I'm Minister Sarah.
A little about me.
My name is Sarah Jones and beginning September 1st, I will be embarking on a year long internship, serving at Peace Lutheran of Cosmos. As an intern, in context, I will actively be engaged in ministry. As a senior at Luther Seminary, I will continue with my studies as I work toward earning a Master of Divinity degree. I am also looking forward to working with Pastor Megan, as she will be my off-site supervisor throughout this next year.
The Jones family is like the Brady bunch, consisting of my husband Dalen, my soon-to-be married son Jacob (24), Kristen (21), and Tyson (11). Dalen, Tyson and I, reside in Litchfield. As for our two oldest children, they are out planting their roots, learning about the world and growing as they navigate their young adulthood. This fall Kristen will be entering her senior year of college. Tyson will be going into sixth grade, and in October Jake will be getting married to Bella.
In my free-time:
I enjoy being with my family, friends, baseball games, listening to music, minor officiating for high school hockey, volunteering, baking, cooking, reading, photography, being in the water, event planning, and traveling.
Thank you for support this past year and a half during CoVID-19, and all the ways in which we were able to work together. I also want to thank you in advance for your continued support and prayers this upcoming season.
Peace & Blessings,
Minister Sarah C.E. Jones
June & July 2021
Hello friends! Happy summer!
When I was a kid, I really liked building sandcastles. I have fond memories of long summer hours at the local beach playing with my brothers, friends, and other local kids. Sometimes I would be alone while building, shaping with my hands, scavenging for cool rocks, accepting the occasional piece of seaweed from a friendly toddler. Other times the sandcastle operation was the focus of all us kids on the beach. One group of siblings contributed neon colored plastic forms. Another family had small sand shovels and rakes. Usually, one of the more experienced kids would show the younger ones how to get the consistency of the sand just right, not too dry, not too wet, so the structure would hold. At least one kid just wanted to see how far down she could dig. Other kids were really interested in the overall design – we need a tower here, how about a moat over there, we can make a pretty pattern like this!
At the end of the afternoon, whether the sand fortress was a solo endeavor, or a group effort, we would say our goodbyes, delighting in our work in that moment, knowing that by the time we returned, the structure would almost certainly be gone. Even though we knew that what we were building was not going to be permanent, it was still worth the effort. Even though we did not always know how to implement our ideas or create the castle we had in our mind, we delighted in experimenting. Even though we didn’t always agree on the details, we could agree on the unstated common goals of having fun, enjoying each other’s company, sharing any and all snacks that were offered by caregivers, and making something AWESOME!
I wonder if we can think about our work as church like sandcastle building. Sometimes we are working on our own. Much of the time we are working with family, neighbors, & friendly (hopefully) strangers. We try to have fun, simply enjoy each other’s company, and experiment to see what might happen. We each have different things to offer to the building efforts and we don’t always agree on the specific details, but we connect in the greater goals. We are bonded in the bigger mission. I’m glad we share snacks too : )
And the thing about a beach is that it is always changing. Even lake beaches, which do not have tides, are affected by waves, sun, rain, wind, animals, people, and time. We might try some erosion prevention strategies, we might plant or uproot trees, we might put up a sign, but despite our best, even loving efforts to keep a beach just as we envision it, it will change.
Can we look at the work we do as church like we looked at our sand creations when we were kids? Knowing full well that what we build won’t be permanent, but trusting it’s still worth the effort? Knowing full well that we won’t always know how to create what we see in our minds, but getting excited about experimenting and failing and trying again as we figure it out? Can we dig a little deeper and press on with the bigger goals?
I am learning that there have been, and will always be, people longing to connect, wishing to experience God, discerning answers, and seeking healing and wholeness. How the connections are made, where the experience of God happens, when light bulb moments occur, and who can help restore what has been broken are always in flux. The beach of ministry is always changing. It’s hard work, really hard work, to show up each day and to keep building something awesome. Thank God for the ones who say yes along side us, thank God for grace when we fail, and thank God for the snacks.
