Our History

Woodlake Lutheran Church, sponsored by Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church of Minneapolis, was established in 1947 as a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. The new congregation first met in homes and then in the now-demolished Wood Lake School on 66th Street near Wood Lake in Richfield. A church was built and occupied on Penn Avenue and 72nd Street in 1948. Woodlake experienced rapid growth in the early 1950s and, realizing the need for a larger facility, purchased the land where the present church stands from the Episcopal Church. The Episcopal Church, in turn, bought Woodlake’s land and building, and continues to worship there at what is now St. Nicholas Episcopal Church. The southwest wing, including a worship space that is now Fellowship Hall, was built in 1955. The northwest wing, sanctuary, chapel, and office area were completed in 1962. A 31-rank Holtkamp pipe organ was added to the sanctuary in 1977.

Several updates and renovations have been completed since that time. A refurbishment of the classroom wings was completed in 1998. Installation of the eight stained glass windows envisioned in the original design of the sanctuary was finished that year as well. Most recently, the narthex and Heritage Room addition along with renovations to the office/reception area and Fellowship Hall were completed in 2000.

Woodlake has been served by eleven pastors: LaVerne Nelsen (1947-1952), C. Richard Evenson (1952-1957), Alf Romstad (1957-1977), Paul Romstad (1977-1995), Warren Schulz (1995-1996, interim), Mark Wegener (1996-2010), Arthur Bruning (2010-2012, interim), Fred Hanson (2012-2016), Charles Plaster (2016-2018, interim), Micah Pearson (2018-present), and Neal Cannon (2019-present). Associate and Visitation Pastors have included Jack Bredfeldt, Al Byers, Paul Oas, Marshall Pechauer, Louis Larson, John Henning, Henry Ehlen, Walter Ekeren, Theodore Edwardsen, Paul Romstad, Jerome Larson, Clarence Solberg, Robert Hall, Kari Fedje Rasmus, Mark Nelson (Interim), and Diane Roth. Many Seminary Interns and other staff members have also enriched the ministry of the congregation.

Changes in the larger Lutheran Church brought a merger between the Evangelical Lutheran Church and several other Lutheran churches in 1960, and Woodlake became a congregation of the American Lutheran Church. On January 1, 1988, another merger made Woodlake a part of the new Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.