St. Luke's members answer call to ministry

As any church council member could tell you, finding and recruiting ministers to serve congregations in small rural towns has become an increasingly difficult task through the years.

As any church council member could tell you, finding and recruiting ministers to serve congregations in small rural towns has become an increasingly difficult task through the years.

But the congregation at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Detroit Lakes has found a unique way to get around that problem -- by recruiting members of its own congregation, through a program known as Total Ministry.

This Saturday, seven members of the St. Luke's congregation will be formally ordained and commissioned to serve as its ministry team. The ceremony will mark the end of almost five years of training and preparation for the group, under the instruction of Rev. Don Homme -- a retired Lutheran minister.

"Seven people have been lifted up by their congregation to lead the ministry of St. Luke's -- and they have responded positively to the call," Homme said. "After five years of instruction and team building, they will be ordained and commissioned this Saturday by the Right Reverend James Jelinek, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota."

So how did Rev. Homme, an ordained minister of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), end up as the spiritual instructor for a group of Episcopalians?


"In a Total Ministry church, the congregation raises up a team from their own ranks, then hires a seminary-trained minister to mentor and train the team," explained Georgia Hecock, who will be ordained as a local priest on Saturday. "At St. Luke's there was no seminary trained (Episcopal) minister available."

Enter Homme, who according to Hecock, was able to provide the necessary instruction as a result of something called a "call to common mission."

"About 12 years ago, the Lutherans (ELCA) and Episcopalians formed an agreement wherein they can serve in each other's churches," Hecock said, adding that she feels Homme's involvement is in keeping with the Episcopalian philosophy that "this is a ministry of all baptized people -- everybody is a minister."

"The concept really came from the first century, when Christianity began," explained Catherine Peters, another member of the Total Ministry team.

"It was (a time when) everyone was a minister to each other," said fellow team member Walter Tollefson.

In addition to Hecock and Tollefson, who will be ordained as priests, Loxley Koshnick will be ordained as a deacon of the Episcopal Church.

"Before you can be ordained as a priest, you have to be ordained as a deacon for six months," Hecock noted. "As priests, we will essentially do everything we have always done, but now we will also be able to celebrate the sacraments (i.e., Holy Communion)."

The four other members of the group -- Peters, Eilert Helm, Amy Fish and David Nybo -- will also be formally commissioned Saturday to minister to the needs of the St. Luke's congregation.


Peters will serve as minister of pastoral care and liturgy; Helm, as minister of music and liturgy; Fish, as minister of Christian formation and evangelism; and Nybo, as minister of evangelism and preaching.

"Eventually, others will study along with the team and their continuing education, and in time, will join the team," Hecock added. "The key to the success of Total Ministry is the involvement of everyone in the congregation."

Though forming a Total Ministry team was initially done as a way to address difficulties with recruiting a priest to serve a small-town congregation, "It's turned out to be a really empowering thing for everyone in the church," Hecock added.

A reporter at Detroit Lakes Newspapers since relocating to the community in October 2000, Vicki was promoted to Community News Lead for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and Perham Focus on Jan. 1, 2022. She has covered pretty much every "beat" that a reporter can be assigned, from county board and city council to entertainment, crime and even sports. Born and raised in Madelia, Minnesota, she is a graduate of Hamline University, from which she earned a bachelor's degree in English literature (writing concentration). You can reach her at
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