Lent v COVID-19 by CindyMae

I have been thinking the last few days…… During this time of this wide spread COVID-19 Virus throughout the US and the World, brings me back to the time of Moses in Egypt where the Israelites were forced into slavery to make bricks from mad & straw to build Pharaoh’s City. Then God sent Moses and Aaron to tell Pharaoh to “Let His People GO!!!” But Pharaoh would not. Then God send the Plagues to Egyptians namely the plagues of the First Born. God had commanded Moses to tell all the Israelites to put Lamb’s Blood and put it around the Door (on the 2 doorpost(sides) and the lintel(top)) and STAY Inside. Then the Plague would buy pass that home an everyone in the home would be safe.

The last 2 videos that Pastor made for the website talk about how Lazarus had died and then Jesus told them to remove the Stone from the tomb and Jesus Commanded Lazarus to COME FORTH!! And He did.  Lazarus was no longer dead, but He was ALIVE!!!

The Fact that this Scripture comes during Lent, got me thinking. I have heard this Scripture many times, but never got me thinking like this before. Maybe it is that back in the time of Moses the Israelites had to stay in their homes with lambs’ blood on the doors to save the lives of the 1st Born. Or it is the fact the Lazarus was dead for 4 days before Jesus got to the Tomb and commanded for Lazarus to come out. Or is it the fact that we are in the middle of our own Lenten Season with this Plague, I call COVID-19. Keeping us in our homes staying away from loved ones or the things we love doing that is getting me to think and think hard about the folks back in the Bible. I see How GOD can use anyone of us to do his work in no matter what skill level we have or think we don’t have.

During this Lenten and COVID-19 time, I see a picture of when this is all over we are walking out our doors like the Israelite from that last Plague of the First Born and Lazarus did walking out of the Tomb after being dead for 4 days, thanking God for being with us ALL Through it all. I’m not saying that God Put this COVID-19 Virus (The Plague I call it) on us, but we can use it to grow in his Love and get closer to him and be kinder to others and not to take thing for granted. As Pastor Glen stated in one of his Videos. “The church on Sundays is not our Ministry, but the results of our Ministry’s outside of our Church.”  The way I look at things we don’t need to be in Church Building to have Church. We can have Church anywhere we want and have as many or as few of folks there. I even caught myself pulling out my Bible more and praying more for other’s needs then my own wants. I look at our Lives are to be walking Ministry of Christ and showing others Christ’s Love for them.

Don’t get me wrong …. COVID-19 is NOT GOOD!! With Folks getting very sick and dying. But, maybe this COVID-19 isn’t as bad as it could be If people start thinking about getting their lives right with God.

Cindy Mae Nelson

 

Easter Memories at First Congregational Church

The other day my mom (Carol Nelson) was going through some old pictures to give to us kids. She came to a few pictures from an Easter celebration at church back in the early 1970’s. The decorations are a butterfly and its cocoon. 

I kinda remember it, but I am not sure what year it is. In any case, I wanted to share these great memories with all of you.

CindyMae

Packing for the Weekend Virtual Lenten Soup Supper

 

Hello Everyone! My name is Stacy Coyle and over the last nine years I have served as the local coordinator for the Packing for the Weekend Program in Cannon Falls. For those of you not familiar with the Packing for the Weekend program, it provides food to in-need families over the weekend. About 20-25% of kids in the Cannon Falls schools are on free and reduced meals. For many kids, the school breakfast and lunch might be the only food they have in a day. So, what happens on the weekends when school is not in session? This program provides students with a backpack filled with breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack and fruit along with vouchers for milk and bread from Family Fare. Once a month, a voucher also goes home for a dozen eggs. The backpacks are delivered to the students on Friday, every week school is in session.

How did it start?

About nine years ago Maureen Nelson, the Executive Director of the United Way of Goodhue, Wabasha and Pierce Counties, brought the program to the Rotary Club of Cannon Falls. After hearing about the program, the Rotary decided to co-sponsor the program. The Cannon Falls Rotary has held several fundraisers for the program. Under their care, tens of thousands of dollars have been raised to support this program. Today, the program is primarily funded by the United Way. The Rotary continues to fund 10-20% of the program. The local program costs between $8,000 and $10,000 annually. The United Way administers the financial side of the program. They pay the bills and track the donations to the program.

Local Management of the Program

The Cannon Falls Rotary and I manage the day-to-day operations of the program. Rotarians meet the volunteers each week to pack the backpacks. School personnel deliver the backpacks to kids each week. School staff also help inform families they think would benefit from the program and serve as backup packing volunteers in the event someone is not able to pack the bags. We have five groups of volunteers that help pack the bags each week. They include the Knights of Columbus, Minnesota Honors Society students, Interact students, Cannon Equipment employees and Keith Meyers Financial employees.

