In September of 1959, a group of ladies from Grace, Fargo and Immanuel, Fargo met in a West Fargo home and decided to continue monthly meetings. They were called the “West Fargo Mission Circle”. This group helped to encourage the establishing of a mission congregation. Meanwhile, people living in the West Fargo area along with the Mission Board of the North Dakota District of Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, including area pastors, Rev. Frank Werth of Grace, Fargo, and Rev. A. E. Thiem of Immanuel, Fargo, held meetings with the intent of starting a new mission in West Fargo.
In June 1960, property was purchased at the present site, Tenth Avenue and First Street. At the time, this land was out in the farm land area though within the city limits. That summer the Mission Board issued a call to Rev. Clemens Hartfield of Kongsberg, North Dakota, to serve as a missionary to West Fargo. The family arrived in July of 1960 and were housed by the District in a rented house on 7th Avenue in West Fargo.
The mission's first service was held August 21, 1960. Services were initially held at the vacated Community Presbyterian Church building on the corner of Third Street and First Avenue. October 30, 1960, was Charter Sunday for St. Andrew Lutheran Church. Sunday School and regular meetings were held in the church basement. The congregation numbered 98 baptized souls and 54 communicant members. A Ground Breaking Ceremony for a new parsonage on the tract of land occurred October 8, 1961. The parsonage was dedicated and an open house was held on October 4, 1962.
Meanwhile, the first building used for worship was sold, and from May to September, 1962, the new congregation worshiped in the auditorium of the Armour Building. When that was no longer available, worship services were held at the South Elementary School. Only able to use the multi-purpose room at the school, Sunday School and regular meetings were held in the parsonage basement. Mrs Hartfield commented, “As the congregation was growing and the Sunday School as well, I think 1/3 of the 50 or so students were 3 year olds!”
Plans proceeded for the congregation's own house of worship. The ground breaking for the church's first unit occurred May 5, 1963. By February 9, 1964, the new house of worship was dedicated. The membership at that time numbered 117 communicants and 236 souls. The parish now had a youth organization as well as a women's organization known as the LWML (Lutheran Women's Missionary League). Rev. Hartfield served the fledgling congregation faithfully until accepting a call to Immanuel, Grand Forks, in November, 1967. After a seven month vacancy the second pastor,
in the person of Rev. Paul Peterson, was installed on July 14, 1968. Since October 1965, the St. Andrew congregation was aligned with Trinity, Amenia, to form a two congregation parish. This parish alignment ended in December, 1971.
As West Fargo grew, St. Andrew congregation grew and flourished as well. The need was seen for a larger worship area, resulting in a ground breaking on June 28, 1970, for a new church addition including the present sanctuary. While the church was being built, Rev. Peterson felt constrained to accept a challenging call to Our Savior, St. Paul, Minnesota. The Lord continued to look after St. Andrew's needs, granting the congregation a new pastor after
only a two month vacancy. On July 11, 1971, Rev. Edwin Krueger was installed. Two months later, on September 26, 1971, the new church was dedicated. St. Andrew now numbered 299 communicants and 531 baptized souls. The large indebtedness brought on by two building programs within a relatively short period of time kept St. Andrew subsidized by the Mission Board. Once again the blessings of the Lord upon St. Andrew were obvious, and the congregation continued to increase in size.
In October of 1974 Pastor Krueger accepted a call to Pomona, California. St. Andrew, for the third time, was served by Rev. A. E. Thiem during the vacancy. On June 8, 1975, Rev. Gerhardt Asmus of Pevely, Missouri, was installed as the congregation's fourth pastor. Two weeks later, June 22, 1975, Mr. Ken Koehler, of Hankinson, North Dakota, was installed as the congregation's Director of Christian Education and Youth Ministry. With an expanded work force more attention could be given to our growing number of youth and children. In the fall of 1975 we were further blessed with the services of DCE Intern Ben Harris, who was followed two years later (1977) by Kathy Remund, and a year later (1978) by Dave Espeland. These interns served from September through November, adding their assistance while learning the skills of their vocation.
While souls were being added to the church, the physical surroundings were changing also. In 1976 the parking lot was black-topped, and in 1977 the parsonage garage was expanded for equipment storage and to house two cars. West Fargo kept growing and so did St. Andrew. Two sessions of Sunday School were held for a while, but this was not the most satisfactory. In 1978, the first church unit was divided into two floors, thus creating ten classrooms????? where previously there was one large room. The restroom facilities likewise were expanded to accommodate more people. The LWML redecorated the hallways. The Sunday School Expansion Unit was dedicated on November 5, 1978.
