Grace United Methodist Church Burnsville Worship
Grace United Methodist Church
Friday, August 19, 2022
To serve and unite those we touch with the Grace of God

Why I Serve

“Why I Serve”

"Why I Serve" was an article that appeared in the Grace UMC monthly newsletter, GraceNotes.  While the feature is not included with current Grace Notes, the perspectives of the contributors truly speaks to the heart of the congregation of Grace UMC.


So many of us get caught up in the “obligation” at church and tend to forget why we do the things we do. We start off with good intentions, but get caught up and forget what inspired us in the first place. To help us remember, a new feature in Grace Notes is being introduced. Each month, one member of Grace UMC will write a brief column on why they serve. To get the ball rolling, below is a condensed version of an article entitled “A Good Day for Broomball” which was written by Roy Koenigsberg for KRFO radio where he is a DJ.


The shot wasn’t that strong, but the goalie (me) misplayed it and the ball trickled in to the goal, ending the church youth group broomball excursion to the park on Sunday. A temperature in the 20’s and light wind made for a perfect day for the event. The adults won the first game. I was on that team. The girls won the second game. I was not on that team. My daughter is about to head back to college, so it was a nice chance to get in some good family fun time with her, too. Plus my son didn’t work Sunday morning, so you could say the stars aligned for us.

I really enjoy the chance to work with the youth at church. I started teaching Sunday School when my daughter first went to those classes, more than 15 years ago. She and my son have both long moved on to youth group activities and beyond, but I am still down on the floor with the pre-K kids most Sunday mornings! Maybe it keeps me feeling a bit younger than I am, but it gets a little harder to get up off the floor every year.

Roy Koenigsberg, March 2015



Why do I serve? Well, because I was called. Literally. A few years ago, Pastor Mary and Kenny Frank were looking for some help with a special project and they called me to see if I would be willing to help. It was just the opportunity that I needed to really begin serving Jesus and our church. Service has always been important to me and this was just what I needed to get going.

The special project was simply to put together the Christmas offering campaign. Shortly after this I joined the Finance committee, then became the Finance committee chair, and now I’m a part of the new Administrative Board as Vice-Chair. This has been a great way for me to not only serve but to get to know others in the church better and to learn more about what it takes to keep the church running.

I am looking forward to serving more in other areas too beyond the administrative needs of the church through our mission work and with our children and youth programs.

I serve because I was called. But really I serve because of how grateful I am to Jesus for everything I have been given in my life and I want to help bring that to other people.

Matt Kjesbo, April 2015


Why I serve . . . has everything to do with how I was raised. My parents modeled service. Even as children we were told to share what we have with others, as we had plenty. We had food in the fridge, warm beds and a nice middle income life. My father grew up “without” and I think it was very important to him that we serve those in need, as he once was. Christianity was at the base of these teachings. We always said prayers before dinner and bed along with church on Sundays. We were shown that helping others can be to your friend across the street or to others far away, as my parents did over 20 Nomad trips. It has been my experience that when you serve you ALWAYS get back more than you give, so it’s inspiration to keep doing more. I never want to be caught not answering the door, because it just could be Jesus knocking.

Cara Kennedy, May 2015


My impulse to serve perhaps goes back to my covered wagon pioneer grandparents in Nebraska, a time when helping others was literally lifesaving. Later my parents carried on the tradition with church and civic volunteering. No doubt they had all read Romans 12:6-8 where it is suggested that we find our own gift as we choose how to serve. Well past the age of 90 my mother was a Reading Buddy at the nearby elementary school. Our granddaughters have grown long hair and then donated it to be made into wigs for cancer patients. So the tradition continues. My own present service involves food (“Feed the hungry”). I highly recommend you find your gift. It is sure to be rewarding in many ways. Our most surprising reward was getting acquainted with Jesse Ventura’s high school football coach by bringing him his noon meal at about the time of the famous election. What fun. At times as we have needed to move, this kind of service has served us well to help us get acquainted with our new community and some wonderful people. It is a joy to serve.

Arla Mae McNeff, June 2015


I serve at Grace UMC because I enjoy helping out and, I have a great sense of pride and ownership in our church. My contributions make me feel like a part of the congregation. It is a rewarding experience to be behind the scenes of the church. Not only is cleaning and fixing something I enjoy doing, I get to see the results immediately.

Brian Halsted, August 2015


A perfectly satisfactory answer to this perplexing question is that I am simply fulfilling the promise all of us made upon becoming members of Grace: “I will faithfully participate in the ministries of Grace by my prayers, my presence, my gifts, and my service.” A less satisfactory answer is that I never learned to say “no.”

But upon more thoughtful consideration neither are my “final answer.” First, the obligation I undertook 36 years ago to serve is, as any first year law student can tell you, wholly unenforceable, and second, I could have avoided being asked by hiding in the shadows dodging the pastor or chair of the administrative board.

Why then did I keep my promise to serve and say yes when asked?

