Afghan Family Update

UPDATE January 20, 2022

Update on our Afghan Family, January 20:

Not all ordered items have quite arrived, but an empty apartment has been turned into a space ready for a family’s landing! Thank you, thank you worker bee organizers and movers and the many, MANY Oak Grovers and friends who have donated time, talents, and treasure! 

We envision there may be a new list of some important items once this family begins to craft a space to more precisely fit their needs and reflect their own flair. Thanks to you, we’ve been able to purchase staples for their kitchen and pantry, set-up bedrooms and bathrooms, and set-up a beautiful dining room table and chairs! Space is an issue, but we’re keeping our eyes open for a not-so-big loveseat or comfortable chair and wouldn’t mind two matching, not-so-big nightstands. If you enjoy FB Marketplace or other local like-new-2nd-hand furniture shopping–have at it! If you have a great find, feel free to send a photo and measurements to Sue Greimel.

Update on our Afghan Family, January 18: Wow!! Our congregation is amazing. All items on the donation list have been purchased and donated! We are still accepting gift cards or cash donations to pay for food and other needs.

An apartment in Minneapolis has been found, and move-in day is this Thursday, January 20! Our plan is to clean and move everything on Wednesday, January 19. We’d love to have donations ordered or brought to church by Tuesday, January 18, 2022. Please contact Sue Greimel (, 612 805-2896) with questions or if you are willing to volunteer to help with cleaning, moving, and welcoming on Wednesday/Thursday.

Original post, January 12

Help Needed! Do you have any “like-new” winter wear you can spare? No longer need that gently-used stroller, those kid toys, or that insulated mug/water bottle? Our young family from Afghanistan could use your help! Their needs are very basic, but extremely important. Donations are now being accepted at the church (Gideon Pond B). Please contact Sue Greimel (, 612 805-2896) with questions! Any excess donations will be given to the Minnesota Council of Churches for other refugee families.

  • Men’s medium-sized coat, size 8–9 boots, gloves, mittens, winter hat, t-shirts (long-sleeved & short), pants (approx. 32″ waist)
  • Women’s medium coat, size 7–8 boots, gloves, mittens, winter hat, traditional dresses, women’s dress socks, traditional head scarves
  • 4T girls coat, size 10–12 boots, mittens, winter hat, dresses, pants, t-shirts (favorite color PINK)
    2T girls coat, size 8–10 boots, mittens, winter hat, dresses, pants, warm t-shirts (favorite color PINK)
  • Stroller
  • Insulated mugs, insulated water bottles

Stay tuned for additional requests as we learn more about their housing situation. In the meantime, if you have a dining room table, nice living room rug, couch, chairs, dressers, or lamps that you’re thinking of donating, please send Sue Greimel the details (with pictures), so we can prepare a “catalog” of options!!

Restorative Actions

Oak Grove Presbyterian Church’s role in the Restorative Actions project is highlighted this month in a two-part series on Healing Minnesota Stories (see links to articles below). The series features comments from Oak Grove members Jim Koon and Milissa Carter, as well as our former Pastor Jermaine (Rev. Anthony Jermaine Ross-Allam).

Part 1: Moral reckoning: A Presbyterian Church tests model to surrender wealth to Afro American, Indigenous communities

Part 2: Restorative Actions and the power of a single conversation

Rev. Anthony Jermaine Ross-Allam
Jim Koon
Milissa Carter

2021 Advent & Christmas Activities

Christmas Services

Sunday, January 2, 2022 (10:15 am): Live-streamed Sunday Worship Service on Facebook and the website, Matthew 2:1–12, “We Three Kings” Pastor Bart preaches.Limited in-person attendance; pre-registration required.

Sunday, December 26, 2021 (10:15 am): Live-streamed Sunday Worship Service on Facebook and the website, Matthew 2:13–23, “Mary and Joseph flee with Jesus” Pastor Mary preaches. Limited in-person attendance; pre-registration required.

Friday, December 24, 2021 (4:00 pm): Family Christmas Eve Service via Zoom. This service was held via Zoom.

Friday, December 24, 2021 (10:00 pm): Christmas Eve Candlelight Service. Link to 10pm service bulletin.The service will be live-streamed with limited in-person attendance (pre-registration required). Direct link to video:

Longest Night Service/Experience

Tuesday, December 21, 2021: Longest Night Service/Experience

Direct link to December 21 video:

This time of year can be difficult for some. The grief at the loss of a loved one, the anguish of broken relationships, the insecurity of unemployment, the weariness of ill health, the pain of isolation, all these can make us feel very alone in the midst of the season. We need the space and time to acknowledge our sadness and concern; we need to know that we are not alone.

