I got a tip that Paul Andell, Pastor of St. James Lutheran Church, was retiring at the last Northwood Civic meeting. I had a nodding acquaintance from seeing him at the Historical Society of Frankford meetings of which he is also the president but I had never actually met him.
So the day after the church celebrated its 85th anniversary, we talked a bit about what it will be like to wrap up almost 39 years of service to the Frankford community.
He is not native to this area. He grew up in Rhode Island and Florida but his family roots go back to Minnesota. He graduated with a degree in history from Augsburg College in Minneapolis. As the son of a third generation Lutheran Pastor, he followed in the family tradition after graduation by enrolling in Gettysburg Seminary. He was ordained in 1972 and came to St. James that same year as an assistant pastor. He became senior pastor in 1975.
Community is a word that comes up often from Paul Andell in looking back over his time at St. James. It is reflected in the direction that he has lead the church during those years and also his involvement in civic affairs. In addition to the leadership of the St. James, he has also been active in the Frankford Lions Club, the Historical Society of Frankford and several other committees and organizations over that time.
St. James is now the largest Lutheran congregation in the city and draws its multicultural membership from all parts of the area, not just our neighborhood. It has numerous outreach programs including a well-respected pre-school.
During Paul’s sojourn here in Frankford the facilities at St. James have been continually upgraded and expanded with some milestone to measure each year’s progress.
Paul will preside over his last service at St. James on June 12th. He and his wife Pam, who is an artist, raised their children in Frankford and have adapted to life in the big city. Retirement may not be the correct term for the future. Paul intends to look for part time pastor opportunities and also a potential role as a consultant. There will of course be return trips to Philadelphia to see the grandchildren.
It will be a significant change to get back to small town life in Northern Minnesota. Frankford’s loss will be Aitkin Minnesota’s gain. We wish both Paul and Pam the best.