Carol Bjelland: Coordinator Extraordinaire at Ascension Lutheran Church

Fair trade table sale with coffee and chocolate

Carol Bjelland, a member of the fair trade committee at Ascension Lutheran Church in Thousand Oaks, CA is a shining example of an organizer who has taken the church community’s commitment to choosing ethically sourced products to another level. We were so impressed by Carol’s description of the pandemic-adapted activities they did last year and we wanted to share them with the wider EE community.

Carol writes,

“We had great fun doing our virtual coffee & chocolate tasting on a Sunday afternoon.  We had Ascension members & friends of Ascension participate. The Congo Coffee Project coffee was a huge hit. One of our tasters said it was smooth like Morgan Freeman’s voice. Ethiopian and Bird of Paradise coffees were fan favorites too.  We’re adding to our list of fair traders on a regular basis – we’re now over 40 regular purchasers.

We’re doing our Adult Ed class using some of the presentation slides you shared with us. Ascension really loves Equal Exchange Coffee & Chocolate! During Covid, in-person sales events transitioned to preordering opportunities 4-5 times this year.

For the October 2020 preordering window, we played a little guessing game that we called, “Do You Know Beans? Coffee & Cacao Beans, That is!”  We asked people to guess how much coffee and chocolate (in all forms) Ascension’s fair traders ordered in October. We published the weights of all of the various coffee & chocolate products. We learned we have some very serious coffee & chocolate lovers….38 lbs of chocolate and 63 lbs of coffee were ordered in this window alone. The best guessers received prizes of Equal Exchange’s chocolate, tea or snacks. 

We’re so very thankful for the farmers who grow the great coffee & cacao beans that we get to enjoy!

Carol Bjelland of Ascension Lutheran church
Carol Bjelland

Way to go, Carol and team! What an inspirational bunch. It’s no surprise that Ascension Lutheran Church was in the top 5% of the thousands of Equal Exchange’s faith-based supporters around the country based on fair trade purchases in 2020.

If you’d like to share your story with the Equal Exchange community, please reach out to us at or submit your details here

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