-Pastor Megan : )
“Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me,
and the God of peace will be with you.” – Philippians 4:9
On June 14, 2003, Pastor Jon V. Anderson was elected to serve as the bishop of the Southwestern Minnesota Synod of the ELCA. For the past 18 years, Bishop Jon has faithfully served as pastor to leaders and congregations, led synod governance, and flourished as a teacher of theology and Scripture. He has served on the boards of numerous church organizations and institutions of higher learning, as well as leading initiatives of the ELCA and the Conference of Bishops. During the last year, Bp. Jon guided us through the pandemic. His leadership over these 18 yrs. will have a lasting impact!
You can honor Bp. Jon’s legacy by making a special gift in support of a ministry he cares about deeply: Gifts of Grace – Toward Financial Well-being.
Gifts of Grace has been creating a culture of generosity and transforming leaders and congregations since 2016. In partnership with Lilly Endowment, Inc., Gifts of Grace has had an impact by:
Increasing generosity and stewardship in our congregations through trainings, such as Stewardship for All Seasons, Cultivating Generous Congregations, and the Executive Certificate in Religious Fundraising.
“This made me a better pastor. I am able to model personal stewardship. I am more intentional in speaking about the joy that it brings. I am braver in being willing to give.” – Rev. Kathleen Ulland-Klinkner - Our Savior’s Lutheran, New Ulm
“Our language has changed; we point out the abundance in our midst. We are sharing stories during worship, pointing out the lives that are impacted by our ministry. We have become a more vibrant and vital congregation. Even in the midst of a pandemic we are able to continue living out how we understand our mission.”
– Pr. Mark Astrup - Peace Lutheran, Cold Spring
Freeing pastors to lead their congregations in generosity by relieving their own anxiety about stifling educational loans, unexpected medical bills, and retirement insecurity. In 2020, we were able to give 84 grants like this to rostered ministers, freeing them to better serve.
“My seminary debts have been a huge weight on me, but I felt they were a necessary evil to complete the requirements needed to follow my call to serve the church. Receiving financial assistance from that same church body helps relieve some of that stress while also being a strong affirmation of the call. It is a huge show of support by the synod I'm serving and it energizes me in this ministry in a big way! Thank you!” – Anonymous
Your contributions can assure that stories like these continue to grow through Gifts of Grace and reflect Bishop Jon’s commitment to vibrant and vital congregational ministry. Not only that, your gift has double the impact, as all gifts will be doubled through the generosity of the Lilly Endowment grant. Click here to give an online gift.
Our goal for Gifts of Grace: Gratitude for 18 Years of Leadership is $70,000. This would amount to $140,000 with the match by Lilly Endowment, Inc. We ask you to consider prayerfully how you and your congregation have been blessed in these past 18 years. We invite you to express your gratitude for Bishop Jon’s leadership legacy by responding generously to this Appeal.
So imagine with us, sharing individually, as a congregation, from a congregational Endowment Fund, or as a Conference:
$400 for each year of Bishop Jon’s leadership – or $7,200
$200 for each year of Bishop Jon’s leadership – or $3,600
$100 for each year of Bishop Jon’s leadership – or $1,800
$70 for each year of Bishop Jon’s leadership – or $1,260
$40 for each year of Bishop Jon’s leadership – or $720
$18 for each year of Bishop Jon’s leadership – or $324
$8 for each year of Bishop Jon’s leadership – or $144
$4 for each year of Bishop Jon’s leadership – or $72
$2 for each year of Bishop Jon’s leadership – or $36
$10 for each year of your ordained ministry - or ??. What a beautiful gesture of gratitude!
You might also share non-cash gifts, such as gifts of securities or real estate. Please contact Pr. Keith Pearson, Regional Gift Planner – firstname.lastname@example.org – to make gifts of non-cash assets.
Please share this invitation with your congregation’s leadership and members. Maybe you would like to offer a challenge gift to another congregation in your Conference, so your generosity will inspire others. We would love to receive gifts or commitments by June 1 so the total can be announced as we honor Bishop Jon at the opening of the 2021 Synod Assembly on June 6. Even after that announcement, we are confident that additional gifts of gratitude will be shared.
