Staying Connected
Howdy Folks.
Hope you all had a great weekend. I sit here in my office at Grace struggling with what to write about with this space at the start of this newsletter. I think about the current state of things in the world. The events from last week that took over my mind pretty much all of Wednesday, the continued division in the world that seems to divide folks on Facebook daily. I think oh I could write about the lasting goings on of our 4-month puppy at home or my wife receiving good news from her job last week. So many things to talk about. I have decided I am going to talk about my furnace.
Yesterday (Sunday) Betsy was working all day doing inventory at her job and came into the office in the afternoons and work on a few things before helping with the meal at Connections shelter. As I'm at church I receive a text message from my daughter "It's really cold in the house can you turn up the heat?!" I read it but then forgot about it. We can turn up the temperature from our phones so I should have just jumped into the app and done that but I was distracted by something and forgot... a couple hours went by and Betsy replied. She had not been around her phone for a while so she had a far better excuse than me for not responding. She turned the temperature up but asked if warm air was coming out of the vents. Esther's response, "there's air coming out but it’s more cold than warm air." When I got home that night, the temperature had dropped to a nice and cozy 60 degrees in the house. We usually have it set at about 68. I worked on what I could to try to get it up and running again. The pilot light had gone out and I was not able to get it up and running. It would pretend as if it was going to but then not work. We decided we would just through some extra blankets on the beds and get back at it in the morning. This morning we decided to try a new filter. Got to Menards about 6:00 with a picture of the filter I needed. Searched all up and down the aisle nothing. Found out they were out of stock. So off to the next place... not open yet... next place... not open. I drove around for a while frustrated all the time still thinking I was going to have to call the professionals. Finally, Fleet Farm opened and I got the last filter on the shelf that my furnace took. Got home installed that and restarted the cycle to restart it. Finally, the blue flame lit up in side and I sat there hoping it would stay. It did the house started warming up and for now, we believe all is good. We are back up to a balmy 68 degrees in the house.
So why did I decide to tell you this long obnoxious rambling story about my furnace. 1) Listen to your wife right away because she is right when she says it is probably the furnace filter. 2) It got me thinking about filters. I am not going to pretend to be an expert on it because I am far from it. Someone did tell me this morning you could probably run for a little while without a filter, "won't blow up or anything." I am assuming that is true.... Maybe, but I was not going to take the chance.
Philippians 4:8 says
"Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."
How often do we not filter out so much of the bad stuff though in our lives? We let the bad stuff in and make us feel yucky inside and we eventually blow up. We are beloved by God thought. Like the air we breathe, we should let in the honorable, just, pure, pleasing, commendable and excellent into our lives. Some of the bad may filter through and cause pain but it is important that the good come through. When too much of that bad builds up it can choke out the good. That is when we may need a reminder that we have a God that we can pray to. To ask for help and like the water of baptism can wash us clean and fill us with the Holy Spirit. Changing our filter and making it easier to breathe when the world seems to be trying to fill us with the bad happening around us.

Have a great week everyone

Looking Ahead in 2021
Start marking your calendar. While moving full speed ahead with things we're excited to announce some more opportunities for fellowship, leaning and service this next year. We are optimistic that life will return to a more normal form and these events will be able to move forward how we hope.
2021 Vacation Bible School
"King of Me"
June 7th - 11th
We are planning an in-person Vacation Bible School (VBS) this summer. We will be holding here at Grace the week after schools get out the week of June 9th. The theme for the week is "King of Me." We will explore some of the characters from the Old Testament and how God is bigger than some of the obstacles that were put in their way and how God is the kind of all those things. When we feel alone God is with us. This week will be full of fun worship, crafts and activities as well. This will be fully run by Grace so we will be looking for volunteers to help during the week. If you have time available or an older child at home that you want to get out of the house to help please let Ben know ( and he'd love to have some help. He will take help during the days with programing, food, childcare before and after or even planning the VBS if you are feel very adventurous.

