The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


A mission ‘trip’ that stays home

Although Bethel Lutheran Church, Rochester, Minn., offers opportunities for mission trips, Doreen Gudlin knew as a mom that the trips were too far away for her two children and beyond the family budget. But she and her husband, Bruce, wanted to be involved in helping others in the community.

The Gudlins were new to the social missions teams at church and listened patiently to all the trip plans. “I felt like we were really missing an important mission — serving our own community,” Doreen said. “Sure we support our community with money, but I felt we needed to reach out with service.”

She approached Anjanette Bandel, one of Bethel’s pastors, and was encouraged to proceed with her dream for a local mission “trip” and contact others with the same vision.

Gudlin did just that.

Just months later — in August 2011 — the first Rochester Mission Trip made its debut. Now it’s a tradition.

For three days, members and friends of Bethel gather at church and go to various community charities or organizations to serve. Honoring the workday of most adults (as well as limitations of families and seniors), there are two shifts, 3:30 to 6 p.m. and 6 to 8:30 p.m., with a meal in between for everyone. Those at the late shift return to church for devotions.

About 50 people, ages 6 to 92, participated the first year, said Judy Gittus, a parish secretary. “We advertised this as an intergenerational event, and it was,” she said.

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