One of the distinguishing features of N.F.S. Grundtvig’s legacy is the emphasis placed on lifelong learning. We believe that God is self-revealing in the living Word of scripture, in human relationships and society, in the beauty, diversity and grandeur of the natural world.
West Denmark offers learning experiences for all ages and has an intergenerational, community based approach to most of our events.
Classes for Pre-K through 5th grade are taught in a one-room schoolhouse style. Through Bible stories, art, activities and relationships, faith grows and is shared. Classroom lessons generally follow the storyline of the Narrative Lectionary. Crafts and hands-on learning activities are incorporated into the lessons.
Now and then the Sunday School goes Out of the Box (and often out of the church) with games and creative activities. They’ve baked unleavened bread formed around sticks over a campfire for a Passover lesson, trying out horseradish from the church garden as a bitter herb! They’ve made a prayer labyrinth path in the snow and warmed up with hot cocoa by a campfire.
All children and their friends are welcome to participate in Sunday School.
Classes run from 9:00 to 9:50, with church beginning at 10:00 am. Children are encouraged to stay for worship. An “escape room” is available if needed for toddlers and babies.
Confirmation classes are centered in the Bible – learning about the major characters and events of the biblical story. This is a two or three year program beginning in the Old Testament – along the way incorporating an introduction to sacraments, Lutheran theology, biblical history, timelines – and ending with the gospels and other writings of the New Testament. Learning incorporates reading and DVD discussions, projects, monthly service activities, and church member visitation (onsite mentoring). Confirmation classes roughly follow the school calendar September through mid-May, meeting Wednesday evenings from 6-7 pm at the church. Sermon notes, worship attendance and service projects are expected commitments.
Recognizing that theology (the study of God) can be revealed, discussed and shared in daily lives and ordinary pursuits, adult education at West Denmark comes in several formats. They are called Sweet Reads – for what is sweeter than discovering that the Spirit of God is on the move among us? – and because sometimes we have dessert.
- Bible study is not for experts – it is for everyone. We generally read several chapters of the chosen book at a time, discuss them, bring in show and tell items (hymns, other readings, poems, artwork..things that might remind us of the theme or point) and quite often get off topic. But along the way we learn from one another, gain insight into the varied images of God we carry and find faith in, and we have a good time.
- Sweet Read is also a book club with a social conscience. From immigration to the intersection of science and faith, from books of spirituality to sustainability, the Sweet Read is open to many influences.
- Movies provide food for thought and discussion, and are a painless way of “doing” theology on a host of themes. Chocolat comes with a study guide for Lent! Up does not. Narnia, Shadowlands, Brassed Off, Vicar of Dibbly, Gandhi, The Fisherking, Bonhoeffer – we’ve got a long way to go. Popcorn provided.
Read Aloud Book Group
West Denmark’s version of Chapter-a-Day is the Read-Aloud book club. This fellowship and learning group began in the parsonage living room in order to provide a service and social time to several elderly women of the congregation who could no longer see to read. It has grown to be a fun book club of “listeners” of fiction and nonfiction works. We listen to a chapter or two each week, perhaps have a short discussion and end with coffee. Christine Johansen is an engaging and gifted reader. These days the book club meets in the living room area of Lawson Manor – the West wing of United Pioneer Home, Luck, on Wednesdays at 1:00 pm.
Anyone of any age is welcome to come listen and join in our fellowship and discussion.
Over the years we have read, The Fishermen, by Hans Kirk; Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson; Abraham, by Bruce Feiler; The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd; The Gift of the Sea, by Ann Morrow Lindberg; Unafraid, by Joy Ibsen; The Shack, by Wm Paul Young; stories by Hans Christian Andersen; Girl in Translation, by Jean Kwok; The Help, by Kathyrn Stockett; Cold Sassy Tree, by Olive Ann Burns; Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by Jamie Ford, and others.
Vacation Bible School
Vacation Bible School takes place in the summer. It is 5 evenings of Bible stories, crafts, games, music and fun! Classes begin with a supper and then rotate through the activities in age grouped classes. For the past two years West Denmark children have joined with community kids from Luck Lutheran and Cushing/Laketown churches. This multi-church version of VBS is hosted by a different congregation each year with planning, teaching, group leadership, and a daily supper provided by volunteers from all participating churches. Programing is geared for children entering Pre-K through 6th grade (younger siblings are welcome with parental accompaniment.) Vacation Bible School is free to families, the contributing churches pay all expenses.
Church membership is not a requirement – friends and neighbor’s children are welcome. Registration is necessary for supplies. Please contact the church office or check this website as summer begins for scheduling, location and details.
Baptism instruction acquaints parents of young children and older baptismal candidates with the Lutheran church’s understanding of this means of God’s grace. One or two sessions are expected. Baptism is offered for individuals of any age. Infants are baptized into the life and faith of the congregation in recognition that it is by God’s grace and through God’s love that we are redeemed and chosen as children of God – not by our own effort or understanding. Please contact Pastor Linda with questions or to schedule a baptism.
