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Lutheran churches join forces, stay home for service projects

Eric Fjetlend tapes off a windowpane on a porch at a Franklin Street home. More than 20 youngsters from First Lutheran, United Lutheran and St. Paul’s Lutheran churches will work this weekend on projects around the city. (photos by Samantha Bengs)1 / 2
Church volunteers collect materials Friday June 24 before heading off to conduct service projects. These girls spent the day painting.2 / 2

Marcus Lindquist scrapes paint Friday off the side of a home on Lawrence Street. (photo by Samantha Bengs)First Lutheran, United Lutheran and St. Paul’s Lutheran churches joined together to make the Red Wing community the focus of their service project efforts. This week, organizers from the three churches kicked off Minnesota Nice, a service project targeting nine worksites around the city.

“We started having discussions about a year ago,” said Tina Goeman, director of Children, Youth, and Family Ministry at First Lutheran. “Instead of traveling away to do service projects, we thought why can’t we bring them to Red Wing?”

As the planning continued, applications were made available to anyone interested, event directors said. “We worked with placing the applications anywhere we could reach people in need,” Goeman said. The applications that were received outnumbered the amount of volunteers and time available for the project. “We chose projects that we knew we could accomplish with this group.”

More than 20 children, mostly in grades 6 to 9, split up into teams, supervised by two adults.

“A lot of these kids aren’t old enough yet to go on a mission trip, so this is a chance for them to experience a mission trip on a smaller scale,” said Ashley Kincaid, a coordinator with Goeman and United Lutheran’s Youth Director Amanda Gebhart.

This tri-Lutheran event will help residents throughout the community, but also the children involved. “They go to school and work together in that area of life,” Goeman said. “It’s a fun thing to get them involved and working together in their faith life.”

The worksites are residential homes and Jordan Towers. The groups are painting, weeding, gardening, repairing and power-washing.

“As we’ve seen events unfold in our country these past few weeks, projects like these become more important,” Goeman said. “There is a lot of help that can be done right here at home. Sometimes it’s the simple things that can speak volumes. Mowing a yard or painting a fence seems simple to a kid, but the impact on the recipient is what we want to teach.”

As the initial Minnesota Nice project concludes this weekend, organizers said they hope to continue with more workdays and to fold the service campaign into church programming.

“Love your neighbor,” Goeman said. “That’s really where this whole project comes from.”