Our Vision Statement
Called to be the Body of Christ, Calvary is in this city for good!
We strive to live out our faith locally and globally by:
walking with God in worship and daily life;
welcoming and loving one another and our neighbors;
and transforming our world through peace, justice, grace and mercy.
As one part of the Body of Christ we aspire to:
Generously embody and celebrate God's love, grace, and forgiveness for all.
Richly engage in authentic, diverse and spirit-filled worship, music, service and fun.
Actively journey in our faith life together as we welcome, love, learn, question, and grow as God's children of all ages.
Compassionately care for one another, our neighborhoods, city, world, and all creation.
Energetically join in God's transformative work of justice and peace-building.
We, at Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church, are committed to being a radically loving and welcoming community of faith, centered in the Good News of Jesus Christ. We believe that the Gospel is God’s gift to all people to be shared unconditionally.
Calvary welcomes all people who have been excluded because of cultural or ethnic background, race, physical or mental abilities, socioeconomic or family status, gender or age. This welcome includes persons who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, their partners and families.
We are a diverse group of believers, redeemed and united in the one Body of Christ. This diversity enriches, nourishes and challenges our ministry. Be assured, "You are no longer strangers and aliens, but fellow citizens and members of God’s household." (Ephesians 2:19)
Food Shelf Coordinator
church council & leadership team
Calvary Executive Committee is comprised of the officers (elected each year at the Council retreat) and the pastor.
Sarah Shepherd, President
Anne Boone, Vice President
Angie Endo, Secretary
Lyle Jaeger, Treasurer
Interim Pastor Kjell Ferris
A brief history of Calvary Lutheran Church
Calvary Lutheran Church grew out of a Sunday School in South Minneapolis, which had been started in 1911 by St. Paul’s Lutheran Church with additional support by Augustana Lutheran Church.
The congregation was founded in 1923 to provide English services to the primarily Scandinavian immigrant population. The congregation was originally part of the Augustana Synod Lutheran (later Lutheran Church in America). Pastor Clarence O. Granlund was called to serve as the first pastor (serving from 1923-1945). The present sanctuary was constructed in 1930, a bold act of faith as the contracts were signed the same month as the 1929 stock market crash. The education building was added to the facility in 1955.
As the neighborhood became more diverse in the 1960s and 1970s, Calvary responded, becoming a congregation known for welcoming couples and families of different races and backgrounds, and including the gifts of all in worship and leadership. Seeking to meet the changing needs of our neighbors, an emergency food shelf and, in cooperation with Hospitality House Boys and Girls Clubs, an evening tutoring program were begun.
In the late 1980s to mid-1990s the congregation entered into a difficult time and wrestled with finances and there was a rapid turn-over in pastoral staff. There were significant questions of next steps. With the arrival of co-pastors, the Revs. Thomas and Rebecca von Fischer, in 1995 the congregation began to re-envision its mission and find a renewed spirit in South Minneapolis.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s the congregation began significant work in deciding that its commitment was to be outwardly focused and engaged in the world. Through several significant bequests Calvary began to develop new programs. Additionally, the congregation felt moved to proclaim greater inclusivity, becoming a Reconciling in Christ (RIC) congregation that welcomed and affirmed inclusivity of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals and their families.
The congregation also remodeled and refurbished the church facility in order to meet the needs of the community and neighborhood. This included elevator access to welcome people with additional accessibility needs; and the renewing of the worship space.
In September 2022 Calvary entered the next stage of transition on its path toward future sustainability continuing its nearly 100-year ministry on 39th and Chicago. Calvary's congregation will temporarily relocate during renovation of the facility to accommodate an affordable housing development by Trellis MN.
Pastors who have served at Calvary in recent years include:
The Rev. Brad Froslee, 2009-2016
The Rev. Amy Hanson, Youth Pastor, 2016-2017
The Rev. Bruce Arnevik, Interim Pastor, 2017-2018
The Rev. Galen Hora, Interim Pastor, 2018
The Rev. Hans Lee 2018-2022
The Rev. Thomas Carlson, Bridge Interim, 2022
The Rev. Kjell Ferris began serving as Interim Pastor at Calvary on March 22, 2022.
The congregation is committed to vibrant and faithful worship, nurturing relationship, and work in outreach and justice.