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Churches aid Minnesota flood victims

The summer floods of 2002 may be receding in the memories of many.

The summer floods of 2002 may be receding in the memories of many. But for those in northwest Minnesota who lived through them, pain and stress remain.

A group of about 16 Moorhead churches is looking to help.

The Moorhead conference of the Northwestern Minnesota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America recently sent letters to five pastors serving parishes from Roseau to Mahnomen.

The letters invited the pastors to take a break and accept the services of a substitute pastor to fill in for a Sunday.

Two have accepted the helping hand and for the others the offer remains good for the remainder of the year, according to the Rev. Matt Valan, pastor at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Moorhead.


Valan said in addition to the "respite" service, the Moorhead churches are sending checks of $100 to each of the pastors to spend in ways that will help them relax and rejuvenate.

"One of the things we're realizing is, it's really hard for people that are in these difficult situations to leave them," Valan said. "How do you say to your parishioners, 'OK, hang in there. I'm going off for the weekend to have some fun.'

"We're hoping they'll do that when it works for them," Valan said.

This Sunday, Mark Williamson, a pastor in training at Trinity Lutheran, will fill in for the Rev. John Martinson, pastor at Moe Lutheran Church in Roseau.

Trinity is also donating $2,500 to the Roseau congregation.

Last Sunday morning, the Rev. Carol Hertler, pastor at the Lutheran Campus Ministry at Minnesota State University Moorhead, gave sermons at Zion Lutheran Church in Warroad.

Zion's regular pastor, the Rev. Karen Holmberg-Smith, used the time off to attend a continuing education workshop in the Twin Cities.

"It went fine," Hertler said of her fill-in role. "They (parishioners) were glad to meet me and glad she (Holmberg-Smith) could get an extra Sunday away."


Valan said the other pastors invited to take a week off are the Rev. John Filius, pastor at Bethel Lutheran, First Lutheran and Messiah Lutheran in Roseau; the Rev. Kristen Larsen-Schmidt, pastor at First Lutheran Church in Mahnomen and the Rev. Thomas Oberg, pastor at Mount Carmel Lutheran in Roosevelt, Minn.

Valan said the Mahnomen church received some help in December from the congregation of Faith Lutheran Church in Wolverton.

A group of Wolverton parishioners spent several days refurbishing the basement of the Mahnomen church, which had been damaged by flooding.

Readers can reach Moorhead Bureau Chief Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555

I'm a reporter and a photographer and sometimes I create videos to go with my stories.

I graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead and in my time with The Forum I have covered a number of beats, from cops and courts to business and education.

I've also written about UFOs, ghosts, dinosaur bones and the planet Pluto.

You may reach me by phone at 701-241-5555, or by email at dolson@forumcomm.com.
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