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St. Johns reaches out to Park Rapids community

Brothers Kobe and Eli Burton walk dogs at the Headwaters Animal Shelter Saturday morning as part of the St. Johns Lutheran Blitz event.1 / 4
Kyle Bethel, Dustin Bethel and Jerry Eischens paint the concession stand at the softball fields in Park Rapids. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)2 / 4
Sisters Brynna Johnson and Jada Johnson clean up in the cat area at Headwaters Animal Shelter. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)3 / 4
Dustin Lof, front, Shelley Lof, left, and Diane Sorenson paint at the Pregnancy Resource Center.4 / 4

By Anna Erickson

St. Johns Lutheran Church members stepped into the community Saturday morning to provide outreach to other people and organizations in Park Rapids.

Connie Fondow, chair of the St. Johns Blitz, explained that the idea is about evangelism.

“It’s an outreach into the community,” she said. “Evangelism is different than 25 to 30 years ago when people talked to their neighbors over the fence. We need to reach out and connect with people.”

Crews split up and went to different areas around Park Rapids to complete various tasks. One group painted the walls of the Pregnancy Resource Center. Another group walked dogs at the Headwaters Animal Shelter. Another group cleaned and sorted donations that filled a garage at Headwaters Intervention Center.

Fondow explained that she thought of the idea after hearing about a similar project at her son’s church in Indiana. While that project was much larger, Fondow thought a blitz could work in Park Rapids as well.

The first St. Johns Blitz was in 2011. Fondow and the Board of Evangelism at St. Johns thought it would work well to have the event every other year.

This year, more than 120 volunteers showed up Saturday at 8 a.m. to spend half the day donating their time and talents to help out around town.

The individual venue chairs and volunteers were the ones that made this event a success, Fondow said.

“Our goal was to build relationships in the community and among our congregation,” she said.

Other projects completed Saturday morning included cleaning up the rain garden at Lindquist Park, cleaning up at the community garden, painting at the softball fields, helping out at the recycling center, knitting baby caps and prayer shawls, providing music at Heritage Living Center and helping at the Hubbard County Food Shelf.

“It’s been very much a blessing to see the enthusiasm among the congregation,” Fondow said.

She’s looking forward to the next blitz and to continue being part of St. Johns as it practices outreach.

“St. Johns continues to ‘Think Eternally and Act Locally’ as we reach to build bridges with our Park Rapids community partners,” she said. “This is all about creating positive relationships with others and letting them know that we care about them physically and spiritually. This event blessed me personally, and all the glory for its success goes to God.”

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
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