Faith UMC Senior Fashions Personal Homeless Ministry
By Mikkel Pates
Sometimes ministry starts unexpectedly.
A long-time Faith United Methodist Church woman was at church one day a few years ago. The former lead pastor at the church approached her in the office with a request: "Would you give this homeless man a ride downtown to Broadway?"
"So I did, it was a cold, wintry, blustery day, and after I dropped him off over here on Broadway, I thought, 'My gosh, I have given a homeless man a ride!' Ever since then I've had an interest in the homeless," said the woman, who spoke about her work on condition her name not be used.
The woman became friends with "Larry," a homeless man who frequented Faith UMC for several years. They became good friends and she'd meet him a couple of times a week for a visit, a cup of coffee. She helped him from time to time and she and then-Pastor Kevin Kloster tried in vain to learn more about his circumstances.
She took a different step in January 2016. It coincided with Faith UMC's "Fifth Sunday" effort to do community service projects, in place of a worship service. She had her own mission.
"My mission was to drive down Broadway that day and find a homeless person," she recalls. "I bought a bunch of McDonalds (restaurant) coupons. I drove slowly: not a soul around. No homeless man."
She went into the Fargo Police Department because she knew there was a beat cop that walks the Broadway area. He didn't work Sundays, so she came back on Monday.
"That's when I met Michael Bloom," she says, referring to a Fargo police officer. Bloom is community trust officer with the department. His job is building trust and transparency with the entire city of Fargo and the police department. He is impressed with the woman's efforts. He doesn't answer normal "911" emergency beat calls anymore, so has unique flexibility for things like this. Regardless, the woman must sign a waiver when traveling with him.
Initially, she gave the McDonald's gift cards to Bloom, to hand out.
Since then, she has gotten together with Bloom on other occasions. Being with an officer has helped her comfort level and has established a new friendship and camaraderie.
The woman typically buys six to 10 of the gift cards, at $5 each. She aims to get together monthly with an officer. In the Fifth Sunday in July, she handed cards out on Broadway. A homeless man took one of the cards and hugged her. "He said the most beautiful prayer for me," she says. "Yeah, that was neat."
They drive around and often find small groups of three to four homeless people.
"In there it was kind of a rich moment," Bloom says, after handing out several cards in the Family Health Care center on NP Avenue on a recent weekday morning. "They're always appreciative," she says, "never anything negative said. They all just love getting that."
Bloom grew up in California, but loves Fargo and God.
"I got saved when I was 18, gave my life to the Lord," Bloom says. "I moved to Moorhead where my sister was. I thought I was going to stay a short time, but it ended up being a long time," he says. "I have really good men and mentors -- men I wanted to be like, people in my life -- so I stayed. I got married, and now I'm a cop in Fargo." He is a member of First Assembly of God in south Fargo.
Bloom says he hasn't met anyone else who has wanted to go out and connect with the homeless in this individual way. There are other churches and organized groups, such as Churches United for the Homeless, but this is different. "We just haven't had anyone ask, who's wanted to come out with the officer," he says. "She just shared her passion for the homeless in Fargo, and how she wanted to love them in the region," he says.
There are limits to how many people could be involved in this way, but Bloom says he'd like everybody to know where homeless people are coming from, where they've been and what they're still going through.
"They've been through a lot of hard places and they're still in a hard place, so that's where a lot of that edge is coming from, if they are edgy. But when you give to someone they receive well. I think that's a statement about the love of Jesus about our friend that I work with on this project," he says, adding that, “love is really powerful, even into the homeless person's life. I think that's what we're called to do as people -- take care of each other."
The woman is doing that up close and personal, he says.
"I think it's fabulous," Bloom says. "I think my friend thinks she's older in age, and that she's done living, but she's challenging me in my younger age to keep loving people. This is the love that matters. This is what Jesus did. He didn't do a lot of flashy things but he hung out with a lot of broken people and loved them. She's just showing an authentic love, and I think that's pretty special."
As for our Faith UMC member, it's a personal ministry that has changed her outlook: "That's the way I wanted to do it -- one-on-one."
Thanks to everyone who participated in Service Sunday, our opportunity step outside of our church home to BE THE CHURCH, aiding those who are need and walking in the footsteps of the example of Jesus Christ himself! About 25 members of the Fargo Faith family served on four projects this past Sunday morning.
And a special thanks to those who served as leaders for each project ensuring the success of each Missions Project! It was a wonderful opportunity for us to leave the church and help people who are in need!
Melissa Wheeler and Christopher Hanson
Missions and Outreach Team Chairs
By Mikkel Pates
Some of you have asked where the In God We Trust Quartet came from.
First, we're all life-long church musicians. In my case, my mother was the church organist at Ascension Lutheran Church in Brookings, S.D. I have sung in church choirs all my life. Church anthems have always worked out like prayers to me -- poetry about the fate of our souls.
