Ascension Lutheran Church

Ascension Lutheran Church

There was a point in time that the Lakeland-Minocqua area was dramatically growing and changing.  Minocqua was becoming a cosmopolitan community with people from literally around the world and from diverse age and religious backgrounds.  Because family make-up and lifestyles continued changing, demands were created on both the church membership and the so-called “unchurched” people in the community. 

Recognition of this “new” era and how to be inclusive to this community resulted in a surge of collective effort to embark on a challenge to share in a new venture based in Christ’s desire for unity and compassion for all – young and old – poor and rich – the man on the street – the disenfranchised. 

Thus, the beginning of Ascension Lutheran Church started in 1982.  Eighty-nine people attended the first worship held on the lawn of Dr. Gary & Glenda Haug’s home.  It was agreed by all to continue pursuing the mission, and a more permanent location was sought for worship services. 

In June, services were moved to the Hazelhurst Town Hall.  We quickly outgrew the town hall; therefore the first Worship Service of Commitment was held at the Arbor Vitae-Woodruff School gymnasium.  Attendance had grown to 147. 

Ascension Lutheran Church was officially named a mission church on October 24, 1982.  Amidst the fanfare of trumpets and children singing, Ascension’s charter was opened for signatures on Reformation Sunday.    

The average church attendance was 141 with confirmed membership growing to 239.  Ascension proceeded with preparations for calling a pastor/developer in 1983.  Pastor David E. Jensen accepted the call and moved with his family to the area.  Worship services continued to be held in the Arbor Vitae-Woodruff School gym. 

Along with a rapidly growing membership, plans were underway to build a church with an official groundbreaking in August, 1985. 

In 1986, the congregation moved into the newly completed building which was 8,700 square feet, the largest and first mission-unit ever built by the Lutheran Church in America to exceed 6,000 square feet.  It was designed to accommodate the needs of Ascension’s 450 members, while allowing for further growth and expansion. 

As the church family continued to grow, Margaret Johnson was hired as a student-pastor in 1987 to assist Pastor Jensen.  Margaret decided to go into the ministry.  She was ordained by Pastor Jensen and went on to develop Peace Lutheran, a mission congregation in Eagle River, Wisconsin. 

1988 brought exciting changes to Lutherans throughout North America.  The Evangelical Lutheran in America (ELCA) officially began.  Picking up the heritage of the American Lutheran Church, the Lutheran Church in America, and the Association of Evangelical Lutheran churches, the ELCA took its place in Christian history.  The ELCA proclaimed a challenging mission:  To be faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ; to pick up the mission of the holy apostles and martyrs; to cherish the rich teachings of the great theologians and preachers of the early church; to honor the Christ-inspired insights of the reformers; and to expand the witness of our parents, grandparents, and great grandparents who proclaimed the faith in our time and our lives. 

In creating the “new” ELCA, its newness was often stressed but the focus is old, and it is a focus that faithful Christians dare not lose.  The ELCA’s congregations, synods, and national organization must focus on the “old,” but nonetheless crucial, message of the Gospel-that God’s only son came to atone for our sins, to reconcile us with the Creator, and to enable us to live full lives in Christ. 

Again, because of continued growth of the congregation, a building expansion project began and in 1994 Ascension held its first worship service in the newly-expanded facility; our current building configuration.   

Since the early beginnings of Ascension Lutheran Church, its ministry has grown and brought the teachings of Jesus to countless numbers of people. In fact, time has gone by so fast, our 25th anniversary in 2008 seems like it was just yesterday. 

The foundation for Ascension goes back to a small village named Bethlehem and to a child born to Mary and Joseph named Jesus. It was his life, his teachings, his example, his gathering of disciples, his death and resurrection that were the beginnings of the Christian Church. 

Built on that foundation and the dedication of many faithful people, Ascension Lutheran Church became a reality that has brought a ministry to our area and beyond, centered in our covenant and emphasized strongly in the words “Blessed to be a Blessing.”


Ascension Lutheran Church