Rush City pastor leaving First Lutheran after 20 years

O’Shea playing the piano in the sanctuary of the First Evangelical Church in Rush City.
Photo by Noelle Olson

The First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Rush City is saying goodbye to the Rev. Laurie O’Shea after 20 years of service. He has taken a call to Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Dassel.
O’Shea grew up in central North Dakota on a farm and attended Valley City State University, where he majored in music and business education. He met and married his wife, Joy, and the two moved to Sidney, Montana, where they had three children: Pat, Tom and Meghan.
“I taught music for five years in Montana, and during that time I started working at a church as a youth and music education director,” O’Shea said.
In 1989, he felt the calling to go into ministry.
“I was out in the Little Belt Mountains and was filled with the Holy Spirit,” he said. “The same feeling happened last year when taking the call to Dassel.”
O’Shea decided to move to Minnesota with his family where he attended Luther Seminary and received a Master of Divinity Degree.
“The move to Minnesota was a little tough for the boys because they loved Sidney and had their friends there, but they adjusted well,” Joy said. “We always told them that home is where we are planted.”
In November 1996, Laurie took the call to become the pastor at First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Rush City. He has many fond memories of his time in Rush City and First Lutheran.
“One of my favorite memories is when I was standing out here digging the first ground to build the new church,” he said. “When we moved into the new church on Feb. 1, 2004, the snow was gently falling and I told the congregation, ‘God has blessed us in this endeavor.’”
Laurie has been involved with the Rush City Schools music education and has been their pianist for some of their concerts.
“A lot of the memories here are centered around families and being a part of their lives,” he said. “Whether it’s being here in church, their homes, or out in the community. I feel like I was not just the pastor of this church, but a pastor to the community.”
Deb Dahlberg, a member of First Lutheran and the president of the Church Council, said the O’Sheas are going to be missed by the congregation and the community.
“We’re going to miss his leadership on the council,” Dahlberg said. “His input was level-headed and really helped us spiritually to focus on our mission of spreading our ministry in our community.”
Dahlberg shared one of her favorite memories of Laurie.
“When us altar guild ladies were setting up the altar for service, the pastor would meditate and play the piano in the sanctuary,” she said. “It would just relax you and fill you with the Holy Spirit, and I am going to miss his beautiful piano playing.”
Dahlberg also said Joy was very involved in the community.
“Joy organized and implemented the Feed My Starving Children ministry in our community and got people involved,” she said.
First Lutheran is having a farewell service July 16 at the church, followed by a brunch.
“On the pastor’s last day, we want the whole community to come out and say goodbye to these two wonderful people,” Dahlberg said.
Laurie and Joy said they are going to miss not only the congregation but also the people in Rush City.
“You grow attached to people after 20 years,” Laurie said.
The O’Sheas are looking forward to their new journey in Dassel but will never forget their time in Rush City.
“It certainly has been a blessing here at First Lutheran,” Laurie said. “As a congregation, we put our trust in God that he will lead us and guide us to be open to the Holy Spirit. This has enabled us to be a strong congregation today.”

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