The Longest Night service/experience provides a time and space to acknowledge the mixture of feelings. There will be a variety of prayer stations in the sanctuary and Gideon Pond Hall that will offer participatory ways to connect with and express your feelings. Or you can take the opportunity to just sit in silence as music is played in the sanctuary. This experience is completed at your own pace. You may arrive any time between 7–7:30 pm to begin. The Deacons will have some cookies for folks to take home. Pastor Bart and Pastor Mary will also be available for individual private prayer.

Sunday Worship Services During Advent

  • Nov. 28: 1st Sunday of Advent Matthew 24:36–44 “Keep Awake” Pastor Bart preaches
  • Dec. 5: 2nd Sunday of Advent Communion Sunday
    Matthew 3:1–13 “Prepare the Way” Pastor Mary preaches
  • Dec. 12: 3rd Sunday of Advent
    Matthew 11:2–11 “Signs of the Kingdom” Pastor Bart preaches
  • Dec. 19: 4th Sunday of Advent Isaiah 61 Pastor Bart preaches

Christmas Joy Offering

2021 Advent Activities


Love is Still the Answer booklet project. We are compiling a booklet as an opportunity for connecting with each other, and we would like you to be a part of it! We ask you to complete and turn in your entry by Friday, December 3.

2021 Xmas booklet

Alternative Christmas Market. Our alternative catalog offers many opportunities to support the work of the Presbyterian USA Mission Agency and Oak Grove’s special mission projects.

Carols, Cookies, and Care! Saturday, December 11, 2021, 10:30 a.m. in the church parking lot. We are collecting toilet paper, diapers and wipes for VEAP.  There is currently a shortage of these items at VEAP. We are putting together Agape bags for those on our streets, and we need warm socks and non-perishable snacks for the bags. You may make a bag or two and put them in your car. We will share Christmas cookies, so please bake or bring your cookies to share!  It will be helpful to put them in bags of 4 so they are “grab-and-go!” We will gather around the fire pit to sing Christmas Carols, and Supportive Housing will supply coffee and Hot Chocolate. This promises to be a morning of fellowship, fun, and giving!  We hope you will join us – thank you in advance for your generosity! Questions?  Call the church office (952-888-4621). Link to flyer for Carols, Cookies, and Care event.

Dakota Sites Tour

Oak Grove Presbyterian’s Anti-Racism Committee held a daylong tour of important Dakota sites in Twin Cities area on Saturday October 23, 2021.  Forty-one people went on the tour by car caravan.  

We visited Bde Maka Ska, village site of Cloudman (Marpiya Wicasta) and heard talks by Dakota descendent Syd Beane and Pond and Williamson descendent Jeff Williamson, along with talks by religious scholar Bruce Forbes and historian Thomas Shaw to learn about the Dakota agricultural community and the beginning of the Pond brothers’ mission work there in the 1830s.

Dakota sites tour 10/23/21
Bde Maka Ska
Syd Beane, descendant of Chief Cloudman, and Jeff Williamson, descendant of Gideon Pond talk about the Dakota agricultural village at Bde Maka Ska, 1829-39.

Next we visited Pilot Knob  (Oheyawaha) “hill that is much visited” to learn about how it is a sacred site to the Dakotas, is the site of the 1851 Treaty of Mendota by which the Dakotas were forced to give up their land in south and western Minnesota, along with efforts by whites to appropriate, capitalize on and desecrate the site and its burials, along with current efforts to protect and restore it.

Dakota sites tour 10/23/21
John Crampton talks about Pilot Knob- a Dakota burial site and the scene of the 1851 Treaty of Mendota which forced the Dakota people to give up much of their land in southern Minnesota

Finally we visited the Fort Snelling Prison Camp (under the Mendota Bridge) where 1600 Dakota women, children and elders were held in a concentration camp and over 125 died during the winter of 1862-63.  This was a result of the US-Dakota War in which many of the prisoners had protected whites during the fighting.  The interpretation at Fort Snelling Prison Camp was given by historian Corrine L. Monjeau-Marz, a descendent of the Dakota Chief Wabasha and by Jeff Williamson. 

Dakota site tour
Corrine Monjeau-Marz, historian and Chief Wabasha descendant tells about the Fort Snelling Prison Camp 1862-63 in which 1,600 Dakota women, children and elders were captives. 

Thanks to all the presenters, and to Jeff Williamson, John Crampton  and Mary Koon who organized the tour.   Kudos to Ruth Dukelow, Sue Gjerstad and Karen Alonzi who setup the web site and online registration. 

More tours are being planned for the spring/summer of 2022. 

2021 Alternative Christmas Market

COMING SOON TO YOUR MAILBOX! The booklet for the 2021 Alternative Christmas Marketplace should arrive at your home during the week of November 15th. There will be many opportunities to support the work of the Presbyterian USA Mission Agency and Oak Grove’s special mission projects. Hope you and your family will enjoy this early gift giving opportunity. Thank you for your support.