One of my responsibilities is ordering food from Channel One Food Bank. This is the same food bank who supply the Cannon Falls Food Shelf. I also take care of deciding which food to send home each week, setting up the food for the volunteers and managing backpacks for families entering/exiting the program. I schedule/send reminders to the volunteers for packing and unload the food deliveries from Channel One. Recently, I have had two women come and help me unload food deliveries. It has been nice to have the help with the heavy lifting! 😊

Current Program

Currently, we have 21 families participating in the program. There are four middle/high school families and 17 elementary school families. The 21 bags are reaching 53 kids. When the program first started we were sending home between 25 and 30 backpacks. Our numbers have dropped slightly, I think in part due to the better economy at least before recent events.

Anonymity

Because there is such a stigma around taking food home from school, we send the food home in a backpack for the students at the elementary school. At the middle/high school level, we chose to send the food home in duffle bags. The stigma seems harder for the older kids. Carrying two backpacks is more obvious than carrying a backpack and duffle bag – perhaps carrying sports equipment instead of food.

Also to ensure the families’ privacy, I do not know which families are enrolled in the program. The school’s social workers and counselors deal directly with the families. It is therefore a rare opportunity for me to receive feedback from the families. Occasionally, I will find a ‘Thank you’ card tucked in one of the backpacks as I am prepping it for the next week. The school social workers will also occasionally pass along a ‘Thank you’ received either in person or in a card.

Covid-19 Response

Due to recent world events with emergence of the Covid-19 virus, Monday, March 16 was the last day students were in the school buildings. We were able to pack bags to send home with kids on Monday along with two weeks’ worth of vouchers. I had also embossed two more weeks of vouchers that will be sent home this week by school personnel. The decision has been made that as long as the school buildings are closed to outside people, we will not be packing backpacks. Channel One Food Bank has also suspended any deliveries for backpack programs. They are trying to focus their efforts on supporting the local food shelves in their service area.

Please note, the school is currently providing a breakfast and lunch to any students under the age of 18 with plans to continue as long as schools remain closed. These meals are available for pick up Monday through Friday at the elementary school building. A drive through is set up for the meals so no one needs to leave their vehicle to receive the meals.

How to help

The best and most cost effective method to help this program is to donate money. When I first started ordering food for the program, I was shocked at how far I could make a dollar stretch. As an example, a box of cereal priced at roughly $2.00 in the store, can often be purchased in a case of 12 boxes of cereal for the same amount.

That is not to say I wouldn’t accept canned goods. I have had people donate canned goods to the program and I am happy to receive them. I would caution, these are backpacks going home with very young kids is some instances so I cannot use any glass jars. The probability of breakage is too great. I also cannot accept any perishable food as I have no way to store it or send it home safely.

Please let me know if you have any questions or comments. I am always happy to answer any questions. Please everyone – stay home, stay safe and be healthy!

Stacy

Virtual Soup Supper Presentation by Maddy Woodman

My name is Maddy, I’m a junior at the University of Minnesota where I study dance. Last summer I was part of a program called Summer Communities of Service which brings together young adults to work at churches and nonprofits across the United States. These sites are selected by organizers in the United Church of Christ and Alliance of Baptist Church. During 2019, sites included a children’s summer camp in the mountains of Montana, a Christian garden and community center in North Carolina, a housing nonprofit in Florida, and my site, churches in Philadelphia.

We started off the summer with a group meeting in Florida where we met each other and discussed an improvisational “yes and” approach to community service. In summary, we talked about creative ways to interact with youth that we would encounter in our service and discussed the importance of learning the specific needs of the communities we were going into in order to serve in a way which was truly beneficial for them.

Shortly thereafter, I went to Philadelphia to meet my sponsor and learn more about my specific jobs there. My sponsor, Dr. John Harris was pastor to Mount Paran Baptist Church and a leader in various groups and organizations connected to the Baptist church including a seminary and a summer camp. With Dr. Harris, I was able to do behind the scenes work. I designed posters, created forms, did basic research, and performed other administrative tasks to support the ministry of these groups. This made me appreciate all the time and effort that leaders in the church put in to organize its everyday existence and events. Dr. Harris was one of the busiest people I met and I was happy to support his work though I won’t pretend that formatting papers was the most exciting job that I’ve had.

I ended up spending most of my summer working with another church, United Missionary Baptist Church. This church was in a neighborhood close to downtown Philadelphia, in walking distance to the art museum. The neighborhood was in the process of change as it dealt with an influx of people and the forces of gentrification. United is a beautiful example of how the church can worship God and intentionally care for its members and its community during times like that.

