Lead Pastor at Waite Park Wesleyan Church, Kory Kleinsasser, discussed how their team went into action after the governor’s stay-at-home orders began. “Our first priority was ensuring that our congregation was safe and connected. Once that was done, we believed our job as a church was to connect as a community, facilitating that through the neighborhood,” he said.
The Waite Park staff decided that an ongoing virtual bingo game would help unite them. All church members were welcome to participate, needing only to download their bingo card and work through the 25 boxes. The boxes include simple tasks that can make a big impact including showing kindness to a neighbor, texting encouragement to a teacher, setting up a Zoom call with someone you have not seen recently and more. Once a “bingo” has been completed and shared with the staff, the church donates to the Southern Anoka Community Assistance (SACA) food shelf, with whom they had a prior connection and deemed a good beneficiary during these times.
Kleinsasser said, “We see this as a time to look to Ephesians 5:16: ‘…making the most of every opportunity,’ as life has slowed down. This is a great time to reach out to neighbors who we have lived next to for years. We hope that more people use this time to get away from the television and connect.”
Holly Almhjeld, church administrator, said 12 bingo cards had been completed as of April 29. She sent along a statement: “We’re quite proud of that because it can be hard to fill out five of the squares in an order. It’s hard to say how many people in our church are participating, but we’ve seen a number of people from our church, our neighborhoods, and even other states who are working on their cards. So far that’s 120 pounds of food to SACA, but even more importantly, it’s neighbors thoughtfully and intentionally helping neighbors during this difficult time. We’re more excited about the individual squares being filled out than we are about the bingos but of course we’d love to reach our goal of 10,000 pounds of food. So everyone and anyone is invited to join in.”
Waite Park Wesleyan Church is located at 1510 33rd Ave NE in Minneapolis. Virtual bingo cards can be accessed at waiteparkchurch.org.
Below: Handmade cards sent to the church’s neighbors, and an example of a bingo card. (Photos provided by Waite Park Church)