2021 Alternative Christmas Market booklet (pdf)

2021 Order Form (pdf)

Presbyterian News article

Presbyterian Mission article

2021 Xmas booklet

Urban Homeworks

Many thanks to AsaleSol Young, Emily and Azad Lassiter for sharing about the work and ministry of Urban Homeworks at Oak Grove’s Adult Faith Formation on May 9, 2021.  As a follow-up to their presentation, they have provided the following information for anyone who would like to participate in or learn more about their organization.

Follow-up Information from Urban Homeworks

The Housing Justice Forum will be educating the community on Rent Stabilization policy VIRTUALLY on May 20 from 6-7:30. Registration is pay-what-you-can, and Zoom information is provided after registration. Click here to register.

Individual volunteers can sign up to volunteer (at no cost) at this link. Our first individual volunteer day is June 5 and there are shifts available in the morning and afternoon to help with various landscaping and/or painting projects. Click here to sign up for June 5 dates.

Take Action emails. We send out periodic emails on anti-racist actions to take in our lives. To sign up to be added to that list, click here to fill out this form

Group Volunteering. Urban Homeworks charges a fee of $1,000/day for nonprofits and churches and $1,500/day for corporations who want to volunteer. The fee is there for a couple of reasons. 1) It helps us cover the cost of staffing, insurance, materials, and supplies. 2) It exists to support a community-centered approach to volunteerism and fundraising. When we recognize that charity and volunteering equally benefits donors/volunteers as much as the communities served, it redefines the relationship built among supporters and community in a healthier way. Our fees affirm that we all benefit from this work and no one should be exploited or pitied when we decide to give of our time or resources. Please contact us if Oak Grove is interested in getting a group together to volunteer. We have an exciting opportunity of community gardening happening Juneteenth weekend if Oak Grove isn’t already working on something for that weekend.

Perpetuate the Hope Annual Event. We will be hosting our 2nd annual VIRTUAL Perpetuate the Hope Symposium where we share about Urban Homeworks, equity and engagement, and other topics related to affordable, equitable housing. This will be held September 8, 9, 10 during the noon lunch hour. If Oak Grove is interested in sponsoring, we could provide access for the church to that event.

2021 Per Capita Challenge

Update: YOU did it!

Oak Grove surpassed our February per capita goal of $7000. The Gifts & Gratitude Committee would like to thank all of you who faithfully paid your per capita. Our governing bodies have never worked harder to support our faith than in this past year and because of your participation, we say ‘thank you’ to our Presbytery, Synod and General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church with our per capita payments.

Note: Oak Grove’s total per capita payment is $17,850. Every member who pays their $36.50 separately helps strengthen our annual budget during an uncertain time.

Loaves & Fishes Food Distribution Moves to Oak Grove Presbyterian on Jan. 4

Beginning Monday January 4, 2021, Oak Grove Presbyterian Church Grove, 2200 W Old Shakopee Rd, Bloomington, MN 55431, is taking on food distribution for the Loaves & Fishes program (formerly at Creekside).

Takeaway meals will be served Monday-Friday from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at Oak Grove Church. See Oak Grove parking lot map for driving route instructions. Food recipients will stay in their cars and let the volunteers know how many meals they would like. There are no eligibility requirements to receive meals.

Oak Grove parking lot route
Enter the parking lot at the north entrance off Penn Avenue

Loaves & Fishes is a community-based volunteer organization serving free, healthy meals to Minnesotans where the need is greatest. Oak Grove is just a half mile away from the former distribution site at Creekside, and takeaway meals will continue to be served Monday-Friday from 5:30-6:30 p.m.

For the past 25 years, Oak Grove has volunteered with Loaves & Fishes by preparing and serving meals twice a month. The pandemic has changed how Loaves & Fishes provides those meals. Since March, Loaves & Fishes has been serving meals prepared by a chef and distributed through a drive-up system. At their current location, Creekside Community Center, Loaves & Fishes has been serving approximately 200 people a night Monday through Friday. Creekside will be closing at the end of 2020.

Through the Mission and Building & Ops Committees and the Session, Oak Grove has said YES to providing a place to feed the hungry. As long as Oak Grove is closed to other meetings, Oak Grove will be the pickup site for Loaves & Fishes from 5:30–6:30 pm, Monday–Friday.

How can you help? As members, we can do more than just provide a building. There are opportunities to volunteer at our site. You can sign up individually on the Loaves & Fishes website or call the church office (952-888-1621) if you are interested in volunteering. We are organizing teams of four.

We can’t think of a more timely way for a church to minister to the community than to provide food to the hungry. Members of the Oak Grove Loaves & Fishes coordinating team are: Bob Heise, Ed & Lari Ann Schmidt, Patty Nail, Nancy Kachel, and Kathy Tominski.

Here’s to a healthy and fruitful new year where the hungry are fed.

