by Jason Sprenger
Special to Sun Thisweek
Dakota County Tribune
This September, Apple Valley’s Christus Victor Lutheran Church will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a series of events open to the community.
It all kicks off with the church’s annual Rally Day on Sept. 10. A worship service will take place in the church’s parking lot, and a congregational photo and picnic lunch will follow. Picnic tickets are available for purchase in the church office.
The church will host a community carnival from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23, with food at 1967 prices and free games, inflatables and fun for all ages. A formal gala celebration for members and their families will be held in December.
The Rev. Roger Eigenfeld and a group of charter members gathered for the first time in September 1966 at Sioux Trail Elementary School in Burnsville. They officially organized Christus Victor Lutheran Church in the spring of 1967. Ground broke on its first church building in October 1968 – at the same site, 7510 Palomino Drive, that the church calls home today.
The Revs. Eigenfeld, Walter Leitze, Charles Tindell, Mark Huggenvik and Kent Claussen Gubrud have served as senior pastors. Claussen Gubrud leads the church today, along with Associate Pastor Steve Biedermann.
Mission and community service
After every worship service, the church’s more than 800 members rededicate themselves to “Serving God and Community with Faith, Love and Open Arms.” To them, it’s much more than a mission statement – it’s a constant, living reminder of God’s example and the impact they can have in the world.
There are many ways members give back to the community and world. For example, the church’s Spirit Bound ministry produced musicals and dramas every year from 1986 to 2010. The cast and crew – which ranged in ages from 15 to 75 – rehearsed throughout the year and performed all over the metropolitan area. It also took the show on the road, organizing annual 10-day performance tours across different parts of the United States and Canada. Members often reminisce about home stays, church performances and tours to Disney World, the Washington Monument, a glacier in Canada’s Jasper National Park and more.
A recent 30th anniversary reunion included more than 100 people from ages 23 to 81; some came from as far away as California and Florida to participate.
The church is proud to partner with several community groups to promote community and faith development. Casa de Oracion, founded in 2003 by Brother Robert Dewane, has met and worshiped at Christus Victor every Sunday afternoon since 2004. Lily of the Valley, an African Methodist Episcopal congregation founded in 2007 by the Revs. Dr. Alphonse Reff and William Smith, has held worship services at Christus Victor on Sunday evenings since 2006.
The church also works with nearby Greenleaf Elementary School. Congregation members provide school supplies, winter clothing, food, tutoring and more to students and their families, all in the name of helping more students from all backgrounds achieve in the classroom.
Christus Victor also has partners around the world. It sponsors orphans through the Kids Alive orphanage and school in the Dominican Republic, and sends a group there to work with the kids at least once every other year. The church also partners with the Mlowa Parish in Tanzania. Since 2000, the congregation has sponsored hundreds of students to attend secondary school, supported the construction of multiple church buildings, developed an agricultural program and purchased bicycles for members and a motorcycle for the pastor. Six groups from Christus Victor have visited Tanzania in that time to help in this work with their own hands.
All ages and backgrounds growing in faith
Christus Victor is known among churches in the community for its dedication to intergenerational ministry. Events, services and groups bring together people of varying ages to learn from and mentor one another. A new cross-generational Sunday education format will debut this fall to further galvanize the congregation. Additional events such as brewpub gatherings foster a sense of fellowship regardless of age and background.
The church also stands out for its variety of worship and music styles. “In any given week, we hold traditional or contemporary services and a Wednesday ‘Recharge’ service that’s a blend of Americana and gospel,” said Claussen Gubrud. “Our partner congregations, Casa de Oracion and Lily of the Valley, also meet here weekly. We do all we can to help everyone grow in their faith, no matter who they are and where they come from.”
“We’ve had a lot more ups than downs over the years,” said Roy McQuin, 93, who was a charter member of Christus Victor and has remained an active member throughout its history. “A lot of people take it upon themselves to do what needs to be done, and we’re very fortunate to have both of our pastors. It’s always felt like my home church, and I really enjoy being there.”
For more information on Christus Victor Lutheran Church and its ongoing service to the community, visit www.christusvictor.org or call 952-454-6927.