Guest Column: A roundabout trip to listen to a sermon

Published 8:44 pm Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Creative Connections by Sara Aeikens

Sara Aeikens


Since my family in my hometown of Minot, North Dakota, had the habit of taking rural rides/country excursions on a weekly basis, I still delight as an adult in indulging in similar activities when invited.

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A friend who attends the local Episcopal church phoned to inform me she’d like me to accompany her to hear a woman preacher who recently moved to the Albert Lea area.  She sometimes preaches when the priest from the Faribault Shattuck School is unable to be there on a Sunday.

My friend picked me up at my home driveway about a block from Lakeview Elementary School. Soon, we were headed out south of town on the Conger Road on the west side of Skyline Plaza We turned right to the west when we spotted the green and white-bordered highway Conger sign. I recognized a small stepped country church on the left of the road. Soon, we saw several familiar town gathering places just before we turned into the town’s central area. 

Having owned a small hardware store year’s ago in Hayward, the front of Conger’s hardware store caught my eye, with lots of paraphernalia stashed in the main window.  I also noticed the meat market around the corner, where I recall buying their fresh dried beef. 

We wandered around, driving just a bit more to both explore and locate. We hd an easy time finding the church on checking out the St. Paul’s Church sign, just to make sure we had our address correct. However, being about only 10 minutes early, we were surprised to see only one other car at the location.

We climbed out of our van and were pleased the front church door opened easily, but found not a soul inside the main entryway. Upon each of us exploring a little, we found our woman minister all alone in the sanctuary, attempting to make connections with her cell phone.

With watching, listening and talking, the story started to unfold. It turned out with our mixed-up messages, the actual service was not where we ended up, or even in Conger, but was at Bear Lake Church, a few miles north and east and a a bit closer to Albert Lea. 

Of course, even on gravel roads, with GPS phones, our minister friend promptly invited us to follow her in our van, which we did. Out in the country again, we did make several turns, taking us off track, but we finally arrived at another small country church probably close to a half an hour late, but at least there were  lots of cars in the parking lot. 

The woman preacher who had guided us over to the correct church immediately walked halfway down the main aisle to speak with the other woman preacher, who was in charge of the program. She shared that the service was almost over and it sounded like she had given a sermon, but our minister shared she had one prepared and was ready to give it, and was invited to the pulpit. The transition went very smoothly and the congregation was responsive to another excellent message.

I found the message and the interactions very moving from our back seats, especially after such an interesting, rolling country ride in a roundabout, unexpected way with friends willing to change plans and be spontaneous at the last upmost minute.   

Sara Aeikens is an Albert Lea resident.