November 14

Rabbi Harold Kushner shares, “I read an interview with a man whose small plane had crash-landed at a California air strip.  Fortunately he was able to evacuate before the plane burst into flames.  A reporter asked him what was going through his mind as the plane neared the ground.  His answer: ‘I realized I hadn’t thanked enough people in my life.'” (Kushner, The Lord Is My Shepherd).  I would be interested to know who came to the man’s mind.  Did he wish to thank his children who taught him to love more selflessly than he ever thought was possible?  Was it his spouse who stood at his side even through rough times–PTSD, cancer, bankruptcy, or some other struggle?  Did he wish to thank a friend who once pulled him from the dark abyss of depression?  Was it an A.A. group that turned his life around?  Perhaps it was a flight instructor who equipped him to do his very best at this moment when a crash was imminent?  Maybe it was a parent who was patient through his roller-coaster teen-aged years?  Perhaps it was a doctor that helped him survive a childhood illness and go on to live a full, meaningful life?

Whoever the man wished to thank is not as important for me or you, as who it is we need to thank before leaving this world.  Most of us have been blessed, forgiven, uplifted, healed, encouraged, and guided on life’s journey more than we know.  Sometimes there is moment when gratitude wells up.  It may be at the time of a near-death experience.  It may be when we simply slow down long enough and quiet our busy minds enough to remember how fortunate we are to have people who care for us.  We need make space for gratitude in our lives:  because, every “safe travels,” “get well soon,” “I’ll be thinking of you,” or “remember, if you ever need a listening ear,” is a reason (and a person) worthy of thanks.
The Apostle Paul, who had several near death experiences, wrote these words to the Philippians, “Don’t be anxious about anything; rather bring up all your requests to God in your prayers and petitions–along with giving thanks.   Then the peace of God will keep your hearts and minds… .”  (Philippians 4:6-7a)  How can you give thanks today to someone who has blessed you?  What blessings has God provided you and how will you show your gratitude?
November 17th Grace will have a Sunday of Thanks and Giving.  It’s a Sunday when we’re encouraged to give monetary gifts to support Grace Church’s ministry.  But, there’ll also be an opportunity to privately reflect on a 2019 God-given blessing or two you’re thankful for.  So, I invite you to be thinking ahead of time about what you’re most thankful for this past year.  You’ll have a chance to privately offer your thanks in a meaningful way during the service.
Blessings & Thank You for how you bless Grace UMC,
Pastor Roger

Church Leadership

Our Church Leadership

Our Church thrives because of the energy and style of the people who are a part of our leadership. Here are a few of the people that make our church community special:


                Roger Grafenstein - Pastor

            Pastor Roger and his wife Chele are entering the empty nest

            phase with two grown children--a 25 year old daughter and an

            20 year old son.  They share a passion for seeing the beauty in life:

            growing flowers, appreciating nature, and seeing God's image in

            others.

On Pastor Roger's office wall is a plaque:  "The Pastor's Study - You are welcome here.  Within these walls each word is safe, each burden gladly borne, and each blessing gladly shared."  Such is the work of ministry and worship leadership--creating safe, sacred times and spaces that are sanctuaries where we are reunited with the God who made us.  In these worshipful settings we are renewed to love and serve God's people and and creation.  Telling the stories of God's loving, healing presence in our everyday lives is Pastor Roger's passion.  Learning to live and love like Christ and encouraging others to do the same is his daily goal.  By following Christ we are transformed on the inside and become part of transforming the world into a place where God's kingdom comes on earth as it is in heaven.


     Del Larson - Certified Lay Minister

Del is assigned by the District Superintendent to assist where needed at Grace UMC.  Del isn't a paid staff person, but he did work through a series of prayer and study modules designed for personal spiritual growth and leadership development.  Del was a key person in completion of Grace's Picture Directory, in creating a new way of organizing Grace's Rollag Fundraiser, and this year was the Vacation Bible School storyteller.  Del also arranged for Grace to be the HERO drop off site in Moorhead.  If you have unused medical equipment you may drop it off at Grace UMC and HERO will then distribute the items to those in need.  Del is focusing his ministry on visitation with the elderly and coordinating volunteers to serve meals at Churches United every 5th Wednesday.  Outside church Del has been highly involved in Moorhead's Special Olympics.  Del and his wife LuAnn are lifetime Moorhead residents, proud of their church and community.

Choir Director - Jack Johnston

We are thrilled to welcome Jack Johnston to our Grace United Methodist Church community as our choir director! Originally from Mendota Heights MN, Jack’s passion for music brought him to Concordia College, where he is pursuing a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Music Education (Class of 2020).

 

Jack is an active member of Concordia’s music department, where he serves as the tenor section leader of The Concordia Choir, and is a part of two of Concordia’s premier student-led ensembles, Vocal Jazz and Voce Hominum. Jack is also a lover of musical theatre, and has performed in many productions at Concordia. Some of his favorites include A Grand Night for Singing, Fiddler on the Roof, Chess, and Big Fish.

Jack’s passion for music began at his home Church, Augustana Lutheran in West St. Paul MN, when he joined the Cherub choir in 2nd grade. Ever since, he has wanted nothing else than to spend his time making music with others.

Choir and Worship Accompanist & Bell Choir Director - Sharon Fangsrud

 

Music is an integral part of my spiritual life – I would be lost without it. My church life began back in my home town in South Dakota in a Baptist congregation, where, as a young girl in junior high, I began playing for Sunday School and youth group, "moving up the ranks" to play for the Sunday morning church service and accompanying the choir as well as soloists and small groups. I inherited the love of music from my loving Grandfather (who I was blessed to be able to accompany often) and Mom (who was the first pianist when the Baptist church was organized in Milbank), and I will be forever grateful to them for the encouragement they gave to keep going. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to work with many musically talented musicians. It has been their love and ministry that has inspired me to share my talent and carry on their ministry – through singing, playing piano, or directing the bells. I pray that my ministry will do the same for others.