Celebrating 75+ Years of our Redeemer's Grace
Jesus said in Matthew 28: “Go and Make Disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” In 1934 representatives of the Wisconsin Synod pursued opening a new mission in Mandan, North Dakota. The Rev. Edward Krueger was called, and the first service was held on August 5, 1934. This was in Mandan’s Episcopal Church, which the congregation rented for a number of years. At the December 19, 1934 voters’ meeting, the mission congregation was established as The Lutheran Church of the Redeemer.
Establishing and growing a congregation during the heart of the depression and drought was a difficult task, but the Lord provided growth, slow but steady. By 1941, the congregation made two important decisions: (1) Redeemer was incorporated under the laws of North Dakota, and (2) a lot for a church building was purchased at 210 5th Avenue NW. In 1943, the congregation purchased the home that was next to this lot to serve at the parsonage. And by 1945, Redeemer had grown to the point of holding two Sunday services in their rented church.
Having guided this mission to a blessed beginning, Pastor Krueger accepted a call to Green Bay, WI. The Rev. Paul Kuehl became our pastor on September 8, 1946. Two years later the church became self-supporting, and the need for a new worship facility became evident. Excavation began at the 5th Avenue lot in the spring of 1949. On July 17th the cornerstone was laid, and a dedication service was held just a year later on July 23, 1950. The cost of construction was just over $48,000. God richly blessed the labors of the pastor and members, and in 1956 God led Pastor Kuehl to serve in Cudahy, Wisconsin.
After a brief vacancy, Rev. Reginald Pope accepted our call and began his pastorate on July 15, 1956. In prior years, Redeemer had seen the formation of its Young People’s Society, Senior and Junior Choirs, and Ladies Society. Now under Pastor Pope’s direction, a Men’s Club and Boy & Girl Pioneers were begun. In 1960 it was decided to begin one of only three kindergartens in Mandan. The teachers were Helen Peterson and Lois Miller. Redeemer celebrated the congregation’s 25th Anniversary on October 2, 1960. Pastors Krueger and Kuehl returned for the celebration. At this time there were 457 members (291 communicants). Then a sister congregation was established in Bismarck: Our Savior’s Lutheran Church. In 1962 Pastor Pope accepted a call to a mission in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
On August 19 of that year the members welcomed Rev. Richard Strobel as their new shepherd who would continue to lead them in God’s Word. Pastor Strobel served faithfully until he took a call to Alberta, Canada in January of 1967.
Rev. Marvin Putz was installed on May 7, 1967. Under Pastor Putz’s direction, a goal was set for the mortgage to be burned by the twentieth anniversary of the dedication of the church building. By God’s blessing, in July 1970 a Mortgage Burning Service was held. During this time upgrades were made to the parsonage and property, including a new garage. In 1972 Pastor Putz accepted a call to Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.
Before the end of the year, the Lord led the Rev. Robert Krueger to serve as our next pastor. As Pastor Putz had done before, he served both Redeemer and our sister congregation in Flasher. By God’s grace, talk of expansion was in the air at Redeemer.
Land was purchased on the north side of town for a new church and parsonage. In 1979 construction began on the current parsonage at 108 11th St NE. Before it was completed, Pastor Krueger left in July of 1979 to teach German at the new Martin Luther Preparatory School in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin.
The congregation experienced its longest vacancy as Rev. Durant Shook was not installed until January 20, 1980. The Shook family was the first to live in the new parsonage. He served Redeemer until 1984 when Rev. Paul Zittlow was installed on June 17. In 1985 the congregation celebrated its 50th Anniversary as former pastors led services on June 9, August 11, and November 24. It was under Pastor Zittlow’s direction that the use of laity as worship leaders was established.
After Pastor Zittlow accepted a call to Eagle River, Alaska, the Rev. David Reichel was installed on August 23, 1992. It was during Pastor Reichel’s ministry that the congregation moved forward in its plans for a new worship facility. After determining that the two acres previously purchased on the north side were inadequate, that land was sold and in November 1995 the voters approved the purchase of five acres at 904 8th Avenue SE. Plans were accepted to build in two phases. The first phase would give Redeemer a multipurpose facility with a similar seating capacity to the downtown building but no separate fellowship area. Phase Two would later see the addition of a larger worship sanctuary, and the multi-purpose building would be utilized as an education wing.
The existing building was sold in October 1997. During these exciting times, the Lord directed Pastor Reichel to Sheboygan, Wisconsin. After a short vacancy, the Rev. Richard Weber was installed in January 1998. Through the dedicated work of the Building Committee and Pastor Weber, things advanced rapidly. The dedication service was held on April 18, 1999. The Lord blessed the many members who gave so freely of their time, talents, and treasure. After the mortgage burn in April of 2005, Pastor Weber retired and said farewell on September 25, 2005.
After a four-month vacancy, the Rev. David Hein was led to accept our call and was installed on February 5, 2006. When the new church had been built, the city had laid upon the congregation a heavy burden of fees. With God’s blessing, these were finally paid off in the spring of 2009. During his years at Redeemer, Pastor has also employed a number of advances in technology to enhance worship and outreach. A new digital carillon was dedicated in September of 2008. And a WELS service was begun at a nursing home facility in Mandan. Redeemer’s Long Range Planning Committee is currently exploring the steps that would be needed to pursue Phase Two for a future sanctuary as our congregation looks to serving the Lord and his people in the future.
On September 26, 2010, two special occasions occurred at Redeemer. At a 10:30 a.m. service, our new Rogers Allegiant 778 Organ was dedicated to the glory of God. Then we had a wonderful lunch, and a remembrance time as we marked our 75th Anniversary. Rev. Paul Zittlow came from Wisconsin to preach the sermon at the afternoon service. Speaking on Psalm 122:1, 7-9, “I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’ May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels. For the sake of my brothers and friends, I will say, ‘Peace be within you.’ For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your prosperity,” Pastor Zittlow praised our Redeemer for 75 years of Grace, received with joy in the past, done to peace in the present, and praying for spiritual and physical prosperity in the future.
In November 2010 Pastor David Hein moved to Slinger, Wisconsin to serve there, and Pastor Douglas Bode and his wife Charlene arrived from Colorado. Pastor Bode served faithfully as interim pastor from November 2010 through February 2011, and then the Bodes moved back to Colorado for retirement. Pastor David Schmidt served as interim pastor in March 2011, as well as serving at his regular call at St. John's in Tappen, North Dakota.
Pastor Ryan Wolfe, who previously served in Schofield, Wisconsin, was installed on April 10, 2011 as Redeemer's current pastor. Pastor Wolfe and his wife Jessica have four children, Caleb (born in 2004), Chloe (2006), Lydia (2007), and Levi (2008). Pastor Wolfe and his family enjoy the natural beauty and open spaces of North Dakota, and look forward to many years of blessing in Mandan.
To be continued…