Many years ago, when my hair was brown and my golf game acceptable, Paige and I moved our young family to Lakeville. I had a small main street law practice and Paige taught elementary music in Apple Valley. Shortly after settling in my father sent me this advice:

“We arrive at a community of our choice being on the receiving end of those who have gone before. It is our duty to get off the couch, away from the television and do more than just earn a living. It is our duty to contribute and make improvements to what was built before.”

So why do I serve? It’s because of Rachel Helkenn and Bud Cornelius and Ron Oliphant, and so many other members of Grace who have gone before, and because of the example they set. They were called to serve and they stepped up and did it. As a result Grace is the vibrant faith community it is today. May the same be said of all of us.

Bill Macklin, September 2015


Why do I serve? The flippant answer that immediately came to mind, “Because it’s a bad habit.” In reality, I do stuff at Grace because I enjoy it. There are needs and I can help fill the needs: be it pushing snow, toggling the sound switches, going on a mission trip, or doing technology stuff. While seeing needs and contributing where I have skills is satisfying, it doesn’t adequately answer why I serve at Grace UMC.

During Coming Together Sunday, I did not serve at Grace. I traveled to Indiana and met my siblings to surprise our parents for a 60th wedding anniversary celebration weekend. One of the celebratory activities was a reception at the church we grew up in. Many folk came up to us and described to my sisters and me how important our parents have been to the life of New Haven United Methodist Church: serving as treasurer, money counter, quilter, organizer, funeral dinners, trustee, Sunday School teacher, missions, and so much more. My parents are examples of devoted, selfless serving.

Service to the church I’m a member of, is a habit, a habit I learned from my parents, as they learned from their parents. Service is a habit. A good habit. A habit to enjoy and share.

In his Letters, Paul discusses service. There are many motivations for service. Paul urges Christians to serve with a gracious heart out of our love for others rather than out of guilt or fear of retribution. I challenge you to expand your service at Grace UMC and in the community. Take small steps. Greet the unfamiliar with a smile and encouragement. Volunteer to help with Worship service. Make sandwiches. Linger over coffee. Engage. Carry and redistribute some produce. I challenge you to make service a habit.

John Brand, October 2015


Deuteronomy 10:12 states, ”What does the Lord your God ask of you but… to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul…” This is no small request, but since God has given us everything to begin with, we have the tools and means to honor this request.

Last week, in Pastor Kevin’s sermon, he spoke about how our relationship with others flows from our relationship with God. Since this request is part of that relationship, then I am obligated to use my talents, my resources and my time in service to the church and to those in and outside of our community in whatever ways I can.

When I was young, I remember my mother telling me that during World War II my father donated blood as often as he possibly could, because a hearing loss prevented him from serving in the military. This serves as a reminder to me that serving sometimes means truly giving of yourself.

It also reminds me that saying you are unable to do something is no excuse. If I am willing to serve, God will provide the ways and means for me to do so and in so doing, I strengthen and enrich my relationship with God and with humankind.

Nancy Milne, November 2015


I was brought up in a loving family who believed in God. My grandfather, whom I never knew, was one of the founders of the little Presbyterian Church in Athelstane, Wisconsin. John and I were married in that lovely little church and we had a memorial service there for him last year. My grandfather came over to the States from Scotland in the mid 1800’s as a stone worker for the granite quarries. I always felt a connection to him from all the wonderful stories that my parents shared with me. We were always taught to help others when the need was there, and I have always felt that the Church was the best way to do that.

John and I were blessed with five wonderful health children and have always been so grateful for that. We were married for 58 years and now have 15 healthy grandchildren and several great grandchildren. We were, and are truly blessed, and I would like to share that blessing with others.

Glenda Wheelock, December 2015


Need/Time/Adventure:  There is so much of a need to help people: at our Church, in our Community – south of the River, in our World.  I have time - - semi-retired. During my working career, there were too many times when I just could not help. Service is an adventure. I always learn something new. I always meet new people. Service is interesting/fun.”

Ron Frattare, January 2016


I give by following the greatest commandment, “LOVE.” I confess to being an old-fashion “bleeding heart, tree hugger, John Wesley taught, study the bible, and improve yourself” kind of person. The United Methodist Church, with a world-wide footprint gives me a vehicle to give of my time, talent, and treasure. I hope by giving, I can make the world a bit better having lived.

Mryle Riffe-Helkenn, February 2016


Participating the ministries of the church helps me to feel connected, both to the Christian community here at Grace, and also to God. Standing on the edge and watching would be easy for me as an introvert, but it would be a lot less satisfying.

When I sing in the choir, knit a prayer shawl or make sandwiches for Simpson Shelter, it’s like saying a prayer – I affirm God’s place in my life, and I am thankful for having gifts to offer in return for all I have been given.

Laurie Sanders, March 2016


God has certainly answered many prayers through my lifetime! There have been many busy times with raising five children, many moves, businesses, a divorce, and so on. During those days there was little time for service except to take care of each day as it came. Now that I am retired and business is done, I am happy that I can serve through singing in choir, helping in the office, knitting with the prayer shawl group, Ruth Voll Circle, etc. as a thank you for all God has done for my family and me. I have so much to be thankful for, and I am so grateful for my church home.

