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Blessings on the curb

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
The Rev. Emily Sauer, pastor of St. Olaf Lutheran Church, delivers a blessing to one of the church members who stopped by Saturday afternoon during the Drive Thru Blessings & Offerings. The event was one way to stay connected with the congregation and let them make an offering during the state mandated shut down of church services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Heather Liska helps out at right.

When the Rev. Emily Sauer put on her vestments Saturday afternoon at St. Olaf Lutheran Church, the first two items were just like any other service.

Her Alb, the long white robe.

Her Stole, purple for the season of lent.

Then came the new items. A surgical mask and a pair of blue latex gloves.

Added for the season of COVID-19.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
The Rev. Emily Sauer, pastor at St. Olaf Lutheran Church, has her glasses fog up a little as she leads the Drive Thru Blessings & Offerings Saturday afternoon.

Sauer, along with church member Heather Liska, were going out to the curb to greet those who had made it to Drive-Thru Blessings & Offerings.

It was a way to connect and an opportunity for members to help out financially.

“It’s a short blessing from a distance,” Sauer said.

With churches under state orders not to hold services, Sauer has had to come up with creative ways to serve her congregation and keep the cash flow to maintain solvency, going.

“We’ve had to be creative,” she said. “We’re way short. We also have Paypal set up and people can mail in donations.”

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
The Rev. Emily Sauer, center, suits up for Saturday’s Drive Thru Blessing & Offerings at St. Olaf Lutheran Church along with Heather Liska, at left. The two delivered curb-side blessing for several hours. Scout, who’s human is church secretary Chris Lennon, watches from the floor.

She’s also had to think of creative ways to bring her massage to her congregation.

That’s being done online.

“Our Wednesday night contemporary service is live,” she said. “Matt Dress is leading that worship.”

They are also live streaming a new virtual gathering, Thankful Thursdays.

“It’s something that can lift people up,” she said. “People share what they’re thankful for in these trying time. Family, church, God’s presence. We even had someone grateful for the rain and another thankful for an author they were reading.”

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
The Rev. Emily Sauer accepts a donation from a parishoner who drove up during the Drive Thru Blessings & Offerings event Saturday afternoon at St. Olaf Luteran Church. Heather Liska, right, helped out.

Sauer is also working on putting Christian education programs online for the youth in the congregation. It might include lessons that would normally be part of Sunday school or confirmation classes.

Dennis Gross, of Fort Dodge, was among the members of the congregation who stopped by.

“I’m isolating as much as possible,” he said.

He misses being able to attend church in person.

“Yes I do,” he said. “I enjoy the people and the services.”

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
St. Olaf Lutheran Church member Dennis Gross puts an offering in the bucket Saturday during the Drive Thru Blessings & Offerings at the church. the Rev. Emily Sauer, center, and Heather Liska provided the blessings.

Part way through the Drive-Thru, Sauer left the curbside blessings in the capable hands of church member Heather Liska. Sauer was needed inside to record the week’s sermon. It will be available to the members online.

She stopped at the door and removed her mask and gloves.

Her sanctuary was rows and rows of empty seats. Only the member recording and the organist were there with her.

Sauer hasn’t lost her sense of humor.

“I only preach to an empty sanctuary when I feel my sermon is especially bad,” she joked.

Then she got serious.

“These are times that feel especially bad,” she said.

At the end of the day, 14 families had stopped by.

There was one more helper.

Scout, who’s human is church secretary Chris Lennon, ended up just being able to be there to make people smile.

“She’s here for riot control,” Lennon joked.

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