Thank you for your partnership as part of the Southwestern Minnesota Synod of the ELCA. As our synod Mission Statement says, “By God’s grace, together we have what we need.” Your generosity close to home and around the globe is blessing others with the love of Jesus Christ. We are better as the church because we walk together.
If you have questions about this special Appeal, please be in touch with one of us. We look forward to seeing the legacy of Gifts of Grace blessing leaders and congregations for generations to come.
On Faith and Dying: A Lenten Series with Our ELCA Crow River Conference Ministry Partners
“Let this cup pass from me…but thy will be done.”
When Jesus was confronted with his death in the garden of Gethsemane, he prayed for a long time. His prayer was twofold: On the one hand he asked his heavenly Father to take this cup if it was possible. On the other he accepted his own death knowing that it would bring about the salvation of the world. Christians have a complicated relationship with death. Paul says, “For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain.” With the death of nearly a half-million people to COVID-19 in the U.S. we have a gained a greater awareness of death. This Lent we present scriptures and stories from Christians who confronted the complexities of death and mortality. We know that death will be a part of our future, we also know that in Christ we will never have to face it alone.
“Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence.”
This past year the question of how we live and how we die has been brought into greater focus for us. As followers of Christ, how do we respond to death in our lives? This Lent, our round robin series “On Faith and Dying” shares experiences of local Christians and how their faith sustains them in the valley of the shadow of death. By sharing their accounts, they teach us to face death with faith and hope.
Join us on Wednesday Evenings at 6:30 beginning February 24, 2021. Worship will be available in-person at Trinity, live on KLFD radio & Facebook, and later on cable access TV in Litchfield & Atwater. Worship will include Holden Evening Prayer and storytelling from our friends and neighbors.
Hello lovely people of Trinity!
I am really excited about Wednesday evenings this fall! Our partnership with the ELCA churches in the Litchfield area is opening up some awesome connections and we will be continuing to work together into the future!
I invite you to be part of Wednesday evening devotions each week at 6:30 pm. Listen through KLDF Radio, cable access TV in Litchfield, and Trinity’s Facebook page.
Confirmation for 7th-9th graders will begin on Wednesday, October 21, 2020 at 7:00 pm on Zoom. We have planned five weeks focused on Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Each student will get to check in about life and faith with a small group and then as a large group we will listen to personal stories from a community member around the evening’s topic. I’m so excited for you all to hear about the work these people are doing in our area and how their faith impacts their everyday lives.
It’s a privilege to share in this work with you. Keep sharing your story, shining the light of hope, and giving your people the love of Christ.
PS: Sometimes your leaders have a little fun and it gets captured on video - enjoy!
I am writing to update you on the COVID situation in South Africa. Use the information in any way you see fit. Could I ask you to remember the Umngeni Circuit in your prayers? The long awaited election for a new bishop is scheduled to take place on August 24th. That is an important first step in healing and regaining stability in their church. The COVID virus has been really difficult for them as well. The following note contains excerpts from an email I received from Dean Myaka a few weeks ago. He reports their infection rate is dropping now. There are striking similarities and marked differences in our situations and reactions to the serious problem. (The dates are written with the month before the date.)
In Christ - Peg Hatlestad, Chairperson Crow River Conference Companion Committee
“It has been three months since South Africa’s patient zero was diagnosed coronavirus positive on 05.03.2020 in Hilton near Pietermaritzburg, KwazuluNatal. The local municipality of this area is Umngeni, sharing a name and location with our Circuit. This has since sent shock waves in our area which is regarded as the global epicenter of the HIV pandemic and many chronic illnesses.…..The affected are not just numbers and statistics but members of our families, our church, our communities, friends and colleagues. It is scary! As a church we are also allowed to go back to church services under strict regulations e.g. maximum of 50 attendees intense screening etc. We haven't reopened in our Circuit. We are sanitizing churches and getting back to basics before we can think of reopening. We last had service with communion before 20.03.20202. All conferences were postponed. Our churches are deserted and becoming soft targets for criminals. We are trying to hold the fort through family services and sending video, voice and short sms messages. Virtual live streaming is possible but for few. Crime and domestic violence has increased. We are scared. We have never thought we could face such challenge in our life time. It is by God's grace that we are still alive. Despite all this many are holding on to faith. But we are scared!