If you have a child in the third grade or older who has not taken part in first communion class, please contact Pastor Linda. Our time together is spent learning about the sacrament and practice of communion, baking communion bread, and each student paints their own cup for First Communion – usually celebrated on Palm Sunday.
A wedding is planned, budgeted and practiced – a marriage is begun, nurtured, and grows within a community of family and faith, in the presence of a loving God. “Marriage is a gift of God, intended for the joy and mutual strength of those who enter it and for the well-being of the whole human family. Marriage is also a human estate, with vows publicly witnessed. The church in worship surrounds these promises with the gathering of God’s people, the witness of the word of God, and the prayers of blessing and intercession.” (from the introduction to the wedding service)
Premarital counseling is a requirement of weddings performed at West Denmark in recognition of the life-long learning of healthy relationships of love. Please contact the pastor to begin this conversation and to learn of the policies of our congregation and fees related to weddings conducted here.
HOSPITALITY ~ FELLOWSHIP
Fellowship and hospitality are important parts of our experience of being the body of Christ. Jesus fed people real food, God has had mandates to provide for the hungry, the sojourner, the vulnerable as long as there has been a people of God. West Denmark is quite good at feeding and welcoming. There are events – official, informal or spontaneous – every month. Here are a few of the regular gatherings:
Members sign-up to serve as hosts for fellowship following worship each week. Coffee, tea, juice, sweet rolls, bars, cheese and crackers, hummus and pita, fresh fruit, cookies – we never know what will greet us, but it’s always been good! The Danish tradition of forenoon coffee and “something for the other hand” provides the occasion for conversations and catching up with one another as we begin our week. If you join us for worship, please stay for coffee!
Come at 5 pm on the last Sunday of each month. We gather for a shared meal in the Fellowship area of the church.
The Community Meal has evolved over the years. We set out to help fill the food gap many people experience at the end of the month. This continues to be one of our goals. Along the way, however, we realized that people hunger for social connections, as well.
The Community Meal has become a place and time to form community while gathered around a shared meal. Singles, elderly, couples, and young families are all invited to attend. Currently, it is a pot-luck style meal. Those who are able bring a dish to share with whomever shows up. Anything is a welcome contribution – a jug of milk, a bag of chips, an empty plate – there is always enough, often more than we can eat.
Hungry? Lonely? Feeling social? New to the area? You are welcome to this meal.
Progressive Yard and Garden Parties
Summer into Fall, West Denmark takes hospitality into our homes and habitats. These popular monthly meals are on the move with 3 host sites each providing one course of the meal. The goal is purely fellowship, intermixing new and established members, or those who may sit on the “other side.” Hosts often double up with other members to provide food at their location.
Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings
AA meets weekly, on Saturday, from 9-10 am in the fellowship area of the church. Coffee is available. Space is handicapped accessible.
Through mission we engage our neighbors and the world. Through mission we participate in Christ’s ministry of hospitality and share what we have been given with those in need. Mission is not money we send to some far distant land (though we might do that), mission is how we orient ourselves to life in the presence of God and act on it in daily life. It might involve money, time or talent – it always involves your heart.
In addition to what is detailed below, in a typical year West Denmark contributes to ELCA Disaster Relief work, feeding stations and the Malaria Initiative in Malawi, World Hunger, hosts the cast parties for the high school dramatics club and a Community Meal the last two Sundays of each month, gives to (and rings bells for) the local Salvation Army’s Moola-for-Milk Campaign, contributes to the Community Referral Agency (women and children’s shelter), Northwoods Homeless Shelter, and undesignated synodical support. We also continue to be in relationship with Living Water Lutheran Church, a new mission congregation in Cameron, WI, to help them in their initial years of ministry.
Here are some of the programs we support with our time, talent and money.
BackPack Supplemental Food Program
West Denmark partners with other area Lutheran churches, the Salvation Army, local businesses and the Luck School National Honor Society in the BackPack supplemental food program. Through the BackPacks we help feed hungry children and families in the Luck School District on weekends when many children do not have access to adequate meals. Food is provided by the churches, purchased from Wayne’s Grocery at cost, and through Second Harvest distributed through the Salvation Army. Non-perishable food is delivered to the school. Luck National Honor students, supervised by advisor Renee Gavinski, pack grocery bags (donated by Wayne’s Foods) and deliver them to the classrooms for students to take home on Fridays. Children who qualify for this program take a bag of food home each weekend. We are currently supplying about 65 “BackPacks” each week. Ty and Jenni Tretsven administrate the Luck end of the program supervising the packing process and maintaining the running inventory.
Local churches not only help provide a significant amount of the food each month, but have an important role in promoting fund raising for Moola-for-Milk coupons. Milk coupons go into each child’s bag once a month as do coupons for fresh fruit and veggies.
Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry
The local Food Pantry is supported by area churches, individuals and the USDA food program. Non-perishable food may be dropped off at church any time and is taken to the pantry about once a month by a volunteer. If you need help providing food for your family, contact the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry at 715-472-2003. Pastor Mike is the coordinator of this program.