Tackling Climate Change During a Pandemic

A message from the Green Committee of Oak Grove Presbyterian Church

Though travel-related green house gas emissions have been reduced during the pandemic, little progress toward reducing green house gas emissions has actually been made at the national level in the past four years.  Churches can help educate, motivate, and lead by example.

In 1990, the 202nd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) adopted Restoring Creation for Ecology and Justice, which calls our denomination to engage in the tasks of restoring creation.

Oak Grove Green Committee submitted goals to Session in 2013, that can be viewed on our web page.  The Green Committee has influenced our congregation to address climate change in many ways including:

  • 220% of our electricity comes from solar and wind to avoid millions of tons of CO2 emissions;
  • Working to reduce/eliminate natural gas use through conservation and replacement of natural gas equipment, thus avoiding CO2 emissions;
  • All lights inside and outside are LEDs, reducing power usage by 35%.
  • Two rain gardens capture, clean and infiltrate millions of gallons of stormwater runoff per year while providing pollinator habitat and soil health.
  • Complete recycling, composting with a dramatic reduction in trash.
  • EV Expos to teach the public about Electric Vehicles, e-bikes, e-lawn care and e-mobility.
  • Our church has installed two level 2 EV chargers for the congregation and the community.
  • Nuts and bolts education sessions about how to get clean energy, electric vehicles, recycling/composting, rain gardens and sustainable diets.

Earth Care Pledge Signed by Session in December of 2017.

  • Our worship and discipleship will celebrate God’s grace and glory in creation.
  • Our education will encourage and support each other in keeping and healing the creation.
  • Our facilities will be managed, maintained, and upgraded to respect and cherish all creation.
  • Our outreach will encourage community involvement and public policy to protect and restore the earth.

Congregations across our nation are taking action.  We became a PC (USA) Earth Care Congregation in 2018, joining hundreds of Presbyterian Congregations dedicated to actions to address global warming.  Some of their stories are available on the PC (USA) website see (Climate Change).  The Green Committee has taken many actions to address climate change and as explained in previous articles of the Oak Leaves.  We are now looking at what to tackle next and in the process, encourage new members with new ideas to join our committee.  We are currently meeting monthly on the first Thursday of every month at 7:00 PM, via Zoom, until we can gather again to meet at church.  Below is a list of what other churches have done to address climate change.  Additional ideas are available on the website noted above.  We invite suggestions and volunteers to help us work to address climate change.

  • Devote a Sunday Service to earth care
  • Engage youth in earth care awareness worship programs
  • Create earth care themed banners or other art to display in church
  • Use locally grown, pesticide free flowers in the sanctuary
  • Minute for Mission on earth care issues
  • Communion by intinction
  • Creation care songs, sermon, or prayer?
  • Children’s/youth Sunday school courses (series of classes) on earth care
  • Adult courses (series of classes) with an earth care focus
  • Vacation Bible School series with an earth care theme
  • Guest earth care speakers or programs
  • Youth projects related to earth care conducted
  • Articles/announcements about earth care in the bulletin/newsletter
  • Bulletin board on earth care display
  • Pages on the church’s website devoted to earth care
  • Books, games, videos, or other materials with an earth care focus in church library
  • Educational events focused on sustainable lifestyle choices for members
  • Email group of members interested in earth care
  • Earth care fairs or educational events
  • Art displays or exhibits focused on earth care held at church
  • An earth care component included in confirmation classes
  • An earth care component included in new member classes?
  • Sponsor a scholarship or send a member to attend the Presbyterians for Earth Care biennial conference
  • Offer, or attend a mission trip focused on an earth care issue
  • Sponsor a community garden
  • Support programs like Second Harvest
  • Support training for disaster response volunteers
  • Support youth and young adults to enter into creation stewardship as a vocation
  • Host a farmers market
  • Host a vegetable sharing table for gardeners to share produce with members after services

If you see an idea above that you like, or have an idea of your own, please contact the Green Committee via the church office, or by emailing one of us.  Our contact information is available in the Church directory.  Our current members are:  John Crampton, chair, Pastor Anne Fisher, Bob Gerdes, Pdon Pinkham, Erin Anderson Wenz, Allen Greimel, Frank Bliss, Randy Dop, and Allen Frechette.

Racial Justice Statement

On September 22, the Session and Deacons passed the following statement of Racial Justice:

We, the Elders and Deacons of Oak Grove Presbyterian Church, stand in solidarity with you, our Black, Indigenous, and Brown siblings of color. We acknowledge that our experiences have often blinded us to your cries for justice. We acknowledge your experiences of discrimination and violence as truth. We commit to listen and seek to understand and will not hide behind a right to comfort when the conversations are hard. We commit to holding ourselves and others accountable to become and continue to be anti-racist for “as you use steel to sharpen steel, so one friend sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17  (The Message by Eugene Peterson).