Through numerous church activities such as family nights, Couples Club, camping outings, rallies, seminars, etc., more and more new families were assimilated into our church family. The true strength of the church, however, continued to center in the Word that was preached and taught to all ages, and in the Sacraments that were administered with regularity. An outstanding outreach activity of the congregation has been the Dialog Evangelism Program that has resulted in hundreds of calls being made at homes of prospects and members to share the good news of Jesus Christ, our one and only hope for heaven.
1985 marked the twenty-fifth anniversary year of St. Andrew, and it was also the first year the congregation went off subsidy from the North Dakota District. It meant we were now self-supporting. A special Anniversary Service was held August 25, 1985, with the founding pastor, the Rev. Clemens Hartfield, Council Bluffs, IA, as the speaker. Plans were made that same year to erect a bell tower to house a bell that several member families had purchased years earlier with the intent it be used as a call to worship. The tower was completed and dedicated on Easter Sunday, 1986. The cross, formerly on a pylon by the west entrance, was placed on top of the tower. Lighting was added to accent the cross at night. The bell in the tower, now rung to mark the beginning of our services, is 32 inches in diameter, and was cast by the McShane Bell Co., Troy, New York. Speakers were hooked up in the hopes that a carillon might later be installed to broadcast suitable Christian music.
As the work load of our growing congregation increased it was decided to become involved in the vicarage program so that a seminary student could receive pastoral training while offering assistance in the congregation. The first vicar, Paul Holtorf, served from September 1, 1989, through August 31, 1990. We enjoyed having this Nebraska couple, Paul and Diane, in our midst for the year. The following year, September, 1990, through August, 1991, Gerald Reinke came as vicar. Jerry and Karen had farmed for a number of years in Idaho before feeling called by the Lord to go into church work.
Following the completion of Jerry Reinke's vicarage, the congregation hired retired Pastor Ed Rutter, Wahpeton, to assist with preaching once per month as well as making pastoral visits another day of the month. This continued until May, 1992. At the December, 1991, Voters Meeting the decision was made to call an associate pastor. A Call Committee was named and was headed by Floyd Schober, and on May 17, 1992,
the Rev. Clark Jahnke was installed as Associate Pastor. Rev. Jahnke, his wife Susan, and son Philip came from Our Savior, Minot, where Pastor Jahnke had served as pastor of that mission congregation. Pastor Jahnke's expertise is being utilized to enhance the Music Ministry of St. Andrew and to serve as advisor in the area of Evangelism. Pastor Asmus advises the Boards of Social Ministry and Stewardship, and DCE Ken Koehler continues to direct the Parish Education program and Youth Ministry.
In January of 1990 St. Andrew began its involvement in the Life Light program, an in-depth Bible Study that has involved over fifty adults ??n the past five years???. We had as many as six small group Bible studies going on during the week as participants enroll for nine weeks of Bible Study at a time. A new concept in Junior Confirmation instruction was initiated in the fall of 1991, which includes more parental involvement through their serving as discussion leaders and catechists. The instruction time was changed from 6th, 7th, and 8th grades to 7th, 8th, and 9th grades, with Confirmation occurring on Reformation Sunday in the fall of the pupils' 10th grade year.
The year 1990 brought on experimentation with offering variety in worship. Thanks to volunteers who formed a Worship Committee, St. Andrew began to offer an alternate worship experience once a month featuring guitars, piano, flute, and other instruments. The alternate worship experience offers additional opportunities for lay involvement through skits and readings as well as music. Our pastors carefully screen all the component elements of the worship so that they continue to be doctrinally sound.
As an outgrowth of a January Workshop in 1994 a Vision Statement was developed with corresponding goals to be implemented for the enhancement of St. Andrew's future. The Vision Statement reads "The vision of St. Andrew Lutheran Church is to provide a Christian environment of knowledge and understanding of Word and Sacrament, which God has given us, enabling us to reflect our joy of God's love through Christian fellowship, caring, and sharing for our congregation, community, and world." Committees were formed to follow through on the nine goals adopted. One of these goals was that "the congregation of St. Andrew develop a task force for the continuing study of the needs of the congregation as the Lord blesses our growth." During 1995 the Church Council initiated the establishment of such a "Long Term Planning Committee" comprised of members and called workers. When this committee held its first meeting December 9, 1995, St. Andrew's membership stood at 1088 baptized souls and 769 communicants. The formation of this committee was spurred by the large number of new homes being built in West Fargo, some in the vicinity of the church.