Addie Benjamin, April 2016


I follow the “Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church” on Facebook. Sometimes they highlight churches who are finding innovative ways to strengthen their community within and outside the walls of the church. About a year ago I read of a United Methodist Church in urban Indianapolis that has been in its present location since 1926. As they reevaluated their relevance today, they asked their members, “What three things do you do well enough that you can teach others how to do it?” Soon the church was tapping into people who could repair cars, make quilts, paint, cook, etc. Through that, some found new livelihoods and more found a community.

At Grace we have a wealth of talents. I see people who teach kids and adults, people who shovel snow, people who make quilts for baptisms, people who sing, people who make pies, people who lead a Bible study, people who mow the grass, people who fix the computers, people who light candles, people who serve communion, people who help maintain and beautify the building, people who pray for others, people who organize closets, people who greet and usher on Sunday, people who lead Scouts, people who compose music, people who teach Mah Jongg, people who make coffee and bring cookies every Sunday, people who plant flowers, people who play the piano/organ/guitar/percussion/trombone/trumpet or flute, people who paint rooms, people who drive others to services, people who listen to each other, people who serve God and each other in a multitude of ways.

I serve because I am surrounded by people who serve. We all are blessed by the many ways we are served by each other and our Community grows stronger because we share talents, skills and the love of God with one another.

Suanne Turner, June 2016


I feel honored to be invited to write for this column. I also feel a little embarrassed as in my 87th year it should be a past tense “served.” That said, all that has happened and may happen in my life, I owe to my angel mother, Ella. She passed away on November 2, 1940 at the age of 40. She left behind a bereft husband, and five children, four boys and one girl. I was 11 years old at the time.

My earliest memories of her include listening to my prayers at her knees with her hand touching my head and coaching me in the proper way to pray. She saw to it we went to Sunday school at the Detroit Lakes Methodist Church. I was baptized there, received my first Bible in third grade after memorizing The Lord’s Prayer, The 23rd Psalm and Psalm 100. What I enjoyed the most was when Sunday School was not in session and we chil– dren got to sit in the pew with our parents and listen to the beautiful singing of the choir, which I still enjoy immensely. The guidance from the pastor has always been a main stay of my life.

I would like to share with you an early epiphany that resulted from a confrontation with a 6th grader when I was in 3rd grade at the country school where my brothers and I attended in the early 30’s. For some reason I had invoked antagonism with Marie Borstad and consequently she had tackled me to the floor of the cloak hall after school was let out. She lit a match and held it close to my arm and told me that I was going to hell and would burn forever like the burn on my arm. I started screaming and the teacher rushed in an rescued me. Walking home to our farmstead, the sky had clouded up and became quite dark. After a snack of homemade bread and handchurned butter, I went outside and looked at the dark rolling clouds, and I shuddered thinking about what Marie told me. I was not in favor of going to hell forever. While looking up into the heavens, God responded to me, and I knew then for sure that God was real and he was not going to let me to go hell. I felt his presence as surely as anything on this earth is present.

And so it goes … when I turned on my TV to watch the news on June 12th, I thought I had mistakenly tuned into the wrong channel and was watching a television program. But, sadly enough, the massacre at Orlando, Florida was real. My first thought was how is it possible that our Father in heaven would allow such a horrible thing to happen in our country – a country that has the words “In God We Trust” on our currency. But then I thought how brokenhearted God must be by this course of events. To quote a phrase from Hamilton, a tony-awarding winning musical, “Love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love” in the most Christian sense of the word.

I think when we have our doubts about God, just look into the face of a rose.

Gloria Kiel Hanson, July 2016


In college, I thought that I was being called to the ministry. I started the discernment process and joined the pre-seminary group at my school. I went to a small United Methodist university where I was an active member of puppet ministry, worship design, and gospel ensemble. I gave the first student sermon that the school had.

About a year into the discernment process, I realized that God was calling me, as he calls each and every one of us, to give of myself, my time, and talents, but not into ordained ministry. I'm still not sure what I want to be when I grow up, and will maybe never figure that out. I do know though that I am being called every day to serve God and my neighbor regardless of my career.

Bethany Rinn, August 2016


A popular song from the 80’s began “I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way.” These words resonate for me because I believe that to serve the Lord, I should nurture our future.

Children of all ages need guidance as they grow in their Christian faith. Having served at Grace as a Sunday School Superintendent, VBS Leader, and Sunday School Teacher, I knew that I could make a difference in lives of the younger generation. Although I didn’t have training as a teacher, I am a Mom of two sons, two dogs, and a cat! The key with kids or pets is the same….CPR. With Consistency, Persistence, and Repetition, kids can learn anything, and sharing lessons from the Bible from the greatest teacher, Jesus, is very rewarding.

My parents set a wonderful example of giving to their church community. Throughout all the different stages of my life, I have been blessed to be part of the Grace Community. Giving back is just a natural way to be a blessing back to the people here that I care so much about, especially the little ones!!

