The Lord’s Church in the Upper Midwest (2)

By Steve Wolfgang


We should mention the fact that during several meetings in Sioux City we received much encouragement by the attendance of several brethren from the faithful church in Omaha, Nebraska. This church is now in need of a preacher, and additionally will need to have other sources of support located when one agrees to move to Omaha to work with the church there. Interested parties should contact David Bement, 1750 Gaeth, Fremont, Nebraksa 68025, home phone (402) 727-4243 and office phone 2716577; or Robert I. Hooe, 13629 Washington Circle, Millard, Neb. 68137; or Wally Bates, Rt. 1, Box 298, Plattsmouth, Neb. 68048, phone (402) 269-3250. See Jimmy Tuten’s article in Truth Magazine (18:27, May 9, 1974, p. 430) from an earlier report.

Additionally, Brother Terry D. Johnson is attempting to begin a new work in Lincoln, the state capitol and location of the University of Nebraska. Terry can be contacted at 13509 S. 129th, Papillion, Neb., 68046, phone (402) 253-2942.

I understand that there is a faithful church meeting in Beatrice, Nebraska, where David Odom is the preacher. Brother Rodney Miller was able to hold a meeting during the summer of 1978 for a group in Fairbury, Nebraska; Rodney may be contacted regarding the results of this meeting at the Par Avenue church (35 West Par Avenue, Orlando, Florida, 32804).


Iowa’s neighbor to the north is the beautiful state of Minnesota. In June of 1977, Steve Balou and I worked in a meeting with the church in Rochester, Minnesota. (For other information and assessment of the church in Rochester, see James R. Cope, Truth Magazine, 19:45 [September 25, 1975], p. 710; and Gary Hargis, in Gospel Guardian, [26:26] October 31, 1974, p. 413). Rochester is a pleasant city of approximately 60,000 citizens, and is the home of the world-famous Mayo Clinic as well as a major IBM facility and other well-known industries. The church meets on Gates Drive in Rochester and, at the time we were there, numbered about 30 saints, though several have received business transfers since that time. From 1973 until 1977, Gary Hargis worked with this church before moving west to begin anew the work near Grand Forks, North Dakota. The Gates Drive church is now seeking a preacher to work with them, and I believe would prove to be a profitable work with an experienced man there.

During our meeting in Rochester, Steve’ and I were accompanied by Russell LaGrone and David Crawford, from the H,uffman church in Birmingham, which supported Brother Hargis while he worked in Rochester. These two young men assisted in knocking on doors and distributing literature, led singing each night at the services, and were a great asset to the work. Members to contact in Rochester include AI Sagadalen; (507) 282-5336; Ron Roe, (507) 289-8463; and sister Ethel Welch, (507) 289-1724. The address of the meeting house in Rochester is 2309 Gates Drive (zip code 55901).

Many of the brethren in the Rochester church do not live in Rochester itself but are scattered across the lush Minnesota countryside and drive several miles to attend services. Several members of the Gates Drive church began meeting several, years ago on Sunday evenings near their home in Lewiston, Minnesota, about 35 miles from Rochester, not far from the Minnestoa/Wisconsin state line. Several persons have been converted in that area, and now there is an assembly of saints meeting there regularly each Lord’s day. Brother Bob Lehnertz has been a leader in this group and speaks for them regularly. The group assembles in private homes with perhaps twenty in attendance for services. Brother Lehnertz may be contacted at Rt. 1, Box 178, Plainview, MN 55164, phone (507)534-2905.

Brother Charles Nicks came to Minnesota from Florida several years ago and after attempting to work with the church in Spring Valley for a short period, moved to Redwing (on the Mississippi River at Minnesota’s eastern border) to begin a work there. A good location (an older but quite functional and spacious building given up by a denominational. group to build a newer structure) has been found and the church there shows good promise for steady growth. Brother Carl Curry has recently moved to Redwing, also. Brother Curry recently completed the training program for young preachers at the Downer’s Grove, Illinois church where Truth Magazine staff writer Dan King preaches.

One of the oldest works in the state of Minnesota is the Summit & Grotto church in St. Paul, the state capitol. Begun in 1950, the church today has about a hundred members, and is a racially integrated church. Ron Howes, a former schoolmate of this writer and frequent contributor to Truth Magazine, now works with this good church. I am to be in a meeting there in 1979. This good church conducts an excellent lectureship each August. Ron’s address is 12901 Harpers St., N.E., Blaine, MN 55434, phone (612) 755-8151.