Knit or crocheted with color and compassion, each prayer shawl is unique and intended to wrap the recipient with the warmth of human empathy and God’s eternal love. Prayer shawls are available for members to take to a loved one or a neighbor in need. Often they have a small flaw – a sign of our brokeness and hurt, but the flaw is caught up in the web and does not unravel or diminish the beauty of the gift. So it is with us. “Be well, be healed, Beloved.”
The practices of sustainable living are a natural fit for West Denmark. As stewards of land, lakeshore acreage, historic buildings, and our member’s resources, West Denmark has invested in a legacy of preserving and appreciating nature. Through policy and practice we honor our historic and abiding connection to the land as family farmers, foresters, fisherfolk, and poetic observers of the gifts of the natural world. We attempt to put into practice our desire to pass care for creation on to future generations.
Activities that express this mission include:
- Recycling paper, glass, plastic, cell phones and printer inkjet cartridges.
- Policies that prohibit the use of styrofoam and non-recyclable plastic dishwear in our facilities. We use “real” dishes to honor the cooks and the earth. This policy extends to craft materials for Sunday School as well – paper, pinecones, pasta, paints, papermache are typical materials – we do not use foam or plastic craft supplies!
- Change to use of compact fluorescent lighting in all fixtures.
- Use wood heat at the parsonage and Dane School to reduce our dependance on propane furnaces.
- Teach stewardship of creation incorporating these values into confirmation and Sunday school curriculum.
- Use hymnals and a one page bulletin for Sunday worship rather than printing multiple page worship folders each week.
- A large garden was created on the sunny church lawn with space available for members’ use.
- Passed a continuing resolution requiring consideration and implementation whenever feasible of sustainable practices and products in new building and restoration projects.
On the last Sunday of each month the children of the congregation help collect a noisy offering. An old pot and pan are passed through the congregation making a racket as coins are tossed in. Silent bills are welcome as well.
The tradition of giving alms has been part of the church since, well, close to forever – it’s part of the law codes of Deuteronomy – where the concept of caring for the neighbor, for widows and orphans and the sojourner in your midst became part of the identity of God’s people. Throughout the year we collect our loose change and designate it for World Hunger, or Moola-for-Milk, or treated bed nets to help prevent Malaria.
Come with your pockets full – raise some ruckus to celebrate God’s amazing grace and the life we live now and can share.
On a related note: little coin boxes are available to fill with quarters. They hold up to $70 stuffed full of quarters. You are invited to take one home for the kitchen counter or dresser, the drink-holder in your truck, or wherever your spare change gathers. Quarters help feed the world!
Fair Trade Coffee and Handcrafts
Believing that there is a moral costs to our choices, as well as practical, aesthetic and financial considerations, West Denmark uses Fairly Traded products whenever possible. Equal Exchange coffee, tea, hot cocoa…Divine Chocolate…Palestinian olive oil…artisan products and handcrafts…there are an abundance of fairly traded items available.
Behind the things that we use and consume every day are workers and farmers struggling to survive and support their families. Living in poor, rural regions of the world, those who produce these items do not have their pick of buyers. In conventional trade, middlemen take advantage of this and pay unfairly low prices that do not even cover costs and leave these workers no money for nutritious food, medicine, clothes or means to provide education for their children. Children are forced to work instead of attending school.This is why Lutheran World Relief supports an alternative called Fair Trade. It is a way of doing business that acknowledges the worth and basic human rights of all people.
When you buy Fair Trade items, you: Support better incomes for farmers and artisans * Support better working conditions * Help protect children from child labor and slavery * Promote women’s rights * Support democratic principles of justice and equal pay * Help provide good stewardship of resources like water, fertile land and forests * Support development projects that bring schools, clinics and clean water to poor, rural communities.
These items are one choice among many for us. For them it is life.
2% / 10% giving beyond our doors
“Accept these gifts – our time, our selves and what we have gathered, for the sake of a world in need…” so we offer a prayer along with our financial gifts each Sunday. For the sake of a world in need, West Denmark practices proportional giving of regular offering for undesignated synodical support and gives back a “tithe” (10%) of fundraisers for local needs.
“For a World in Need” Benefit Dinner
These suppers are hosted by West Denmark in the community as a fundraiser for ELCA Disaster Relief, World Hunger or other causes. They began with a benefit dinner for Haiti following the earthquake in 2010 – Haitian food spiced up a February night at the local school.
St. Nicholas Congregational Gift
West Denmark collects donations from individuals who have a little elfish spirit. If it strikes your fancy to give a gift unseen, consider sending or bringing your contribution to the church. The monetary gift will be given to a family or individual in need – to help with heating or grocery bills, or to buy toys for their children. A small committee chooses the recipient to preserve the anonymity of the recipient. We ask for donations to be made by December 6th (St Nicholas Day) so it can be given in time for Christmas. Checks may be made out to West Denmark St Nick Fund.