Spotlighting the seemingly forgotten church
Elleni Oberle, Talon staff writer
“I started going to True Light before it was even True Light. It was a really nice environment and when you walk in the front doors we were immediately welcomed,” said freshman Rachel Zellie. “I go every Sunday with my family and a friend. What I like most about True Light is that it is really contemporary. The music, the people and the sermons aren’t like your average church.”
Although True Light Covenant Church has been growing in the past years, it is important to keep its momentum. Mark Stromberg, superintendent of the Northwest Conference, said, “Churches never stay the same. They either move forward or slide backward, not just in numbers, but in missional effectiveness. Therefore, any and every church is potentially in danger of becoming stagnant if it chooses to stand still and resist needed change.”
True Light Covenant Church opened on November 4, 2007. True Light’s Pastor Pat Hall founded the church and has been there ever since. Hall also worked as the boys JV hockey coach for a year. True Light does not have its own building, but they have they have their own services, Bible studies and confirmation classes at South Campus. Most True Light attendees are college aged singles and young adults. About 90 people attend on an average Sunday, and 135 people consider True Light their home church.
“I felt the Lord leading me to inquire as to the possibilities of starting a new Covenant church at Minnehaha Academy,” said Hall.
Hall graduated from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota in 1978. He was in sales and banking until he entered Luther Seminary in St. Paul in 1985. He first preached in Upsala, MN and then in the southern suburbs before becoming the Minnesota State Director of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
“I felt the call to become a minister of the gospel while in college,” Hall said. “After several years of living a life of drugs, alcohol and other inappropriate activities I discovered that my life was empty and that I needed to find my purpose in life. I soon discovered my purpose; I better understood how to use my God given gifts and talents.”
Hall also said that he was substantially happier when he began using his gifts and talents to serve others.
Hall and a group of others wanted to plant a new Covenant church. At the time, Hall was the boys JV hockey coach.
“I found myself driving to the rink for practice one day when I felt the Lord encouraging me to find out if I could rent the Chapel at Minnehaha Academy,” Hall said.
He thought that by starting a new Covenant Church at North Campus it could be a place for students who attend Minnehaha but do not have a church home.
Hall became the assistant varsity coach at Minnehaha under Bruce Hendrickson from 1979 to 1981 when he moved to the Twin Cities. He was also the boys JV hockey coach three years ago and many remember him as a fun, easy going coach.
“The thing that I remember most about Pat Hall is that he would always focus on the positive aspect of any given situation,” said senior Chris Wolpert, who was a hockey player under Hall’s coaching. “When we would be down 7-1 he would come in the locker room with a smile on his face saying how great the d-zone was or how we were moving the puck. No matter what the score was, he always believed that we could come back and win.”
Senior Amy Hendrickson is family friends with the Halls. Hendrickson’s dad grew up with Hall at Bethany Lutheran Church and coached hockey with him in the 80’s.
“He is both an amazing person and pastor, and is a very live spirit,” Hendrickson said. “He always has something to say or a story to tell. God is truly speaking through him as he preaches, his sermons are very intriguing and you never catch yourself about to fall asleep.”
Zellie’s mom had heard about True Light because Hall used to coach hockey with her brother-in-law. Zellie enjoys attending True Light every Sunday and for confirmation. She wishes that more high school aged kids would attend and that they had their own building so that they could have retreats and other activities during the week.
“He is always so nice and welcoming to guest and members,” Zellie said. “My favorite part about [Hall] is when he teaches confirmation he really adapts it a teenagers point of view and he will also always be there to cheer you up.”
True Light has grown in the past four years. When True Light started out, they averaged about 40 people each Sunday, now they average 90. Hall said that it is still growing because people are discovering where and when they meet. Hall also said that they are growing because people are looking for a church where they will not be judged for who they are.
“I think True Light is strong and healthy,” Hall said. “Yet, if we don’t continue to grow in the years to come we will lose our momentum and become like many other stagnant churches.”
Stromberg agrees with Hall. “Birthing a new church can be very difficult, but so is trying to revitalize an existing church that has lost momentum,” said Stromberg. “In both cases we need the Holy Spirit to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or even imagine.”