Pastor Leif Espeland (center) with wife Ann and son Joe.

St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, ELCA, Hackensack, officially welcomes Pastor Leif Espeland as its new pastor at an installation service Nov. 21 at 9 a.m.

Northeast Minnesota Synod Bishop Amy Odgren will preside at the service, which will be followed by an egg and fruit brunch.

Pastor Espeland accepted the call to serve St. Paul’s in October. He and his wife Ann live in rural Hackensack. They have three adult sons who lived at home during the height of COVID but now are dispersed to San Antonio, Minneapolis and Quantico, Va.

Pastor Leif is a graduate of St. Olaf College and Luther Seminary. In October 2019, he retired from Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, after a 21 year career as a military chaplain; first in the Army, then in the Air Force.

Prior to his career as a chaplain, Espeland served a two-point parish in Gay’s Mills, Wis., from 1997-2001. In 2001 Pastor Leif entered the Army Chaplain’s Corps, serving at one of the most sought-after duty stations, Fort Carson, Colo.

While there, he deployed from April 2003-April 2004 during Operation Iraqi Freedom with the 1st Battalion, 89th Infantry Regiment. The tour was marked by daily enemy contact and stabilization efforts conducted simultaneously.

After transferring from the Army to the Air Force, Pastor Leif served tours on two separate occasions at Lackland AFB, Texas, the home of Air Force basic military training.

His next-to-last duty station was as Wing Chaplain at Tyndall Air Force Base in the Florida Panhandle, where Hurricane Michael inflicted a direct hit in October 2018. The base and surrounding Panama City, Fla., community suffered “utter destruction,” as he describes it. “The entire population departed under an evacuation order. Plans for rebuilding [Tyndall] are under way; however the base’s mission has been shifted as recovery enters its third year.”

After retiring in October 2019, Pastor Leif and his wife Ann moved to their lake home east of Hackensack where they have been involved in typical northwoods activities such as fishing, processing firewood and extensive home renovations. Ann is a faithful volunteer at the Countryside Co-op and Share and Care in Hackensack. She is also an avid knitter and donates her time and skill to Socks for Soldiers.

“I have yet to catch a musky or harvest a deer,” Pastor Leif admits, “but I have hopes that  this might be the year!”


Recommended for you

Load comments