First Lutheran Church • 912 Lake Avenue • Detroit Lakes, MN 56501
 218-847-5656 • 218-847-7009 (fax)
Office Hours:
8:30 am – 4pm

Pastor Dave_SPastor Dave Peterson


When talking with Pastor Dave, you’ll find his Ministry Passion is to live out the mission of First Lutheran always seeking to “Open Doors to Life in Christ” through the “Get To: practices of : Radical Hospitality, Passionate Worship, Intentional Faith Growth, Risk-Taking Mission and Service, and Extravagant Generosity.

Believing the Gospel is always a “Get-To”, Dave lives out this “Get-To” with his passion for serving God’s People which includes being treasurer for the Lakes Area Ministerial, and serving on the local Habitat for Humanity board. His passion for cycling means he regularly rides the Habitat 500, a 500 mile bike ride that raises funds for affordable housing through Habitat.

Dave and his wife, Joy, are the proud and excited parents and parents-in-law of 5 young adults: 4 of whom were preschoolers when we moved to Detroit Lakes in 1993. Now, 20+ years later, their oldest (and his wife) are teaching in NE Minnesota, with their other three young adults in different states of continuing their education in various grad schools: from the University of Missouri to the University of Minnesota to Penn State University.

Dave enjoys biking, water sports, playing basketball, traveling, “following after” his kids, camping, and celebrating life in general.

John photo


Pastor John Simonson
On leave of absenceSee announcement here.


Ahoy-Hoy!  I’m Pastor John.  I’m the newbie here at First Lutheran Church.  I was ordained in the summer of 2012, and this is my second call as Pastor.  I’m originally from Minot, ND where I was born and raised. I did my undergraduate at Concordia College in Moorhead, and I majored in Communications and Religion.  After college I did what most millennials do after college and moved back home to live with my parents.  I always knew that I wanted to go to seminary and be a Pastor but I needed some time off first, and it is a good thing that I took it.  When I got to Seminary I met my wonderful wife, Rachel, who is also a Pastor.  She and I spent our first year of marriage on our internship just north of Seattle in Lynnwood, WA.  It was wonderful being at the church for a year in the Pacific NW, however my wife and I need the sunshine.   We have two children now Anna, who will be 3 this June and Charlie who was born in February.  It has been such a blessing for my family and I to be called to First Lutheran. I can feel the very presence of God working in, with, and under the people in the community, and it is an honor to be a part of.  Stop in the office or call anytime you want to chat!   God bless the world, no exceptions.





Pastor Rachel Simonson





Denise Gaard Parish Nurse_new

Denise Gaard, Parish Nurse


Hi, I am Denise Gaard. I have worked as a nurse for 40 years, hard to believe that it has been that long! I have experience in many areas including Orthopedics, Neurology, Newborn Nursery, Long Term Care, Consulting, Quality Assurance and Education. I am enjoying being part of the family here at First Lutheran. As the Parish Nurse I provide both health and spiritual support to our parishioners.  A Parish Nurse is a licensed Registered Nurse who integrates faith and health practices, provides health education, becomes a personal health counselor, and is a referral agent. I work closely with the Health Ministry Team. The mission of the Health Team is:  Opening doors to Christ by promoting the spiritual, physical and mental health of all members of First Lutheran Church and our Community.

I am married and have 3 children and 6 grandchildren. My husband, Todd and I love camping, traveling, boating and spending time with our family and friends. I enjoy gardening, being outdoors and cooking.

I feel blessed to be a part of the ministry here at First Lutheran Church. Please call the church office if you would like to visit or speak with me! Blessings, Denise

Susie 1_S

Susie Reitmeier, Business Manager


Hi, I am Susie Reitmeier, the Business Manager here at First Lutheran and have worked here since 2011. I have 3 children, my oldest son and daughter-in-law, Chris and Mandy Cymbaluk, my daughter, Jamie Cymbaluk and youngest son, Andrew Cymbaluk. I have 3 grandchildren, Elle and Will and Clara Cymbaluk. My sister and I have a small horse farm just outside of Detroit Lakes which keeps me very busy outside of work. I’m originally from Crookston, but lived in Tennessee for 20 years before moving back to Minnesota. I love my job with First Lutheran and all the great people. Feel free to stop in and visit.

Tanzy2_STanzy Haisley, Director of Support Ministries


Tanzy first joined the First Lutheran team in 1999. She left the office a couple times when family necessitated, but found her way back to the FLC each time.





Mary Totland Janitor_newMary Totland, Custodian

I grew up in Long Prairie, MN and currently live in Frazee with my husband, Dennis. We have been married for 39 years. We have 6 children; Andrea (Michael) Johnson, Jennie, Lucas, Andrew (Ashley), Rachel and Emily. We have 3 grandchildren; Tobia, Elijah, Nathaniel and another one on the way in May. I’ve worked at First Lutheran since 1997.








Jen Savig, KidsFirst Preschool





Maddie Hanson






Maddie Hanson, Director of Youth Ministries






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Julie Hibma, Communications











Cory Oswald, Communications