Faith Lutheran Church in West Fargo is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.
A milestone in itself, but a huge occasion accented by the realization of a second Faith Lutheran ministry, Journey In Faith, with its focus on interactive worship in a relaxed, casual atmosphere, intent on building relationships that are real, teaching that is relevant, worship that is engaging, and service that is meaningful.
Sunday services for Journey in Faith are presently being held at an interim location, the Urban Plains Center, 5225 31st Ave. S., Fargo, until their formal home is up and running on a ten-acre parcel of land just west of the Sheyenne 9th Grade Center on 40th Avenue East.
Judy Holmen is primary pastor for the new ministry; Pastor Peter Schmidt is the senior pastor for both locations; while Pastor Richard Kramer is the associate pastor at Faith Lutheran campus.
Billed as a fourth worship service complimenting the Faith Lutheran schedule, which presently has a congregation numbering right around 3,300, first services at Journey in Faith were held Sunday, March 14.
Church officials spent five years looking for the perfect piece of land on which to construct their second ministry of faith. "It was very much a vision for Pastor Peter and the church council," Holmen said.
Holmen herself has an interesting background, traveling the route from a successful business owner with a 14-year career in advertising promotions, to serving as minister for this brand new up-and-coming worship service.
A native of southern Minnesota, she grew up on a farm about 50 miles west of Mankato in a family very involved in church matters. "It was who we were as a family and we had several missionaries stay at our home," Holmen reflected. "The experience taught me that God sends us out in the world to flourish with our presence and also give witness wherever we are."
She attended Seattle Lutheran Bible Institute for two years right out of high school, and then went onto Mankato State where she graduated with a degree in business administration and a concentration in marketing.
Upon graduating, she spent five years as a manager for Happy Chef restaurants, ultimately resigning when it became difficult to attend worship services on Sunday morning.
However, loving the North Country, she moved to St. Cloud, Minn., utilizing her marketing degree to establish her own advertising promotion business which she operated successfully for 14 years, specializing in imprinted apparel and a variety of promotional items.
During this time in her life, part of her 'whole' being revolved around activity at a church in St. Cloud, that gave her the opportunity to be engaged in a multitude of endeavors that were impactful on her entering the seminary. In particular, a friend, who after undergoing a double lung and heart transplant that caused Holmen to question, "what is really important and how can I make a difference in the world for Christ and where God is leading."
Consequently, she went on to attend Lutheran Seminary, graduating in 2006, and was welcomed at Faith Lutheran in West Fargo as the associate pastor of mission development in July of 2007, ironically, on the very same day the congregation voted to purchase the land for a second site, a move not made lightly.
Holmen said the initial plan was to demolish the east wing of the church, off of 2nd Ave. E. and construct a huge education and youth center, but that concept was abandoned when the parcel size and plans didn't comply with city building codes.
After months of careful thought and consideration, a feasibility team came up with the recommendation to the congregation to acquire the property off site. They eventually purchased the property just west of the 9th Grade Center, south of the Interstate. A building committee has just recently been formed with the plans calling for completing the complex in phases.
Holmen repeated that the intent is for a strong emphasis on youth and education ministry, with the first phase intended to be a multi-purpose facility that will be utilized for youth ministry and for the fourth worship service of Faith Lutheran.
Another goal is to see that Journey Worship is "very much lay led," Holmen said. "Providing the opportunity for people to be involved in the liturgy as we all come together to praise God is important, and we want to put that into action as a fourth service."
The input of the congregation was also crucial to the naming of the complex. "We wanted to incorporate Faith in the name and the idea that together as one church in two locations we serve the community with our ministry," Holmen explained.
"We are hoping that in a couple of years we will have phase one complete, but in the meantime, Journey worship will happen at the Urban Plains Center, where they have been very gracious and accommodating to us."
Even though organizers knew they wouldn't have their own building at the start of Journey worship services, Holmen said they felt it important to have a presence in south Fargo close to their intended sight, so they could reach out to families and make them aware.
Holmen views the upcoming Easter observance as the perfect opportunity to do just that. "We want to welcome you, wherever you are in your faith journey. Lots of people attend church on Easter that don't normally do so. We want to reach out to those that aren't attached to a particular church, providing them the opportunity to get connected and really belong."
"Being welcoming and building relationships is huge, and we are going to provide those opportunities during worship over food, coffee and juice with a small amount of time set aside for intentional conversation as a chance to get to know each other. I think that a huge piece is to allow God to do the molding and shaping of how the people of Journey worship reach out into the community and be encouraging and supportive. After all, building relationships, and having meaningful ways to serve is key. "
Holmen summed it up best with a favorite quote from Mother Teresa. "In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love."
"Life is a gift from God," she added. "Through us doing small things with great love, we can build relationships that result in us serving and loving one another and growing in our faith together."
On that note, Holmen encourages anyone wishing to attend Easter Sunday worship with Journey In Faith to join them in the 10 a.m. service which will include communion. "We would love for you to experience all the exciting things God is doing at Journey Worship."
Anyone with questions about any aspect of Faith Lutheran Church or Journey in Faith is encouraged to call their office at 282-3309, or visit their Web site at www.growinfaith.org for more information.