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To most people, Thief River Falls (TRF) isn’t the first place that comes to mind when mentioning Jerry Strandquist, but it does for Luke Stavos. Luke and his wife Katie are pastoring Nexus Church in TRF, a church with a rich Assemblies of God heritage since its beginning in the 1930’s. It was once pastored by G. Raymond Carlson, and it was also Jerry Strandquist’s home church growing up, then called Assemblies of God Tabernacle. Years later, Luke stepped into the Lead Pastor position in August of 2014.

Luke and Katie both grew up in the St. Cloud area, going to high school together and later got married in 2001. Luke studied at the University of Northwestern while they volunteered in children’s ministry at New Life Church in Foley. After graduating, Luke went on staff as the part-time Children’s Pastor at Zimmerman Community Church where he served for six years. After getting ordained, they felt God leading them in a different direction and began to explore their options. It was in that process they discovered Thief River Falls.

It would be a huge step of faith for the Stavos family. They had friends and family in the St. Cloud area and had called it home for as long as they could remember. Katie recalled asking God, “What do you have for me there?” God’s response was simply, “Me.”

The church was also in need of revitalization, and unfortunately they couldn’t afford to pay Luke’s salary right away. In stepped Clarence St. John, who rallied 31 other lead pastors to financially support Luke and Katie  in order to get them on their feet and quickly engaged in ministry. Jerry Strandquist and Cedar Valley Church led the charge.

Since then, Nexus Church has been steadily growing and is reestablishing a strong presence in the community. Luke is a substitute teacher and also serves on the board of two community organizations. The church is active in meeting local needs. Over Christmas they partnered with a local car shop to offer free car care for single moms, and they start each school year off with a clothes swap, a family event with games, food, and inflatables, where people bring gently used clothes that others can take for free. As Luke puts it, “We must become missionaries to our city; find the needs and meet them one at a time. Through the Holy Spirit’s leading we will be directed and empowered to make a lasting impact in our city.”

Not long ago, Luke was driving home from a trip and passed through Red Lake Falls, just 18 miles south of TRF. He sensed the need to pray for a church to be planted in that community. That experience was the catalyst behind the recent name change to Nexus Church. Luke and Katie believe TRF will be the epicenter for church plants all over Northwest Minnesota, and without a doubt adding to the great history of this healthy faith community.