We prepared for a sprint whereas we are in for a marathon. We await the “new normal” with mixed feelings of anxiety and hope. Government is doing its best and we support all measures painful as they are. However, government cannot win this battle on its own. We need all hands on deck…….
Services are still going to be conducted in the confines of family setting and other residential places for quite some time. This challenges our concept of “church” as we are used to it. There is need for mutual support in all areas and we need to learn to cut on wasteful and fruitless expenditure in order to focus on essentials and to unlearn a lot in a short space of time. Now is the time to practice Christian neighborliness and Ubuntu.
Through the coronavirus, God is teaching us some lessons about our faith and about each other, although this is not to say that coronavirus is God sent. We would appreciate to hear and learn from you our partners in this regard.
Sorry for such a long message. I'm pouring out my thoughts. May God richly bless and protect you.”
From Dean NM Myaka 10.06.2020
**COVID-19 update #8**
Trinity’s council has decided on the next phase for our worship together.
Beginning Sunday June 28, 2020 worship in the sanctuary will be available.
The following guidelines will serve to help minimize the risk of transmitting the virus in worship.
Thank you for your attention to these modifications. We cannot eliminate the risks associated with in-person worship, but we can refrain from certain practices in order to reduce the risks. Be well.
**COVID-19 update #7**
Much has changed over the last few months and we will continue to creatively adapt and attend to spiritual needs in a responsible way. Your congregational leadership has been praying, discerning, discussing, dreaming, researching, and doing the hard work of decision making. I’m very grateful for the honest and thoughtful collaboration.
Beginning Sunday, June 7th, 2020 Trinity will hold a Drive-in & Outdoor worship service at 10:00 am.
Worship on KLFD Radio, Cable Access TV, and Facebook will continue on Sundays and Wednesdays.
The building is open for small group gatherings of 10 people or less. Please use good judgement and be diligent with hand washing and wiping down surfaces.
Remember that electronic giving is available for your regular financial gifts. Information can be found at www.trinitygrovecity.org under the giving tab. To give by text message, simply text the amount you want to donate to (320)345-3538. Don't worry! If you still prefer paper checks, we can accept them by mail. Thank you for your generous support!
My prayers continue to be with you all for peace, joy, courage, and endurance.
A Simple Home Communion Liturgy
Let us pray:
Forgive us the things we do but shouldn’t,
and the things we don’t do but should.
Please free and deliver us from our wrongs.
(pause for silent reflection)
God’s great mercy forgives the sins of the world.
In the name of Christ, you are forgiven and raised to new life again.
We read First Corinthians 11: 23-26;
"For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes."
(Holding the loaf of bread)
For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’
(Holding the cup of wine)
In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those
who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours,
now and forever. Amen.
Distribute the elements with the words:
The body of Christ given for you.
The blood of Christ shed for you.
Receive this blessing:
May the body and blood of Jesus, strengthen us, preserve us, and unite us in Love.
Jesus with Butter
Last night in our isolation
We broke and shared the bread of life
And took up the cup of salvation
Around our supper table.
The kids puckered at the sourness
Of the dry red wine
But ate heartily
Of bread fresh from the oven.
A loaf or fresh baked bread
and a bottle of local wine
A prayer of preparation
And Paul’s words of institution
Written on parchment paper.
All this in order to discern the Body of Christ
A body impervious to isolation
A body no locked door can obstruct
A body no tomb, temple, or church can contain.
Read through eyes of scarcity 1 Corinthians 11
Makes the Lord’s supper
A stingy crumb of stale bread
And a thimble of cheap wine.
When we read it through eyes of abundance
We bake whole fragrant loaves
And make robust wine
With twelve baskets to spare and share.
Instead of rushing to bury
the left-overs in the back yard
We will wait ‘til breakfast
To greet Jesus with butter and marmalade.
Rev. Christian Muellerleile
Good Friday 2020
Pastor Megan finds that she rarely has all the right answers, but tries to help her community ask better questions.