ATLAS for Life opened its doors for the first time on December 1st, 2004 in an old bank building in Edgerton, Minnesota. The ministry came about because of a need Bob and Stella Menning discovered in their personal ministry. They saw a great need for encouragement, mentoring, and life coaching in their local area.
The goal of this ministry would be to bring healing and encouragement to people faced with difficulties in their lives. These difficulties could include discouragement, depression, anger, financial problems, relationship difficulties, and/or spiritual struggles. It was determined that it would be best to have this service to the hurting in a friendly and confidential atmosphere.
The Mennings engaged a core group of interested individuals that began to pray about the possibility of starting a new community ministry. The opening only happened after 9 months of regular prayer and discussion. The ATLAS (Attaining Truth, Love, And Self-control) office was modeled after a group of like-minded ministries in several other upper Midwest towns. (The first ATLAS office is in Sioux Center, IA.)
Bob and Stell (co-directors) were the entire staff, but with the aid of local volunteers the office was painted, furnished, and dedicated. Like any new ministry the first years were filled with challenges and opportunities. People started coming though the doors and God was at work. Bob and Stell learned by trial and error, and a lot of prayer. One challenge they faced was that there was some confusion at first to how ATLAS would fit in with the local churches. Another challenge was that in March of 2005, less than a year after opening, the bank building in which ATLAS was functioning was sold, which meant that ATLAS would need to move.
Determined to follow God’s call for the ministry to the hurting, the Mennings along with the board of directors persisted in prayer and gathering financial and prayer support. In February of 2006, with the aid of many volunteers and supporters, ATLAS opened its 7th Street SE location in Pipestone.
At first many volunteers were utilized, and eventually more paid office staff was added. Positions for staff mentors, volunteer mentors, an office manager, a prayer coordinator, and a volunteer coordinator were developed. In addition, in August of 2008 the Luverne office was opened. This again happened after 9 months of fervent prayer and work by volunteers and ATLAS staff.
After many years of dedicated ministry with ATLAS, Bob and Stell felt it time to step down from their roles. Bob Menning retired from ATLAS at the end of 2009 and Stell continued as a staff mentor until the fall of 2010. In the spring of 2014, the Board of Directors approved the decision to multiply the ministry and separate the operations: ATLAS for Life serves the Pipestone area, while ATLAS of Rock County will serve Luverne and the surrounding communities.
The mandate of ATLAS will continue to remain the same as it was when it started. Clients will always be of paramount importance to ATLAS. ATLAS will continue to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those whom are hurting. ATLAS will continue to use Biblical standards with which to encourage and help and ATLAS will always be prayer based.