Elmwood Church History

          The Elmwood congregation had its beginning when a small group of
Scandinavians began meeting at a chapel at 2552 Ulysses Street in northeast
Minneapolis.  This group was officially organized as a congregation on November 28,
1924 and was incorporated under the name of Elmwood Lutheran Free Church on
December 23, 1924.  Pastor Hans Helseth from First Lutheran Church in Columbia
Heights assisted in the formation of the congregation.  Soon the congregation was
joined by people from Immanuel Lutheran church and their first pastor was Pastor Julius
Hermanslie.  After a number of years the congregation bought a small white church on the corner of 26th and McKinley Street N.E.
          Then Pastor Ernst Dahle served Elmwood for many years and while under his
guidance, there was a spiritual revival.  There were all-night prayer meetings and quite a
few people from this small congregation were inspired to go to the mission field.  Mildred
Bolstad was one of those who left home and friends and went to Tanzania.  Mildred and
her husband Ray, along with their four children, went to Africa in 1946 and returned here
in 1957 because of Ray’s poor health.  After Ray’s death on December 12, 1970, Mildred
returned alone to Tanzania for six years (1972 – 1978).  Thelma Alfsen, who also went to
the mission field about that time, is still doing her work from her home base at Macau
(Hong Kong).  She has written a booklet, “The Way to Heaven,” that has been translated
into many languages.  Supporting and encouraging missionaries has always been very
important to the people of Elmwood.
          The property at 26th and McKinley was sold in 1965 and the new church at 3615
Chelmsford Road in St. Anthony Village which had been started in 1964, was dedicated
in November, 1965.  Pastor Paul Gunderson served from 1970 to early 1980.  Pastor Joe
Valtinson served from November 1980 to December 1995.  Pastor Dale Swan served
along with Pastor Joe Valtinson from September 1985 to March 1991.  Elmwood’s new
church sanctuary was started in the fall of 1986.  Led by Pastor Valtinson, the majority of
the work was done by the men of the congregation and the move into the beautiful new
sanctuary was completed in August 1987.  Pastor Randy Andersen served the
congregation from March 1996 through May 2002.  Pastor Frederick Thoni began his
ministry at Elmwood February 1, 2003.
          On October 3, 1978, an article of amendment resolved that the name of Elmwood
Lutheran Free Church be changed to Elmwood Lutheran Church.  At a congregational
meeting held on June 19, 1983 it was resolved that Elmwood Lutheran Church leave the
American Lutheran Church Synod.  Ninety days later, the resolution was ratified.  As a
result, Elmwood Lutheran Church operated as an independent Lutheran Church for
eleven years.  Eventually the church applied for membership in The Evangelical Free
Church of America, and was accepted on April 6, 1994.  On Sunday, August 7, 1994, the
congregation voted to change the name of the congregation to Elmwood Evangelical
Free Church.  In 2005 Elmwood also joined the Alliance of Renewal Churches, which is a
network of leaders and congregations, birthed by Lutheran Renewal, that seeks to foster
authentic Christian relationships and aggressively advance the kingdom of God.
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