Caring Ministry

Compassionate Connections

Volunteer Role Description

Title: Compassionate Connections Volunteer

Purpose: Our church’s location in the heart of downtown provides us with the unique opportunity to compassionately connect with those in need.  Our church is often a point of contact for many who find themselves in need of crisis support and are not sure where to turn.  These “walk-in” individuals are drawn to seek help from the church because, as one young woman put it, “Mom always said that when you need help, go to church.  God’s people are there to help.”  First Lutheran Church is seeking help from volunteers to help the staff compassionately connect with such persons, for the need is often greater than we are able to effectively meet while still performing the duties of our job, particularly in the warm summer months.

Description: Compassionate Connections Volunteers will be available, at set times of day, to meet with “walk-in” individuals who express a need for crisis assistance or prayerful conversation.  From their work station located in the atrium, they can compassionately listen to individuals’ needs and help them pursue options for assistance from our ministry and community partners utilizing a telephone and laptop.  Materials and training will be available to help these volunteers become more skilled at making these helpful connections.  Our church does not financially support individuals unknown to us, and our volunteers will be advised not to hand out personal money, so we can maintain a consistent presence among all whom we encounter.  Compassionate Connections volunteers will be able to offer simple gifts of hospitality in Jesus’ name on behalf of the church – a bottle of cold water, a cup of coffee, nourishing snacks, personal care supplies, and other such items will be provided to give away as gifts of love and care.  Additionally, and most importantly, our volunteers can share prayer and encouraging conversation.      

Qualifications: Compassionate Connections Volunteers will need to possess a compassionate heart, patience and calm, a willingness to pray with all people, a willingness to learn, and the strength to adhere consistently and firmly to boundaries and limits agreed upon by ministry leaders.  Volunteers must attend one training event before starting their role.  Training events will occur on Wednesdays July 5, 12, or August 9th from 6-7:30 p.m.

Time Commitment:  Compassionate Connections volunteers are asked to be available for a consistent “shift” of 2-4 hours per week, during weekly business hours of 8-5 Mon-Thu and 8-4 on Friday (excepting vacation, out-of-town travel, and other reasons for absence).

Team Leader: Katherine Olson, Associate Pastor of Caring Ministries, 339-1983 ext. 214 or

Healthy Cooking – heaLthy Living

Healthy Cooking, and now, Healthy Living classes meet the second and fourth Tuesdays, from 6 – 7 p.m., in the Gathering Room.

Please remember to register! The classes are free but to have enough supplies we ask you to register for each class you plan to attend. Please stop by the church Information Desk, call 605-336-3734, or click the register button above. 

  • Cooking Classes will resume in September

Click here to visit the First Lutheran blog and then search Healthy Cooking for videos and recipes.

Visit Sanaa's blog.

Grieving with Grace

Grieving with Grace Continues on July 1. Grieving with Grace participants learn about the grieving process and are gentle with themselves as they work through the grief of a loved one’s death, together with others.   Grieving with Grace sessions take place on the first Saturday morning of the month in the Gathering Room at First Lutheran Church.  Social Time begins at 9:30, and the group sessions last from 10-11 a.m.  All sessions are open to first-time participants.  Led by Pastor Katherine Olson, sessions include video clips on topics relating to grief, comfort from Scripture, prayer, encouragement, and access to additional resources for support.

  • July 1 – Beyond the Broken Heart: Understanding Grief
  • August – No meeting
  • September 2 – Yielding to Grief
  • October 7 – Responding to Grief

If you have questions about Grieving with Grace, reach out to Pastor Katherine at or 339-1983, ext. 214.

Facing Addiction Initiative

First Lutheran Church is a Community Facing Addiction. We have partnered with Face It TOGETHER because our congregation is committed to creating a culture of care and openness for those impacted by addiction. Other congregations across Sioux Falls are also joining us in this venture.  Visit the Facing Addiction webpage to learn more.

First Lutheran Church identifies itself as a Community Facing Addiction, together with other churches in our community. We believe that addiction recovery isn’t about making bad people good, it’s about getting sick people well, for addiction is a disease. And does not our faith teach us, “The Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom?” (2 Corinthians 3:17)
     Our partner organization, Face It TOGETHER, provides free, confidential recovery coaching in their office located on the southwest part of town, or by telephone. Face It TOGETHER’s recovery coaches provide individuals and family members with informal, personalized service over an extended period of time. They help clients overcome barriers to addiction wellness and develop skills and knowledge to manage their disease and stay well.  Coaches use their training and experience to provide structure, hold clients accountable to their goals, and act as advocates. What’s more, our congregation has twelve trained Recovery Advocates who can speak with you, confidentially in a peer-to-peer relationship, about the benefits of recovery and befriend you on your journey to wellness. 
     For more information, check out the displays available throughout the church, talk to Pastor Katherine Olson or Parish Nurse Jana Elkins at the church, or visit our webpage  To speak directly with a recovery coach at Face It TOGETHER, call 605-274-2262. 

Monthly blood pressure screenings

Stop by the Trinity Room on the second Sunday each month between 9 and 11 a.m. Blood pressure screenings are essential in maintaining good cardiovascular health.


In times of emergency, call the church office (Monday – Thursday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Friday, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.) at (605) 336-3734. For evening, weekend and holiday emergencies, a pastor is on call at (605) 323-7667. One of the pastors will be contacted immediately. 

Nursing Home and Homebound Visits

Visitation pastors make monthly visits to those who are homebound and to nursing home residents, providing Holy Communion and devotional time. Twice a year, the pastors conduct worship in nine local care centers. Contact the church at (605) 336-3734 if you become aware of a homebound member who is not receiving regular visitation.

Hospital Visitation

The pastoral care staff maintains regular contact with the hospitalized and the recuperating. Visits are made to Avera McKennan Hospital, Avera Behavioral Center, Avera Heart Hospital, Sanford Health Hospital, the VA Medical Center, and hospice locations each weekday and other times as necessary. If you know of a member or friend of First Lutheran who enters the hospital through emergency services, please inform the church office at (605) 336-3734.    

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More than 100 people at First Lutheran Church participate in phone or email prayer chains. The prayer chain is for both those who wish to have a prayer or would like to pray for others. Call the church office at (605) 336-3734 or submit a request here.


Prayer shawls are given to those who need an extra measure of comfort, warmth and as an expression of God’s constant loving presence and care. Knitters pray as they knit each shawl. Contact the church office, (605) 336-3734, for more information.


Meals from the Heart encompasses a hands-on mission of cooking, fellowship and hospitality. Volunteers meet monthly to prepare nutritious meals at the church. The meals are portioned and frozen. Members of First Lutheran are invited to deliver them to anyone in need. The hospitality of a delivered meal symbolizes a message of Christ’s love and acceptance through the heart of caring service and our commonality of food.

Caring Ministry Staff

Katherine Olson, M. Div.
Associate Pastor
(605) 339-1983 ext. 214

Jana Elkins
Parish Nurse
(605) 339-1983 ext. 237

James E. Christopherson, M. Div.
Visitation Pastor

David Houck, B. Div.
Visitation Pastor
(605) 339-1983 ext. 234

Roger N. Noer, M. Div.
Visitation Pastor

Dennis W. Tranberg, M. Div.
Visitation Pastor