Denny in Jamaica

A Nudge from God

Denny Gleason grew up in a large Irish Catholic farming family with 4 brothers and 4 sisters. He has been married to Kim, who he met in college, for 32 years. She grew up Missouri Synod Lutheran. After they married, they looked for a church where they were both comfortable and could continue to grow in faith, and became members of Lord of Life Lutheran in Maple Grove. In 1989 they purchased a farm and moved to Buffalo, and again were looking for a new church.

We did check out a few churches once more and settled in at Zion. We were welcomed and found many ways to be connected in a short period of time. When we had our son Neil two years later, we felt Zion would be a great church home for him to grow in faith and learn.

Neil is now a senior at St Olaf College.

Over the last 24 years, the Gleasons have gotten to know many great people at Zion not just by worshiping with them, but by getting involved in the many different social ministries at Zion.

I have enjoyed being involved in Coffee Fellowship, Wednesday Night Suppers, B&B Bible Study, Senior Choir, Habitat for Humanity and Mission Jamaica.

Denny has been farming all his life.

My mother tells the story that at age three I snuck out of the house from a nap to watch my dad & uncle bale hay. On a dairy & crop farm you grow up fast. I learned to drive tractor, milk cows, and take care of livestock at a very young age.

The Gleason’s farming operation has changed over the years. They continue to grow crops (corn, soybeans, alfalfa and sometimes small grains); but transitioned from dairy farming to raising dairy heifers 12 years ago. They currently raise beef cattle both on their Buffalo farm and in partnership with Denny’s brother in Loretto.

Farming fills most of my days throughout the year. I love being outside working or playing (when it is warm). I especially enjoy growing sweet corn and watching the weather. Two years ago, my son and I went “storm chasing” in Canada to watch tornados. We have an amazing picture of a tornado we observed in Saskatchewan.

Denny joined Zion’s Senior Choir twelve years ago.

When we sold the dairy cows, I had a little more free time on Sunday, so I joined Senior Choir. For a shy guy, who is short of raw musical talent, I was stepping out of my comfort zone. Fortunately, with practice and surrounding myself with talented choir mates, I have enjoyed it immensely. Who would think that an old Catholic would enjoy singing the old Lutheran hymns!

Mission Jamaica is a short-term ‘vacation with a purpose’ program, which began at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Mahtomedi in 1990. Denny was part of Zion’s first Mission Jamaica trip in 2011.

I had plenty of excuses not to get involved, but I felt God gave me a nudge (maybe a push?) to get involved.
Denny has returned to Jamaica with the team each year because he feels he has made a difference for the Jamaican people. He works with the construction part of the mission, helping families that need shelter.

In working alongside Jamaicans and Zion members, we have the opportunity to show them God’s love through our actions. The bonus is getting to know Zion members, young and old that you may not even see at church because you worship at different times. I am hooked!