As provided by Ascension:
The history of Ascension Lutheran Congregation is
interesting and varied. At different times, the ministry
that ultimately became Ascension was known as the North Side
Sunday School Union, the North Side Community Church, the
North Side Lutheran Church, and Westwood Lutheran Church.
North Side Sunday School Union
Ascension's earliest roots was a Sunday School organization
of the American Sunday School Union. It was organized by a
Reverend Staph in 1920. Occasional worship services were
also held with student pastors furnished by the American
Sunday School Union. The Reverends Harvey Hill and Ferris
were available for special services, such as baptisms,
weddings, and funerals.
In 1926 the North Side Union Ladies Aid was formally
organized and it was they who voted to hold worship services
following Sunday School at the old Eliot School. The ladies
worked diligently to raise funds, including hosting suppers,
socials, teas, luncheons, and banquets. The ladies sold a
variety of things including jello, pudding, magazines,
rummage, quilts, baked & paper goods. Their fund raising
activities also included a state fair stand and a quilt
raffle. This Sunday school and worship ministry would not
die as long as the North Side Union Ladies Aid was alive.
North Side Community Church
Their diligence paid off. On November 17, 1934, the Rev.
Morris Eresz began his ministry as the first pastor of this
North Side Community Church. Rev. Eresz was a retired
Methodist minister who gave five faithful years to the
congregation. On November 9, 1936, the Ladies Aid bought
three lots in the Richmond Third Addition for $350.00. This
was the site of the church from 1938 to 1947.
Other pastors to serve North Side Community Church were Rev.
R.W. Owens, who served from November 1939 until June 1940,
Rev. Milton C. Wolters (a Baptist pastor, who served from
until February 1943, and Rev. A.T. Nelson, who served just a
few months in 1943 until poor health prevented him from
At that point, a survey of the congregation and community
was taken to determine the denominational preference of the
area. The Lutheran denomination "won" the survey with a
whopping 36, and 118 prospective families for membership.
North Side Lutheran Church
Pastor A.C. Lehman was installed as the first Lutheran
pastor in July of 1944. Upon completion of a course of
instruction for current members of North Side Community
Church and for a number of new members, North Side Community
Church became North Side Lutheran Church on July 16, 1944.
The church grew and by the end of 1946 the Sunday School
registration included more than 150 children! This number
severely taxed the available facilities, and plans were made
for a new building.
Westwood Lutheran Church
In March 1947, North Side Lutheran Church changed its name
to Westwood Lutheran Church. The new name was followed
quickly by a new building at 6719 Cedar Lake Road. Ground breaking ceremonies were
held following worship on October 5, 1947 at the present
site of Ascension. (Previously, we were located across Cedar
Lake Road by the present Eliot School site.) By December
21, 1947, the building was complete enough to hold its first
worship service. The children's Christmas program was held
that same evening. A festive dedication service was held on
Palm Sunday, March 21, 1948. There were now 250 members, and
159 in Sunday School.
From 1948 to 1958, Norman L. Nielsen served as Senior
Pastor. During his 10 year ministry, the church grew from
200 to nearly 4,000 members, becoming the largest Protestant
congregation in suburban Minneapolis. In recognition of his
leadership in church and community affairs, Time Magazine
selected him, in 1953, as one of the "100 Outstanding
Young Men" of his city. In 1958 he became Vice
President of Augsburg College in charge of Development.
Westwood Lutheran Church continued to grow, and soon outgrew
its facility. In 1955, Westwood built a new building further
west at 9001 Cedar Lake Road, and the building known as Ascension
Ascension Lutheran Church
To prevent members from leaving Westwood, the Ascension
building was not allowed to be reopened for a full year. But
a congregation to serve this neighborhood would not be
denied. And on September 1, 1956, the building reopened as
Ascension Lutheran Church under the auspices of the Home
Mission Board of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. The
Reverend Orin D. Thompson was the mission pastor.
Ascension's first worship service was held on October 7,
1956 and the first Sunday School was held on October 14.
1956. The official organization was January 4, 1957 with 200
charter members, 105 confirmed and 95 baptized. Former
pastors of Ascension include: Pastor Orin D. Thompson
(1957-1960), Pastor Everett Tande (1961-1973), Pastor C.
David Satre (1974-1980), Pastor James Pollard (1981-1984),
Pastor Keith Rediske (1984-1989), Pastor Dennis Speetzen
(1990-1995). Pastor Wesley Syverson began service in August,
This history was inherited from a previous directory and
edited. If any reader has more information, or would like to
research more information, please contact the pastor.
6719 Cedar Lake Road
Groundbreaking of Westwood Lutheran Church
at 9001 Cedar Lake Road
Photo courtesy Al Hartman
Westwood Lutheran Church, 9001 Cedar
Notes on Westwood Lutheran Church: in May 1955, a
$365,000 building at 9001 Cedar Lake Road was dedicated.
The gym was used until a sanctuary could be built. An
educational unit was built with 20 classrooms. The
church sat on a 20-acre site with a small lake. In
October 1963, a $600,000 addition was dedicated and the
church had 3,800 members.
See also the web site of
Westwood Lutheran Church.
In 2009, Ascension Lutheran Church merged with First
Lutheran Church to form the new Spirit of Christ Community
Lutheran Church. The new church is located at the
First Lutheran site, 5801 Minnetonka Blvd. See the web
In July 2009, the building at 6719 Cedar Lake Road became the home of
Emmaus Road Church.