Son follows father serving congregation

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 20, 2001

It’s like father, like son at Faith Lutheran Church of London.

Wednesday, June 20, 2001

It’s like father, like son at Faith Lutheran Church of London.

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The Rev. Einar Unseth has stepped aside and his son, the Rev. Reuben Unseth has replaced him.

The Rev. Reuben Unseth was installed as pastor of Faith Lutheran Church Sunday morning. Jim Rosenberg, Ted Horn, David Young and Charles Hinderaker, church elders, officiated in the installation ceremonies in front of a full house.

"I am just thrilled to have Pastor Unseth’s son serving Faith Lutheran Church. It’s a blessing to have Pastor Reuben here," said Don Hanson, president of the congregation.

It’s just like a farmer passing the family farm on to his son," he said of Sunday morning’s events.

The London church serves 73 families and has about 150 members and is an independent church.

Carlisle Greibrok, who opened the doors of his home to the new congregation 13 years ago, observed, "It’s just like George and Barbara Bush watching their son, George W. inaugurated as president to see Einar and Luella and their son, Reuben, today."

The Rev. Einar Unseth served Six Mile Grove and Mona Lutheran churches for six years. During that time, he also started in "outdoor, come-as-you-are" informal services Sunday evenings at Mona Lutheran Church. People remain in their cars, pickup trucks and vans parked on the church lawn in the unincorporated community south of Lyle and hear an hour of music with a message Sunday nights.

Then, he left the area for other callings, but returned in 1988, when, perhaps, the faithful need him the most.

That was when the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America was formed. However, not every congregation thought bigger was a better way to worship, so they went their own way.

Members from Deer Creek Lutheran Church, Mona Lutheran Church, Hayward Lutheran Church and Lutheran churches in population centers at Albert Lea and Austin decided to forge their own faith instead of joining the amalgamation of Lutheranism in the merged ELCA.

They held services in homes, growing by a family or an individual each Sunday, until they needed even more space and Carlisle and Dorothy Greibrok opened their spacious country home to the congregation.

The Greibroks even constructed a chapel in their home to allow a more formal setting for worship services.

The Rev. Einar Unseth spearheaded the new church’s growth, continuing his low-keyed, Bible-based message and unwavering faith in God.

At last the new church had enough members, who had pledged enough money, to build a new church.

Sites in northern Iowa and southern Minnesota were considered, but tiny London was chosen and a new brick church constructed in the unincorporated community.

Now, the man who was its pastor will be a member, driving the short distance from where he and his wife, Luella, live in a comfortable 2-story home among a grove of trees.

Their son will be in the pulpit.

The new minister said he is "extremely grateful to God and the congregation for giving me the opportunity to serve,"

"I know I will have a big pair of shoes to fill," he added.

His wife, Amy Unseth, a music major and flutist, teaches private music lessons. The Unseths live in Austin. They have a son, Josiah, 13, Nathan, 11, Elizabeth, 9 and Donna, 4.

The new pastor has served 12 years at churches in Roseau and Garden City, Iowa.

The Rev. Einar and Luella Unseth have six children and 21 grandchildren. A son, Peter, is a missionary, and another son, Ben, works for a Christian publishing house in California.

On Sunday, Luella Unseth, called the events a "Day of Thanksgiving" at the sight of her son, Reuben, being installed as a minister, and the affection the congregation showed her husband, Einar.

The retiring pastor accepted handshakes and hugs of congratulations after preaching his farewell sermon and seeing his son installed on Father’s Day to replace him.

After the worship service ended and the congregation streamed into the fellowship hall for a reception to honor the father and son, the last official act of Einar Unseth was to pray for Shirley Hinderaker, a church member, facing a medical emergency.

Call Lee Bonorden at 434-232 or e-mail him at