Staying Connected
I hope you all had a great weekend. I can't believe we are less than two weeks from Christmas. Maybe it the lack of snow but it really seems to be sneaking up on me. When I see, some of my old memories pop up on my Facebook it reminds me of snowstorms that have already happened by this time. I'm sure my snow blower is ok with the work load so far this year. It's been nice with a new puppy in the house too with the training.
 
Despite what it may seem like Christmas is coming up quick and we have some exciting things still going on here at Grace. Besides the advent at home activities that are available for families to do together this year we have a couple other new things that you have look forward to these next couple weeks.
 
We are going to be putting out a special Christmas Eve online service. This service will be full of music from many different people and hopefully everyone can enjoy. We're going to be releasing this worship on Friday December 18th. The reason we want to get this out there early is to give families the chance to enjoy this together whenever or however they are celebrating Christmas together. We will also be having special watch parties on Facebook on Christmas Eve. There will be two that happen that afternoon an evening. One will be at 4:00pm and the other at 8:00pm. These will be a great chance to still get together with your Grace family and enjoy the service together.
 
We will also be holding a very special event next Sunday December 20th at Washington Park. We invite families to meet at Grace in the parking lot Sunday from 4:30-6:00 when we will walk together to Washington Park to do caroling. We will walk through the park with family units spread out social distancing and sing some our favorite Christmas carols together. If you want to stay a bit warmer, you are still invited to come and could park along Fourth Street next to the park roll down your windows and sing along. As of right now, temperatures are looking like they could be in the 40's that afternoon. After the caroling families are invited to stop by Grace and using the entrance by main street walk through and grab some hot apple cider and a cookie. Dressing up is encouraged for this event.
 
Not the exact way we were hoping to celebrate the Christmas season here at Grace but we're hoping you all can still find it filled with Hope, Peace, Joy and Love and it can still be a special time for your family.

Family Advent Activities
I hope families have been finding time to do some of the activities with our "Advent Family Virtual Event" I've gotten some pictures of things families are doing with it and I love seeing them. I'd love to see any pictures you have of your family doing the activities or even your families advent candle set up.
Caroling in the Spirit
Sunday December 20th
4:30 - 6:00
Join us Sunday December 20th from 4:30 - 6:00 as we walk around Washington Park singing some of the songs of the season. Walk around the park with us or park on the street along the park and join in from the comfort and warmth of your car. Families should be able to spread out as we spread out amongst the park and spread some joy with the the caroling. Following the caroling families can swing through the entrance by main street and pick up some hot apple cider and a cookie. We'll all meet in the Grace parking lot where you can get music before heading over to the park.

We are also encouraging people to dress as festive as possible. Get your favorite Christmas sweaters. Deck yourself out with Christmas lights. We'll be excited to see how creative people can be.
Christmas Eve Service
We are sad we can't gather together in the sanctuary this Christmas Eve but happy we can still give you a chance to enjoy some of the great music that comes with the service than you can watch over and over again in the comfort for own homes with your family. Our Christmas Eve service will be available Friday December 18th so you can watch with your families whenever you have time or are gathered together. We will also be having watch parties on Facebook Christmas Eve at 4:00pm and 8:00pm when you can still gather virtually with your Grace family.
Feeding Connections
Last night Sunday December 13 we had, our first group prepare and serve a meal at Connections Shelter. Feeding Connections is a newish ministry that we will be starting up this year. I saw newish because we've done it before when we've hosted the shelter here at Grace. The shelter now has their new home at First Presbyterian Church. The Shelter right now can hold 30 guest each night and Grace is going to feed them starting with the 2nd and 4th Sunday of every month. A special thank you to Barb Heller and Penny Banwart who are helping coordinate this effort. We still need many help to make this happen. We are looking for teams of 2-3 people that will help prepare the meal on the Sundays we will be serving. We then need a team of 3-4 people that would deliver and serve the meal at the shelter that night. Meals should be ready to go to the shelter by 5:45 and meals are served at the shelter by 6:30. To sign up to help and to get more details about preparing meals and serving can be found by clicking the link below. You can also reach our directly to Ben (dsg@gracemankato.org) for more information.
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.
Thank you Barb Heller and Penny Banwart for preparing Turkey Commercials this Sunday. Also thank you to Sam Anderson, Molly and Connor Yunkers for serving.
Amazon Smile
Many of us will be spending quite a bit more with online shopping this year. Amazon Smile is a great program that is run through Amazon that offer a way to give while also spending the money you were already going to anyways.

When not supporting and of the great local businesses (that have online shopping options or curbside pickup) and you happen to be shopping on Amazon we encourage folks to check this out. 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   http://smile.amazon.com/ch/41-6006451  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 in this new and easy way!
2021 Adult Boundary Waters Trip
It is not even the end of 2020 and I'm already 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.

Quarter Drive for Connections Shelter
This last week I was able to take over the quarters collected for connections shelter to help them with laundry so they have clean linens for their guest. I was way off with my guess last week and we ended up providing them $155 in quarters. Thank you all so much for the support in this fundraiser for Connections.
Need Help w/ Zoom?
With Covid numbers going up we know many families are probably going to be looking at getting together differently for the holidays. Not being able to see family could be a tough thing. We would like to try and make that a bit easier on you if you're thinking about using Zoom to see each other.