All kids are welcomed to attend. They don't have to be a member of Grace
Children ages Kindergarten - 6th Grade are invited.
Programing will run from 8:30 - 3:00 Monday - Thursday and 8:30 - noon on Friday. Early drop off and late pick up will be available to families that need it.
Meals will be provided Monday - Thursday
Suggested Donation of $35 to cover cost of food and craft supplies

Click below to sign up.
2021 Youth Summer Service Trip
North Shore MN
June 13th - 18th
The summer of 2021 was supposed to be the next ELCA National Youth Gathering that happens every three year. That has been postponed to July of 2022 and will be in Minneapolis as planned. That means we will be doing a youth service trip this summer instead. With still some uncertainty of what that can look like we are planning this ourselves and will be traveling to the north shore based around Duluth. Service opportunities are still being worked out along with lodging but we are confident we will be able to offer a safe and fun trip for youth that have completed 7th - 12th Grade. You can register by clicking the link below. If you have any questions about this trip you can reach out to Ben at
2021 Adult Boundary Waters Trip
Now that we're getting through the holidays it's time to start thinking about the summer of 2021. Some of us have probably been thinking about next summer for a while now. We are planning a fun opportunity for adults next summer whom what to have a bit of adventure as part of it. Last year the youth got their turn and this next year it is time for the adults to take a trip into the Boundary Waters (BWCA). I wanted to be get this announcement out early so people could have a bit of a chance to think about it. I would like to have a good idea of numbers thought by the end of January so we can secure permits for the trip. If you sign up early, I'd love some help looking into where to paddle in at. We're looking at going in on the Grand Marais side of the BWCA.
Dates for the trip are Friday July 9th through Wednesday July 14th. The plan would be to leave around mid-day on the 9th drive all the way to Grand Marais and stay there before paddling in to the BWCA Saturday. We spend four days and three nights paddling, fishing, having devotional time and anything else you may want to do up there. Tuesday the 13th we would paddle out of the BWCA sometime that day and then stay another night in Grand Marais before heading home.
We are excited about the possibilities of this trip and know it will be a great time. Even if I cannot guarantee no rain. Once we have, groups of folks interested we'll have a meeting to discuss more details about the trip. Even if you are just interested, click the link below to sign up. No commitment needed at this time and cost for trip is yet to be determined but will be very affordable.

Feeding Connections
Grace is serving dinner at Connections Shelter the second and forth Sunday of every month. If you would like to sign up to help out for any of the next times we're serving you can find a sign up below. You can also reach out to Ben through the church office or at
There are other opportunities to be able to serve at Connections. Below is a link to their sign up to be able to be greeters at the shelter. If your family would also like to take on a meal on your own to make and serve there are opportunities to sign up and do that.
Below is another way that you can help out Connections Ministries. Click the link below to access their amazon wish list. This is a great way to provide something they they need rather than just giving a monetary donation.
While we are not yet meeting in person for children PreK - 6th Grade we do want to make weekly lessons available online. You can access the weekly lessons we would be doing by clicking the links below. There are great activities that can be done as a family together.
Right now as schools have moved to distance learning we have decided that the safest and most effective way to continue to meet with our confirmation students will be to temporarily move the the program virtual. We will be using Zoom to connect with the students just as we did last spring. As soon as it is safe to once again meet in person, we'll be excited to have the youth back here at Grace Wednesday nights.

For more details about events or would like to get involved please reach out to Ben or Pastor John and we will be sure to get you in the loop on everything you need to know.

January Confirmation Schedule
  • January 13th - Confirmation over Zoom 6:00 - 7:00
  • January 20th - Confirmation over Zoom 6:00 - 7:00
  • January 27th - Confirmation over Zoom 6:00 - 7:00
High School
We are still evaluating the best way to meet together with High School youth group. We continue to suspend any in person gatherings with the youth looking out for the wellbeing of them and others. We are anxious for the time we can gather together once again. Notifications will be sent out as soon as we can start meeting again.
If anybody has questions about youth and family ministry opportunities or would like to help leading any activities please reach out to Ben. You can call directly any time at 507-524-3254 or send an email to
Zoom Thursday Night
Bible Study
"The Greatest Stories Ever Told"

Thursday January 14th

All Are Welcome!
As a community of Christ, we share in each other's joys and pains. Before we dive into the word each week we share our joys and pains with each other using the Rose Analogy.

  • We look for the Rose in our lives - A highlight, success, small win or something positive that is happening.

  • We look for a Thorn in our lives - A challenge you are experiencing or something you can use more support with.

  • And we look for the Bud in our lives - A new Idea that has bloomed or something you are looking forward to knowing more about or experiencing


This Week

We'll be looking at Matthew 25: 14-30
"Parable of the Talents"

One thing to be thinking about coming into the bible study is:
If someone loaned you a million dollars and you had to pay it back in ten years, what would you do with it?


