The Early Years

Charter Members (.pdf)

In late 1963 and early 1964, the initial work of planning a new congregation of the American Lutheran Church (now the ELCA) was begun in Burnsville, Minnesota. Construction of a building started, a pastor was called, an organizational meeting was held, and publicity was distributed to the surrounding community.

All of this led to the adoption of the constitution that established the new congregation called Prince of Peace Lutheran Church. 68 families were a part of this new venture of faith.

The original facility was located on the corner of Nicollet Avenue and Burnsville Parkway. Within two years, a new education wing needed to be added. Our first pastor was Rev. Gerald Allen; his successor in 1967 was Pastor Robert Kompelien. In 1970, Pastor Mervin Thompson began his ministry here as senior pastor. Pastor Michael Foss served as senior pastor from 1993 – 2006. In December 2007, Pastor Jeff Marian accepted the Call to serve as Lead Pastor and joined the Prince of Peace community on March 1, 2008.

During the 1960s, the congregation experienced rapid expansion, growing to more than 1,000 members by the end of the decade. Large housing developments in the surrounding area were commonplace. Prince of Peace paralleled that growth, and soon was out of room. Being land locked, with no way to expand, the congregation voted during the summer of 1972 to move. They would join with Lutheran partners, Fairview Hospital and Ebenezer Senior Care Center, at a site called The Ridges. The move was completed in 1976.

One of the unique characteristics of Prince of Peace also began in 1972. That summer, the church held outdoor worship services at the Lucky Twin Drive-in Theater. The conditions were primitive, with the service being led from the top of the projection booth, or the back of a truck if it was raining. A musical group called The Real Thing (which included Handt Hanson, Prince of Peace’s current director of worship) was enlisted for the summer to lead the services. This style of contemporary worship became very familiar and meaningful, and was soon incorporated in worship year round.

When the congregation moved in 1976, the new sanctuary was used for both worship and education. As worship attendance continued to increase, more and more of the sanctuary space needed to be used for worship. This led to the addition of an education wing in 1981. The growth did not stop, and by 1986, Prince of Peace’s facilities were again at capacity. With the church’s parking lots also filled to capacity, using existing land for expansion was not an option. Because a medical office building was located to our south, it was initially believed that expansion in that direction was not an option. But, serendipitously, the owners of that building were running out of space as well and were interested in selling their facility and land. Being located just across an adjoining parking lot, it was a natural choice to make the purchase, and the renovation of the Christian Life Center was soon underway.

The Christian Life Center became a magnificent addition to the ministry of Prince of Peace. It contained more than 55 classrooms, a chapel, a youth center, a library, large meeting rooms and the administrative offices. The dedication of the facility took place in 1987.

In the summer of 1997 the sanctuary of our church was remodeled. We now seat nearly 1250 worshipers with improved sight lines, a larger choir loft and a chancel that allows us to provide worship in new ways. A new pipe augmented organ and technological growth have highlighted our new look.

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