Every day, for half a century, thousands of commuters have passed by Olivet Lutheran Church in the goings and comings of their everyday lives. As they approach 13th Avenue South along University Drive the familiar landmark draws the eye, first to the imposing bell-tower, crowned by the church’s familiar cross; then to the half-block long two story ediface, anchored in the prairie like an Ark come-to-rest; two stories of brick and concrete punctuated by hundreds of the red, blue, green, and gold portholes that have inspired its frequently-referenced nickname, “The Swiss Cheese Church”.
Olivet came to this corner in 1965. The original Olivet had been organized by 12 people in 1921 as “Trinity English Church”, later known as “Olivet English Lutheran Church”. In 1922 a new church was constructed at the corner of 10th Street and 10th Avenue South, where the first service was attended by 80 parishoners. In the post-war era the congregation grew, together with the surrounding south Fargo neighborhoods. To help meet the demand, Olivet sponsored a mission church, Bethlehem Lutheran, and pledged $10,000 towards its establishment. Then, in the late fifties, when all indebtedness had been retired, Olivet Lutheran Church launched a building fund to secure property and begin construction on a permanent home at 1330 South University Drive.
Years later, Olivet would again help sponsor a mission church, Good News Lutheran Church at 25th Street and 17th Avenue South. In 2002, the Good News building and property was gifted to Olivet. With the gift, Olivet was able to purchase the adjacent Lutheran Social Services campus, thus making possible a capital fund drive culminating in the construction of a long-dreamed-of expansion, dedicated in 2013.
Olivet is so much more than brick, mortar, concrete and glass. It is, as it has always been, a living, beating heart of faith; a community of believers assembled together on the solid rock foundation of Jesus Christ.
Olivet is a place for God’s Mission. Its bells ring, its cross beckons and its lighted, colored windows are calling neighbors and passing strangers to the Great Communion. Those who enter Olivet’s doors are greeted by the aroma of coffee and “something good” simmering in steaming kettles in the church kitchen. There is laughter to be heard in Fellowship Hall. And children’s voices echo in the Sunday School hallways. From the Sanctuary, the thunderous beauty of the pipe organ announces Worship. The olivewood and copper figure of Christ blesses the congregants who gather there to hear The Word; to be baptized, confirmed, married and eulogized; and to commune with their brothers and sisters in Christ.
For decades to come, Olivet’s doors will open to the community it has been called to serve. The table is prepared. You belong here.