By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
Minnehaha Communion Lutheran Church (MCLC) may appear unchanged on the outside with its historic brick façade and soaring steeple, but inside, some significant changes are taking place. Co-pastors Sally and Dan Ankerfelt, along with lay leadership, believe that God has called their church to be a place of healing, hope, and wholeness for all—and they have responded to that call.
The first phase of their response came in 2015 when the Ankerfelts and two of their children embarked on a three-month sabbatical. They traveled to the Philippines to volunteer at an orphanage, and to witness how children there developed resilience in the face of trauma. They spent the remainder of their sabbatical in Northern Minnesota studying, reading, and praying. Pastor Sally Ankerfelt said, “While we were gone, the congregation also looked into their understanding of trauma. The first thing they learned was that everyone has their wounds, and that trauma exists everywhere.”
When their sabbatical ended, the co-pastors and the congregation realized they had come to many of the same conclusions. Ankerfelt explained, “MCLC had been on a path to becoming what we called a ‘trauma-informed’ church. At the close of the sabbatical, we felt we had grown into this instead: a congregation focused on hope, healing, and wholeness. That language offered concrete expressions and opportunities for us, and felt more active than saying we were just ‘trauma-informed.’”
Photo right: Community Healing Hub coordinator Kaye Mills (left) and Pastor Sally Ankerfelt (right) of Minnehaha Communion Lutheran Church. Quiet Hours in the Community Healing Hub are Monday from 4-6pm. The comfortably furnished public space is intended for self-care and regeneration. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)
The second phase of MCLC’s response began last year when the decision was made to open a Community Healing Hub. Kaye Mills is a graduate student at Luther Seminary working on her MA in Christian Ministry. “I was drawn to MCLC because of their interest in hope, healing, and wholeness,” Mills said. “I spent a semester there, as part of my seminary requirements—and saw how MCLC was growing into their new mission.”
Mills now works part-time as coordinator of the Community Healing Hub, and has offered several workshops on-site in the last year using elements of herbalism, candlelight, and healing sound, and learning to make “green” personal hygiene products. “MCLC is very open to doing different kinds of things, and is helping people find wholeness in ways that work for them,” she said.
The Community Healing Hub can be used by church members and community members alike. It’s located on the main floor of the MCLC education wing (enter through the handicapped-accessible office entrance on the 36th St. side). The space can be reserved twice annually at no cost for a full group meeting, or as a neutral space for a difficult conversation. It comes with a gas fireplace, dimmable overhead lighting, a conference table and chairs, comfortable, upholstered furniture, a coffee pot, electric teapot, microwave, warm blankets, candles, books, and other calming amenities.
Visit www.communityhealinghub.org to check workshop schedules and to make room reservations. Items from the Sensory Library can also be checked out on a visit to the Community Healing Hub. Items include noise-canceling headphones, compression tights, light filters, glow blankets for kids who are afraid of the dark, and much more.
The Community Healing Hub is open to the community for Quiet Hours on Mondays from 4-6pm (with the holidays coming up, check the calendar). The Healing Hub is technology-free, meaning that cell phones and other electronic devices must be turned off. During this time, Mills is in her office if any concerns arise. “The door is open,” she said, “and visitors can use the space as needed for meditation, prayer, aromatherapy, reading, sitting, or resting under one of the weighted blankets by the fire.”
Ankefelt reiterated, “We want neighbors to understand that they don’t have to be a member of this church—or a Christian—to participate in any of our offerings. Our outreach to the community is just this: to provide a space that offers the best possible outcome for healing.”
MCLC is located at 4101 37th Ave. S.
Minnehaha Communion Lutheran Church hosts a community gathering on the second Wednesday of each month at 7pm, called “Songs of my Life.” This is a time to share stories, sing mostly secular songs, and have a meal together. All are welcome!