The congregational was African American and followed worship traditions based on the culture of the black church. We sang call and response gospel songs. The voices of the lead singers and the playful piano and drums blared loudly through the speakers. There was no way you could fall asleep during one of United’s services. The congregation participated throughout service, calling back at the pastor and embodying their worship by dancing and running around the church. Their energy was amazing and inspiring. The first service I attended was a revival, an extra enthusiastic service meant to revitalize the members of the church. I did not know what to expect and it was one my first nights in Philadelphia. The service was supposed to go 1.5 hours, but it had everyone so excited that we kept going for 2.5 hours. By the end I was exhausted, but moved and excited for the coming summer.

I did most of my work at United with youth at the church. I helped with their children’s church which met during the sermons. We read Bible stories, sang, and did crafts in order to engage the imagination of the kids and help them start thinking about how the Bible can apply in their own lives. I also did some other summer activities with the kids like a day at the pool and a trip to see the Lion King. It was great to witness them building community among themselves and to hear them processing Christian lessons.

I also worked closely with Dr. Chandra Williams, the pastor of United. Together we brainstormed ideas for activities and events which would increase participation in the church and the health and involvement of its members. United has a multi-generational congregation so we discussed how best to serve each group and how to build relationships between members of different ages. I mainly helped develop some ideas about college ministry and began the process of contacting nearby universities. Although United did not currently have any college students attending, they are located close to several large universities so I was able to provide my insight as a student to form some ideas for the coming school year. We also worked on ways of reaching out to the community by visiting local businesses to see how we could support them and they could support our members. We also held community events such as an outdoor summer cookout to invite community residents to come so that we could get to know them and hear their stories. Witnessing the caring outreach and passionate planning was exciting. I did not get to see all of our ideas and dreams come into place (and I am sure that not all of them will), but it was encouraging to think about all the possibilities the church has to build supportive, fun communities and to know that there are a lot of different ways in which we can try to do that.

I was also introduced to liturgical dance while I was in Philadelphia. The church had a dance ministry of 4 other young adults who practiced each Sunday and performed about once a month. When they heard that I loved to dance, they graciously let me join them. It was an exhilarating experience! Between the expressive movement and the improvisational space in which we embraced the influence of the Holy Spirit, it truly felt like a communal act of worship in which we were in conversation with each other, with God, and with the congregation. Some of my favorite memories from Philadelphia are dancing in front of the church as members reach towards the sky and call out to us.

Lastly, I want to mention my experiences living in Philadelphia because I think God ministered to me in unique ways outside of my work. I was supposed to be living with at least one other intern and I was supposed to have a permanent housing situation, but that did not happen. I moved between hostels and the houses of church members, shifting about once a week. It created a bit of uncertainty and loneliness (as I would often leave the people I met when I moved) and led to me dragging my stuffed suitcase around downtown Philly a few more times than I would have liked. But in the end it was such as a blessing. I met so many new people from so many different places and was inspired by their generosity and their openness to share their stories. I made best friends with my spiritual mentor’s four year old granddaughter. I visited the art museum with a world traveler and heard about many of her adventures. I shared dinner and conversation with people at the hostel and shared my story of my summer service with a lot of people.

Though in many ways Philadelphia was not what I expected it to be, I am so glad that I went. When I was leaving, I received a message from Dr. Harris. I had not been able to say goodbye to him, but I almost teared up when reading his thank you for my work amidst a sometimes uncertain situation. His message ended with Hebrew 6:10, words that I would like to leave with you. “For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.” This reminded me that God oversees all the service we do, be it something little like making a poster or something bigger like helping organize and run a children’s day. Our work is dependent on the love that we receive from Him and is part of His much bigger plan. He sees what we do, He helps us, and He loves us.

March is STILL Foodshare Month

From the Mission Committee

The largest grassroots food and fund drive in the state, the Minnesota FoodShare March Campaign brings together various community organizations, businesses, and faith communities to help stock nearly 300 food shelves statewide. In 2017, over $8 million dollars and 4.7 million pounds of food were raised by Minnesota food shelves and Minnesota FoodShare.

Either donate to the address below or you can drop it off at the church – call 507-263-2901 before coming to make sure we are here.

Cannon Falls Food Shelf Hours:
10:00am – 12:00pm, 1st Saturday, 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month
4:30pm – 6:30pm, 3rd Thursday of the month

11 Belle St W, First English Lutheran Church,  507-263- 3257

Items Needed for Cannon Falls Food Shelf

Canned fruit
Canned tuna
Progresso or Chunky soup
Pancake mix
Syrup
Vegetable oil
Hamburger Helper
Laundry detergent
Dish soap
Shampoo 
Toothpaste

 Note: Sue Banks, who is the head of our food shelf said that at this time, they do not need peanut butter.

 

Cannon Falls, Minnesota