AUDUBON, Minn. — Farmers have a lot on their plates during the hectic times of harvest. One small town church and community sought to take something off their plate — with a plate of food.
some of the harvest that is ready to come off fields in and around west central Minnesota, where First Lutheran Church of Audubon gathers in a town of about 550 people. The church brings together about 45 worshippers each Sunday morning. While there’s not nearly as many farmers attending as there once was, the impact of farmers is not lost here.
“We have a lot of farmers whose family members work diligently to feed them every single day while they are in the field,” according to Pastor Melissa Pickering.
That’s why the group came up with an idea to show some appreciation to the farmers who put food on their tables every day, by putting together a lunch Saturday, Oct. 7. It was free to farmers and supported widespread by businesses and community members from Audubon, Hawley and Detroit Lakes, according to Pickering. They call it
Brittany Nordick, human resources manager for Team Industries, which has locations in Audubon and Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, was one of those helping during the event.
“Anything that is around the community, we are all for it,” Nordick said. Nordick’s husband is a farmer, and she is well aware of the importance of showing appreciation to the farming community.
Team Industries donated about 200 servings of potato salad for the event.
Carol Huesman, a member of First Lutheran Church for 56 years, and Jean Alder, a member for about 30 years, both serve on the church council and were at work at the event Saturday. Huesman said the event was a good way for the church to come together and help honor farmers.
“As a church community we want to reach out to the community of farmers that helps everybody,” Alder said.
So after days of preparation and after a full force of volunteers gathered to assemble the meals, the group spent much of the time in fellowship, awaiting farmers. With an abundance of moisture and no field work at hand, few farmers could be found, unfortunately.
The group was praying that better
was on the way for farmers.
“It’s just been a blessing to all of us to get together and do the planning and do the preparation. It’s just been joyful fellowship for all of us,” Huesman said.
Some 135 meals were still sent out toward Barnesville, Minnesota, for groups of
The volunteers know that their work was not in vain as it spawned other communities to take up the torch, and they plan to host similar events in the future that reach out to farmers or other groups in need, Pickering said.
“The whole goal is how can we go to them rather than them having to come to us,” Pickering said.
Pickering splits her time between pastoring at the Audubon church and working at the Northwestern Minnesota ELCA Synod in Moorhead, Minnesota.
In her visits with churches throughout the Midwest she tries to find out what needs exist in the communities and what the church could be doing about it. There is monthly focus work on community engagement. In Audubon, the need outside of the church walls was to show appreciation to the farmers that are hard at work.
Pickering planned for the event by sending out a message to the region asking for four things: their presence, their presents, their prayers and help with promotions. The community responded with an abundance.
Pickering was overjoyed that businesses stepped up to donate all the food for the event and many other businesses agreed to come and serve that food. The group not only sought to fuel farmers with food, they even received gas cards to give away for added assistance. Alder said the plan to offer up gas cards from the local gas station was to give back to farmers who have been fueling the community and economy around them.
For farmers that opened their food boxes they found a roast beef sandwich, potato salad, chips and a bar. The group was hopeful that they would feel full and appreciated.
Something unexpected came for some of those farmers when the church members asked if they could pray for them — and their tractors in the field.
A major motivator for having an event that shows appreciation for the farmers came from a funeral service Pickering was a part of this spring. One of the church members that was a farmer had passed away, and his funeral included a procession of tractors from the church to the cemetery. When the church took a moment to pray for the farmers, she felt the impact.
“It’s pretty powerful to see farmers cry … that was a really big deal,” Pickering said. “It got me thinking about how often we neglect farmers need that support from us and how much they appreciated it when we did it.”
Pickering said the goal in building an event like this is not to build church membership or bring in money, but it is to bring visibility to the church, that they are working to solve issues in their communities and meet needs outside their own walls.
“So that’s the goal, in all of these small and rural town congregations, is, you know, when our membership is declining, what can we do to be more engaged in the community, especially a community that is not getting more people,” Pickering said.
She said the church needs to remain vital in the community. For this church, which is celebrating 150 years in the heart of the community, that vitality remains apparent.
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