About a third of my life I've been a Methodist. I met Barb in 1980, when I was a newspaper reporter and a Lutheran in Worthington, Minn. Barb was a Methodist who wrote advertising for the local radio station. We met at a Catholic singles group. We were married in 1982 and joined First United Methodist.
We moved to Fargo in 1983, where we joined Calvary United Methodist Church. I sang in the choir. Barb and I became particular friends of the Rev. Dick Unkenholz and his wife, Pat, who played and taught organ. Our Methodist choirs got together occasionally with Faith UMC's choir, and so in the late 1980s I met folks like Kathy Frost, Donna Sell and Larry Wurgler.
In 1988, Barb and I joined Olivet Lutheran Church in south Fargo (the Swiss cheese church). I always taught Sunday School and sang in the church choir. Marlys Herring -- a performance major from Concordia College -- became our choir director. Her husband, Dr. Richard Herring (chiropractor in Lisbon, N.D.) was in town on weekends and sang bass.
It didn't take long before I heard that Richard loved the Bill Gaither quartet and performers like the Cathedrals. This sort of southern Gospel and something mostly foreign to me except with some standards as "He Touched Me." Eventually, we started a quartet with choir tenors Keith Bresin (paper product sales executive) and Mike Warner (former sugar beet farmer and business executive). Dick often played harmonica solos for our programs. He's studied with some of the best and at one time was recruited to play accordion with Lawrence Welk. Marlys is the real professional in the group, and plays and sings back-up.
The true story is that the quartet asked the Olivet congregation to write suggested names for our quartet on dollar bills and put them into the offering plate. They all came in with the words "In God We Trust" and so the name stuck (ba-dum-TSH)
Barb and I joined Faith UMC in 2010, where we knew the Rev. Kevin Kloster, was serving. But I couldn't leave the quartet behind. We practice most Sundays at Olivet for about an hour and a half, after church. We play a dozen gigs a year, even though we now all attend different churches.
We've played at small town opera house fund-raisers, county fairs, and even helped dedicate a parking lot at a church at Manvel, N.D. After nearly ten years doing this stuff, we now have about 50 songs mostly memorized. My most memorable performances were for a now 111-year-old member of my Worthington church choir who now lives in a nursing home at Northwood, N.D.
We've also played at least three of the Live Nativity events at Faith UMC, sometimes competing with a donkey. At this last Faith UMC program, we enjoyed our second public performance with our new bass, Jim Sele (hotel general manager). He has a big voice and a great spirit -- literally an answer to our prayers.
After all this time, we have learned that we don't have to be perfect but that shouldn't stop us from trying to get better. We often chat about theology but we don't always agree. We've learned to love each other despite our faults and imperfections. You can learn about that in the pews on Sunday or on Wednesday evenings. I guarantee it.
Thanks to everyone who was involved with the Trustees Fall Cleanup project which took place this past weekend! Several major tasks were accomplished to include trimming and cutting down trees and bushes, stump grinding, lawn fertilization, and replacing light bulbs in the Sanctuary just to name a few! The grounds at the church and the yard at the parsonage look great, and the Sanctuary was noticeably brighter during worship services on Sunday!
Thanks again to everyone who gave up some of their free time this past week to help make our church home a better place as we head into the changing seasons!
Thank you to everyone who participated in Service Sunday! Over 50 people were involved in six different service projects that took place over the weekend. Our Fargo Faith family members prepared and served brunch at Churches United for the Homeless, put together nearly 40 Christmas Shoeboxes, prepared greeting cards for our shut-ins, did yard work for two families who were in need of the extra help, and prepared meals and treats for some of our Fargo Faith members. It was an excellent day of being the hands and feet of Jesus, walking in his footsteps and being his example.
Thanks to everyone who participated!
Melissa Wheeler- Missions Chair- Missions/Outreach Team
Christopher Hanson- Outreach Chair- Missions/Outreach Team
THANK YOU to Pastor Sue Koesterman, Executive Director of Churches United for the Homeless, for delivering the message this past Sunday! Her message, entitled Love Enacted, was moving and enjoyable!
And CONGRATULATIONS to Jennette Dittman on the occasion of being awarded the United Methodist Women Jewel of a Woman Award for 2018! Jennette has dedicated much of her time to missions work here at Fargo Faith and also serves as the Adult Sunday School Leader. We appreciate her dedication and are very happy that she received this award!
Pastor Ray is proud to announce the members of the Fargo Faith 2017-2018 Confirmation Class!
The members of the class are, from left to right, Caden Kiehl, Abby Carvell, Lydia Farnham, Rylee Hayes, and Andrew Anderson. The class continue their studies through the fall and winter into the spring, and will be confirmed in May of 2018.
Be sure to pray for our Confirmation students as they continue through their studies and requirements to be confirmed next year!
