Bob Lind: Tokio, N.D., church has a big ministry in the region
South of Devils Lake, N.D., is a church near a small town that has a big ministry.
The town is Tokio. The church is Bdecan Presbyterian. Its prime mission is to help children.
Word on it comes from Pastor Donna Monteith, moderator of Dakota Presbytery of the North Plains and pastor at Grandin and Hunter, N.D. She lives in Grandin and is a member of the Bdecan ministry team.
Hold up; how, you might ask, do you pronounce that church’s name?
Well, it’s pronounced “buh-DAY-chan.”
The Dakota Presbytery includes churches in North and South Dakota, eastern Montana and Minnesota.
“Since Bdecan is the only Dakota church with the physical boundaries of Northern Plains Presbytery, we have formed a ministry team to work with Bdecan,” Donna writes.
That team, she says, assisted the church in hiring a youth and outreach worker, Joe Obermeyer, of Minnesota, a few years ago. Joe works with congregations from all over the country to bring in mission teams in the summer. Those teams primarily do Vacation Bible School (VBS) for children, but it also does needed church building repairs.
During VBS, the kids are given at least one meal a day.
Joe does the ordering and paperwork for the monthly food pantry and clothing distribution.
This year, volunteers from Presbyterian churches in Rochester, Ely, Amboy and St. Paul, Minn., came to lead VBS.
“It was a week of laughter, music, crafts, games, food, learning about God and lots of fun,” Donna says.
In addition, 13 adults and two youths from Cincinnati came to set up a new clothing closet complete with electricity, and they also did cleaning, gardening, mowing and painting around Bdecan.
Each August, the ministry distributes backpacks and school supplies to local children. In the fall, winter clothing such as parkas, snow pants and boots are distributed to school-age children. Last fall, it gave out 115 backpacks.
Also, the kids do a Christmas pageant, and gifts are distributed.
On top of all this, Joe leads a Wednesday night program that includes supper for the kids. He also has events for them for Halloween, Valentine’s Day and Easter. And even, would you believe, for Super Bowl Sunday.
“We met with Native American tribal elders on the Spirit Lake Reservation as well as church elders before we started all this, and the overwhelming request was to do something for the children,” Donna says.
“Now we are trying to promote healthy living with an annual 5K run around the lake and a health fair.”
All this originated with the work of the late Jim and LaVerne Kallod, Fargo, who sought ways to aid people on the reservation who were hurting due to high unemployment years ago. Their story was reported here in 2017.
“The work the Kallods and others started is continuing on the Spirit Lake Reservation,” where Jim and LaVerne were born and raised, Donna says.
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