Staying Connected
Greetings Grace Families and Friends
Hope you all are staying warm during this cold snap we're having here in Minnesota. We all knew it was coming at some point but we know warmer days are just around the corner, no matter what a groundhog may have had to say about it last week.
This weekend while trying to stay warm, I had to chance to attend my very first ELCA Youth Extravaganza. The extravaganza is a gathering each year of people from churches all over the country that work with youth in the church. Normally it is a gathering at a hotel or convention center with vendors and workshops along with worship and time to network with other youth leaders. This year the conference was held all virtually. I had no idea what to expect but I was ready for it. I made a nice cozy spot upstairs away from my family. Settled in with a nice warm mug of coffee and got ready to get go.
The theme for the Extravaganza was "Holding Loosely." Workshops and large group sessions revolved around five main questions
·        How do we help those we work with navigate the grief of losing “normal?” How do we navigate that same grief for ourselves?
·        How do we care for ourselves in the midst of accompanying others in their pain?
·        How do we navigate change?
·        What should we do next?
·        How do we find hope in the midst of chaos?
Within the conference we were reminded of Ephesians 2:8 that says "for by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your won doing; it is the gift of God." It is a reminder that we place our trust in God's grace, which provides guidance and directions during these hard days and that this grace is a gift that we discover when we hold loosely.
I am glad I was able to attend this conference even though it was not quite the networking event they normally are. It may have also been exhausting to be staring at a screen for hours watching videos and participating in zoom calls but it was also rejuvenating as I found words of encouragement. A few things that have stars next them in my notes say, "Vision is a picture of the future that produces Passion," "Every seed has what it needs to be a tree," and "weep with those that weep and rejoice with those who rejoice." That last one I really liked. We share highs and lows with kids during confirmation and during our adult bible study, we start by talking about things that we see beautiful in life that week and things that are painful. To be in Christian community like that is so important because not everything is always perfect and to share that grief with others and processing that grief together helps us all get through it.
That all I have for you this week. Maybe I will expand more on this next week. I hope you all have a great week and stay warm. No matter how cold it gets outside when the sun is shining as it is through my office windows right now I cannot help but be reminded of the warmth of God in my life.

2021 Annual Meeting
This is a rebroadcast of the zoom meeting of the Annual Meetings. Annual Report packet is available by clicking the link below.
2021 Ministry Operating Budget
You can view the budget meeting below. There is also a link to the 2021 Ministry Operating Budget so you can follow along.
Ash Wednesday &
Lent at Grace
Ash Wednesday is coming up. This year Ash Wednesday service is on February 17th. We are planning to hold service in person here at Grace and will be available live through Facebook and YouTube. We are still working though what this service will look like but it will kick off our season of lent. We will also be holding lent worships the following five Wednesdays here at Grace. A theme is being worked out now and we will have more information about that coming out soon. Unfortunately, this year we will not be able to gather around the table for our great potluck dinners.
Worships will be 6:00 Wednesday Evenings in person and livestreamed on Facebook. Worships will also be available on YouTube and be available on your website for viewing later.
Toilet Paper Needed
For Connections
Connections is in need of another donation item that I think our Grace family will be able to help them out. In talking with Jason Glaser, they could use toilet paper donations. We have started a pile of it in the narthex here at Grace and we would love to see how large we could make it. With the great success, we had with the quarter drive and the continued commitment with service meals at connection I know we can gather a lot of toilet paper to donate. Stop in any time and add to the pile started in the narthex. After some time we will get it delivered to the shelter.
Looking Ahead in 2021
Start marking your calendar. We're moving full speed ahead with things and we're excited to announce some 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 Adult Boundary Waters Trip
If you have been thinking about signing up for the Boundary Waters trip for this summer now is a great to do so. We have 12 folks that are interested in going right now and we are going to cap the amount of people at 14. To ensure a spot we encourage you to sign up soon. We will start a waiting list once we reach our cap but could also possibly increase that to 16 depending on interest. There is a wonderfully diverse set of folks going so do not miss out on your chance to join us.
Sunday January 24th many of us going had a chance to get together on zoom to talk about the trip. We choose an entry point and will be trying to secure the permits once they're available this Wednesday. We will be entering the Boundary Waters via East Bearskin Lake Entry Point 24 north of Grand Marais just off the gunflint trail. The plan is to travel to the Grand Marais area Friday July 9th staying one night in or near Grand Marais before entering the BWCA that Saturday morning. Upon entering, we will paddle to find some sites in one of the surrounding lakes. From East Bearskin we look to travel north to possible find sites on Caribou Lake three portages away. We will stay at the same sites for three days going out on day trips exploring the area. Tuesday July 13th we will paddle out of the BWCA, enjoy one more evening in or around Grand Marais before heading home that Wednesday. Cost of the trip will be $200 and we would like to know who all would like to go set in stone by end of March. If you plan on going on the trip would love to also have you involved with helping us plan some of the details. Not mandatory though if you want to just come along see what it is about and trust us you are welcome to do so too.
If you want to discuss more details of the trip before committing to it feel free to get a hold of Ben. We would love to talk to you more about it. It is going to be a great trip.

Below you can sign up for the trip and also view a quick video of the entry point of lake we'll be going in at.
East Bearskin Lake Entry Point 64
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
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.
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.

February/March Confirmation Schedule
  • February 10th - Confirmation over Zoom 6:00 - 7:00
  • February 17th - No Confirmation/Ash Wednesday
  • February 24th - Meet with Mentors
  • March 3rd - Meet with Mentors
  • March 10th - Meet with Mentors
  • March 17th - Meet with Mentors
  • March 24th - Meet with Mentors
  • March 31st - No Confirmation. Holy Week.
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 February 11th, 2021

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 Luke 16:19-31
"The Rich Man & Lazarus"

One thing to be thinking about coming into the bible study is:
Have you ever been asked for money by a person on the street?
How did you react?


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
February 11-The Rich Man & Lazarus Luke 16: 19-31
February 18th - New Bible study starting TBD
Worshiping Together Virtually
Our Facebook live stream is a great way to gather with others(although virtually)as we are 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.

All the past worship services can be found by going to

February 7th 2021 Worship
In-Person Worship
We acknowledge that the risks of this pandemic are not over, and if you are unsure about being in the building, we encourage you to stay home and worship with us from a distance. If you enjoy worshipping from home, we encourage you to continue to do just that. We are opening our doors again but we encourage people to do what is best for your family right now. We want to offer the opportunity for everyone to connect with their faith in ways that are meaningful and meet you where you are. For now, we are glad you can be here with us, whether you are watching live on Facebook, listening on KTOE radio, following along on YouTube or KTV in Mankato. Even after we return to holding worship in our building, we will continue to provide these means of participating with us from a distance including a livestream on Facebook. 

However you participate, now and in the future, we believe you are a part of this assembly, gathered as the one body of Christ to worship and celebrate our life of faith together.
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,

You are with us through the good and you are with us through the bad. Help us to hold onto that through everything that we do. That we an continue to praise you through everything in our lives.
Check out this Video!
Praise you in this storm by Casting Crowns
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.