Thursday Bible Study

Zoom Meeting ID 857 5766 8823

Time 8:00 pm Thursday
Every week will have the same meeting ID
Mark your Calendars
January 14, 2020-Parable of the Talents Matthew 25: 14-30
January 21st-The Pharisee & the Tax Collector Luke 18: 9-14
January 28, 2020-Parable of the Rich Fool Luke 12: 13-21
February 4 2020-No Bible Study
February 11, 2020-The Rich Man & Lazarus Luke 16: 19-31
Worshiping Together Virtually
We continue you worship from a distance for the wellbeing of our neighbors as our council continues to evaluate how and when we will return to worship in more familiar ways

Our Facebook live stream is a great way to gather with others(although virtually)and believe we area all part of this assembly as we gather as the one body of Christ to chat, share a greeting of peace and worship together. A live stream of our worship is broadcasted every Sunday morning at 10:00 and is 50-60 minutes long.

If you do not have Facebook worship is will still be available on KTOE Sunday mornings at 10:00 and the rebroadcast on KTV Tuesday at 1:00 pm and again Wednesday at 7:15 pm. Past worships can also be found on YouTube and our Website. Our goal is that everyone will still have an opportunity to worship with us at Grace.
January 10th 2021 Worship
Christ in our Home
Christ In Our Home are still available here at Grace. You can stop in and pick on up anytime during church office hours.
Fair Trade Coffee
We still have Fair Trade coffee and other items for sale here at Grace. Current selection of products on hand here at Grace are pictured below. Items available are Coffee, Tea, Hot Cocoa Powder, Chocolate bars, backing cocoa and olive oil. Items are located near the narthex and can be bought during church office hours.
All Fair Trade/Organic Coffee - $7.00/Bag

Individual Coffee packets - 60¢ each
Makes 10-12 cups

All Tea - $3.00

Hot Cocoa - $6.00

Large Chocolate Bars - $2.50

Baking Cocoa - $6.00

Olive Oil - $13.50
Find more information about Mankato Fair Trade Products and their Mission by clicking the link below

Serving the Community

Echo Food Shelf - Echo is still looking for volunteers to commit to one 2-4 hour shift/week. You can email to get involved.

CADA House - Committee Against Domestic Abuse, Inc. (CADA) is a nonprofit victim advocacy and emergency shelter organization based in Mankato, Minnesota. CADA’s mission is to provide safety and support to victims of domestic and sexual violence through education, advocacy, and shelter.
You can check out the latest Newsletter for CADA by Clicking HERE
Pray Together
Lord God,

Even thought it may not feel like it you are there for us through the tough times in our lives. Your grace for us is never ending. You poor the Holy Spirit into us through baptism and we can remember your love for us through that baptism. Thank you for your love and grace.
Check out these Videos!
Find Me by Jonathan Helser
Washed By the Water by Needtobreathe
Amazon Smile
Many of us has been spending more time shopping online. When shopping with amazon there is an easy way to help raise a donation go to Grace. When shopping through a web browser you can follow the link below and it's easy to set up. It's also super easy to get set up on a mobile device through the Amazon App. When signed into your account in the app in settings there is a section called "Programs and Features" in that sections you can click on AmazonSmile. I that section you can select your charity. You can search Grace Lutheran Church Mankato or type 41-6006451.

When you #StartWithaSmile, Amazon donates 0.5% of the purchase price to Grace Lutheran Church. Bookmark the link  and support us every time you shop.

You still get the same prices and you can still use your Prime account, but when you start by using this link above, Amazon will donate a portion of the price back to Grace.

Thanks for supporting Grace.
Need Help w/ Zoom?
Zoom is a great tool for connecting with family or our Thursday night bible study here with Grace. If you have been waiting to try to use Zoom because it can be a bit confusing at time we invite you to get a hold of Ben here at Grace. Ben is far from an expert with all that zoom can do but can defiantly help enough to get things set up on your device and test things out to see how they work. You can call the office to get a hold of Ben or send an email at to set up a time.
Contact Us
Rev. John Odegard -

Director of Spiritual Growth

Parish Administrator
Rich Krause -

Office Specialist
Joan Hertel -

Interim Organist and Music Director
Chuck Hoogland -

Worship and Media Technology Coordinator

Maintenance and Grounds
Jordin Johnson -
Grace Lutheran Church Office Hours

Monday - Thursday 10:00a.m - 5:00p.m
Friday 10:00a.m - noon
Is there news you're wanting to have included in future staying connected newsletters? Reach out to Ben with the details and he'll be sure to included in an upcoming newsletter. New newsletters are emailed out every Monday and can also be found on Facebook or the Webpage under the At Home Resources tab.