Ministerial Association preparing for community worship service at fair

Published 4:23 pm Thursday, July 21, 2022

The Freeborn County Ministerial Association will host the annual community worship service Sunday, Aug. 7, in the Grandstand at the Freeborn County Fair.

“It is the tradition of Freeborn County to have a community-wide worship on the Sunday of the county fair,” said John Mitchem, pastor at Albert Lea United Methodist Church. “Churches and the community come together to worship God and to celebrate as one community.” 

What makes this service different is that a number of different denominations — about a dozen — will all be together in one space, and every church within Freeborn County is asked to participate.

According to Nancy Overgaard, new participants this year include Zion Karen Baptist Church, as well as the Sudanese Presbyterian Church and Casa De Oracion.

This year’s theme is “Encourage One Another.”

“It’s to encourage each other through worshiping together, through fellowshipping together, and we want this year especially to encourage the international churches that are a little bit newer than the more established churches in the area,” she said.

“It’s a powerful statement when the body of Christ can come together united,” Mitchem said. “Ninety-nine point nine percent of the things we agree on, and this is an opportunity to show the community at large that we agree, and it’s an opportunity for us to honor God.”

During the event there will be music, preaching and prayer for international churches located in Albert Lea. In fact, according to Overgaard, the loose offering will be given to the international churches “to encourage and support them.” 

To be clear, the event is not connected to the fair. The fair is just providing space.

“The fair board has graciously given us that opportunity to use the Grandstand,” Overgaard said.

According to Mitchem, those who come to the worship service and arrive before 10 a.m. will get into the fair for free.

Overgaard said community response to the event has been “supportive,” and Mitchem added the service usually draws around 300 people.

“It has a long, rich history in our community,” he said.

Above all, he wants those who gather, whether at church or at the fairgrounds, to celebrate God, spread the news and be “encouragers.”

“This year we are especially encouraging the newer ethnic churches in our community,” he said.

Overgaard said life could be challenging.

“I hope that people will come away encouraged and uplifted and make new connections with other people in other churches,” she said.

Mitchem noted the only way the event would be canceled is if the fair closes.

The service will be streamed via facebook.com/hopechurchal as well as youtube (youtube.com/c/HopeChurchAL. KwikTrip has donated 300 bottles of water for the service, while the Gideons will be handing out New Testaments in different languages. Admission to the fairgrounds will be free that Sunday morning up until 10 a.m. The service will begin at 10 a.m.