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

Melisa Devine, October 2016


When I was asked to compose a short message on why I serve, I hesitated for a moment, and then decided that this would be a good challenge for me to accept. I believe in ‘serving’ 100 percent when I have agreed to become a part of any endeavor. . . But how could I describe my coming to serving at Grace UMC?

I am not a ‘joiner’ and thus do not belong to a Circle, nor have I ever become a member on any of Grace’s boards or committees. Yes, I did teach Sunday School many years ago when both our children were enrolled in the Sunday morning classes, at Wesley United Methodist in Marshall, Minnesota. The reason for my hesitance in responding to these opportunities is that I do not handle meetings well. I am a Type A personality, and prefer to be more active.

Thus, you will find me attempting to serve when there are occasions at which group activity is required. Ushering or greeting on Sunday mornings, Grace’s Attic, kitchen/serving assistance when needed, cleaning day(s) inside and outdoors, the Produce Fair, Sandwich Sunday, the Red Cross Blood Drive, prayer shawl, Vacation Bible School, and providing assistance to others individually as their needs arise.

Music plays a very important part of my commitment experience. Our choir at Grace, Paige, Marilyn, the children and others that share their talent, always provide emotional motivation and incentive for my desire to serve. I’m afraid my bullfrog voice would not be welcome in the choir.

The congregational hymns that we sing throughout the year inspire me to remember what Jesus did for our salvation. The words of The Old Rugged Cross state quite explicitly why we should serve individually, offering our strengths and talents to acknowledge the sacrifice He made for us.

In the old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine, A wondrous beauty I see, for ‘twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died, to pardon and sanctify me.’

Being a member of Grace UMC offers me acceptance, peace, friends and opportunities for the growth of my Christian faith. Sunday mornings at Grace provide the incentive for me to be grateful for my many blessings … And the fellowship between those in attendance boosts my desire to become a more faithful servant!

Margie Rose, December 2016


Like most people, my life has been full of ups and downs, and through it all, God has walked beside me.  God doesn’t owe me a thing, but here he is every day walking beside me.  My church family is beside me also.  Most people don’t realize that a church family functions like a regular family.  Everyone does their part -- some small parts, some large parts but all parts fitting together to make up the whole family.  My serving helps me be part of the church family and therefore part of God’s family.

Beverly Moore, January 2017


I choose to serve out of obligation. Some may think of the word “obligation” as rigid but I see it as positive. I have an obligation to do good work in my church, community, children’s school and workplace.

At Grace, my obligation is inspired by memories growing up in Grace UMC in Paynesville, Minnesota. There, I had a number of role models who taught Sunday School, created magnificent VBS experiences, led youth group and worship, and governed the church. Seeing these people fulfill and act in accordance with serving God and others has made me willing and engaged with the nursery, Sunday school, VBS and Administrative Board. I am energized by what future opportunities may unfold.

I am honored to be able fulfill my obligation to be part of a church community creating meaningful experiences for members, visitors and the community alike.

Molly Berg, February 2017


I serve because God calls me to love and serve others. I follow this rule whether I am at church, at work or at play. Church has always been an important part of my life. I grew up in a Christian family with par-ents and grandparents who were very active and held leadership roles in the church. Some of my favorite things that I like to do at Grace church are leading adult education classes, mentoring our youth, worship leader, and helping with vacation bible school. These activities as well as others continue to help me grow in my faith as I listen to others share their stories, prayers and concerns. Mission trips that I have taken since I was a teenager have also shaped my serving others. These experiences had a powerful impact on my life. As chair of the Administrative Board this year I see an opportunity for all of us to serve others and grow in our faith.

Carol Greibok, March 2017


Do you ever overthink anything? You know, you are asked to do something like write down a few thoughts on why you serve?  So, we prayed for a while and then we talked for a while and then we wrote the answer about ten different ways. In the end, the answer to that question is really pretty straightforward. So, instead of a dissertation, we’ll just get right to the point.  God has given so much to us. We serve others because we have been served. The gift of grace, we have seen, grows through service. Throughout our lives together, Carol and I have received so many gifts through our faith and service to our families, friends, church, and communities. We know that God is responsible for these gifts and we can only respond through prayers of thanksgiving and by serving His Kingdom as we are called.

Carol and Kenny Frank, April 2017


It’s easy to cite a list of Christian virtues and values. The Sunday School class can probably do at least as good of a job (or better) than many of us “older folks.” But it’s not difficult to see that practicing many of those same Christian values in our world can be much more challenging. Love thy neighbor? Yes, but when they are lighting off fireworks at midnight … in mid-September … for the fourth night in a row, love is not always what comes to mind. But SERVICE is much more clear-cut. Identify the need, fill the need. There is so much that every one of us can do in this world to help, and to help others.

On a more personal note, part of the reason that I serve is to expose our children to an opportunity I never had as a kid (though they might not always see it as an opportunity). I did not grow up in a house with religion. When I went to church (on rare occasion), it was Catholic service with my grandmother or a family friend. I want our kids to have the opportunity for a relationship with God that I never had as a child. Imagine how much more comforting it would be to grow up as a child/adolescent believing that a benevolent force is turning the world or that there is an afterlife when this life is complete. Our children will have an opportunity to experience Faith, which is one I never got as a child. What they make of that opportunity is their own choice. And that is mainly “Why I Serve”.

