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A white ribbon on the little red shovel reads: "Cross Lutheran Church, May 6, 1973."

Little Red Shovel held hostage by local church

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A little red shovel has sparked a friendly competition between two local churches.

The little red shovel has a history with both the Cross Lutheran Church in Roberts and Trinity Lutheran Church in Hammond.

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During an open house on September 19, 2010, the people of Trinity received a gift from Rev. Emil Evenson. The gift was a little red shovel that Evenson said was used at Trinity's groundbreaking in 1973.

Trinity's Pastor Mike Briggs said he put the shovel on his desk and didn't look at it for a couple weeks.

"When I finally got to it, I noticed it had a ribbon tied around the handle with some writing on it. I put on my glasses and read "Cross Lutheran Church May 6, 1973."

Briggs said he called Trinity's resident historian June Lindquist, to ensure the shovel had actually been used at Trinity's ground breaking too.

"She assured me it had," he said.

Cross and Trinity were both organized in 1972 and both built buildings in 1973. Evenson was pastor of both congregations and apparently used the same shovel at the ground breaking of both churches.

Although Trinity thought Cross would want to see a piece of its church's history, Trinity's council voted unanimously not to give it to them.

Briggs said,"I brought the shovel to Trinity's council and told them the story. They thought it would be fun and a good tool for ministry to make it a traveling trophy between the congregations. So they issued a challenge letter to the members of Cross."

The letter explained the story of the shovel to the congregation of Cross, highlighting the significance in both church's history.

The challenge:

Be it resolved that each Lent the sister congregations, Trinity of Hammond and Cross of Roberts, engage in a charitable giving challenge for possession of the Little Red Shovel. The possessor of the Little Red Shovel shall (in advance) determine and publicize the recipient of the coming year's Little Red Shovel Charitable Giving Challenge proceeds. The congregation that contributes the most in the Charitable Giving Challenge shall be awarded possession of the Little Red Shovel until the next year's challenge.

For Lent 2011, Trinity of Hammond, in current possession of the Little Red Shovel, challenges Cross of Roberts to a Charitable Giving Challenge, with proceeds going to the Roberts Area Food Pantry housed at Roberts Congregational United Church of Christ. The competition -- should Cross decide to accept the challenge -- shall commence on Ash Wednesday, March 9th and end on Easter, April 24th.

Briggs said The Cross Lutheran Church Council sent a letter heartily accepting the challenge and both congregations are now collecting cash and food donations for the Roberts Food Pantry.

The challenge is a good solution to share the shovel because, "It's fun and the food shelf will benefit," said challenge chairwoman at Trinity, Marti Peterson. "It gets both congregations involved in stewardship during the Lenten season."

The shovel is currently displayed in the fellowship area at Trinity Lutheran Church.

The church that collects the most donations by Easter will keep the trophy until next year's challenge.

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Gretta Stark
Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.
(715) 426-1048
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