History of DEFC

The Evangelical Free Church of Delano had its early beginnings in Bible Study Groups with Anders Herje of Buffalo leading meeting in Delano in a large tent starting in the 1940’s. Herje’s daughter, Gladys Seashore, was asked by ladies in 1960 to start a Ladies Bible Study. Reverend  (Rev) Merv Seashore began a Couple’s Bible Study in 1964.

In July of 1965, the group felt a need for a church, so Rev. Seashore, having been associated with the Evangelical Free Church of America, called a meeting with the District Supt., Rev. H. E. Sodergren, to discuss the doctrine and beliefs of this denomination. On September 22, 1965, another meeting was held at the Ted L. Johnson home north of Delano, with Rev. Sodergren and five couples in attendance. The group voted to incorporate as the Evangelical Free Church of Delano and asked Rev. Seashore to serve as pastor.

The young church met in the homes of the members on Sunday evenings until October 17, 1965 when the old cafeteria annex of the Delano Public School was secured as a meeting place.

On July 31, 1966, 4 acres of land were purchased from Herbert Levens on east Elm Street in Delano for the purpose of erecting a church building. On August 2nd, before the group met for their general board meeting, they assembled at the new site and each one offered a prayer of praise and thanksgiving and sang the hymn they had chosen as their theme song - To God Be The Glory - written by Fanny Crosby. It was the prayer of each person present that this church may never lose sight of its purpose, to bring lost souls to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ with hearts full of Joy, Praise, and Thanksgiving. The group returned to the Forest Osgood residence for the business meeting.

On June 6, 1967, after the Sunday morning service, a ground breaking ceremony was held for the new church building. Work started September 1st.

On November 22nd, the first Thanksgiving service was held in the basement of the new building with 122 persons attending. We continued to meet in the basement until March 9, 1969, when the sanctuary was completed.

On May 4, 1969, the new church building was dedicated - To the glory of God the Father, to the honor of His Son, Jesus Christ, the teaching of His Word, and in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Message of Dedication by Dr. Arnold J. Olson, President of the Evangelical Free Church of America.

The Delano Christian Academy was opened in 1977. Enrollment peaked with over 90 students. The school remained open until 1992.

Rise ‘N Shine Preschool (later renamed Joyful Heart Preschool) opened in September 1993 with Lois Seeger as the Director and Beven Vanasse as the teacher. Beven became the Director followed by Deb Carlson and then Cheryl Jacobson.

DEFC participated in the Billy Graham Crusade in 1996. Over 350 people rode in buses to attend with many participating as counselors and choir members.

DEFC has participated in numerous missionary activities including supporting Harry and Sue Maravelas as missionaries in Japan in 1992;  a group of 14 youth and adults going to Matamoras, Mexico in 1997; Jeff Seeger with Operation Mobilization aboard the ship Doulos in 1998; Erin Goodwin serving as an inner city teacher with World Impact in Chester, Pennsylvania; Lauren Kewitsch on several missionary trip; and numerous others both locally and around the world.

The church has undergone several large remodels and additions over the years including: remodeling the sanctuary in 2004 to change from pews to chairs, renovating the platform, and adding a projector and screen; adding the East Wing in 2000; and renovating the East Wing in 2012 with a new roof, windows, and carpeting.

Evangelical Free Church of Delano has been served by seven Senior Pastors:

1965-1971 Merv Seashore

1971-1976 Hugh Walker

1976-1984 Don Whipple

1984-1985 Floyd Hackett

1986-1988 Harry Maravelas

1989-2001 Dean DeVries

2001-2019 Peter Johannsen

2018-current    Mark Bendell

DEFC Delano, MN,
Nov 1, 2017, 1:51 PM