St. Paul’s “twin city,” Minneapolis, also has a faithful church. Brother Fred McKinney preached there until recently. About 40 miles north of St. Paul, the Wanous family now labors with the church in Pine City (phone [612] 629-2749). Brother and Sister Wanous and their family have been able workers in Wisconsin and Minnesota for a quarter century or more-, and much of what has remained faithful to the Lord in these areas is due to their work. Further north, in Duluth, there is also a group of saints meeting in that place. Efforts are being made to begin a work in St. Cloud, near the center of the state. In nearby Collegeville, Brother Ed Harrell spent a year working on his book on “faith healers.” See the article by Brother Harrell which appeared last week containing some sober reflections on the Lord’s work in places like Minnesota. For a good account of some of the history of the church in the upper Midwest, see Brother Leslie Diestelkamp’s book, Here Am I, Send Me, available from Truth Magazine Bookstore; and Ron Howes’ article in Truth Magazine (21:45), November 17, 1977, p. 714.

North Dakota

Minnesota is bordered on the far west by the states of North and South Dakota. Just across the Red River (which serves as the Minnesota/North Dakota border) is the city of Grand Forks. This town of about 50,000 was the scene in the late 1960’s of circumstances which have been repeated all over the country before and since – several conscientious brethren objected to the liberal and institutional tendencies of the church there and finally were forced for conscience sake to separate themselves, thus beginning the Airbase church (named for the Grand Forks Air Force base, ten miles west of town, at which several of the members were stationed at that time). This small group disbanded after a period of time due to transfers and/or several of the members entering full-time preaching work. Among these was a young brother named Don Bonner, who for the last few years has worked with the church in Jamestown, North Dakota (see Ron Howes’ article in Truth Magazine, November 17, 1977, p. 714ff).

Several years ago, through the efforts of Brother Bonner, Albert Wanous, and an Air Force couple who had been transferred to Grand Forks Air Force Base, a group faithful to the New Testament pattern began meeting in the Grand Forks area (actually in Emerado, near the entrance to the air base). Gary Hargis moved there nearly two years ago, and the church has grown considerably to perhaps 60 or 70 members. Steve Ballou and I were there in 1977 and were impressed with both the quantity and the quality of the work which is taking place there. J.T. Smith and James R. Cope have preached meetings at the Emerado church, also.

In 1978, two families from California moved to North Dakota with the intention of settling there permanently and assisting the growth of the church there in teaching and preaching. Steven L. Lewis, converted from Mormonism three or four years ago, and, after working for a period of time with the church in Carmichael, California, moved, with the endorsement of the elders there, to work with Gary Hargis t Grand Forks. To the best of my knowledge Steve still n:eds support in order to work there and provide for his family. He can be contacted through Gary Hargis, Route 1, Box 60, Mekinock, N.D. 58258, phone (701) 594-4007.

At the same time, Brother Dan Copeland, having lived in California (Sacramento area, I believe) for several years after moving there from Montana, also moved to North Dakota and is now working with Don Bonner in the church at Jamestown. Both of these men are dedicated, willing to sacrifice, and have great potential in the work in North Dakota. They have the support of their families, and have indicated that they hope to make the North Dakota work their life’s work, planning to remain on a permanent basis. There is work needing to be done, and now there are men able and willing to do it. As I understand the situation, these two men plan to move into areas where there are no faithful churches, after a period of training and familiarization with the situation in North Dakota while working with brethren Hargis and Bonner. Fargo, east of Jamestown and south of Grand Forks, is a major metropolitan center (contiguous with Moorhead, Minnesota, comprising a combined population of around 100,000), without a faithful church. There are other population centers (such as Minot, Williston, Dickinson) without a congregation faithful to the New Testament order of worship and work, to my knowledge. Brethren Bonner and Copeland can be reached c/o 1220 8th Avenue, S.E., Jamestown, N.D. 58401, phone (701) 252-3441.

Early in 1977, ,a small band of. disciples left the institutional church in Bismarck, the state capitol, and began meeting in Bismarck’s sister city, Mandan. There were a variety of causes for the separation, but among them was the feeling that there were some unscriptural teachings and practices engaged in by the Bismarck church. After preaching in Mandan in 1977, Steve Ballou and 1 were invited to hold a ten-day meeting in Mandan the past summer; and found a faithful group willing to study and apply scriptural truths regarding the work of the church, the question of fellowship, and Biblical teaching on divorce and remarriage. Albert Wanous has been invited to make periodic trips to Mandan, and does so as often as possible, driving from eastern Minnesota and spending a week and usually two Sundays preaching, teaching, and studying with the brethren. Ron Howes and Jerral Kay (from Rapid City, South Dakota) also have invitations and/or appointments to preach in Mandan, and Steve and I hope to return in the near future. (See “The Call of the Dakotas,” by L.R. Wilson, Gospel Advocate, 97:37 [September 15, 1955, p. 825].)

Truth Magazine XXIII: 16, pp. 262-263
April 19, 1979