Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Minnesota Faces: A church basement gentleman June 26, 2015

Portrait #29: George Derscheid

As a life-long Minnesotan, I appreciate the church basement ladies. You know, the women who labor in service to the Lord by brewing coffee, buttering buns for ham sandwiches, stirring together a hamburger-noodle-cream soup based hotdish for a funeral and more to feed the hungry.

These women are held in such high esteem in our state that musical comedies have been performed about them at the noted Plymouth Playhouse. Devoted followers have delighted in plays such as “The Church Basement Ladies in A Mighty Fortress Is Our Basement” and “The Church Basement Ladies in The Last (Potluck) Supper.”

But what about the men?

They, too, hold roles of importance in Lutheran and other church basements. I’ve attended a lot of church dinners in southeastern Minnesota in recent years and noticed many a man quietly volunteering his time in service to the Lord.


Portrait 29, George Derscheid, Moland Lutheran Strawberry Fest 2013


Take George Derscheid. I photographed the retired Kenyon area farmer two years ago as he tallied the number of people attending the annual Moland Lutheran Church Strawberry Festival. While on the surface his job may not seem as important as working in the kitchen, it certainly is. Numbers are necessary in food planning. Plus, Lutherans like their stats and reports.

George was more than the numbers guy, though. He was also a smiling face, an unofficial greeter, an engaging man whose whole persona exudes optimism. He simply looks happy. And every Lutheran church basement needs a Lutheran who breaks the mold of stoic and unemotional.

FYI: Moland Lutheran Church, 7618 N.E. 84th Ave., rural Kenyon, celebrates its annual Strawberry Festival from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. this Sunday, June 28. It’s a must-attend event with the following foods available for purchase: pulled pork sandwiches, potato salad, chocolate cake, angel food cake and fresh strawberries, ice cream, coffee and fruit flavored drinks. There’s also a bake sale.

The country church is located southwest of Kenyon or east of Medford or northeast of Owatonna.

Click here to read my June 2013 post about the Strawberry Festival. I highly recommend it for the food, the people and the beautiful old church in a rural setting.


Minnesota Faces is part of a series featured every Friday on Minnesota Prairie Roots.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


20 Responses to “Minnesota Faces: A church basement gentleman”

  1. Marneymae Says:

    That sounds like a good time this coming weekend

  2. Beth Ann Says:

    He has a very kind face. 🙂

  3. Almost Iowa Says:

    Speaking of volunteer firemen, Kurt Vonnegut wrote “I Can Think of No More Stirring Symbol of Man’s Humanity to Man than a Fire Engine”

    One could easily walk that stirring symbol of volunteerism down the church stairs to the basement.

  4. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    “Stoic and Unemoational” that describes my Lutheran Grandfather at first glance until you get to know him. I am sure that I appear that way most of the time. It’s my quiet introverted personality, but maybe now I can blame it on my Lutheran raising as well.

  5. Kathleen Cassen Mickelson Says:

    Stoic is definitely the word I would have used for my father-in-law, who was Lutheran and Norwegian; his funeral had one of those church basement lunches afterwards (in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, where my husband is from). But he was a big softie behind that stoicism and I miss him. He could break into a smile like that guy in your photo today!

  6. treadlemusic Says:

    Lovin’ George!!!! Church sponsored meals are THE best!!!!

  7. Wonderful write-up and great image!

  8. Jackie Says:

    Humbly serving, he sounds like that kind of guy 🙂

  9. hotlyspiced Says:

    How lovely of you to honour this man whose service to the church would probably otherwise go without a lot of recognition. I would love to attend the strawberry festival; it sounds like a great family and community event xx

  10. Sue Ready Says:

    I agree with all other comments especially the part about honoring a man whose service to church would go unnoticed. You did a service to him highlighting his humble work.

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