Austin Congregational United Church of Christ, Austin

March 9, 2016

Austin peopleTell about the work you do in your community or in the world:

Celebrating 50 years in 2015-2016, Congregational Preschool is our primary community outreach program. A non-secular, non-denominational, non-discriminatory early childhood development program was the first founded in Mower County Minnesota. Continually operated as a state licensed program it has severed thousands of students – getting them off to a solid start for kindergarten and beyond.  We also support our local food shelf and local school backpack food program, in fact, our children collect these offerings of food and loose change during our offering when adults are donating to support our ministries. We support several of the UCC special offerings and pledge annually to CUE and OCWM. Additionally, we tithe the first fruit on the income from our endowments with these dollars going to support various charities in our community, state, nation and world. Finally, our Women’s Fellowship holds a twice yearly rummage sale and luncheon with proceeds all going to charity. This community-wide event has been happening since the early 1900s and calls come in weekly asking when the next one is scheduled.

What do you think is the single, most important, life-giving characteristic of your church?

Friendliness. Seriously. Every new person will tell you that they instantly were greeted in a genuine, warm manner. Within a few visits they feel like they have found a new family.

When you are at your best, what are you doing?

Opening our doors to others.

Why do people worship at your church:

A recent survey we completed highlights our pastor, Shari Mason, and the change in atmosphere she has brought: worship is less formal, prayer centric, with meaningful messages and children involvement. More families are attending and we have had several members of the LGBT community actively participating in the full life of our ministries.

Anything else you think is important about who you are:

We are the best kept secret in Austin, Minnesota.

We are located at 1910 3rd Ave NW, Austin, Minnesota, on a large suburban parcel away from any major streets. Home of Hormel Foods, SPAMtown USA, in eastern Mower County at crossroads of Interstate 90 and US Highway 218. Reverend Shari Mason. ELCA recognition partnership is our pastor.  Our average attendance on a Sunday is 67 and we were founded on July 6, 1857 (159 years ago!)