Community outreach is nothing new for Lord of Life Lutheran Church or other churches, but members of the Ramsey church felt a more focused effort and marketing was needed to be more successful.
“There’s always been such an outpouring of support. We felt if we could focus on something each month, then we could put all our efforts into that,” said Ben Carruthers, director of youth and family ministry.
“It’s about bringing focus to our community. There’s always been a great desire to be there for our neighbors and share God’s love with them,” said the Rev. David Lechelt, lead pastor of Lord of Life.
“I think it gives us a focus,” said Jenna Fluegal, associate director of the youth and family ministry.
It should come as no surprise that the name of this church’s initiative is FOCUS, which stands for Faith, Opportunity, Community, Unity and Service.
February was the first official FOCUS month at Lord of Life and the mission was to learn about what the church already does and what more it could do to support missions trips around the globe. Carruthers is taking members of the church’s youth and family ministry program to Jamaica later this summer to build homes and shelters and to volunteer at food banks.
March is recognized as Minnesota FoodShare month, so it seemed logical to collect nonperishable food and clothing for to the Anoka County Brotherhood Council Food Shelf in Anoka.
Lechelt said the food shelf was in need of more than food. Underwear is an unmet need, so they kicked off with an “Undie Sunday” service in which members of the congregation brought in these donations. Former Lord of Life pastor Blair Anderson even got a special gift of red underwear during the service.
On March 9, Sunday school kids stacked canned goods in formations and gave names such as “The Eiffel Tower” and “Noah’s Ark” to their creations.
With Easter coming up next month, Katie Heschliman, 16; Emily Crumpler, 15; and Joey Wallerius, 10; replicated the scene of the crucifixion of Christ with the cross being the canned goods.
The next step is to “pack the pews” with food March 23, visit local grocery stores March 29 to collect donations from the community, sort the donations March 30 and drop off the food and clothing March 31 at the ACBC Food Shelf.
In April, the church will be donating four cots to Family Promise of Anoka County, according to Lechelt.
The church has adopted families during the Christmas holiday season for years. Hearing these stories really had an impact on Noah Houdek, 15, of Andover.
“They just wanted their kids to have a good Christmas like everyone else,” Houdek said.
The Adopt-a-Family will be November’s FOCUS mission.
Tom and Marlys Williams, of Ramsey, have been attending Lord of Life for about 25 years. They remember a veterinarian from the church treating race horses in Mongolia.
Every fall in recent years the church has let those in need buy clothes for a small cost. The only charge is 50 cents per bag, and they can fill it to the brim. The money the church gets from the bag sales goes to the ACBC Food Shelf.
The 50-cent clothing sale will be this September’s FOCUS mission.
“It’s a way to get people’s attention,” Marlys Williams said.
Eric Hagen is at firstname.lastname@example.org