Durand Council Serves Community Together
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
March 17, 2022
DURAND—The town of Durand may have a small population, but one community group in particular has demonstrated the town’s large heart for more than four decades.
The Durand Ecumenical Council is made up of members of the town’s three churches: St. Mary Catholic Church, Trinity Lutheran Church and Durand United Methodist Church. The DEC consists of about a dozen people, most of whom were recruited by past council members, and most stay on the council for many years. Efforts are made to ensure that there is close-to-even representation on the council from each church.
Trinity Lutheran member Mike Bolin, current president, calls the council, “a really good, community effort.” He’s been a member of the council since 1991 “or 2,” he says with a grin, and he has been its president for some 10 years. He recalls his predecessors on the council as “dedicated” people.
At the March 9 Wednesday Lenten luncheon, Bolin had cooked up one of three pots of soup. His was the vegetable, council member Kathy Moran contributed navy bean soup, and a third, chicken tortilla, was made and served by Margarita Strazisar who is the St. Vincent DePaul Society representative on the DEC.
Council member Peggy Stewart of St. Mary Church made ham salad sandwiches and others contributed egg salad sandwiches, fruit, chips and desserts. Close to 30 members of the community attended, chatting with old friends and meeting new people.
The weekly Lenten luncheons have been in place for more than 10 years, although it was not held in 2020 or 2021, says Moran, a member of St. Mary Church. The council members make the food for the first luncheon, and volunteers from the three churches cook for the other weeks. St. Mary Church, the largest of the three, cooks for two of the Wednesdays. All of the Lenten lunches are held at the Methodist church.
Moran, a member of the DEC for 10 years, calls the council “the most unique organization” she’s seen. “No matter where I go, I know someone,” she adds.
Stewart, on the DEC for nine years, nods and agrees with Moran how fun it is also “to know well the other pastors,” and adds, “I just love it.”
Last fall, the DEC began a new event, a monthly Community Luncheon, to bring the community together beyond Lent. Those are hosted by each of the three churches on a rotating schedule. Like the Lenten lunches, everyone is welcome, and free-will donations are accepted.
But the Durand Ecumenical Council brings to the community much more than a free lunch. The council organizes an ecumenical Thanksgiving service, a Fourth of July prayer service, two Christmas Giving Trees, a Baccalaureate service for the town’s new graduates, a grocery delivery service for shut-ins, a live Nativity in December, an after-school program, and it also provides help to those in need.
The DEC, which had been providing Thanksgiving and Easter food baskets for those in need, initiated the Durand Food Pantry about a year ago. That now is an independent, monthly service with its own board of directors, says Moran. Every church has a supply of food for people who need it immediately, and the council can provide vouchers and gas cards to meet emergency needs, she says, adding that, “The three pastors work together so (we) know no scamming is going on.”
At the March 9 lunch, Pastor Eric Lemonholm of Trinity Lutheran in Durand and Good Shepherd in Rockford, provided a Lenten reflection after the meal. He followed a short reading from the late Archbishop Oscar Romero with thoughts about the night Jesus walked on water and Peter tried to.
There were 11 disciples who were still in the boat, Pastor Lemonholm said, asking “How is Jesus asking us to get out of the boat … to step out in faith?”
Leaving that security of the boat “takes faith and courage,” he said, reminding all present that in those steps “we’re not alone.”
The Durand Ecumenical Council works to assure that all three Durand churches can step out in service together.
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