In March, 1996, the Long Term Planning Committee called for a meeting of the congregation to join in a two-day retreat led by a trained facilitator, Pastor Jim Baneck of Mandan, ND. More than sixty-five people participated from Friday evening to Saturday. A mission statement was formulated which was formally adopted at the April, 1996 Voters Meeting. It states: "The Mission of St. Andrew is learning, living, and sharing Christ through God's Word." Goal statements were developed for seven key impact points that St. Andrew considered vital for its future: stewardship, staff, facility, youth, education, worship, and outreach. During the summer of 1996 boards or committees were asked to work through goal planning sheets so that we as a congregation could work toward accomplishing these goals beginning in the fall of 1996. Since Pastor Asmus had announced his planned retirement on his sixty-fifth birthday on December 31, 1996, the Board of Elders appointed a Call Committee from its membership, headed by Kirk Rosin, to work through a pre-call self study and to get everything in order for the calling of a new pastor. A time table was established for a Call Meeting in the fall of 1996 with the hopes that a replacement would be here prior to Pastor Asmus' date of retirement to bring about a smooth transition. Meanwhile, upon the recommendation of the Call Committee, Board of Elders, and Church Council, the April, 1996 Voters Meeting made it official that Pastor Jahnke is to serve as Senior Associate Pastor upon Pastor Asmus' retirement, namely, January 1, 1997.
On January 13, 1997, Rev. Kevin C. Zellers was called as Associate Pastor. He, along with his wife, Kathy and their three children, Kristin, Kevin Jr. and Korey moved from Beach, ND where Pastor Zellers was serving the Beach and Belfield congregations. He was installed March 3 by President N. C. Sincebaugh.
On April 26, 1998, the voters approved contracting YHR Partners, a Moorhead architectural firm to lead us through a visioning process. A condition assessment was done. Input from the congregation was sought through a series of meetings concerning worship, education, fellowship, and administration. On January 17, 1999, the members developed their own floor plans. The floor plans and various issues and options were discussed in open group meetings from which the architects derived a model with multiple phases.
On July 25, 1999, the voters decided to engage Enrichment Ministries to help the congregation to facilitate greater spiritual growth in the area of stewardship. Special Bible studies, sermons, home visits, prayer times are being organized. On Sunday, January 9, 2000 the Stewardship Campaign started after a weekend retreat of the leaders and consultant Rev. Bob Mayer of Enrichment Ministries. The congregation now numbers 1107 baptized members of which 778 are also communicant members.
In 2000, five members from St.Andrew, Pastor Zellers, Sara Moreland, Kathy Schmidt, Kirk Rosin and Judy Rosin formed St. Andrew Mission Society known as SAMS. The reason for the Mission Society at that time was to pull together mission-minded people for the purpose of reaching others outside of our church through mission trips. Their first trip was an “instate” servant event trip to Shepherd’s Hill in Bottineau to help with the building project there. They have reached even further with trips to Mexico and helping facilitate others with their mission trips.
With the internet becoming a powerful tool, St. Andrew entered in with it’s first website in July 2001. Our website continues to be enhanced and now is housed on our own server.
Grace Lutheran School has been a blessing within the community. Starting with the 2003-2004 school year, it was restructured, and control went to the Red River Lutheran School Association of which St. Andrew is a member. We continue to help members with tuition and direct support of the school.
Pastor Zellers was called to St. John Lutheran Church of North Branch, Minnesota. Their farewell service was held December 21, 2003 with them departing on December 31, 2003.
With interest rates being low and building costs starting to soar, voters decided to go ahead with Phase I and Phase II of the building project. In August of 2003 a building committee was formed. They worked with the original builders, Curtis Construction, to create the office – fellowship and Sunday school addition. Groundbreaking was held May 1, 2005, We changed over to geothermal for heating and cooling, which has its wells under the parking lot. The addition was finished with many volunteer hours of wiring, painting, staining and carpet laying. The dedication service for the addition was held September 17, 2006.
The decision was also made to move from part-time secretaries to having a full-time church administrator. Preference Personnel was selected to help with the process and using their services. Barb Bemis was selected and started May of 2005 and became a full-time employee of our congregation in August of 2005 as Church Administrator.
Through the years, many refugees have come to our community; we have helped by sponsoring families, teaching English as a Second Language and Sharing Gods Word. We have members from Mainland China, Liberia and Sierra Leon, to name a few.
Rally Sunday, September 12, 2010 brought a new Sunday School format to St. Andrew. GROW: Generations Reaching Out in the Word, which has the congregation meeting in the fellowship hall for the 1st 15 minutes of Sunday School, sharing music and the bible story with a weekly Bible verse. This program stresses family time though out the week, Sharing your highs and lows, Reading and marking the weekly or daily bible verse, Discussing how the Bible verse relates to you highs and lows, Pray for each others highs and lows and Bless each other
As of this celebration, St. Andrew numbers 773 communicants and 1089 baptized souls. We are our mission statement… “LIVING, LEARNING AND SHARING CHRIST THROUGH GOD’S WORD.”
Now, with plenty of room for worship and fellowship, we joyfully invite you to join us as well!