning at the Dorothy Day Food Pantry, and also had members cleaning at the church.
Gary Lutheran Church
Gary Lutheran Church had about forty congregation members join in for their Rally Sunday/“God’s Work, Our Hands” Sunday service. Projects included baking 75 plates of cookies and delivering them to almost every home in Gary, cleaning out the decaying church basement, and cleaning Sunday School rooms and the sanctuary. A free community lunch wrapped up the morning of service. One member remarked, “Serving together like this really brings people closer together,” and folks agreed to do it again in November to continue work on the basement and decorate the church for the Christmas season.
If your congregation participated (or will soon), please send a description of your service, a quote or two, and pictures to Matt at the Synod Office to share your story with the synod. Also, please send these to firstname.lastname@example.org to share your story with the whole ELCA.