Shepherd of the Lake Lutheran Church: A Brief History (1979-2014)

May 27, 1979: Called by the Holy Spirit, fifteen people gathered for worship in the firehouse under Pastor Emanuel Blomquist as St. John’s Mission, Garrison.

1979-1980: Vicar David Schoessow joined Pastor Blomquist.

1980-1981: Vicar David Bray joined Pastor Blomquist.

Nov. 20, 1980: St. John’s Mission, Garrison received fifty-three members, seventeen transferring from St. John’s Lutheran Church in Aitkin, Minn.

1980: Joe Hall, Wyman Johnson, Carl Johnson, Ted Johnson, Carl Tonn, Norman Rynard, Bernard Kreger, Beatrice Welliver, and June Kobs formed the Mission Committee commissioned to direct future plans.

1981: Norm Rynard (Chairman), Carl Johnson, Lowell Guetzkow (Planner), and Carl Tonn formed the Building Committee. Plans were approved September 9, 1981 with the goal of raising $35,000 by the spring of 1982.

1981: A generous gift of $10,000 was given by Mari Berndt for construction of the church building.

1981: The Ladies Aid Auxiliary of John’s was formed. The first officers were: Rowena Peterson (President), June Kobs (Vice-President), Lorene Swenson (Secretary), and Beatrice Welliver (Treasurer).

1981: Site preparation began in the fall through the generosity of Elwood and Marvel Engel who provided equipment.

1981-1982: Vicar Karl Anderson came to serve St. John’s Mission, Garrison.

1982: Construction began in the spring.

1982-1983: Vicar Michael Ramey came to serve St. John’s Mission, Garrison.

July 14, 1982: Members met and chose Shepherd of the Lake Lutheran Church to be the name of the congregation formerly known as St. John’s Mission, Garrison.

Aug. 24, 1982: Shepherd of the Lake Lutheran Church officially joined the Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod. First officers: Carl Johnson (President); Ben Kreger (Vice-President); Norm Rynard (Treasurer and Financial Secretary); Linda Urevig (Secretary); Dana Harris, Howard Frick, and Carl Tonn (Trustees); John Pitcher, Leonard Urevig, and Jerry Urevig (Elders).

Oct. 10, 1982: A new building was dedicated to the glory of God for the worship of God in prayer and praise, the preaching of the Gospel, and the administration of the Sacraments.

1983-1984: Vicar Lawrence Richmond came to serve Shepherd of the Lake.

May 1, 1983: The Ladies Aid was officially accepted as a Society of the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League.

1984-1985: Vicar Tom Wendt came to serve as the last vicar of Shepherd of the Lake Lutheran Church.

1984: The congregation purchased the parsonage.

1985: In October, the congregation extended a Call to Reverend Terry Grzybowski who was serving in Brinkley, Arkansas. Pastor Terry accepted that Call and arrived in Garrison on November 1with wife Nancy and children Timothy and Lindsey. He was installed on November 3. In 1987 Pastor and Nancy welcomed twin daughters, Julie and Jennifer, and in 1992, their son, Jordan, was born.

1987-1988: The first copier was purchased and the newsletter began. A piano was purchased and a choir was formed. Wednesday morning Bible Breakfast, Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, and Youth Groups began.

1989-1990: The Church Office was enlarged and a Library/Conference Room was added.

1990: The Men’s Club was organized and sponsored many events: Ice Cream Social, Hunter’s Spaghetti Dinner, Smelt Fry, Easter Breakfast, Brat Sale, and the Annual Fall Bazaar.

1992: The garage was built with the help of the Men’s Club.

1993: Allen and Marverine Johnson generously donated a Carillon.

May 8, 1994: Organist Tiffany Peysar (now Gustin) accompanied A Festival of Hymns and Scripture to dedicate a new organ to the Lord.

May 29, 1994: Shepherd of the Lake celebrated its Fifteenth Anniversary.

1994: In the spring of 1994 Pastor Grzybowski received and accepted a Call to serve at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Perham, Minnesota after serving Sepherd of the Lake for eight and a half years. During the vacancy, the Minnesota North District provided visiting pastors.

Oct., 1994: Shepherd of the Lake extended a Call to Reverend Paul A. Bartz of Richfield, Minnesota. Pastor Bartz accepted that Call and was installed on November 17, 1994 as the second full-time pastor of Shepherd of the Lake. In 1996, Pastor and his wife, Bonnie, were blessed with their first child, daughter Rebekah. Pastor Bartz served Shepherd of the Lake until 1998. He entered the Church Triumphant on August 15, 2013.

1995: Member Bea Welliver bequeathed her property to Shepherd of the Lake and proceeds from the sale of that property were used for debt retirement.

1998-2000: During the vacancy period following the departure of Pastor Bartz, the Minnesota North District provided visiting pastors: Reverend Ronald Tibbetts, Reverened Henry Koopman, and  Reverend John Thomson.

Mar. 26, 2000: Reverend Curtis Foreman was installed as the third full-time pastor of Shepherd of the Lake Lutheran Church.

May 23, 2004: Shepherd of the Lake celebrated its Twenty-fifth Anniversary.

2004: In the fall 0f 2004 Pastor Foreman retired, along with his wife, Sandy, and Reverend Paul Biegner came to serve as Vacancy Pastor.

Jul. 10, 2005: Reverend Matthew Ruesch was installed as the fourth full-time pastor of Shepherd of the Lake after being Called as a candidate from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.

Sep., 2010: Pastor Ruesch received and accepted a Call to Grace Lutheran Church and Trinity Lutheran Church, Bear Creek, Wisconsin and Reverend Walter Brill came to serve as Vacancy Pastor.

Apr. 3, 2011: Reverend Jonathan Rusnak was ordained and installed as the fifth full-time pastor of Shepherd of the Lake Lutheran Church after being Called as a candidate from Concordia Seminary. He came with his wife Julie and son Luke, and have also added Evangeline and James to their family while they have been here.

2011-2014: A Redecorating Committee began work on the building: painting, removal of the paneling in the sanctuary, removal of the sound barriers in the fellowship hall, removal of the wall that divided the fellowship hall and the hallway, and new lighting in the sanctuary and hallway. A campaign is currently underway to fund new carpeting throughout the building. Our annual events have continued: Smelt Fry, Vacation Bible School, the Church Picnic, and the Fall Bazaar. The congregation began exploring the possibility of a senior living facility on our property in partnership with Good Shepherd Community in Sauk Rapids, Minnesota.

May 18, 2014: Shepherd of the Lake celebrated its Thirty-fifth Anniversary. Today, as we celebrate the goodness and faithfulness of God throughout these thirty-five years, we also acknowledge everyone who has served the Lord and His Church here in this place. As the current congregation, we are grateful and very appreciative of the hard work and dedication of those who have gone before us, no matter how large or small their part may be. We look forward to the Lord’s blessings in the future!