Peace Lutheran Church of Mission, South Dakota is a unique congregation in the CLC in a number of ways.
Although it began as did many of our CLC congregations, its subsequent history proved in a number of ways to be different.
First of all, its location is unique. Mission, South Dakota (population 1,182 at the 2010 census) is a town located in the Rosebud Indian Reservation. The town was named for one of the many missions established by religious groups in the late 19th century to assist the Sicangu (pronounced Sičhánğu) Lakota (Rosebud Sioux) and other American Indian nations. The major industry of this area is ranching, and the region is known for producing some of the best beef in the country. Many of the members of Peace and their extended families are ranchers as well. The church’s location near the center of town on U.S. Highway 18/83 makes it an ideal location for walk-in visitors, which we have on a fairly regular basis. We are thankful for the opportunities the Lord has given us to share the soul-saving Gospel with both member and visitor alike!
Secondly, its history is unique. Although it began as did many of our CLC congregations, its subsequent history proved in a number of ways to be different from that of many other churches in our fellowship. The congregation began in 1959 when several families, together with Pastor Kenneth Hallauer and Teacher LeRoy Hulke, withdrew from their previous fellowship because of doctrinal differences, and organized Peace Lutheran Church. For the first few months, Peace congregation worshiped in the L. E. Jones home until a church building was built. The first worship service held in the new church building was a wedding service on June 6th, 1959. Since its beginning, Peace has formed a joint parish with St. Paul’s of White River, SD. The downstairs portion of Peace’s church building served as the parsonage until 1974, when a parsonage was built in White River. That parsonage would serve until 2002 as the home of the pastors serving the joint parish of Peace and St. Paul’s. After the church basement in Mission was no longer used as a parsonage, for a number of years it was leased as a medical clinic, at which one of the congregation’s members worked as a physician’s assistant. Peace is also one of very few CLC congregations that owns and maintains its own graveyard (located about 2 miles south of the church building on US-83). Pastors who have served Peace congregation over the years have been Kenneth Hallauer (1957-1964), Paul Larsen (1966-1970), David Koenig (1971-1973), Harland Reed (1974-1976), Bruce Wales (1977-1979), Paul D. Nolting (1980-1986), Paul Naumann (1986-1995), Frank Gantt (1995-1998), Jay Hartmann (1998-2002), James Naumann (2002-2010), and Luke Bernthal (2010-present).
Thirdly, the present status of the congregation is unique. Since 2002, Peace Lutheran Church has been part of a “Tri-Parish” along with St. Paul’s of White River, SD and Grace of Valentine, NE. They have been jointly served since that time by the pastor from Valentine. For the past five or more years, Peace has conducted joint worship services with St. Paul’s. Every Sunday except the last one of each month, worship services are at Peace at 8:00 A.M., with the worship service for the last Sunday of each month being at
St. Paul’s. This small but faithful and close-knit group cherishes its worship time together with their brothers and sisters in Christ from St. Paul’s each Sunday. Peace also joins with St. Paul’s and Grace for the “Tri-Parish Mission Festival” worship service and potluck meal each fall. Its members have also supported and participated with St. Paul’s and Grace in other worship services
and church activities such as summer Vacation Bible School and the Arise and Shine 20’s – 30’s Retreat in Pillager, MN.
If you are traveling through the great state of South Dakota, please join us for worship and share with us in the “unique” blessings we have in our fellowship and in our Savior’s Gospel! “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).
Luke Bernthal is pastor of Peace Lutheran Church in Mission, South Dakota, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church in White River, South Dakota, and Grace Lutheran Church in Valentine, Nebraska.