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 DSG@gracemankato.org to set up a time.
Snack Drive for
MY Place
Our Snack drive for connections is still going on. We've received some snacks that have been dropped off in the nursery. There is still room for many more. We'll collect snacks for another couple weeks before taking them all there. Stop on in anytime during the week to drop off a box or two or three of snacks.
 
MY Place (formally known as the Boys and Girls Club of Mankato) will now be hosting around 40 kids all day while schools are moving to distanced learning. They will be providing these youths (Kindergarten – 9th Graders) with three meals a day. Many of the kids that will be going to MY Place are at risk youth, so having a place where they can get these meals is so important. Another thing they will provide the kids with are snacks throughout the day. That is where Grace can come in and help. We will be holding a snack drive for a few weeks here at Grace. You can bring in boxes of snacks and place them in the Nursery during the day. 
 
Let's pack the nursery with snacks to help feed these kids!!!
Children
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.
Confirmation
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.

December/January Confirmation Schedule
  • December 16th - Confirmation over Zoom 6:00 - 7:00
  • December 23 and 30th - No Confirmation Winter Break
  • January 6th - Confirmation over Zoom 6:00 - 7:00
  • 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
High School Youth Group will be taking a quick pause while schools have moved to distance learning. Keep watch for information for when we resume meeting on a regular basis.
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 DSG@gracemankato.org
Zoom Thursday Night
Bible Study
Parables
"The Greatest Stories Ever Told"


Join us Thursday December 10th 8:00pm

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

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This Week

We'll be looking at Matthew 19:16 - 20:16
"The Parables of Money & Self-Worth"

One thing to be thinking about coming into the bible study is:
List as many examples as you can think of that demonstrate how our society links people's value with their wealth.

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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
December 17, 2020-Parables of Money & Self-Worth Matthew 19:16-20:16
December 24, 2020-No Bible Study
December 31, 2020-No Bible Study
January 7, 2020-The Wise & Foolish Virgins Matthew 24: 36 -25: 13
January 14, 2020-Parable of the Talents Matthew 24: 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
In-Person Bible Study

An email has gone out to the folks that have signed up that have had interest in our bible study Couples of the Old Testament. Thanks for those that have had interest in it. Be on the lookout for more opportunities and all are always welcome to join us Thursday nights over zoom for our current bible study on Parables.

If you are still interested in join in for this study, we could have a virtual options to still be able to meet in the group. Space is limited in the church. This study will be starting at the start of 2021.
Worshiping Together Virtually
We hope since March you have been able to continue to find a way to worship with us all at Grace. With the many platforms out there we hope you have been able to find one or a few that has been able to bring you comfort during these tough times.

Our Facebook live stream is now up and running and we believe we have worked out all the kinks with it.

If you do not have Facebook the worships will still be available on KTOE Sunday mornings at 10:00 and the rebroadcast on KTV. We will also continue to share the link to where they can be found on YouTube. Our goal is that everyone will still have an opportunity to worship with Grace.
December 13, 2020 Worship
Communion Available
You can now bring communion home with you. Pre-consecrated elements are available at the church. You can stop in to pick it up and bring home to have during service on Sunday morning. If you can not make it in let us know and we can bring it to you and drop off during the week.

If you would like to you can make your own communion bread at home. Check out the link below for a great recipe.

Christ in our Home
Devotional
Many of you may be unable to get a copy of Christ In Our Home from the church as you normally would.

During this time we are making it available to you digitally, paper copies are still available at Grace and can be picked up. If you stop to pick one up please do wear a mask while in the church building.
Serving the Community

Echo Food Shelf - Echo is still looking for volunteers to commit to one 2-4 hour shift/week. You can email echofoodshelf@yahoo.com 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
Fair Trade Coffee
Missing fellowship after service and the delicious fair trade coffee? All fair trade/organic coffee is now $7 a bag, including our fellowship blend. It's a course ground blend perfect for French press!  

Your choice of Sisters' Blend, Love Buzz, Breakfast Blend, Mind Body and Soul, And Fellowship Blend now only $7 a bag.  

Stop by the church office to get yours today!
Did you Fair Trade is so much more than Coffee??? There's tea, chocolate and even olive oil all available here at the church. Next time you're at Grace check it out!
Find more information about Mankato Fair Trade Products and their Mission by clicking the link below

10,000 Villages Kiosk
2020 presents us with a challenging holiday shopping season. Due to the pandemic, 10,000 Villages Mountain Lake will not have the kiosk in the River Hills Mall. However, you can still support the store in Mountain Lake by ordering at www.tenthousandvillages.com and selecting the store when you view your shopping cart. 

For detailed instructions, please download this PDF
Pray Together
Lord God,

When the Joy is lacking we know we can turn to the fact that Jesus was brought into this world. That you walked among us in the form of Jesus and that brings us joy. Help us bring joy to others as we walk along side others in this world today.
Amen
Check out these Video!
Joy to the World (Joyful, Joyful) by Phil Wickham
Deck the Halls by Tenth Avenue North
Contact Us
Pastor
Rev. John Odegard - pastor@gracemankato.org

Director of Spiritual Growth

Parish Administrator
Rich Krause - parish@gracemankato.org

Office Specialist
Joan Hertel - office@gracemankato.org

Interim Organist and Music Director
Chuck Hoogland - music@gracemankto.org

Worship and Media Technology Coordinator

Maintenance and Grounds
Jordin Johnson - grounds@gracemankato.org

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.