In the early and mid 1990s, Minneapolis was more affectionately known as “Murderapolis.” Homicide rates were at an all-time high and the need for gospel-centered churches in the city and surrounding suburbs was abundant.
Centennial began her history in 1992. Grace Evangelical Free Church in Fridley sent some of her leaders to training with T-Net International. From this a dream was born of planting a church. The Centennial School District – just a few minutes north of the cities – became the target area. The area was up and coming with a desirable school district and many young families were moving there.
Core Group Training Retreat - 1994
The Birth of a Church...
In 1993, four families began core group training and by 1994 the core group had grown. Dan Moose, a church-planting pastor, and his family arrived from Pennsylvania. The Lino Lakes Elementary School gym was rented as the first worship gathering location.
On August 28, 1994, Centennial was officially commissioned as a church and held her first public service on September 4, 1994. CEFC conducted public worship for the first time on Sept. 4, 1994.
Commissioning Service - Grace EFC Fridley
Big Steps of Faith...
Despite a strong start, CEFC faced multiple challenges and a period of vulnerability in 1996. Pastor Dan stepped down as pastor. Shortly thereafter, Lino Lakes Elementary School became unavailable and CEFC had to find a new meeting location. Pastor Alan Johnson, an EFCA pastor and U.S. Army Reserve chaplain, became the interim pastor.
In 1997, the tiny CEFC congregation took two big steps of faith. First, they voted to purchase our current facility. Second, later in the year, they called Larry Stromberg to be pastor. Larry and his family arrived in January 1998.
New Pastors and New Buildings
CEFC has had the opportunity in our thirty year history to train many ministry leaders. Two of those leaders from our past have since started or revitalized new churches and we are honored to have a place in their stories.
Kyle Eaton began as a volunteer in the fall of 2001, served as youth pastor starting in May of 2003, and later as associate pastor. Kyle left Centennial in 2006 to receive further training from Anchor Point Church in Duluth before planting Rock Hill Community Church in Duluth in December 2007.
John Stromberg, son of Pastor Larry, joined CEFC staff as Pastor of Church Multiplication in July 2013. In 2018, CEFC joined with Park Community Church to help revitalize Elmwood EFC in New Brighton. John Stromberg left CEFC in November 2018 to become the new senior pastor at Elmwood. A core group of CEFC individuals and families accompanied him.
Larry Stromberg (left) with Kyle Eaton (right)
CEFC Staff 2016 – (from L to R) Larry Stromberg, Ericca Hoffer, Jennifer Kvamme, Katie Jensen, John Stromberg
After 20 years of service, Larry completed his ministry as senior pastor in February 2019. In July 2019, Dan Van Loon arrived to serve as interim pastor. Unbeknownst to him and the church, Dan would stay on for three years and guide the church through all the difficulties COVID-19 brought with it.
In June 2022, Dan completed his time at CEFC and David Nelson began his time as the new pastor of Centennial Church.
From L to R: Pastors Dan Moose (1994-96), Al Johnson (1996-98), Larry Stromberg (1998-2019), Dan (with his wife, Beth) Van Loon (2019-22), and David (with his wife, Abbie) Nelson (2022-Present)