Berea was formally organized on January 3, 1960, by a group of Lutheran Christians who were moved by the Spirit to leave their former fellowships over false teachings. Berea became a member congregation of the newly formed Church of the Lutheran Confession (CLC) and became a mission congregation of the CLC in 1961 to help support our Gospel ministry. Initially the congregation was served by Pastor Gordon Radtke of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Mankato, MN. Berea’s first pastor, Marvin Eibs, was installed on March 6, 1960. Our first church building was located on Marshall Avenue in St. Paul.
The Lord continued to bless His little flock at Berea over the next decade. In April 1970, the congregation bid farewell to Pastor Eibs as he accepted the call to serve a congregation in Sanborn, MN. On May 17, 1970 Pastor Paul Larsen was installed as the second pastor of Berea. In 1971, the congregation purchased a home with 6 acres of land in Inver Grove Heights, MN – a suburb of the Southeast Metro Area of the Twin Cities. Worship services were held in the basement of the home, while Pastor Larsen and his family lived upstairs.
Our Christian Day School Opens
Mindful of the Lord’s call to “Feed My lambs” (Jn 21:15), the Christian education of youth has always been important part of our ministry at Berea. In 1975, Marlys Gerth was Berea’s first Christian Day School Teacher. In 1980, Beth Nolting began teaching at our school. In 1985, Berea built a two-apartment/one home teacherage on the property. Other called teachers that have served Christ and His lambs at Berea have included: Susan Rehm, Robert and Judith Snell, David Bernthal, Cathy Augustin, Matthew Thurow, Susan Hulke, Mary Ann Klingenschmidtt, Anne Gullerud, Christy Moen, Becky Gamble, Mary Schierenbeck, Mikki Aymond, Kathy Friedrichs, Barbara Bomber, Heather Schierenbeck, and Christine Starland.
Building the Lord's House
In 1975, Berea broke ground on the Rich Valley Boulevard property and began building a new church. The design included a sanctuary on the upper floor, with classrooms and fellowship area on the lower floor. A Christmas Eve service was held in the sanctuary that year and the new building was dedicated on February 15, 1976.
In 1983, Pastor Paul Larsen accepted the call to serve a CLC congregation in Texas. Pastor David Schierenbeck (previously of Gethsemane, Saginaw, MI) was installed as pastor of Berea on July 10, 1983. Pastor Schierenbeck would continue to shepherd Berea in Christ for the next 35 years, until he retired from the pastoral ministry in June 2018.
As the Lord blessed Berea with numerical growth, the 130-seat “upstairs” sanctuary was being strained. Construction of a larger sanctuary on the property began with additional classroom and fellowship space. The new church was dedicated on June 6, 1993. The old sanctuary was converted to classroom the growing needs of our Christian Day School.
As the Lord continued to bless our ministry at Berea, the need for more space became apparent. On February 17, 2002 an Activities Center was dedicated which included more fellowship, classroom, kitchen and activity space.
After serving the Lord at Berea for 35 years, Pastor David Schierenbeck retired from the pastoral ministry. On October 21, 2018 Pastor Nathan Pfeiffer was installed as the fourth pastor of Berea. While the pastor has changed, the prayer of all is that the focus of the ministry at Berea continues to remain the same – proclaiming Jesus Christ as the only hope for fallen mankind.