History of Faith Ev. Lutheran Church

In the spring of 1971, a number of families in the River Falls area approached Pastor Stephen Valleskey, a Wisconsin Synod pastor in Prescott, Wisconsin, and expressed interest in becoming members of a congregation affiliated with the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS). Pastor Valleskey arranged to start exploratory services in River Falls. The first service was conducted on June 27, 1971 at the Assembly of God Church with about 100 people attending the service. Pastor Valleskey also conducted adult information classes throughout the summer for those interested in the beliefs and practices of the WELS.

Pastor Valleskey accepted a call to serve as a missionary and left for Africa in September. Pastor William Wiedenmeyer, the institutional minister for the Twin Cities area, consented to serve as interim pastor. During the brief period of his service (September 5 - December 19, 1971), the congregation organized a Sunday School and confirmation class, drafted a constitution and chose the name of Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church. The International Organization of Odd Fellows Hall, above the Gaylord Law Offices on Elm Street, was rented in September, 1971, for church services, and Sunday school meetings. The Hall was used until January, 1975.

Pastor David Seager, the new pastor at our sister congregation in Prescott, began serving Faith congregation in addition to the Prescott congregation on December 22, 1971. In May of 1972, the congregation received "mission status" in the WELS. Early in 1973, they purchased five acres of property for a new church and parsonage on the northwest side of River Falls.

On July 8, 1973 Pastor Seager ordained and installed our first resident pastor, Rev. Carl W. Ziemer. He also served as the campus pastor for the University of Wisconsin - River Falls. The Lord had increased the congregation's communicant membership to 54 by this date.

Through loans made possible by the Church Extension Fund (CEF) of the Wisconsin Synod, the young congregation was able to build a parsonage in 1974 and an attractive church with an education wing in 1975.

Faith Lutheran Church operated a Christian Day School beginning in the fall of 1979, but closed its doors for financial reasons in 1985. Serving as teachers were Susan Roland Lueneburg, Cheryl Ziemer, Shirley Dorst, and Amanda Gross Wittig.

In the spring of 1983, Pastor Ziemer accepted a call to Christ Lutheran in Zumbrota, Minnesota. David Voss was called to serve Faith through the assignment committee of the WELS in May, 1983. Pastor Voss was ordained and installed on July 24, 1983. He served Faith until March, 1987 when he accepted a call to Memorial Lutheran in Williamstone, Michigan. In the early spring of 1987, Pastor Joel Lintner, was called from Melstone, Montana, to replace Pastor Voss. He was installed on March 22, 1987, and served through November, 1991.

On June 2, 1992, Pastor Paul Schmeling was installed. Pastor Schmeling graduated from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in 1974 and was ordained in 1978 in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio where he served from 1981 to 1990, then in Bethany Lutheran Granite Falls, MN from 1990 to 1992. In 1992 he came to river falls where he was our pastor for the congregation and for WELS Campus Ministry until Sunday, May 24, 2009, when he last preached our Ascension service before himself being called to glory. In the interim from Pastor Schmeling’s death to a permanent replacement, Pastor Jon Brohn of Salem Stillwater served in a limited vacancy capacity.

In 2002 the congregation developed and offered its first Children of Faith Preschool program to the community, serving nearly 40 students at its peak. The congregation called Mrs. Beth Schmeling to be the Preschool teacher during the first 10 years of the program.

Pastor Clayton Welch was installed on January 10, 2010, coming to River Falls from his previous call at St. Thomas in Phoenix/Goodyear, Arizona. He serves today as the faith leader for the congregation and the WELS Campus Ministry program at the University.

In 2012 Mrs. Beth Schmeling retired as the preschool teacher and congregation called Debbie Weigand to replace her in the Preschool teacher role.


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Being therefore justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. ~ Romans 5:1