As we celebrate 100 Years of Saint Olaf Lutheran Church, we gratefully acknowledge all the faithful pastors and dedicated members through the years who have shaped many lives and given the church so much of their time and talents.

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Rock Church sanctuary

Saint Olaf Lutheran Church Congregation has been in existence since 1886, when a small number of settlers from Norway built the Rock Church. Reverend J.K. Rystad preached for both the Rock Church and Our Saviors Church at Norse.  The congregation continued to grow in a westerly direction; and when the township of Cranfills Gap became a thriving town, members wanted a new and larger church there.

A full city block was purchased in 1914 and plans for the largest Lutheran church in rural Texas began. The cornerstone laying was celebrated in March, 1917 for Saint Olaf Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church. The congregation continued to grow and by 1919 the total number of members was recorded as 693. 

The congregation has been blessed to have a number of dedicated pastors throughout the years. J.K. Rystad 1886-1901; Gunnar G. Odegaard 1901-1912; Herman O. Estrem 1912-1920; J. A. Urnes  1920-1935; Walter Maakestad 1935-1941; Benjamin R. Maakestad 1941-1952; Einar Jorgenson 1953-1958; Iver Haugen 1958-1963; Marvin Ottmers 1964-1977; Howard Ollila 1977-1980; David Smith 1981-1985; Mark Vinciguerra 1986-1992; Ken Schmidt 1992-1997; Terry Atkins 1999-2008; Joan Iker 2008-2010.  Interim Pastor Ryan Pederson is currently serving.

The church provided a well-balanced program of Christian education, teaching social and leadership skills, musical groups, day care and organizations for the growth of members and the community. A Sunday School building was added in 1955 and also a new parsonage was built in 1958. The stained glass windows were installed beginning in 1965. An Endowment Fund was established to provide funds for the maintenance and preservation of all facilities in 1999.

The 100th Anniversary of the Rock Church was celebrated in May of 1986. It continues to serve as the place for special services, such as Easter Sunrise, Christmas Candlelight, weddings, baptisms, funerals and other specials programs. The Rock Church Cemetery has been in existence even before the church was built. There was a need for two burials in the spring of 1885. Soon additional spaces were needed and the cemetery has grown to over 3,000 spaces through the years. 

May the members of Saint Olaf church continue to accomplish their mission statement to WORSHIP, TEACH, NURTURE, SHARE THE LOVE OF CHRIST.

Phyllis Allen Rieser and Geneva Allen Finstad – Co Chairpersons
Jeanne Hansen Bayless
Patricia Rohne Forsyth
Cindy Weise
Darla Simmons Kinney
Maranna Carlson Horn
Gerald Nelson


St. Olaf 100 Year Anniversary Centennial Celebration

If you have historic pictures, programs, information on previous pastors, or items to loan for display, please contact us by email at