November 20, 2003 at 1:32 p.m.
All the churches in the synod territory; which encompasses five counties and 119 congregations, are working on very specific efforts toward meeting that goal. The synod is led by leadership groups who help motivate churches and train people to tackle problems that create poverty.
In particular, Immanual Lutheran Church in Almelund is taking on transportation challenges of the poor.
Immanuel Church members have developed a program that gets donated vehicles to needy persons.
Immanuel’s Pastor Brian Bergin is Dean of 17 churches in the northern portion of the synod area. He said he’s been plugging away at this anti-poverty thing for a few years now, and in particular, the car donation program.
What the church has established, along with Parker Automotive in Almelund and Chisago County social services, is a system for collecting donated vehicles, getting basic repairs and maintenance done on those vehicles and getting the vehicles to people for the best outcome.
There’s a committee of church members headed by treasurer Jim Klinke, who are responsible for checking out the vehicles and helping choose recipients from references that come through Chisago County Health and Human Services staff.
The car pictured is the fifth vehicle the church has provided in less than one year. There’s a small truck and another car parked on the church lot that are in the process of being fixed up.
The local woman receiving a car last week had landed a good job, but lacked reliable transportation.
Pastor Bergin said the program gets cars donated by local people and the vehicles go to local people, so it’s truly a community endeavor.
Randy Parker, owner of Parker Automotive, is a member of the church and explained that he enjoys being able to help, providing a service that has direct results.
He looks for vehicles that are basically running well, but may need minor repair, oil and fluids replaced, and that type of thing. The donation tax credit is based on Blue Book value, he added.
According to Pastor Bergin the synod effort encourages involvement in existing efforts, “not to duplicate what’s already successful,” he said.
One example of an existing effort that churches would throw support behind is Habitat for Humanity.
St. Paul Area Synod goals also include developing a certain number of “leaders” in each church community who will then carry on with programs and keep involvement high, and also that everyone will hear the story of Jesus Christ.