Compassionate Connections

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 told me last summer, “Mom always said when you need help, go to church. God’s people are there to help.” 

Do you have a special sense of concern for those who are struggling to find their place in the world? First Lutheran is seeking help from volunteers to help our staff compassionately connect with such individuals, for the need is often greater than we are able to effectively meet as staff alone while still performing the duties of the jobs entrusted to us. This is particularly true in the warm summer months when our church experiences an increase in foot traffic. This new ministry, pairing volunteers with people in need, is known as Compassionate Connections.

Two opportunities to connect to the Compassionate Connections ministry are available to you. Maybe you will be called to serve as a Compassionate Connections volunteer, or perhaps you’d like to donate supplies that go into the hygiene kits to support this venture. Hygiene kits include: toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, lip balm, nail clippers, deodorant, tissues, comb, razor, shampoo, conditioner, body wash or soap, travel tissue packs, and lotion. Items highlighted in bold are of highest need. To donate these items, drop off at the Information Desk or Care and Health Office. If you have any questions, please contact Care and Health Coordinator Jordan Stone.

In whatever way you feel called to help, please pray for our church’s ministry in the downtown community, that we would live into the vision of “God’s people, there to help!”

~Rev. Katherine Olson

Gifts of Care

Prayer Shawls

Prayer shawls are given to those who need an extra measure of comfort and warmth and as an expression of God’s constant loving presence and care. Knitters pray as they knit each shawl. To give a prayer shawl on behalf of the church to someone in need, or to volunteer in the making of these shawls, contact Donna Jahr.

Burden Bears

Burden Bears are available for children and young adults. Burden Bears are intended for young ones who are experiencing difficult times in their lives such as illness, loss of a family member, divorce, or other difficult life situations. Bears can be obtained by contacting Heather Smith, Children’s Minister, or Jordan Stone, Care and Health Coordinator.

Meals from the Heart

Meals from the Heart encompasses a hands-on mission of cooking, fellowship, and hospitality. Volunteers meet monthly to prepare nutritious meals at the church, and 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. To inquire about volunteering, contact Jordan Stone, Care and Health Coordinator, at


CD Ministry

We know that music has a healing power of its own. In the words of Martin Luther, “Music is one of the fairest and most glorious gifts to God…for it removes from the heart the weight of sorrow and the fascination of evil thoughts.”

In 2009, First Lutheran member Sue Severson was asked to produce a CD of inspirational music for Cancer Care kits.The first CD, released in 2010, was titled You Are Loved. It includes 15 hymn arrangements and original compositions performed on the piano by Sue. The title track was written to honor Sue’s dear friend Doreen Pospisil, an active member and fellow musician at First Lutheran Church who entered into eternal rest following a tough battle with cancer in July 2010. The cover of the CD features a beautiful cross nestled atop a piano. This unique cross was designed and handcrafted by Sue’s father, the late Elmer Sorensen, and is a familiar sight to many in our community.  The popularity of You Are Loved led to a second CD, released in 2013, entitled Hymnprov: Hymn Improvisations by Sue Severson.

Hymnprov continues to be given out as a gift by the Caring Ministry department of First Lutheran and by former parish nurse, Paula Bartels. Paula shared the following story with us as an example of how she utilizes these discs to spread the gospel in an easy way. One day Paula was at a funeral visitation for a friend and met someone in the receiving line who shared that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and was still suffering from her treatment effects. Paula asked her if she liked piano music and quickly presented her with the gift of the CD when she said that she did. Both women left wiping away tears.

Sue’s father, Elmer Sorensen, supported this music ministry with initial financial support and left significant memorial funds to keep this project going. If you would like to request a CD for a friend or neighbor who is going through a tough time, contact Pastor Katherine Olson, Care and Health Coordinator Jordan Stone, or Executive Secretary Donna Jahr, and they will set one aside for you to pick up, free of charge.

These discs are meant to be given away freely and joyfully in the spirit of Paula Bartels, whose caring presence has reminded many others that no one suffers trials and tribulations apart from the loving presence of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are also grateful to Sue Severson and family for sharing their gifts and allowing this ministry to continue to bless others.

We also know that good music is something to be enjoyed in all times and circumstances. If you would like to purchase a CD to give away to a friend in need, contact Jordan Stone.

Grieving with Grace

Grieving with Grace is a support group where adults learn about the grieving process and how to care for themselves as they work through the grief of a loved one’s death. Sessions usually take place on the first Saturday morning of the month in the Gathering Room. Social time begins at 9:30, with group session 10-11 a.m. We are journeying through the book Understanding Your Grief, written by noted grief expert Dr. Alan Wolfelt. 

Adults grieving a death of a loved one are invited to participate. All sessions are open to first-time participants, and talking aloud is not required. For more information, contact Pastor Katherine.

View the Grieving with Grace Hospitality Calendar

Prayer Chain

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 and those who would like to pray for others. Contact Donna Jahr to participate. Complete the form below to submit a prayer request.

Name *

Volunteer with Care and Health Ministries

First Lutheran Church is always looking for volunteers. Whether it's working hospitality with our visitation pastors or delivering food from Meals from the Heart, we can work with you to find the best place for you! Contact Jordan Stone to learn more about volunteer opportunities, or submit the form below.

Name *