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Faith-filled weekend Grace Lutheran, Eksjo host 9-11 events

The tragic events of September 11th had a profound effect on America's fabric, with some believing that fabric was pulled tighter.

On 9-11-01, many turned to their churches for comfort.

They looked for answers; they looked for fellowship and the goodness in mankind.

On that day 10 years ago, the congregation of Grace Lutheran Church was already finding that fellowship, as they prepared for their first ever salad luncheon to raise money for the church.

"We had it on the Friday following the attacks," said Ruby Kiihn of Grace Lutheran Church Women, "and we had probably 400 people show up for it."

Ten years later, the Grace Lutheran Ladies are at it again, as they are busy preparing for the same salad luncheon, aptly called the 9-11 Salad Luncheon.

The actual event is on Friday, Sept. 9, but Kiihn says they will always dedicate this event to the remembrance of that day.

"We want to always keep that awareness -- it's important for people to stop and remember what was such an important event in history."

Kiihn says the ladies working the luncheon will all be wearing white blouses with red, white and blue aprons.

The tables will also be decorated in an American theme. And with that patriotic theme comes the good old American food made from scratch.

"Grace Lutheran is just kind of known for all the good food that we serve," said Kiihn, joking that the church is full of old ladies who know their way around a kitchen.

"If there's one thing we can do, it's cook!" said Kiihn, adding that the event isn't just for ladies, but men as well.

"Everybody should come out because it's all-you-can-eat," said Kiihn, who estimates a feast of around 70 salads.

"We have taco salad, macaroni salad, potato salad, coleslaw, frogs-eye salad -- every type of salad you could ever think of."

Along with the salad and fellowship comes bread breaking.

"These ladies won't just be going out and buying any old bread," said Kiihn, looking very serious. "It's homemade bread -- the good stuff -- what I call interesting bread."

Kiihn says they'll also prepare to-go boxes for people who can't stay or who are on their lunch breaks.

The salad luncheon is $7 a person, with the money raised going towards paying for the church's new kitchen and fellowship hall and towards a special fund the church has for helping others.

"I always think that if we each do a little, then we, as a whole, can do a lot to help people. We are our brother's keeper. We need to help when we need to help," said Kiihn, who talked of plans to help the food pantry -- both locally and in Minot.

The Grace Lutheran Salad Luncheon is Friday, Sept. 9, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased at the church office Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to noon.

Eksjo Lutheran Church

Also hosting a celebration on the 9-11 weekend is Eksjo Lutheran Church of Lake Park.

Famed country singer John Berry will be there performing his latest and greatest hits.

Church member Melanie Hanson says their congregation is small, so being able to book a big act like Berry is exciting.

"Our congregation did a lot of fundraising to get him here to celebrate our 140th year as a church," said Hanson, "and while we did raise a big chuck of it, we're going on a wing and a prayer that we'll be able to raise the rest at the concert."

The outdoor event is free and open to the public, but there is a free-will donation to help the church cover the cost.

Hanson says this concert is also sort of a first for John Berry, as he just recently began performing Christian music in addition to his country tunes.

"It's a new path his career is taking him on, and he also will speak about his journey with God and sharing that with the audience," said Hanson.

Although the event falls on Sept. 11, this particular performance does not necessarily have a patriotic theme, but more spiritual.

"He will also be performing at the Holmes Theater that night," said Becky Mitchell, who is both an Eksjo Church member and an event coordinator for the Holmes Theater, "but they will be two totally different shows. One is about his Christian faith and his personal journey; the other is his country music and a dedication to the Sept. 11 attacks."

The bring-your-own-chair event at Eksjo will also have concessions.

"We're doing old fashioned food like caramel apples, popcorn, bars and cookies, hot dogs, and maybe some sweet corn," said Hanson.

Because of limited parking at Eksjo, a shuttle bus service will run from the Lake Park Municipal, starting at noon.

The concert starts at 1 p.m. and is expected to go for about an hour and a half.