New pastor called to Perham's Calvary Lutheran

Pr. Philip Holten of Fargo has accepted the call to serve as Pastor at Calvary Lutheran Church (ELCA). His decision to come to Calvary completes a five month intensive pastoral search by the 1,000 member congregation.

Pr. Philip Holten of Fargo has accepted the call to serve as Pastor at Calvary Lutheran Church (ELCA). His decision to come to Calvary completes a five month intensive pastoral search by the 1,000 member congregation.

The membership met on Oct. 29 and voted unanimously to accept the recommendation of the call committee.

He will begin his ministry here on the first Sunday of Advent, Dec. 3. Pr. Holten comes to Perham from Concordia College, where he has been campus pastor for 23 years, the last 11 as senior pastor.

Phil Holten comes to Calvary with a rich, varied body of experience. He is an honors graduate of Waldorf College, Luther College, and Luther Seminary. He interned at St. Mark's Lutheran Church in Guadalajara, Mexico, and is a fluent Spanish speaker. He first served a small two point parish at Makoti, ND, and later a large, multiple staff congregation at Minot, ND. After five years there, he was called to Concordia.

He also received a master's Degree in New Testament Studies from Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, NJ. In 1993, he earned his Doctor of Ministry in Worship from Luther Seminary in St. Paul.


Over the years, he has developed a philosophy of ministry that he describes as "teaching the local community to tie into the global community." He first implemented his idea in Makoti, where he organized a "crop clean-up" project that raised money for global missions. Twenty-three years ago, he started the Fargo-Moorhead Habitat for Humanity and remains active in the organization.

At Concordia he has organized many mission trips, which last year alone sent 400 students to missions all over the world. Over the years, almost 3,000 students have benefited - and benefited others - from these experiences. He states, "These can be found and still be productive and purposeful."

Ron Ringsven, chairperson of the call committee, says, "The search for a pastor was thorough. It spanned almost five months, with committee meetings at least once a week. We evaluated many candidates for call; we intensively interviewed six of the applicants. We invited two of these six to return for second interviews and evaluated them prayerfully. In the end, we all agreed that God was calling Pr. Holten to Calvary."

Phil is married to Merrie Sue, a professor of speech and communications at Concordia College. She is also a feature writer for numerous publications. She has produced an award-winning documentary film about hockey and faith, "Power and Stride, the Nancy Burgraff Story."

Phil and Merrie Sue have three children. The oldest Elise, a West Point graduate, served two tours of duty in Iraq, receiving a bronze star for meritorious conduct; she now works for the U.S. Army in Tuscany, Italy. Mark is a Concordia graduate and recently received his Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Minnesota. Johanna, a collegiate all-American volleyball player at Juniata College, has finished her master's degree in International Service in London. She will soon serve as a Peace Corps member in Eastern Europe.

Phil Holten is an avid woodturner. His work has received awards at shows all over the Midwest. He jokingly says, "I'm following my bowl to Perham," as he often comes here to get the burls that he turns into bowls.

Calvary's interim pastor, Marilyn Breckenridge has known Pr. Holten for some years. She says of him, "My heart is filled with gratitude to God for providing Calvary with an outstanding pastor to lead them. I have been impressed with his warmth, and his commitment to Christ and to the church. He has many abilities, including worship leadership and mission experience. The congregation is in good hands."

Pr. Holten has always been very involved in the communities he has served. In addition to his work with Habitat for Humanity and the CROP walk, he has been active with the Red Cross, Lutheran Social Services, Moorhead's Hispanic Task Force and other local projects. He intends to be an enthusiastic part in the Perham community.

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