Dave Chmielewski, May 2017


I serve because I feel very blessed to be connected with Grace church and the people there.  Following a conversation with my elderly mother, she asked that I reconnect with a church and reminded me about how I was raised in my hometown United Methodist Church.  Living in Apple Valley, I searched for local churches and decided to visit Grace.  I felt very welcomed each time I visited and had an opportunity to meet with Pastor Kevin one on one.  I don't feel like I am serving at all.  I feel like ushering or greeting people or serving on the board are all opportunities to see people that I care deeply about.  I give thanks to the Lord for directing me to Grace and for all the great people I have met and continue to meet there on an ongoing basis. 

On a separate note, I came to Grace at about the same time Pastor Kevin came to Grace.  He and Kathy are wonderful people and I will miss seeing them every week.  He encouraged me to become a member at Grace, he encouraged me to serve on the board, he visited me when I was in the hospital and has set a wonderful example for people both young and old in our congregation.

John Podratz, June 2017


Growing up in a small rural community in a close knit extended family, I was always aware of the need to help others. I think if my mom didn't lead the casserole brigade, she was certainly an active member.  Whenever a family in the area experienced death, accident or health issue, we and others rallied to help and support. Farming communities still work that way.

As an adult I have very much believed that all of us have a responsibility to share in making our homes, our communities and especially our churches places of welcome and of help when needed. I have tried to take seriously the Lord's words: “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” (Luke 12:48) I OWE others the love and support I can give whether it's tutoring at risk kids, helping a new resident get acquainted or helping a friend move.

As I have reached out to others, I have found that I have reaped great benefits too with making friends and communities that have reached out to me when I was in need. Helping others also has the advantage of being able to put one's own life in perspective. I have felt blessed to have the little problems that without that perspective might seem overwhelming at times.

My philosophy of serving goes back to my family background and to Christ's words found in Luke 2:48. As a Christian in a diverse world, I am called to serve when and where I can. I believe as Martin Luther King Jr. claimed, "If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.” And Christ calls us to do just that which is why I serve.

Jean M. Osborn, July 2017


The first time I drove up the steep driveway at Grace UMC on a snowy winter morning I knew I was in a special place. Not only was the location in a beautiful hidden spot, but I immediately recognized the tremendous work and gifts that our congregation gives to be the hearts, hands and feet of Jesus in our world. I knew that our family needed to be a part of this special congregation by also contributing our family's gifts to the church in any way we can. I personally find Christ in the service and also fellowship to others. I truly believe that we were made to bring each other to the table and serve each other.  God has created and designed us to feel a sense of belonging, fulfillment and satisfaction when we help each other for a reason - this sense of satisfaction is where I personally feel his presence the most intensely. I am happy to know Christ's love by sharing it with others and I pray my children also know his love the same way. Serving others takes so many shapes: handing out produce to local families, cleaning windows, clearing snow, working with our children in Sunday School, or helping financially with a mission project.

Pass it on my friends!

Amelia Halsted, August 2017


When I serve it causes personal growth that can be very rewarding and life changing. It allows me to feel more connected with Christ and the people around me. Serving is so much bigger then ourselves. As Christians we should serve Christ and serving at church in a community filled with people who share your same beliefs makes it easy to devote your time. My family really enjoys our time at Grace and spending time with our extended family at church. When you are part of a family, each person needs to pitch in and help because not one person can do it alone. This holds true especially when your family is small. I grew up Methodist and watched my parents serve at our home church in Anoka. My husband and I believe that role modeling to our children is important so we lead by example, just as my parents did many years ago. I serve for my relationship with Christ, for myself, for my family and to contribute to a community.

MaryAlice Langevin, September 2017


The Church, in all its forms, is the only institution that tells people of the love and power of God. If you were lucky, as I was, to have parents who made plain their faith in God, that was your first experience of the Church. Or maybe you met some person of faith who had a major influence on your life. Other people who were not so lucky have felt the lack of something in their lives and have gone to a church to look for this and have found faith. You and I want the Church to be there for them and for all of its members. In the course of my life, I have found that stepping out in faith and giving to the church is rewarding, and I encourage you to do the same. The Church, at its best, challenges us to be more loving and less selfish, and to look to God for help in this. At its best, the Church also tells us what needs to be done to improve our society and our world. It tells us that God’s love is not limited only to certain denominations and lifestyles. I want to do all I reasonably can to support and grow the Church in its mission of proclaiming the Gospel -- the Good News. I’m fortunate to be able to sing and play instruments in praise of God. This is a privilege which I enjoy greatly, and I invite anyone who sings or plays an instrument to take advantage of the opportunities in the Church to join in. I believe that human beings have other God-given talents which we have barely begun to recognize, and the Church might become an agent to foster these. Finally, I invite you to join with me in supporting the Church in every way that you can.

