As the Spirit Moves Me: Local service motivates members of Gethsemane church

Gethsemane Lutheran Brethren Church, in Rochester.

Rochester's Gethsemane Lutheran Brethren Church is fairly new, but the history shows a spiritual awakening swept over a large territory of the Midwest just before the 1900s.

That revival not only caused people to ask, "What must I do to be saved?," but also "What is the right order in the House of God as it pertains to church membership, worship, communion, absolution and confirmation?"

Looking for answers in the scriptures, many concluded with the saints of old, we must obey God rather than man.

In December 1900, representatives from several independent congregations gathered for a convention in Milwaukee and decided to organize the Church of the Lutheran Brethren. It recognized the Biblical basis of the Lutheran doctrine which states "the church is the communion of saints." As such, the congregation should consist of only confessing Christians whose lives give evidence of their faith.

Locally, a small group of people began meeting weekly for Bible study and prayer fellowship, seeking God's direction to eventually establish a new church congregation known today as Gethsemane Lutheran Brethren.


Their early meetings were in the comfort of North Hall, Mayo Civic Auditorium. The year was 1968, and over time and God's majestic guidance, they found a 2.2-acre parcel on 37th Street Northwest. Ground was broken in April 1974. Construction began a month later. A lot of "sweat equity" or "labor of love" contributed by members and friends. Dedication was finally in April 1975.

The Rev. Mark Nienow, originally from Lewiston, has been lead pastor of the congregation since 2007 and is pleased with the way the church has grown. His story picks up with the 37th Street location to today's much larger facility at 2204 22nd St. NW. The 37th Street church building today is the site of Mahn Family Funeral Home.

Gethsemane's mission is in response to God's grace to participate in his mission "through our words, deeds and worship by proclaiming that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life."

Starting on Monday, Gethsemane is hosting a week-long mission trip for students grades 7-12 called Reach Out Rochester. Several "sister" churches will be joining in from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa. Also involved will be Teen Challenge, New Life Family Services, Camp Victory and Damascus Way. These young folks will be helping families in the Rochester area who need minor home repair or painting. Also a family night at the Hylands apartment complex, which Gethsemane has been doing each summer since 2009. Two dozen adults are volunteering to work alongside the kids.

"I have been humbled and blessed by the number of people from our church who are willing to take a week off work to serve Reach Out Rochester," Pastor Mark told me.

Reach Out Rochester is a Christ-centered mission trip designed to bring students closer to him and to share the love of God as they serve throughout the community. Pastor Mark concluded with "It is our prayer that they will gain an understanding of what ministry can look like in their own communities while drawing closer to God through worship, speakers and daily devotion."

"Students will be challenged to grow in their faith as they participate in community outreach, prayer walks and becoming aware of individuals who are hurting," said the church's youth director, Annette Ihrke. Also on the team is Pastor George Schweitzer, who came on board in 2014.

Sunday Worship 9:30 a.m. in the summer and 10:30 a.m. during the school year. Church membership is 100. Average Sunday attendance is 140. Gethsemane Lutheran Brethren Church is at 2204 22nd St. NW. Phone: 507-282-1121.


Next week: the amazing Autumn Ridge Church in southwest Rochester.

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