Donations made to Christ Through Hands Ministry help to reach out and share the Word of God with and/or within the Blind and Deaf community.
Christ Through Hands Ministry was formerly known as Ephphatha. Ephphatha was originally found in by two pastors here in Faribault, MN. They were Pastor Gilbert H. Bakken, pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church (now First English Lutheran Church) Faribault and Pastor Olav Lee, professor at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN. In 1898 they proposed to the United Norwegian Lutheran Church that a program be established as part of their home mission activity for the blind and Deaf children at the residential school for the blind and deaf in Faribault, MN. So that makes this a 110 year old Ministry - this makes ministry with persons with disabilities a part of our church history for that long also. The program was formally launched in the fall of 1901 but was done on a informal basis from 1898 to 1901.
The Ministry continued to grow as a result of the work of its pastors until in 1920 it purchased land for its first church building -- this was a an old school house that was remodeled. On Easter Sunday, April 13, 1941 a new brick church building located between the two schools was dedicated as Ephphatha Church for Deaf and Blind. In the late 1940's and early 1950's the Ephphatha Mission (as it was then referred to) began it goal of reaching out to blind and deaf people though out the upper Midwest. This mission continued with the establishment of what is now Bread of Life Lutheran Church for the Deaf in Minneapolis, MN, Heartland Ephphatha in Sioux Falls, SD, and two other ministries one in Wisconsin and one in North Dakota. Although these ministries were basically for the Deaf/Hard Of Hearing community the Faribault program continued it work with the dead and the blind. When the American Lutheran Church was formed, because of its growth the people associated with the Ephphatha Mission were asked to bring that work to a national level -- and the Ephphatha Mission ministry was moved to the ALC headquarters in Minneapolis to become part of the national program to minister with people who had disabilities.
However, the Ephphatha church in Faribault remained a congregation until 1981 when the congregation could no longer financially afford to continue and they accepted the invitation of Our Savior's Lutheran Church to become part of their membership. The adult members of the Ephphatha congregation became members of Our Savior's and the work of the ministry became housed at Our Savior's. In 1996 it was decided to incorporate the ministry into its own ecumenical non-profit organization named Christ Through Hands Ministry. The Ministry continues to be housed at Our Savior's.
Christ Through Hands Ministry was and continues to be a ministry with and/or within the blind and Deaf community today but we have also increased our Ministry to include individuals who are Deaf-Blind and those individuals with mulitiple handicaps.
A large part of our Ministry includes teaching ecumenical religion classes during the week to the students who attend the MN State Academy for the Blind and the MN State Academy for the Deaf in Faribault, MN.