A SLICE OF LIFE IN THE CLC
Snapshots of congregations from around the Church of the Lutheran Confession
Gift of God Lutheran Church began as (and remains to this day) the sole church presence in the steadily growing community of Mapleton, North Dakota, about fifteen miles west of Fargo. It began as a preaching station in the 1990’s, served by pastors from neighboring congregations in Hecla, South Dakota and Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. The most significant service held at our church was probably the Sunday after Sept 11, 2001, our first service in the current church building. As you may imagine, that Sunday many people were shaken and felt drawn to a church. Ours was no exception, placed by God as we are in the middle of a fairly rural community in eastern North Dakota. We have been filling spiritual needs ever since.
We became a full-time mission-subsidized congregation in 2005, and have remained one to this day. We hope and pray that we will reach self-supporting status in the very near future. Matthew Gurath was called as the first resident full-time pastor in 2005 and served until 2014. Our congregation is thankful to the synod at large (many of you who are reading this) for granting us loans to purchase the church building in 2001, and to build our own parsonage in 2006. The parsonage is a couple of stone’s throws across the railroad tracks from the church.
From September of 2014 to the present, Pastor Del Maas has faithfully served Gift of God Lutheran Church.
One of our guiding principles has always been to make visitors feel a sense of belonging when they come to worship with us.
For the last couple of years we have been blessed to hold Wednesday afternoon worship services in a senior care facility in West Fargo. This has been a great opportunity to share the Gospel with 15-20 people a week. We got our foot in the door at this facility when an acquaintance who worked there alerted the pastor that its activities director was searching for someone to provide soul care for the residents. God certainly called us to that place and still supports us in our endeavor to serve those people in their golden years.
About three or four years ago our congregation began a ministry to support young people who attend the local colleges (North Dakota State University, Minnesota State University Moorhead, and others). During the school year we meet on the NDSU campus once a month for Bible study time and just an overall gathering together around the Word. This study is proving as much a blessing for the leader as it is for the college students! Every year for the past five years, on the second Friday in December, we hold a CBS (Christmas Bible School). We have gotten quite a number of parents who drop their children off at our church and we teach them a Christmas Bible story and do an engaging craft. It is really a festive and fun experience, and we take the calling from our Lord seriously that we as big people are to lead the little people to Jesus.
Gift of God currently holds services every Sunday morning at 9:30 A.M. In addition, every other Sunday Pastor Maas travels over to our sister congregation in Ponsford, Minnesota, and holds an afternoon service. The congregation is glad of the opportunity to share our shepherd with our brethren in Ponsford—we are in this journey together!
Godspeed to all of you from the Great Plains of eastern North Dakota!
Matthew Gurath is a former pastor of Gift of God Lutheran Church in Mapleton, North Dakota. He and his family remain members there.