Bill McNeff, October 2017


I serve because The Lord served us first.
I care because The Lord cared for us first.
I love because The Lord Loved us first.
I give because The Lord gave first.

He gave His life for us that we can be with Him eternally. He loved and cared for and about us before we knew of him. So, I, and we serve the Lord as we are called each in our own unique way.

Diane Martin, November 2017


Jesus devoted his life to serving God.  It just makes sense that I also would put my efforts into serving God by serving his people.  At the core of service are love, understanding, and compassion.  Without these, service becomes rote, mundane, selfish, and ineffective--a box to check off rather than a genuine effort to make a difference in someone's life.  Showing love, understanding, and compassion to others has required me to remind myself to serve others in the ways they want to be served, which requires a relationship, challenging of assumptions, and listening for their perspective.   

I serve others in my work daily as a psychologist, as a parent, as a friend, as a member of this congregation, as a neighbor, as a daughter, as a wife, on my volleyball team (serve...get it...okay...bad joke), and in many other ways.    In my experience, when people become overwhelmed in life, they become immobilized and often isolated.  I serve to decrease or remove barriers to increase mobilization in people's lives and to assure them they are not alone.  I have been so fortunate to have experienced such gracious giving by others in my life in times of need and understand the power of knowing someone is thinking of me and ready to help in the way I need to be helped.  I strive to remember how important it is in service to understand how others need and appreciate being loved and cared for, even if it is much different than my own preferences.  People are unique in their sensitivities to stressors and even their abilities to recognize and to accept help and love.  Service that is given only in the way one wants to give it or in the way they would like to receive it results in us missing the target.   

Gary Chapman (pastor, author, and speaker who lives in North Carolina),  introduced the Five Love Languages as a way to understand and give love and care in the manner most meaningful to the person receiving it.  He proposed the Five Love Languages to include the following (not in any particular order):   

Words of Affirmation:  In Proverbs 18:21, Solomon writes, "The tongue has the power of life and death..."  People with this predominant Love Language feel loved and cared for when others use words to build them up.  They respond to encouragement, compliments, and affirmations through statements, cards, notes, and other methods involving communication in words. 

Acts of Service:  People with this Love Language as predominant feel loved when someone takes a task off of their plate to reduce their burden and workload.  This may be in the form of chores, errands, or responsibilities.  Usually this is most effective when someone anticipates their needs and addresses them without being asked.  

Receiving Gifts:  With this as a primary Love Language, people feel cared about when others give them something to show they were being considered or thought of and when others remember special occasions.  The gift does not necessarily need to have monetary value.  It is a symbol they were a thought in the caring person's mind.

Quality Time:  Spending time one-on-one with uninterrupted and focused conversations and/or activities is key for people with this primary Love Language. Phones are put away and focus is on enjoying spending time with the person. 

Physical Touch:  People with this as their primary Love Language feel loved and cared for when others sit close to them, hug them, hold their hand and, in committed relationships, engage in physical intimacy.

Most people have one or two Love Languages that are primary.  If I am able to discern how someone appreciates and receives love and care, I am more likely to effectively direct my love and compassion to make my service most meaningful.  I have a friend who lives in West Virginia.  I rarely see her, but she has an amazing ability to be keyed into my primary Love Language of Positive Affirmations.  I have kept the numerous cards she has sent over the years, which tell a story of ups and downs in my life, all of which she recognizes and responds to.  As a result, even in the most trying times of my life, I have felt I could move forward and I did not feel alone.  I believe these Love Languages can be applied at church as well.  Members of our church family and others we serve receive love and care in different ways.  Understanding those ways will only make our service more meaningful and fulfilling to people we serve and hopefully make a positive impact that will be long-lasting.  To see and experience the impact of service that allows others to move forward in their lives and feel connected are the reasons I serve.

Leah Redington-Osborn, December 2017


Had I been asked to do a dissertation on this issue 40 years or so ago, the literary results would have been unworthy of any interest to any reader.

Without admitting my age, one may appreciate the ebbs and flows of what eventually challenged me to “SERVING” in these times with Grace United Methodist Church.

I was born in WWII in the U.S. Navy tradition, as father and mother both served.

My father was born Methodist and mother was Catholic. Quite the chemistry for me through the 50’s and 60’s. I was raised Catholic .. through Catholic middle and high school. My grandfather was a strict Methodist minister in South Dakota serving small, rural appointments. Grandma Walker always played the organ. Traditional Methodist Americana.

Methodist churches at that time seemed oblivious to outreach programs or member ministries. Off the radar, unspoken and undefined. No “SERVING.” Go to church .. pray .. go home.

Years later, I met the girl (40 years ago). She was Methodist … and as the Catholic church was non-supportive of this “mixed” marriage, and refused to grant us the right, I then converted to Methodist, as did my late mother.

FINALLY!! After memberships at three other Methodist churches …. Grace United Methodist in Burnsville be-came the answer! Our daughter and family drew us in, and we couldn’t be happier. We became members under Pastor Kevin and grow under Pastor Jen.


