Rev. Estenson fishing off into the sunset

Rev. Gorden Estenson is retiring from St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Hanover after serving nearly 12 years there. He finishes a 32-year career in the ministry. (Sun Press photo by Aaron Brom)

Retiring after 12 years at St. Paul’s Lutheran

Rev. Gorden Estenson of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church of Hanover is planning a fishing trip — not just any fishing trip, this will be his first since retiring from a 32-year career in the ministry.

The past 12 years of that career have been in service at St. Paul’s.

“I’m having a farewell party and then I’m off to Lake of the Woods,” Estenson said, noting he’ll be walleye fishing with family members.

In addition to fishing, Estenson cited 11 very important other reasons he plans to enjoy retirement: his grandchildren. All 11 were born within the past five years to his children Jakob, Erika and Jon.

Originally from Frazee, Minnesota, Estenson’s career began after being ordained in the ministry in 1985. While working with youth groups at Moorhead College, he was invited to apply for the seminary, “and lo and behold I got accepted. The Lord did call me.”

He finished seminary school at Wartburg in Dubuque, Iowa, and eventually he and wife Rikka settled in Winneconne, Wisconsin, at Lord of Lakes Lutheran Church.

“We built that church,” he said. The pastor has also served 23 years as a National Guard Army Reserve Chaplain, including deployment to Desert Storm in Kuwait and in Afghanistan.

He began as St. Paul’s Pastor in October 2005.

“St. Paul’s was a place that fit,” he said. “It’s a smaller church but we’ve increased in membership every year I’ve been here. We’ve been able to address the needs of the congregation, both spiritually and physically.”

He had nothing but the best things to say about his congregation and Hanover itself.

“I’ve been fortunate,” he said. “I like Hanover because it’s small and it has the River Inn! I view this as a calling to the best area in the Twin Cities.”

He and Rikka live in Rockford. In addition to fishing and the grandchildren, he plans on enjoying golf in retirement, as well as plenty of travel.

“I’m now reduced to packing up my books and moving on!” Estenson said. “It’s been a great ride. We’ve been able to minister to all the people and it’s been a good experience.”

There will be a transition period before the church hires a new pastor. Estenson’s last service will be Sunday, June 4.

There will also be a retirement party in his honor.

“I will miss the everyday contact with people,” Estenson said. “But one day that ends, and you have to figure out how to do something else.”