It was seventy five years ago that a group of Christians gathered to keep Christ first. Even though yet to be named, on the afternoon of February 15, 1942, this congregation met for the Organization Service to officially be recognized as a Lutheran family of believers in La Crescent, Minnesota. Pastor Walter Schumann served as guest preacher and spoke on John 6:66-69. From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. 67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”


These words of Jesus were so aptly applied to this congregation both at its conception and today, seventy five years later. During Jesus’ ministry, not everyone who heard his words and witnessed his miracles continued to follow him. In fact, just before these words of the text, many stumbled on how Jesus could be the “bread of heaven” and stopped following him.


Then and now, there are those who have taken in the ideology that man and his reason must come before God and His word. There are those who love the desires of this world more than they love their Savior. There are those who simply cannot set aside their sinful pride and humbly accept that there is nothing they can do to be saved and simply surrender to the grace and mercy of God, trusting that he has done everything for them in Jesus.


And that is why Simon Peter’s words rang out to our members in 1942 and still resound seventy five years later to us. “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” We believe this. This congregation for seventy five years has believed it. This is why we exist because we believe that Jesus Christ is the promised Savior. We believe that he is the Bread from Heaven. We believe he came to live for our imperfection and die with our sins. We believe he is the Resurrection and the Life and through faith we have all blessings in him.


Jesus is why we have a Gospel ministry, to Keep Christ First in our Hearts and Lives. Believing he is our Savior, he has called us to share him with others so that they too believe and are saved. Believing he is our Savior, he encourages us to grow in his Word that gives faith and saves us. Believing he is our Savior, he tells us to let our lights shine and live our faith.


The mission and ministry of First Evangelical Lutheran Church is just that, knowing and believing that Jesus is the Christ and keep him first in our hearts and lives. We have the task to consider how we are going to keep Christ first in the near future. It should go without saying that keeping Christ first is always centered and never without the Means of Grace. With that being said, no matter what the congregation does as far as a building project or five year vision plan, nurturing and saving souls and living our faith must be a part of that. Either way, we will keep Christ first because we know and believe who Jesus is and how blessed this congregation has been for seventy five years.


And so we give thanks, as we enter into this 75th Anniversary year, for all the blessings that we have in Christ. We thank the Lord that he has kept us in faith and allowed this ministry to continue to keep Christ first in our hearts and lives. We ask the Lord to give us a rich measure of the Holy Spirit and faith to guide and strengthen us in this Gospel ministry. We ask that the Lord would continue to shower blessings upon us, even beyond what we might think possible so that more souls may know that Jesus is the Holy One of God. Amen.


“Lord, to whom shall we go?

You have the words of eternal life.

We believe and know that you are

the Holy One of God.”



Pastor Chris Christenson