First Lutheran trees help plant holiday cheer

Claudia Loucks
Betsy Brudos, left, Arlene Gesme, Sherry Dickens and Janet Anderson, 
representing the Outreach Ministry at First Lutheran Church, in Geneseo, are shown by some of the miniature Christmas trees which were delivered to residents of two area nursing homes and to shut-in members of the congregation.

Nearly 60 people in the community and surrounding areas will received a “Christmas Tree Blessing.”

The miniature trees were purchased and decorated by members of the Outreach Ministry at First Lutheran Church in Geneseo, with help from the church’s confirmation students.

Sherry Dickens, chairman of the Outreach Committee, contacted staff at Good Samaritan Society – Geneseo Village and at Hillcrest Home and said, “We learned there are many residents at both centers who do not have families and who would not likely have a Christmas tree in their room this year. There also are members of our church congregation who deserve a special blessing, and we thought a Christmas tree would help brighten the season for them.”

The miniature trees and decorations were purchased with grant money received from Thrivent Financial in addition to contributions from members of the congregation.

“With the help of our confirmation students, we decorated a total of 58 trees,” Dickens said.

The committee named their project ‘Christmas Tree Blessings,” and each tree has a tag attached to it that reads:

Our Christmas tree is an evergreen; its color is always fresh and green.

We have the gift of eternal life through faith in Jesus, the Child of Bethlehem. The Christ of Bethlehem.

Our Christmas tree stands tall and points to heaven.

The Christ Child is the way, the truth and the life. He alone is the way to heaven.

Our Christmas tree is wrapped in shining lights.

Jesus our Savior is the Light of the world. He is the light no darkness can overcome.

Our Christmas tree is decorated with all kinds of ornaments.

We decorate our lives with works of love and service to share the love of Jesus.

Our Christmas tree will be surrounded with brightly wrapped gifts.

God has given us the greatest gift of all, the gift of his Son.

Dickens said the Outreach Ministry at First Lutheran was recently revitalized and she felt called to lead the ministry after graduating from the diakonia program of the Northern Illinois Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.

The diakonia program is a two-year course of study to train lay leaders in Lutheran congregations.

n addition to Dickens, other members of the Outreach Ministry at First Lutheran are: Gary and Arlene Gesme, Bob and Cindy Groene, Glen and Janet Anderson, Betsy Brudos, Gary Daniels and the Rev. Matt Kamprath.