Grace Lutheran Church of Waseca, as part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA), has a missions program to reach many parts of the world, including here in America.
This domestic mission outreach includes working with a Pine Ridge school in a South Dakota county having the lowest per capita income in the country. Over four hundred gifts were distributed in the latest trip. Since 2003, over four thousand items have been donated.
This mission work becomes particularly important at Christmas to the students and staff of the school.
Gifts are collected by three Waseca churches, including Grace, St. John Lutheran and the Congregational Church. Each student from the school submits a request that is fulfilled by a member from the Waseca churches. Each student and school staff member receives four gifts, including a pillow, a pillow case, and a blanket and the requested gift. The blankets are sewn by Grace and St. John Lutheran women. The community is also helped as personal family care packets are given.
An eighth grade girl proclaimed her happiness when discovering a mirror because “now we can see ourselves!” A woman was appreciative of finding a mop and broom because had never had such items.
Education continues to be a part of the mission as each fall school supplies are collected and transported to the school for the individual students and the staff.
Included were acceptable used clothing, furniture items collected in Waseca. These items are put on open display and can be taken by families as needed. This school-materials work started in 2003 and was led by Ward Ask and Randy Bennet, both of whom continue to be very active in Grace missions. The school principal, Marlene Stout, declared her happiness and told the group they must have lunch with the school. At the end of each school year, another mission trip is made to South Dakota to honor those eighth graders who will be leaving the school with most going on to a senior high. Each of those graduates is given a gift card with a small amount to be spent as the individual desires. The kindergarten students are also recognized as they prepare to enter first grade.
Other domestic mission projects are at work by the Grace congregation. An example includes using the “noisy offering” coins given by the grade schoolers during donation time to help the children staying in Bethlehem Inn, Waseca’s homeless shelter. Allowing the young church members to participate enables them to be part of an on-going missions program.