Generational TreeThe Generational Tree
The six roots represent a support system formed by our six values of prayer, worship, Bible study, faith communities, mission, and service. The trunk represents the core and formative experiences of unity – birthed in baptism, remembered in a common history, and lived out in our mission and value statements. The six branches represent the diversity that flows from our healthy unity: six unique generational ministries that do not compete for resources but instead bless each other. The six parts of each main branch portray the unique generational expression of the six values common to all.

Basic Assumptions of Our Model for Ministry

a. We believe that the unity we have in Christ is the central truth and force of our community of faith. This unity is birthed in baptism, remembered in a common history, and lived out in our mission and value statements.

b. We believe that as we understand the generational context for ministry (i.e. the six generations living today) we are better able to make fully devoted disciples.

c. We believe in a principle of abundance rather than a principle of scarcity. Jesus is present with our community of faith providing all that we need to accomplish his will. We seek to “catch the wave” of God’s powerful activity in our midst.

d. We believe and live out a generosity between generations. Grandchildren bless grandparents. Grandparents bless grandchildren. We do not compete for resources.

e. We believe effective ministry flows from empowered leaders of each generation.

f. We believe in an organization that is able to move quickly to meet changing needs.

Core Values

Mission Statement: Making Christ known so that all generations may know him and become his fully devoted disciples. (N.B., Matthew 28:18-10, Psalm 78:6-7)

Out of our commitment to become fully devoted disciples, we value:

A loving relationship to God through Jesus (Up)
As expressed in the teaching of justification by grace through faith, lived out in the practices of prayer and worship, and experienced as the fruits of the Spirit, such as love, joy, peace, and kindness (Galatians 5:22-23).

A faithful devotion to God’s people (In)
As expressed in the example of the early church that devoted itself to regular gatherings for prayer, Bible study, and support (Acts 2:42, 46-47), lived out in the practices of regular contact with God’s Word and regular gatherings with other Christians in faith communities, large and small, experienced as friendship, encouragement to grow in one’s personal faith life, and a collaboration in works of service and mission.

A holy calling to the world God loves (Out)
As expressed in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20), lived out in the practices of mission and service (proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ and serving a world in need), and experienced as a life of significance.

Church History

Expanding God’s Kingdom
In the years following World War II, the Home Mission Board of the Evangelical Lutheran Church Synod planned to establish a second ELC congregation in Rochester in the rapidly growing northwest section of town. Since no rental property was available in 1951, the synod purchased eight lots in a cornfield across from Washington School and near Assisi Heights, both of which were under construction at that time. Pastor and Mrs. Joseph Shefveland of Chicago accepted the challenge of organizing the new congregation.

The first service in the new facility took place on Palm Sunday 1953. Pastor Shefveland’s sermon theme that day was “God’s Kingdom Expands Today.” Membership in the fledgling congregation expanded rapidly, and by the end of 1953, 100 families had joined.

God’s Kingdom Keeps Growing
In only three years, the congregation outgrew its original building, so an education wing was added in 1957 to accommodate over 250 children who attended our Sunday School.

IBM Comes to Town
Until 1956, Rochester had only one principal employer, the Mayo Clinic. In November of that year, IBM announced plans to build a new facility in northwest Rochester. Gloria Dei was a well-established congregation by that time and fortunately was located in an area that was convenient to the large number of new families building homes near IBM. By the time Gloria Dei was 10 years old in 1963, membership had grown to over 2,000 baptized members. The dream of a larger sanctuary was possible, and plans got underway to build it. In June 1965, our present sanctuary was dedicated.

At Gloria Dei we treasure our musical heritage. From one adult choir in the beginning, our music program has grown to four choirs and two contemporary music teams. In 1987, we added our 43-rank Casavant pipe organ to further enhance our musical experience.

Since our beginnings we have supported missionaries abroad. In the 1970’s our efforts included sponsoring Vietnamese and Hmong families in our community. One of our biggest outreach programs, of which we are very proud, is our Sustenance Program that gave over $100,000 to hunger programs last year. A popular event for which our families enjoy volunteering is the annual Ability Building Center employee Christmas party held in our Fellowship Hall.

God’s Kingdom Has Expanded Again
In Summer 2005, we completed yet another addition to the building. Square feet were added to the building in the form of a larger Fellowship Hall, a Chapel, larger nursery, expanded narthex and a youth room off the balcony. The building was also made handicapped accessible by installing an elevator that reached three floors.