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Bethany Lutheran presents financial gifts to First Lutheran, community charities

By Staff | Feb 21, 2020

Sue Sitter/PCT Bonnie Kuehnemund (left) stands with former Bethany Lutheran congregation members Alyson Schepp (middle) and William Griffin to present donations to church and community charities at First Lutheran Church Sunday.

Sunday was a day for gifts and goodbyes at Rugby’s First Lutheran Church.

The congregation said goodbye to synod Bishop Mark Narum, who led prayers and spoke to attendees at Sunday’s 9 a.m. service. Narum will move to Bismarck for his next calling.

The congregation also received money from members of Rugby’s Bethany Lutheran Church, which closed in August.

Many Bethany congregation members joined First Lutheran after their church closed.

Bonnie Kuehnemund, a former Bethany member, managed the financial matters involved in the church’s closure.

Kuehnemund told the Tribune Bethany church council members were left with more than $160,000 after the sale of the parsonage and bills were paid.

The idea to give the funds to other church ministries and community causes came after a council meeting last year, according to Kuehnemund.

“We decided from the council’s perspective where we wanted to give,” Kuehnemund said. “We wanted to do a lot more locally, but still reach out to different places. That’s why we ended with a lot of local charities, but still go out to the congregations.”

Kuehnemund provided a statement showing Bethany’s disbursements, which include $36,694.26 to First Lutheran Church.

“We’re super grateful that Bethany Lutheran would feel called by God to come join with us,” First Lutheran Church Pastor Elaine Sveet said.

“We’re really feeling united already in these first few months together and it was very generous of them to think of us and to want to be good stewards of those financial resources and to share them with the community and with our church,” Sveet added.

Sveet said First Lutheran’s financial gift “will be set aside and we have a group of individuals who will make a recommendation to our church council about how we can best allow that gift to be a legacy gift so we can continue to give and give.”

“We’re looking forward to those funds being seeds that are planted so that more can come from that,” Sveet added.

Bethany Lutheran donated $39,500 to Metigoshe Ministries toward a theme room at its center in Bottineau. Kuehnemund said the amount was combined with $10,500 in donations from other congregation members to total $50,000. The money would be used for a room using furniture and items from the former church.

“That’s something that kind of will help with the memory of Bethany for generations to come,” Kuehnemund said.

Other recipients of Bethany donations include the Heart of America hospice program and the Western North Dakota Synod Mission Endowment Fund, which received $30,578.55 each.

TriCounty Senior Meals and the Pierce County Food Pantry each received gifts of $9,785.14, and Village Arts, Inc. received $4,892.57.

The Bethany Women’s Evangelical Church of America also disbursed funds to local charities. $3,680 went to the First Lutheran ELCA. The organization gave $1,225 each to the Heart of America Library, the Persilla Watts Cemetery and the Rugby Lions Music in the Park program.

The Bethany Lutheran Church Sunday School donated $741 to the First Lutheran Sunday School. At Sunday’s service, Mandy Medalen received the Bethany Sunday School funds from Alison Schepp, who represented Bethany Lutheran Church’s Sunday School.

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