HJ-ED-DHJ

March 5, 2007

Pastor 'comes home' to Lake Union Church, Dassel area

The Rev. Lloyd Melvie is a retired, part-time pastor

By Roz Kohls
Staff Writer

The Rev. Lloyd Melvie of Lake Union Evangelical Covenant Church of South Haven is a former Dassel area resident who came back home.

Melvie, a retired part-time pastor of the 100-year old church four miles northeast of Kingston, was an associate pastor at Lake Union in 1994-1995.

Melvie also moved to the Dassel area in 1974 and lived there until 1991. He married Sharon Swanson, who grew up in the Lake Jennie area. When his father-in-law died, Melvie took over his Swanson Insurance Agency, Melvie said.

Both of his children, Tristin and Travis, attended Dassel Cokato schools. Melvie’s son, who now lives in Maple Grove, married Becky Levinski of Darwin.

“It’s a little bit like coming back home,” he said of his call to the 50-member Lake Union church in September.

Melvie’s goal for the church is “to build the church, so they can support a full-time pastor,” he said.

“To the best of my knowledge, it has never had a full-time pastor in 100 years,” Melvie added.

The only Lake Union pastor, who was close to being a full time pastor there that he could recall, was in 1995, when the Rev. Lee Shelton. Shelton had been pastor of both Lake Jennie Covenant Church for 13 years and Lake Union.

“He encouraged me to get involved in preaching and mentored me,” Melvie said.

When Melvie attended the Lake Jennie church, he was classified as a teaching elder. He filled in for pastors on vacation, he said.

Another goal Melvie has for Lake Union is to “grow the church into a healthy community of faith,” he said.

The congregation has a dream of building a new sanctuary, Melvie said. The 100-year old structure is feeling its age. The church, which is along Meeker County Road 19, needs more space for Sunday school. The congregation also wants the building to be 100 percent handicap accessible, not just partly accessible, Melvie said.

Melvie had tried full retirement in 2003. “It didn’t work,” he said.

Melvie has a rented home in South Haven, where he lives half time. He lives in Spicer the rest of the time.

His wife is a nursing instructor at Ridgewater College of Willmar and is working on her master’s degree, Melvie said.

Melvie’s call to be a minister seems to be ongoing, he said.

Melvie grew up in a Christian home in Viking, Minn., but his father died when Melvie was 14. The Rev. Gilbert Anderson, who years later also moved to Dassel, became the first in a long line of mentors.

His interest in the ministry was always in the back of his mind, although he didn’t act on it right away.

“Maybe I wasn’t listening, or I wasn’t ready,” Melvie said.

After high school, Melvie went into the Navy and became a pilot for nine years. He considered being a missionary pilot then, but missionary pilots need to be mechanics also, and Melvie wasn’t, he said.

Melvie then worked at Northwest Airlines. At the same time he worked at Northwest Airlines, he served in a teaching role. During the 1980s, he worked with Shelton at Lake Jennie, he said.

“When I look back, God put mentors in my life to take my father’s place. God always has a ‘father figure’ for me,” he said.

Some were pastors. “Most were lay people who were serious about their faith,” Melvie said.

Melvie moved to Spicer in 1991. After he became credentialed as a pastor, he was called to be an associate pastor at Lake Union in 1994.

His first full-time position was in 1995 at Salem Covenant Church of Pennock, Minn. Melvie took early retirement from Northwest Airlines so he could be a full-time minister, he said.

After Melvie tried retirement, he served as an interim minister at Siren, Wis. in 2005, and then to Lake Union, part of a Swedish-based protestant denomination.

Lake Union has a good mix of ages. It also owns a good portion of the land around the church, including two lake shore lots along Union Lake. The church possibly could sell the two lake lots and use the proceeds to help pay for rebuilding the church sanctuary, he suggested.


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