This is St. Peter Lutheran Church in Devils Lake. When I first came to the North Dakota District the Pastor there was I believe Rev. Heinert (if anyone can help with that I would appreciate it). If my memory serves I used to take his brother home to Mission South Dakota in the spring after school. At that time there was a mission that North Dakota and other Districts had to the deaf that was headed up by Pastor Roger Leonhardt and based out of Devils Lake because the school for the Deaf was there. I can remember going to Immnauel in Grand Forks for something or other and seeing a big travel van outside and inside Pastor Leonhardt signing to a congregation of deaf folks. He was on his way to travel the circuit around in Minnesota and then back to Devils Lake. Anyway got this from Rev. Stoudt.
St. Peter’s and Grace Lutheran Churches will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the ordination of Roger Leonhardt on Sunday, June 7th, at 12:00 at St. Peter’s Lutheran in Devils Lake (corner of 7th Ave. NE and 7th St. NE). This will be a fairly simple celebration; a pot luck dinner followed by the giving of gifts and cards. The Leonhardts do not need any gifts that would require display in their home, as they have so many such gifts after 50 years of ministry that their home has no more room for displaying them. Many of his years were spent in ministry to the deaf, so a memorial gift to the School for the Deaf here in Devils lake would be appropriate. Roger spent all 50 years of his ministry here in Devils Lake. The first two decades were spent exclusively in ministry to the School for the Deaf, here in Devils Lake and extending out as far as western Minnesota. Every Sunday he and his family would load up in their mobile home and travel more than 200 miles to do services at 4 locations, all in sign language. As some of those schools closed down, and the need for Sunday services decreased for others, since the children would go home on the weekends, that ministry decreased. Roger then was extended and accepted a call to serve as Pastor for St. Peter’s Lutheran in Devils Lake and Grace Lutheran in Lakota. He also began a ministry to seminarians by engaging in the vicarage program. He had about 2 dozen vicars over the years. About 15 years ago, after suffering a major heart attack, Roger retired from the ministry, but he remained in Devils Lake. He and his wife, Sonya provided sign interpretation for the services at Devils Lake, as some of the students at the deaf school had become members of the church during his ministry to them. He also continued to mentor young pastors, providing both support and advice to the two men who followed him in the service at St. Peter’s and Grace. You are welcomed to join us as we honor this faithful servant of the Word. Divine Service is at 10:30, and the celebration will be shortly after the service, approximately at 12pm. If you are unable to make it for the celebration, cards may be sent to: St. Peter’s Lutheran Church attn. Rev. Roger Leonhardt PO Box 834 Devils Lake, ND 58301-0834.