As the Spirit Moves Me: Many missions motivate St. John's in Kasson
If someone felt moved to write a book about St. John's Lutheran Church in Kasson, they should check in with church historian Ardis Grovdahl, who has supplied me with a cornucopia of notes.
The church got started April 3, 1876, as the Kasson Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Congregation. Can you imagine that — putting the word "Norwegian" in the church name? Well, the Norwegians and the Germans filled the Lutheran congregations. This church is now 139 years old, but not just sitting on its history.
Its mission statement is "We are a faith-filled community, welcoming, inspiring, serving, and reaching out through the Love of God." And how they reach out! As a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA), St. John's heavily supports in cash the Southeastern Minnesota Synod, led by Bishop Steven Delzer.
Led by the Rev. Randy Fett and Associate Pastor Dana O'Brien, the St. John's Lutheran membership is 2,850 with 900 families and a weekly attendance of approximately 450. Yes, they have several great meals annually, because Lutherans and food just seem to go together.
The church supports ELCA missionary Karen Anderson, an Owatonna native, in Chile. St. John's also is in congregational partnership with Shelui Lutheran Church in Tanzania. A student's tuition has been paid annually at the Mae Sae Lutheran Girls Secondary School.
The church supports SEMCAC with food, volunteers and donations to the Dodge County Food Shelf, the Back-to-School backpack program, school supplies, and heating assistance, grocery and non-perishable food items as part of "Minnesota Share," the Giving Tree at Christmas, volunteer drivers for Meals on Wheels.
There's also a Good Samaritan Fund, Crop Walk, God's Global Barnyard, World Hunger, Adopt a Highway and members donate and help serve Saturday noon meals monthly at Christ United Methodist in Rochester.
St. John's church as been involved in Friends of Christ Haiti Ministry for the past 12 years. Former St. John's Pastor Marie A. K. Anderson and Pastor Mioche Rock of Pignon, Haiti, became friends when attending Minnesota Bible College in Rochester, thus continuous support in school supplies, clothing and medical supplies. Continuous fundraising results in thousands of dollars for classrooms in the Village of Bouyaha.
Back at St. John's Lutheran Church, a preschool named Creation Kids CKP has a Christian-based curriculum and functions as an outreach of St. John's Ministry.
It wasn't until 1903 that St. John's had a church building. Twenty-three families in the congregation purchased the building from the Danish Baptists for $1,000. Great growth found this congregation building and moving three times. In 1992, construction of a new $1.2 million project was started. Several additions have occurred since them.
All right folks, circle Oct. 22 on your lutefisk calendar. Each year it's the 4th Thursday for St. John's annual Lutefisk Dinner, sometimes referred to as Norwegian Supper. This tradition began in 1930 when a meal was 40 cents. Hundreds of St. John's members are involved.
In years past they served as many as 2,500, last year 1,900 over six to seven hours. Last year they prepared 1,700 pounds of lutefisk, 550 pounds of meatballs, 900 pounds of rutabagas, 880 pounds of potatoes, 45 gallons of coleslaw, 35 gallons of cranberry relish, and 360 dozen baked goods. Does that whet your appetite?
There are many more programs involving women, men, and youth, choirs and organ concerts. For the first time St. John's is holding one service at 9 a.m. Sundays during the summer. Coffee fellowship follows.
Address: St. John's Lutheran Church, 301 Eighth Ave. NW, Kasson. Phone: 507-634-7110. Website: stjohnskasson.org.