Calvary Free Lutheran Church History


Calvary Free Lutheran Church had its origin on May 27, 1963, resulting from a spiritual movement among concerned Lutherans to form a local free and living Lutheran congregation in complete harmony with the Holy Scripture and Biblical truth. During the first two years it was called the “Fosston Free Lutheran Fellowship” and meetings services were held in homes and at the Fosston Elementary School. They also worshiped with Mt. Carmel Free Lutheran of McIntosh for about a year.

In 1965, the congregation voted to officially organize as Calvary Free Lutheran Church and joined the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations (AFLC). In March 1966, the lot on Second Street and Brandt Avenue was purchased from Julia Hagen for $5,000. In August, a basement was built to serve as a place of worship. In January 1967 the church basement was dedicated. For seven years, Calvary was known as “the basement church.”

In 1973, the congregation approved a plan for the church’s upper structure. On September 8, 1974, the completed Calvary Church building was dedicated. The congregation voted to establish a cemetery in 1980 that is adjacent to the Rose Hill cemetery and then in 1987 a home was purchased in town which is the present parsonage. The last worship service in the “Old Calvary” was on April 25, 2010. A majority of the original church property including the church building was sold in July 2010 to a family who renovated the church into a beautiful five bedroom home and added a garage. Calvary retains their cemetery and a portion of the original property around the cemetery.

It was in late August 2009 that work began on the construction site of where the new church would be built. Then on May 2, 2010, after a successful three year capital campaign, the congregation was able to move into their new building on County Road 6 and have their first worship service. This new 7,600 foot structure would meet many critical needs and continues to be a great blessing. It was a great day of rejoicing on September 12, of that same year that Calvary celebrated the dedication of their new building. A program and supper was held where the community and congregation came together to praise the Lord for the great things He has done. Calvary is one of seventeen churches of the North Central MN District of the AFLC. The district owns and operates a Bible camp near Bemidji which is a great blessing to all involved.

In its early years, Calvary was part of a five-point parish having parish affiliations with Bagley and McIntosh churches. In 1968, the parish was split and Calvary remained a part of a three-point parish. In 1981, Calvary voted to call their own pastor.

Over the years Calvary has been served by eleven called pastors:

  • Rev. Hubert DeBoer 1965-1968
  • Rev. Orville Olson 1969-1976
  • Rev. Ralph Rokke 1976-1979
  • Rev. Walter Beaman 1980-1981
  • Rev. Jay Eberth 1981-1982
  • Rev. Jay Erickson 1983-1987
  • Rev. Robert Koepp 1987-1991
  • Rev. James L. Johnson 1992-1996
  • Rev. Martin Horn 1999-2003
  • Rev. Alan Arneson 2004-2020
  • Rev. Hubert DeBoer 1965-1968
  • Rev. Mark Richardson 2021-Present

Others serving short term:

  • Rev. Joel Pederson
  • Rev. John DeBoer
  • Seminarian Robert Lee
  • Rev. Harold Reitz
  • Rev. Ted Berkas
  • Rev. Everett Hind
  • Rev. Ron Pulscher
  • Laymen Edwin Mathison
  • Laymen Bob Bilden
  • Rev. David Skordahl
  • Rev. John Rieth

Calvary has been blessed as well by many dedicated and faithful servants within the congregation. Currently, Calvary ministers to over 65 families and celebrated their 50th anniversary as a church body in July 2015.

Calvary's capital campaign for a new church building was May 2007-May 2010. Here is the video that was produced to promote the capital campaign.