Church: Blooming Grove UMC
District: Southern Prairie
Submitted by: Pastor Cindy Kennedy
What started as a desire by Blooming Grove United Methodist Church to feed their neighbors in both body and in spirit led them to host three major events 2011--two for the first time--that raised funds for local food shelves.
Most recently, on Oct. 2, Blooming Grove members successfully host their first Run for the Loaves" as one of these fundraisers.
During discussion at a church council meeting early in 2011, we were inspired by the idea that our church, located in the middle of the corn fields on the Steele/Waseca County line, was the hub of a wheel, with spokes going out to our neighboring communities of Morristown, Faribault, Medford, Owatonna, and Waseca. As we brainstormed throughout the year regarding how to best feed our neighbors, members were inspired to host events that involved and supported people in Steele and Waseca counties and beyond.
One event, our February Cabin Fever Reliever, spearheaded by member Faye Kanne and Linda Morgan, had been held the year before with much success. This year we hosted a meal, auction, and Wii dance contest to combat the winter doldrums and raised $2,111.10 for the Steele County Food Shelf. We donated it in March so it would be eligible for matching funds during Minnesota FoodShare month.
For our second event, members Judy Mahler and Marlis Mahler planned a fall concert featuring local artists The Bad Tangerines and Out of Grace. The Sept. 25 concert raised $950 for Waseca and Steele County food shelves. Eighty-two people from the surrounding area came to enjoy local musical talent and contribute funds.
Our third event, Run for the Loaves, came as inspiration to member Brad Saufferer when we discovered that the local CROP Walk had been discontinued. On Oct. 2, a clear, bright, cool day, we hosted a four-mile run/walk in the beauty of southern Minnesota farm country, surrounded by corn and soybeans ready to be harvested. The start and finish line was in the parking lot of our church.
With the help of the Owatonna High School cross-country coach, Dave Chatelaine, and almost every member of Blooming Grove UMC, we hosted 76 runners and walkers and raised nearly $2,300. Eight-year-old Alexandra Heuss, member of our sister United Methodist congregation in Waterville, raised $180 by herself, and 25- ear old Amy Saufferer, a Blooming Grove member, sold her couch, donated the proceeds of $150, and gathered another $80 in donations.
This story is living proof that God can do mighty things through any church, of any size, in any location. A key factor was the power of focus--to focus our energy on one broad category of need and then work together to meet that specific need in multiple ways. By focusing on one common theme, the energy of our small congregation multiplied in front of our very eyes, not unlike the story of the loaves and the fishes.
Altogether, these three events in 2011, inspired by the image and desire to be a hub of feeding the spirits and bodies of our neighbors, raised almost $7,500, and involved over 200 people in the surrounding communities in giving back to those in need in our world. We are Blooming Grove UMC, the Two-Steepled Church on the Prairie, a place that brings people together to feed body and soul.
For more photos and information, visit our website.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church