Recently, I SERVED as a member of the New Pastor Selection Committee. Welcome Pastor Jen! This was a no brainer.

Today, I SERVE as the Lay Delegate for Grace UMC (Minnesota Annual Conference). Now entering my third year, I have learned that there are multitudes of programs, needs and opportunities to serve today’s adult and youth community. Outreach is needed on many levels. I would like to continue to pursue this need. The opportunities are many, and we’ve barely touched the surface.

Today, I SERVE on the Church Council (Grace UMC Administrative Board) … now starting my third term.

…. Why? Because I can have input to the daily, monthly and all periodic aspects of Grace United Methodist Church that allows this church to work on one-to-one needs, broad outreach and more efficiently as a church in it’s service practice throughout the year.

Today, I SERVE as a member of the GUMC Board of Trustees.

…. Why? Because I can work along with a core of dedicated volunteer Grace United Methodist Church members in the best interests of our church; its present and its future, as involves repairs, improvements and security.

Today, I SERVE as a member of the Debt Retirement/Senior Housing Initiative Task Force … entering this com-mittees third year of continued and forward progress.

…. Why? Because of pressing needs to reduce our debt, and the plans to build Senior Housing on part of Grace Church property on land we can sell and have developed accordingly. Debt reduction frees GUMC to do the mis-sion work we were meant to do and grow the church.

Today, I SERVE by request from Pastor Jen and Bishop Ough as an attendee and participant at the 2017 “Commission on a Way Forward”. A very challenging subject conference addressing the four-decade-long divide we all have all been exposed to on the matter of homosexuality and on the LGBTQ community. This revealing dis-cussion is intended to move forward to a Council of Bishops in 2018 and General Conference in 2019.

…. Why SERVE? Two-fold ….

One — Overall unity in UMC is fragile concerning these distinct cultural and theological differences. We as a church need to find the proper ground to work from. We need to evolve.

Two — My personal belief system had been in question on LGBTQ … Back to my strict days as a non-Methodist, any deviation from the “normal” lifestyles was appalling and that was what we were taught. SERVING here strengthens my understanding of all sides of the issues.

WE HAVE FOUR GRANDCHILDREN … seven, four, four and two years of age ….

Three of them are involved with music and learning classes at Grace. A beginning in the church!

I also additionally have six more grandchildren and four great-grandchildren from another life.

What will they learn or be exposed to that I could have some influence on?

What can I do to SERVE as some role model to them and to their parents … our children?

My ultimate SERVICE goal is to create and develop programs and an acceptable learning and growing system for all youth that both maintains them and grows them as participants in church as active and responsive youth, and allows them to become growing and creative church leaders in time…. hopefully in my lifetime.

This, is why I want to continue to SERVE here at Grace United Methodist Church.

Ray Walker, January 2018


Family is very important to me. I have been at Grace UMC, Burnsville since I was five years old. Growing up, I went to church every Sunday. Just like school, I had to be sick in order to miss church. Church is some-thing we did as a family. Little did I know as a child, that Grace UMC, Burnsville was a second home and fam-ily to me.

It wasn’t until 2003, when part of the church caught on fire, I began to realize that not only was church important and meaningful, but Grace UMC, Burnsville was important to me. In early 2004, my parents began attending a different church. I knew I was going to be heading to college in Mankato in the fall, and I did not feel like starting fresh at a new church. One of the many reasons I stayed at Grace was the adult choir. Many of them had known me since I was five years old and treated me like I was a member of their family. Words cannot describe how appreciative I am for that.

After college, I volunteered as the Youth Director for two years. I was thrilled to do it, as Youth Group was my favorite part of church when I was in junior high and high school. It had its ups and downs, but it was a good experience. It also made me want to do more with the church than just attend worship and sing in the adult choir.

A few years ago, I was asked to help with the kids’ choirs on Wednesdays. I was a bit hesitant, as I do not have a music teaching degree, but I am glad I said yes because I have loved every minute of it. It combines two things I love: interacting with children and music.

Currently I am on the church administration board. I may not have liked going to church growing up, but now it is a big part of my life.

Laura Morrow, February 2018


I grew up in a small town in Minnesota and attended a small Methodist church.  Part of that growing up was “volunteering” to help at the annual chow mein supper, acolyting, singing in the youth choir, participating in youth group and, through that, participating in a clowning ministry (I won’t do that again, so don’t ask).  So, things like that were part of my childhood. I didn’t really see it as serving, it was fun, even when Mom made us do it because we should.  It is amazing that doing something like bussing tables can be fun when it is done with other children who were also “volunteered” by their moms. 

Now, I volunteer myself.  I might not start out with a serving, or even totally willing, heart, but I have found that the heart changes its mind if you let it.  I started serving because I saw a need that I thought I might have a reasonable chance to fill and it didn’t look like anyone else was going to fill the role.  Participating in your community is what you do to keep it going.  I now teach Sunday school, and I enjoy it.  I help with VBS and I enjoy it.  I have spent time at garage sales, making pies, I even fried plantain patties for an evening.   I meet people, I learn things, and I enjoy it all (mostly).  What I have also found is that serving brings about a desire to serve. S ometimes I  need a break for a bit or a change of scenery, but I tend to go back.  It is nice when “should” turns to “want to help.”

