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).

Car Wash Fundraiser

Oak Grove hosted a car wash on Saturday, August 22, to raise money for our youth group and to help OASIS FOR YOUTH purchase a minivan. Thank you to everyone who attended and donated!

Jessi and Brandon provided live music on eight instruments (not at the same time!) at the fundraising event. Thanks, Jessi and Brandon!

Learn How to Take Care of Rain Gardens Sept 9

Nine Mile Creek Watershed District is offering training on how to maintain a rain garden by watering, weeding and selection of replacement plants (if necessary).  Oak Grove will be hosting the training in our rain garden on the outside of the Education Wing under the solar panels on Wednesday Night Sept. 9th  6:30 to 8:30 pm.  To sign up, please contact John Crampton 612-396-6010   jcrampt48@gmail.com

Oak Grove Pastors Sign Racial Equity Letter to Bloomington Mayor, City Council, and Police Chief

Oak Grove pastors Rev. Dr. Anne E. Fisher and Rev. Mary Koon joined with 21 other Bloomington Faith Leaders to sign a racial equity letter sent to Bloomington Mayor Tim Busse, Bloomington City Council, and Police Chief Jeff Potts. Bloomington Faith Leaders is an inter-faith, ecumenical group of clergy committed to racial equity in schools, government, and policing.

Our pastors have been meeting with Bloomington Faith Leaders via Zoom, and they hope to be part of the group that meets with Chief Potts later this month.

Silent Clergy Walks

On June 2, 2020, Pastor Mary Koon and Jim Koon participated in silent clergy walks in Minneapolis and St Paul. Black clergy lead the walks, followed by other clergy and people of faith. All faiths were represented!

Mary said, “We prayed and kept silence to bear witness to the pain and injustice endured for too long by people of color in the US. We kept silence knowing that the silence must lead to words and action.”

VEAP Food Drive in June

With the COVID-19 virus and all the additional people who are unemployed because of it, food shelves at VEAP are experiencing a heavier volume of requests. The Mission Committee feels it is important for Oak Grove Church to help out, so we are holding a food drive during the month of June 2020. We will have a marked container outside the front door every Monday and Wednesday from 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. for you to drop off food for VEAP. Items needed include whole grain products, canned vegetables, and canned fruits.

If you would prefer to write a check, please make it payable to Oak Grove Church and note on the memo line that it is for VEAP Food Drive. Mail it to Anne Swenson at the church (2200 W Old Shakopee Rd, Bloomington 55431). Please contact Sharon Nolte (952-884-1014) with any questions. The Mission Committee thanks you for your support.

Rain Garden Installation

Our new rain garden installation began on May 11. The crew dug out the rain garden area at the Education Wing facing Old Shakopee Rd. and Penn. They will complete it in coming weeks with native plantings, and installation of inlets and outlets. 

When completed the rain garden will take storm water run-off from Old Shakopee Rd and from our roof and infiltrate it to recharge the groundwater rather than letting it run off and carry sediment and pollution into Nine Mile Creek and the Minnesota River. The rain garden will carry the first flush (approx. first inch of a rainfall), infiltrate and bio-treat it in the garden via hundreds of deep-rooted native plants. Inlet valves and drain tiles help divert storm water amounts greater than 1 inch. This is diverted into the storm sewers to prevent flooding. The soil at the site is all sand, which greatly aids infiltration.

Nine Mile Creek Watershed District is paying for and maintaining the project for the first two years. Future plans include surrounding the rain garden with native plantings that are “gentle to the environment” (don’t require watering or chemicals and that infiltrate water and sequester carbon emissions). 

Our solar sources of electricity continue to produce energy at expected rates. Our 55 solar panels on our building produced 2,730 KWH in April and our Community Solar farm membership produced 5,259 KWH in March (Community Solar reporting is always one month delayed).