Staying Connected
Well it's December. With every month that goes by, I'm blown away with just how quickly time goes by. Tomorrow (December 8th) will mark the one year anniversary since I've started here at Grace. I wanted to make sure I thanked you all for making the last year so special. It's been an interesting year and as I've said probably too many times, not the first year in full time ministry that I expected but through it I'm still very grateful for what the year has been and the relationships I've made and don't regret a thing.

Now that it's December it is officially "Christmas Time." Christmas music is playing everywhere you go and holiday cheer is in the air... well at least some places. Christmas time marks a time of year where the shopping malls are busier, families are getting together and of course, there's the coming of the baby Jesus. This year thought it may be hard to feel some of that holiday cheer. The first week of advent was about hope. Hope is something that I hold onto a lot. The hope of getting through the pandemic is a big part.

This week is about peace. There is a peace that comes with Christmas and the birth of Jesus, but in December, it can be hard to find that peace. Especially this year. Not only of the peace we try to find as we have loved ones that battle through Covid or the thought of having Covid. Then there is the normal things that cause there not to be peace. Things like disagreements in politics, trying to rush to get everything done before Christmas you want to and just the whole hustle and bustle of this season.

Yesterday I was able to get together with some folks that I've been playing music with for almost 14 years now to record some Christmas music to share this advent season. I found peace in just being able to play music with friends. Music that had special meaning for the season. One song we played is a song my friend Ryan wrote and it's called A World Awaits a Child. The song talks about the business of Christmas Time but through it all we're awaiting a Child. We're waiting the promise from God. I wanted to share the song with you all this week and hope it will help you find some peace if you are feeling the craziness of the season(or world) right now

Peace

Ben
The World Awaits a Child by Ryan Magnus
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.
Christmas Eve at Grace
We are planning and putting together a very special Christmas Eve service featuring various types of Music. This will be put out on Facebook and YouTube a week ahead of Christmas so families get plenty of time to enjoy it together as a family. Along with pre-releasing the video we will also host Facebook Watch Parties on Christmas Eve so we can gather to watch with our Grace Family and Friends.
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 also 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!
Adult Boundary Waters Trip
It's 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 who what to have a bit of adventure as part of it. Last year the youth got their turn and this next year it's 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'd paddle out of the BWCA sometime that day and then stay another night in Grand Marais before heading home.

We're excited about the possibilities of this trip and know it will be a great time. Even if I can't guarantee no rain. Once we have a group of folks interested we're have a meeting to discuss more details about the trip. Even if you're 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
Thank you to everyone that has donated their quarters for our quarter drive. I'm just guessing but I bet there is at least 80 dollars in the jar. We will be taking the quarters to connections shelter soon so there are still a couple days to stop in and drop some off.
Feeding Connections
Along with collecting quarters to help out the Shelter We are looking to build two teams (to start with) that could assist in providing dinner to the people staying at the Connections Shelter. Details are still being finalized for when the meals would be served but we are looking at starting with preparing and serving meals twice a month. Please consider if you would like to be a part of a team to help get this done. If we get enough interest, we could add more weeks in the future. This is a great way to stay connected with Connections now that they have found their permanent home just around the corner from us at First Presbyterian Church. Thank you too to Barb Heller and Penny Banwart for your assistance and leadership in getting this off the ground. If interested in being a part of a group to prepare meals or serve you can contact Ben (DSG@gracemankato.org)

We will be starting to serve meals at Connections Shelter the 2nd and 4th Sunday's of every month starting in December. We have people lined up to prepare, deliver and serve meals for the 13th and the 27th. There will be an opportunity to sign up to help coming up in the near future. Be sure to watch this newsletter along with our Facebook page to be able to sign up to help.
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's 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.

November/December Confirmation Schedule
  • December 9 - Confirmation over Zoom 6:00 - 7:00
  • December 16th - Confirmation over Zoom 6:00 - 7:00
  • December 23 and 30th - No Confirmation Winter Break
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 13:24-30, 36-43
"The Wheat & the Weeds"

One thing to be thinking about coming into the bible study is:
As followers of Jesus we live in an environment which is hostile to his life and teachings and to his way of love.
What difficulties can this hostile environment create for followers of Jesus?

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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 10, 2020-The Wheat & the Weeds Matthew 13: 24-30, 36-43
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 6, 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
A few years ago, Grace was able to host Connections Shelter in the building here at Grace. The shelter now has a permanent home at First Presbyterian Church. Although we will not be hosting folks here at Grace, we can still help in a big way. We've had interest in continuing to provide meals to them. They're open to us providing meals for them once a week, once every two weeks or once a month. They'd be happy with whatever we can provide to help feed the folks out that are staying there. We're looking to form a team or even a few teams that would be willing to help prepare and serve meals for the shelter. We have a few people interested in helping lead these efforts but anybody interested please contact Ben and we can get everybody connected.

Due to Covid meals will be plated individually for the rooms rather than how they have been done in the past as family/buffet style. They have enough beds at the shelter for 35 people so meals will be for no more than that.

There are many ways to help the shelter besides proving meals for them. You can sign up to help as Morning and Evening Greeters, Hospitality and meal team. Connections team will doing background checks on all volunteers that sign up. You can sign up by clicking the link below.

Echo Food Shelf - Echo is currently 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,

We pray that during this advent season through all the hustle and bustle if everything we're trying to do we are still able to find the peace that present. The peace that you promise through the birth of your son Jesus.
Amen
Check out this Video!
Midnight Clear by Chris Tomlin
Christmas Medley by Anthem Lights
Current Finances
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.