This past Sunday was a special day here at Fargo Faith as we celebrated new members joining our church family! New members were presented at both services!
New members pictured include: Carolyn & Karl-Heinz Mertins, Steven Wheeler, Tanya & Brandon Baity at the Contemporary Service and Ted Fowler, Liz Crane, and Kathy & Ronald Schultz.
A handful of other new members were unable to in attendance this past Sunday and will be presented at a later date.
Congratulations to all of our new members!
This past Sunday was Boy Scout Sunday here at Fargo Faith! Thanks to Scoutmaster Ken Elfstrum and Charter Representative Karlene Elfstrum for putting things together and lining up Boy Scouts to aid us in worship at our Contemporary Service. And thank you to the Boy Scouts of Troop 214 for their hard and dedication to our church and their organization. Keep up the good work!
Congratulations to Fargo Faith member Sally Hamilton! Sally, a Longfellow Elementary first grade teacher, was presented with a plaque and monetary award for being named North Dakota Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Teacher of the Year on Monday, February 26th. She was nominated for this award after taking her first graders to the VA to hand out cards around Veterans Day.
You'll be seeing some new musicians around the church over the next few weeks!
Heidi Farrell will be coming in to accompany the choir for the remainder of this year! Heidi, originally from Minot and a graduate of Concordia College in Moorhead, lives in south Fargo and has been playing piano for well over two decades. Heidi is married and has three children.
Greg Goerdt is joining the Big House Band as a guitarist. Greg, who works as an engineer during the day, has been active in live music for most of his adult life playing in various rock bands as well as church and worship bands in the Red River Valley area.
We're excited to add these two individuals to our musical team here at Fargo Faith!
Thank you to Michael Monroe Casey and Brady Balsdon for serving as guest speakers at Fargo Faith this past Sunday! Their message that "You Matter" is simple, but powerful set of words that reinforce that no matter who you are, what you are, or where you are in life, you matter to our Lord, and you are always loved!
Thank you to everyone who came out and enjoyed the Live Nativity this past Sunday! We felt that it was once again a success as we saw over 250 people pass through the church! We received numerous compliments about the Nativity scene outdoors and we were happy to serve plenty of apple cider and cookies to everyone who came inside to the Fellowship Hall!
Thank you as well to the volunteers who helped put the event on! Thanks to our costume team for getting everyone dressed for their outdoor roles, the Trustees and those who aided in setting up and tearing down the outdoor scene, the kitchen staff who kept the drinks and goodies stocked, the actors who stood outside in the cold but made the Nativity scene look perfect, the musicians who performed music and helped with the sing-a-long, all of those who baked and provided cookies and bars, and anyone else who aided in making the event a success from start to finish!
Christopher Hanson, Outreach Chair
Congratulations to our 8th graders who were confirmed this past Sunday! Those individuals included: Jordan Garske, Rebecca Van Vleet, and Cassie Ishaug! We're proud of you and your hard work and look forward to seeing where your faith journey takes you in the future!
Boy Scout Troop 214, who have called Fargo Faith UMC their home for many years, came together recently to take on a service project at our church! The Troop trimmed bushes and cleaned and bagged leaves along the fence and the church parking lot.
We appreciate their hard work and efforts to help keep our church home looking presentable in the neighborhood! And we thank BSA Troop 214 for all of their contributions in the community as well. Fargo Faith is proud to sponsor the finest Boy Scout Troop in the Fargo-Moorhead area!
What a great day this past Sunday was at Fargo Faith! There were 175 in attendance for the Spring Music Service! The choir, band, kids, and our organist made excellent music, we confirmed five wonderful 8th graders, and we celebrated the occasion with a good old fashioned potluck lunch! It was a wonderful way to close out our regular season of worship!
Thank you to all of the musicians, the kids, and the Sunday School teachers for the great music. Thanks to Pastor Ray for a nice service. Thanks to everyone who brought food for the potluck. And thanks to all of the volunteers who helped with the setup and cleanup before and after the potluck. It was truly a wonderful day!
Julie Harstad (daughter of Ed and Karen Balsbaugh) of Fertile, Minnesota was recently awarded the Outstanding Service to Education Award by the Fertile-Beltrami Education Foundation. Julie started an after-school Physical Education Program twelve years ago that has involved several hundred kids over the years.
In the accompanying photo is (from left to right) Karen Balsbaugh, Julie Harstad, David Harstad, and Dorothy Harstad.
Please join us in wishing Zach Zaborny the best of luck as he prepares to move overseas to Australia! Zach has served as the Campus Minister for The Bridge campus ministry at North Dakota State University over the past two years in addition to serving on the Outreach Team and the Tech Team here at Fargo Faith.
Zach will make his big move later in February.
Best of luck to Zach!
You can continue to follow Zach in his work by visiting his website at thezezconnection.com.