A Story of Love, Dedication and Hope
The Lutheran Home Association (TLHA) really began during the Civil War. A 15-year-old Ernst Boessling from Belle Plaine volunteered to serve with the Minnesota troops. He died in September of 1863 in service to his country at Vicksburg, Mississippi, leaving behind his heartbroken parents, Sophie and Christian Boessling. Their only child was remembered as “The Juvenile Hero.”
Years passed, and Sophie had become a widow, with no one to care for her. She had saved the government death benefits she received all the years after Ernst died. Wanting to provide a home for others like herself, she donated the money ($4,500) and her family’s farmland to build das Alten und Waisenheim—the Aged and Orphans’ Home.
Her local church, Trinity Lutheran, and others joined forces for the project. Ground was broken on July 10, 1898. On November 6, the Home officially opened. Two days later, Sophie, then a resident, died unexpectedly, having seen her dream become a blessed reality.
Our Ministry Today
Now more than a century later, Sophie’s gift continues to benefit countless lives. Where the original home once stood now is a building that provides skilled nursing care, rehabilitative therapies and a Special Care Residence for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. The Belle Plaine campus has expanded and now offers independent senior living, assisted living, memory care and homes for people with disabilities. A clinic offering family medical services through the Mayo Clinic Health System is also on-site.
Over the years, the organization has grown. We have 4 other locations in Minnesota and Wisconsin:
- The Lutheran Home: Cedar Haven offers assisted living in Mankato, Minnesota.
- The Lutheran Home Campus in River Falls, Wisconsin, offers independent senior living, assisted living services, skilled nursing care and rehabilitative therapies.
- Heritage Homes in Watertown, Wisconsin, provides independent senior living, assisted living and memory care.
- St. Michael’s Lutheran Home in Fountain City, Wisconsin, offers skilled nursing care, rehabilitative therapies and adult daycare services.
Additionally, our Jesus Cares Ministries (JCM) assists congregations in meeting their responsibility to share the Gospel with people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities. JCM team members work with congregations to being simplified worship services and Bible classes. JCM Media produces curriculum and other resources to help church leaders and teachers continue to share God’s Word.
Finally, the Summer Ministry Experience program offers college students the opportunity to learn about outreach to people with special needs and the elderly. This 2-month program is a unique experience to develop future congregational leaders in outreach ministries.
More than a century later, Sophie’s gift continues to benefit countless lives. The Lord has guided and richly blessed this ministry. We warmly embrace all who seek out our care and services.
In 1973, TLHA was incorporated by a group of Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) congregations. Prior to this time, The Lutheran Home was owned by the WELS. Today, our membership comprises more than 200 WELS and Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS) congregations nationwide.