“I confess that I rode my motorcycle down the hallway of the Faith education wing,” said Jim Sbertoli, former Faith Lutheran Church youth pastor.
Sbertoli, who served from 1968 to 1971, will re-enter the pulpit at Faith this Sunday, June 9, at the 8:15 and 10 a.m. services as part of the church’s 125th anniversary activities.
A 1968 graduate of Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago, Sbertoli came to Faith Lutheran as an assistant pastor. He, his wife Glenna and 2-year-old daughter Jennifer drove to Minnesota for the first time that summer.
As assistant to Pastor Frank Johnson, his primary responsibility was youth ministry, including youth choir, Wednesday evening discussions and suppers, Youth Sunday presentations, retreats and summer trips.
“We also started a Thursday evening contemporary worship service that used both youth and adult bands from the congregation,” he said. He remembers the adult jazz group playing “Pennies from Heaven” for the offering, starting small groups and “facing societal struggles from dealing with hunger issues to the war in Vietnam.”
Robin Johnson of Forest Lake, a member of Faith, remembers Sbertoli’s charisma and youthfulness drawing many to church activities, especially the Wednesday discussions and suppers. “Sometimes we had shared services with youth from other Forest Lake congregations. We certainly had an ecumenical turn during his tenure,” she said.
The 125th anniversary schedule will also include a June 30 appearance by Pastor Arlyn Tolzmann, a “son of the congregation” who graduated from Forest Lake and went on to a career in Lutheran ministry.
Another highlight will be a barbecue and evening vesper service on Saturday, July 6, when the church will welcome community members, church members, confirmands and friends of the parish.
The next morning, July 7, the Barbary Coast Dixieland Band will headline both the 8:15 and 10 a.m. services, joined by the Faith Choir. The band will present a concert in the Faith Life Center that afternoon.
The Faith campus is located at 886 North Shore Drive in Forest Lake.