A crowd with wheelchairs and walkers galore filled the community room at Heritage Care Center one recent  Tuesday afternoon. It was time for Pastor Dahl to give Communion to the residents who were interested in receiving it…whether or not they were Trinity members. He led the group in familiar hymns, and the majority of the residents joined in with him, singing “Beautiful Savior” and “Amazing Grace” with gusto. Besides the communion meal itself, a small message, Bible verses, and chatting with everyone also fed people’s spirits. It’s an important ministry to offer communion to those who are unable to make it to church, and when a crowd (such as the one at Heritage) gathers in His name, it’s a beautiful thing to witness. Some residents may have memory problems, but start singing a familiar old hymn and they join in just like they did when they were younger. Music is a powerful thing.
Holding someone’s hand. Directing total attention to a person who is feeling a little out-of-sorts. Singing a cappella and sharing stories with the crowd. These are things that Pastor Dahl did in the short communion service. Although these gestures may not seem like such a huge deal in themselves, they were exactly the “personal touch” that the residents needed.
Pastor Dahl shared some thoughts about Home Communion, as well as examples of comments he receives regularly from the people who are communing. “It is a privilege to offer Holy Communion as I visit,” he began. “It is God’s precious gift for us. It is a means of grace. God is really present with his compassionate love, forgiveness and salvation in the bread and wine. Quite often as I ask a person I am visiting: ‘Would you like communion today?’ I am greeted with a smile and an enthusiastic ‘Yes!’” He continued: “One person said, ‘Thanks so much. I really need communion today.’”
Dahl has more stories and examples of how meaningful this ministry is: “I was visiting a person each week while she was in hospice care. Until her final days, she wished to receive communion. She felt that heaven was reaching her soul and refreshing her spirit. As I gave communion to another person, this person affirmed, “I need Christ’s forgiveness today.” Another person said, “Communion is so special for me,” as this person’s eyes became watery.” Other comments he shared include the feeling of “being connected to God when taking communion,” “knowing I am remembered and not forgotten,” and feeling “connected to the church.”
As Dahl explains, “Communion connects us to each other in the body of Christ whether we take communion during worship at church, at a nursing/assisted living home, at home, at the hospital, at a rehab center, or wherever we are. Trinity is blessed by the many volunteers who take communion to people in so many different locations. As the visits are made, those who live alone are able to feel connected to the larger body of Christ. The Lord, our Shepherd, reaches out through all of us as we visit one another.”
Trinity offers Home Communion to other care facilities as well as individuals unable to leave their homes. The Home Communion ministry consists of many caring people who are trained to follow a set of instructions specifically designed for this purpose. We’d like to focus on three of those (many) people in this month’s Servant Spotlight: Kent Craun, Gloria Brekke, and Mary Galazin.

Kent Craun

First is Kent Craun, a home communion volunteer who has been serving in this ministry since 1997. He volunteers because he “enjoys visiting with older people and making new friends.” His duties include calling ahead to set a time with the person if the home communion will take place in their home. He said, “If in a nursing home, I hope it isn’t during an activity… Sometimes I have to take them from Bingo or some [other] activity.”
Craun has a memorable visit that stands out when he reminisces about his experiences. “I took communion to Norene Rod for 22 years and followed her as she made each move.” 
Regarding the ministry as a whole, he says, “It is very rewarding and I have never looked at it as a chore!” He also explained the process of being a home communion server, and stressed that it is indeed a straightforward process. “We put our communion kits in the pastors’ room to be refilled with wine and wafers. Then the women put them on the altar, so they are blessed. [Home communion servers] get a booklet to follow, so you know exactly what to say.”
For a man who has kept a daily journal (typed and kept in three big notebooks!) for 72 years, starting when he was in 6th grade, Craun certainly has had many entries involving his home communion experiences throughout the years. Thanks, Kent, for your steadfast service!

Gloria Brekke

Next is Gloria Brekke, who has been volunteering with this ministry for around 16 years.  Her two main places where she serves home communion are Cornerstone Assisted Living and Good Shepherd. She said she knocks on doors at Cornerstone to get everyone to come down to the lunchroom. “Everyone is happy to see their next-door neighbors, pray for their concerns and afterward, they get to talk to each other besides!” she said.
Brekke said this ministry is a “wonderful way to share God’s love and get to know the elderly.” She continued, “It’s very rewarding! It’s been very fulfilling for me all these years. It’s a good way to participate in something of service for your church. You exchange love…a win-win situation!”
The process of serving home communion is simple to do, she said, as there is a laminated folder of instructions. First, she reads a passage from the Bible or uses a devotion from “Christ in Your Home.” She then asks for concerns from the group and all of them pray for each other’s issues. The communion ritual with the bread and wine is next, including The Lord’s Prayer and confession of sins. A blessing at the end ties the service together.
“All visits are special to me!” Brekke exclaimed. One person stands out, though…a bubbly fun woman whose apartment is filled with art. “Her beautiful art and her beautiful smile are very rewarding,” she said.
In fact, the smiles are one aspect that Brekke loves the most. “Everyone shows such appreciation. You develop such a closeness with the elderly. They’re always happy to see me!” she said. Brekke also expressed her love of people…especially the elderly…and said, “I hope someday communion will be brought to me like this!”
Being a home communion server “fits me as a person better than anything!” Brekke said. “If you’re a people person, this is very rewarding. You won’t regret doing it!” Thank you, Gloria, for your dedication and your overflowing love for people!

Mary Galazin

Finally, Mary Galazin, a volunteer for many years at The Manor who began initially by assisting Pastor Kathy Graves for about 18 months. In addition to helping her serve communion, Galazin also put reminders up in the lobby, added the service notice to the monthly Manor newsletter, and arranged for coffee after the services. Galazin remembers Pastor Kathy’s last service at the Manor before her retirement at the beginning of June last year, and said, “The small but devoted group who attended this service (Trinity members, other Lutherans and members of other denominations) keenly felt the void after Kathy’s departure and urged me to take action.”
She met Pastor Dahl a few days after he joined the Trinity staff in August and immediately asked if he would consider holding a monthly communion service at the Manor. He agreed; she offered to assist, and the residents enthusiastically greeted him at his first service on September 1.  Following that service, she mentioned that there was a Trinity member who couldn’t make it to the Wednesday service, and Pastor Dahl suggested that Galazin might serve her home communion herself. This began in October, and Galazin said, “It has been a very moving experience for both of us.” She continued, “When she and I met [recently], she said, ‘You have no idea how much this means to me. I feel so much better afterward.’” Galazin summed it up: “Hearing those words is the reason that I volunteer to provide home communion to anyone at the Manor who is in need.”
Galazin urges any homebound person to call the church office to request a home communion visit. She says, “You will find it to be a very heartwarming experience!” She also urges any Trinity member who “wants to make a difference in even one person’s life” to consider becoming a home communion volunteer. Thank you, Mary, for being such a good and faithful servant leader!

For more information on how to take part in this ministry, contact Pastor Dan Dahl, Becky Elsbernd, or Lou Ann Rossler. It’s one way to serve the church and help other people in ways beyond measure…and make someone else’s day just a little bit better in the process.†

We’d like to thank all those who have helped with Home Communion Ministry:
Robin Bratvold
Gloria Brekke
Kent Craun
Amy Dodge
Jan Feustel
Mark Feustel
Jan Helgeson
Kay Larson
Sharon Lindgren
Candy Marshall
Craig Miller
Janet Miller
Kathy Nelson
Barb TeKippe
Anna Marie Wilson