Deer River Church of God celebrates 30 years

by Lee Pederson

Thirty years ago, August 1987, the Deer River Church of God held its first service at the Dee River Town Hall. The congregation has gone through many changes since then. Today we are the only church in town on the other side (south) of the tracks. We invite the community to celebrate with us August 11-13th.

Firday, August 11th, at 3pm free burgers will be served and inflatable games will be available for the kids. Our service will begin at 6pm, featuring key people from the church’s history.

              Rev. Rick Mann

Rick Mann Rev. Rick Mann is a Mental Health Therapist for Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge in Brainerd, Minnesota. He came to Grand Rapids at the age of 29 and had a part in starting the LaPrairie Church of God (later known as Solid Rock Church), the Eagle Country Church of God (Harvest Church) in Remer, and the Deer River Church of God. Rev. Mann spent 13 1/2 years in this area and then moved on to start another church in the Shakopee area. While there, he began to work with Racetrack Chaplaincy Of America, which is a ministry to the backstretch of Thoroughbred racetracks. He spent 18 years in this ministry, traveling to Denver CO, El Paso TX, Kansas City KS , Williamsburg VA, Charles Town WV and Canterbury Park in Minnesota. While working with the State Racing Commission in each of these states, he began to complete his education, enabling him to do more in the area of substance abuse and mental health. He received his undergraduate in Organizational Leadership Management Development in Martinsburg WV and his Master’s degree in Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling at West Virginia University.

After obtaining his education, he pursued licenses to be a state licensed Substance Abuse Counselor and Mental Health Therapist. Rev. Mann served as Director of the Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge in Duluth in the state licensed programs and is now serving as Mental Health Therapist in Brainerd, Minnesota’s co-curring program.

Pastor Curt Flinck
          Pastor Curt Flinck

Pastor Curt Flinck was at Deer River Church of God from its beginning at Deer River Town Hall in August of 1987 and later in the building program for Deer River Church of God and also the Christian school there through November 1992. He was involved with MMAP Ministries (Mobile Missionary Assistance Program) in the construction of the current building for the church initially and later for the Christian school there. Later, from December 1994 – May 2012 he pastored Jenkins Community Church of God. He and his current wife Darla were youth ministers for Living Stones Full Gospel Church from May 2012 until retirement in April of 2015. Curt substitute taught in six area schools during this time. He is currently residing in Hibbing, Minnesota and still substitute teaching in the Iron Range schools. He and Darla are blessed with nineteen grandchildren which keep them very active.

Chaplain Steve Cantrell is a native of Cartersville, Georgia and was born on Easter Sunday. Steve is an ordained bishop with the Church of God, Cleveland, Tennessee. He was a Church of God pastor in Minnesota and Pennsylvania. He is a former noncommissioned officer and one of three US Army Chaplains to make a night combat parachute assault into Bashur, Iraq on March 26, 2003 with the 173d Airborne Brigade.

     Chaplain Steve Cantrell

Chaplain Cantrell’s previous assignments include: Chief, Concepts and Doctrine and Chief, Force Integration, at CDID (Capabilities Development Integration Directorate) at the US Army Chaplain Center and School, Fort Jackson, South Carolina; Deputy Division Chaplain, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, New York (deployed as Deputy for RC-South NATO HQs, Kandahar, Afghanistan); Brigade Chaplain, 192d Infantry Brigade, Fort Benning, Georgia; and as a Battalion Chaplain / Task Force Chaplain with, 2d Battalion (Airborne) 503d Infantry (OIF1), Kirkuk, Iraq; 716 Military Police (101st ABN), Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo (KFOR3A), and the 51st Signal Battalion (Airborne), Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Berry College, Rome, Georgia. He plays a variety of musical instruments. He minored in German and studied abroad at the University of Vienna, Austria. He holds a Master of Divinity degree from the seminary of the Church of God, Cleveland, Tennessee. He served in pastoral ministry for five years prior to entering the Army Chaplain Corps.

Chaplain Cantrell had the privilege of serving fourteen years prior service in the Army as an enlisted Soldier and Noncommissioned Officer. He began his military career at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, serving as a Signal Soldier and a Chaplain Assistant in the 82d Airborne Division in the 1980s. He graduated as the distinguished honor graduate of the chaplain assistant course at Fort Monmouth.

He is a graduate of the Chaplain Officer Basic and Captain Career Course at Fort Jackson, South Carolina; the Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; the Army Force Management Course (3R) at Fort Belvoir, Virginia; the Capabilities Developer Course (7Y) at Fort Lee, Virginia; the Defense Strategy Course (Strategist 6Z) and the Defense Planner Course.

Chaplain Cantrell has served in Operation Joint Guardian, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

His military awards and decorations include two Bronze Star Medals, five Meritorious Service Medals, two Army Commendation Medals, six Army Achievement Medals, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal (with Arrowhead), the Armed Forces Reserve Component Achievement Medal and the Parachutist Badge with bronze service star for combat jump.

Chaplain Cantrell is married to the former Katherine Lee McDonald of Cartersville, Georgia. They have four children and five grandchildren.

These men, along with current pastor, Lee Pederson will be sharing memories and celebration what God was during the last three decades.

          Bethany                  Pederson

Bethany Pederson, foreign and urban missionary will be leading worship for this service.





Saturday events kick off with the Minnesota Run for Hope event, 3pm at Tioga Beach in Cohasset. This event, sponsored by Minnesota Church of God, is a fundraiser Casa Shalom, an orphanage in Guatemala. Registration begins at 2:15, $10 for adults and $7 for children and 12. After the run tacos will be served back at DRCoG.

  Clayton and Linette Watson

Speaking for us that evening will be Clayton Watson. Clayton, with his wife Linette, is currently serving as the Administrative Bishop for the Church of God in Minnesota.





            Crysta Snell

Crysta Snell, worship leader from Solid Rock Church will be leading in worship for this service.







                Lee Pederson

Sunday morning Pastor Lee Pederson will conclude the celebration, sharing our vison and mission and looking to the future. Lee and Robin (wife of 32 years) have pastored the church for the last fifteen years.

Lee grew up in Deer River, graduating from DRHS in 1981. He served 4 years of active duty in the United States Air Force, in Minot, ND where he met Robin. Lee attended college at Northwest Bible College and joined the ND Army National Guard. He completed his education at West Coast Christian College in Fresno , CA and transferred to the CA Army Nat’l Gd. He and Robin relocated to Los Angeles County to work at Liberty Christian School and church. While there Lee was activated for riot control during the Rodney King riots and earthquake relief following the Northridge earthquake.

Returning to MN, Lee and Robin served in Brooklyn Park, until returning to Lee’s home town to pastor DRCoG October 2001. Their children Ben, Bethany, Stephen and Collin are all grads of DRHS, like their father.

All are invited to celebrate with us.

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