Grindberg heading to Algona

Pastor will miss Wednesday nights at St. Olaf

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari
The Rev. David Grindberg, senior pastor at St. Olaf Lutheran Church, poses inside the church on a stage where Wednesday night worship is held. Grindberg is leaving the church next week to become the pastor at First Lutheran Church in Algona.

The Rev. David Grindberg is leaving St. Olaf Lutheran Church as he prepares to head north and become the pastor at First Lutheran Church in Algona.

His last day at St. Olaf will be Wednesday.

Grindberg has been senior pastor at the Fort Dodge church, located at 239 N. 11th St., since the fall of 2000.

“This has been a really good place,” Grindberg said of St. Olaf. “It’s been a wonderful place to work. I’ve made so many great friends and I feel like we did some great work here together.”

But he’s decided to move on for a few reasons, one being he feels he may be able to make a difference in Algona.

“I hope I can get used to make a difference,” he said.

Grindberg added he also believes it’s time for someone else to take over at St. Olaf.

“But I’m also leaving this place in the hopes that someone new can come in and take St. Olaf to a place where they can have a greater impact in the community,” he said.

In his 17 and a half years as St. Olaf’s senior pastor, Grindberg said Fort Dodge has changed quite a bit.

“It’s a very different community than when we came,” he said. “We’re seeing growth in the economic segments of the community. The place just looks and feels different, and I think that’s a very positive thing.”

Another big change he’s noticed is the way in which people live their lives.

“So when I first came to Fort Dodge, in the fall of 2000, Des Moines was still kind of a road trip,” he said. “And now, a lot of people go down there to buy groceries. It’s nothing to get in the car and drive 180 miles round trip. We don’t even bat an eye.”

That’s impacted what goes on at the church.

“Families tend to leave town for the weekend because they want to be together as a family,” he said. “They have sports teams going, tournaments. It’s all family-based. It’s all great stuff.”

Grindberg said what he’ll miss the most about St. Olaf is Wednesdays at the church, which is when all their families come together.

“We have such a blast on Wednesday nights,” he said. “It is just such a kick.”

He added St. Olaf does not have Sunday school.

“It’s all Wednesday school,” Grindberg said. “And we have a supper here every Wednesday night. Families come, they sit together, they have a meal.”

The church began having Wednesday events because he noticed families were really busy when it came to that day.

“It used to be on Wednesday nights you had choir practice, confirmation, you had this and that,” he said.

Families were essentially living out of their cars, driving their children back and forth to different events at the church.

“It was like this every single Wednesday night,” Grindberg said. “So what we’ve done is said, ‘Why not just meet here?’ All of a sudden we have these families sitting together. Two to three families sitting together, and it becomes a community.”

Wednesday nights include an hour of education and it ends with worship, which Grindberg described as “fun.”

“It’s really family worship in the best sort of way,” he said. “Our kids help lead worship. It’s really fun. We have a ball.”

While he’s going to miss St. Olaf and the Fort Dodge community, he is looking forward to starting the next chapter of his life in Algona.

“Algona is a warm and wonderful community, and the people of First Lutheran have been so welcoming,” Grindberg said. “I cannot wait to work with them and become a part of their lives as well. And they’ve already let me in. It’s such a cool place.”

He added that Algona has a bright future, with a lot of economic development going on in town.

“That brings young families in, young professionals, and they’re going to look for a church home, or maybe they don’t know that they’re going to look for a church home,” he said. “Maybe they don’t know that they’re ‘homeless.'”

Grindberg said he wants to be welcoming to those families.

“It’s going to be our job to provide a home where they feel like they can walk in it’s their family,” he said. “And that’s very exciting to think that that’s a possibility up there.”

He added that Algona and other area communities go against the stereotype that people are leaving rural America.

“It’s not in Algona, it’s not in Humboldt, either,” he said. “There’s several communities out there that are like that, and Algona’s one of them. It’s an exciting place to be able to think I’m going to be able to pitch a tent for awhile and do my thing.”

A reception honoring Grindberg will be held at St. Olaf Sunday at 10 a.m. between worship services.

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