Letting God lead the way
On Sept. 19, 2010, the congregation of Lund Lutheran Church in rural Detroit Lakes passed its second and final vote to sever its ties with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.
One month later, they became affiliated with the Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ. With their departure from the ELCA, Lund's congregation also set themselves apart from the congregations with whom they had shared a pastor for several years, at Bakke and Richwood Lutheran churches.
In January, they cemented their status as an independent congregation by calling a new pastor, Rev. Jim Osvold, who was officially installed as spiritual leader of the Lund Lutheran flock on April 10.
In short, it's been a year of tremendous upheaval for this small but loyal congregation of some 60 people.
"I have a lot of respect for this congregation," Osvold said recently, "because before I even showed up, they had already made some very difficult decisions -- it certainly wasn't easy for them.
"My view is that they were very courageous in what they did."
Osvold also believes that the Lund Lutheran congregation has experienced something of a spiritual reawakening as a result of their decision to stand firm on the teachings of their faith.
"They made the choice that they would rather stand on the authority of scripture than abide by the decisions made by the ELCA that they felt were outside that authority."
Osvold said their decision made the congregation "very vulnerable."
"They didn't know if they would survive as a congregation," he continued. "They didn't know what kind of support they would receive -- it was obviously a controversial decision."
Since Osvold first began providing pulpit support to the Lund Lutheran congregation in October, however, he sees "a new sense of vibrancy here."
"We have doubled our church attendance," Osvold said. "This ministry is vibrant and healthy."
The congregation has also "stood behind this ministry with their financial support," he added.
In fact, on Easter Sunday, the sanctuary at Lund Lutheran was filled to overflowing, with 114 people (the church is only meant to hold about 90 people, Osvold noted). In March alone, Lund welcomed 15 new members, and attendance has increased by about 25 percent on average.
"God has been very good to us," Osvold said. "This is an exciting time."
He is concerned, however, by the fact that only about a fifth of the area's population actually attends church services on a regular basis.
"Who is bringing the message of Christ to these people (who don't attend church regularly)?" he asked, adding that he believes everyone should read a passage of scripture daily.
"We need that daily corrective to help us turn toward Him and not whatever we think up to do each day," Osvold said.
It's not always necessary to understand exactly what God is saying to us, he added.
"Sometimes understanding may come after obedience," said Osvold. "Sometimes we just have to trust in what God is saying to us."
If we don't, he added, "We're lost."
A native of Cloquet, Minn., Osvold attended college at Concordia College and Minnesota State University, both in Moorhead -- where he was a music major -- and went on to complete theological training in 2000.
He most recently served as associate pastor of volunteer ministries for Triumph Lutheran Brethren Church in Moorhead.
Pastor Jim and his wife Barbara Osvold have recently relocated to the Detroit Lakes area from Moorhead, where she still teaches in the public school system.
"We have had a summer place in Detroit Lakes, off and on, since 1998," he added. "We're making a slow transition from Moorhead ... we recently bought a house on the fringe of Detroit Lakes, south of the airport."
The Osvolds' three grown children are all married and living in the Red River Valley area, and they also have four grandchildren.