Believe it or not, this little group of paragraphs took me longer to write than I thought it would.  I started over a couple of times.  I got lost in some memories.  I chuckled a couple of times.  I don’t know if this answers the “Why I serve” question, but I tried.

Chris Behrens, March 2018


When asked to write this column, about “Why I Serve,” the first and most obvious answer to me was, because I can. Wanting to get a bit deeper, I began to think. I have been a part of GUMC since 1983 when my family moved to Lakeville from Marshall, Minnesota. We were very involved in the Methodist church in Marshall so when we started attending GUMC, we all jumped right in. I was part of the Youth Program and remember doing so many fun things with my church family. After high school during my college visits home, church was always something we just did on Sundays before I travelled back to Grand Forks. I then moved to Washington DC to start my adult life, which then took me to Columbus, Ohio after marrying Chad. We attended a Methodist Church there as a couple and when we started our family. After our boys were born, I joined the offered MOPS group at that church. Having that connection with other new moms in a religious setting was the beginning of my serving, and “giving back.” I helped organize many of the MOPS meetings, lunches, outings and childcare support.

When we decided to move back to Minnesota, there was no discussion, we just started going to GUMC as a family of four. Bringing my own children to a place that holds so many memories to me is a true gift. Regardless of where we lived, my heart was at GUMC. During all the time I/we were lived away, we came “home” to GUMC for the “big” stuff. My dad passed away in 2002 and his funeral was at GUMC; in 2007 we travelled to Minnesota to get married at GUMC; in 2009 we came home and Braxton was baptized at GUMC; and we were again living in Minnesota in 2010 when Tyson was baptized at GUMC.

I have served in a few different roles at GUMC. Right now, I truly love teaching the future of GUMC in Sunday School……it is a blast! I am grateful that I “get” to serve and help these little minds understand the importance of faith and the history GUMC. I hope I am helping create memories they too will cherish forever.

Greta Holder, April 2018


Church is a community of people that I chose to associate with and to serve rather than other available groups.  I really enjoy talking with and sharing meals with church friends.   In addition, I have a religious background with a heritage of serving.

My mother sent us three oldest children to Sunday school, initially at a Mennonite church.  I enjoyed learning and the stories taught in Sunday school were good lessons.

My grandfather was a Methodist minister in small churches in Iowa.  Because there was no kindergarten in the town where we lived, I spent a year living with my grandparents.  My grandmother would keep me quiet in church, but I really did not understand church services until I was in high school.  By then I had started to work Sundays and church disappeared from my life until I had children.  However, the examples set by my mother and my grandparents have stayed with me.

Church provides a foundation to pass on to my family the values that have served me well.  Church and family dinners afterwards have always been a tradition with the family.  The current focus is on the grandchildren with Sunday school, youth choir and youth fellowship passing on the Christian faith.  I thoroughly enjoy the programs with the youth choir and children’s service.   Seeing their antics, comments and running happily to Sunday school always bring a sense of joy.

Preserving the church community is important to me.   Being an engineer, my mode of operation is to find problems and fix them.  I do not enjoy discussion groups and that limits some types of service I might offer.  My daughter, a psychologist who helps people deal with emotions, likes to joke that engineers could teach a course to tell people how to fix feelings if they have one.

Being a Trustee has given me a means to use my talents to serve. With the budget issues, however, the size of possible projects is very limited.  Contributing labor to necessary projects and even paying for some on my own are ways to serve.

I do my best to serve, following the examples of my mother and grandparents, because I love the church community and the values that are passed on to the next generation.  I try to use my time and talents as a trustee to preserve the House of God for the people of God which is why I serve.

Dale Osborn, June 2018


My connection with the Methodist church began in the late 1800s when my great-grandmother Mina played the organ at the Methodist Church in Detroit, Minnesota (later called Detroit Lakes). I grew up in the Congregational Church but attended Methodist churches while I moved around the country. Some-thing felt right each time I stepped through the doors. I coordinated Christmas programs in Moorhead as a student and attended a small church in South Dakota that served three faiths under one roof.

Our son Doug and I found Grace in Burnsville when he was in second grade. He is 31 now. We found a home with Pastor Mark. Then Doug met Bill Mate. He was fascinated with stories of Martin Luther King and Paige Macklin encouraged his music. Grace was and is home. Doug was a youth leader a few years ago with Laura Morrow. I taught Sunday School for a few years but one of my greatest joys now is Adult Sunday School. Second is our wonderful Book Club.

Now I am retired and my focus is on the church service and my knowledge of the slides that I work on with Suanne Turner. I enjoy doing that because it allows a bit of creativity and lets me do something with the skills I used in Corporate life. Why do I serve? Because the doors of this church are open and the people welcome me each Sunday. It is where I want to be. Thank you all.

Nellie Mattis, July 2018