Plymouth – The Reverend Les Galland, former vice president and business administrator of the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations (AFLC) and longtime area Lutheran ordained minister died February 16.
Funeral services with communion were held at the Free Lutheran Theological Seminary (Hauge Chapel) Chapel on Saturday February 24, 2018. The seminary is located on the AFLC campus at 3120 E Medicine Lake Blvd Plymouth, Minnesota.
Leslie James Galland was born May 22, 1938 in the rural town of Erskine to Chester G and Eldrid (Dordal) Galland. They moved between Erskine and Mentor and in 1945, permanently settled in rural Mentor.
Les was baptized in the Lutheran faith by his maternal grandfather, the Reverend Jacob N Dordal, an ordained minister of the Hauge Synod and predecessor body of the Norwegian Lutheran Church of America. He was confirmed by the Reverend Ananias Skogerboe at Faith Lutheran of Mentor. Rev. Skogerboe was a great influence on young Leslie to begin to prepare for the Lutheran ministry. Les graduated Mentor High School with the class of 1956 and moved to Thief River Falls for a one year teacher’s licensing program.
Les enrolled at Bemidji State University to complete his undergraduate studies and earned his bachelor of science degree in elementary education and music theory. While there, he met a gal by the name of Janet Erickson and she turned him down the first time he asked her to accompany him to dinner. Not sure if she were playing hard to get and certainly not despaired or daunted, Les asked again until Jan agreed. The rest is as we say “history,” even if their history class grade did not reflect any learning had taken place.
Les and Jan were married November 25, 1959 at St Peters Lutheran in Jan’s hometown of New York Mills, the day before Thanksgiving. Les completed his studies at Bemidji State University in August of 1962 and both Les and Jan went on to teach in New York Mills and Mound. The 1960s surely brought many changes to society as well as communities of faith. Specifically in the larger scope of Lutheranism, many mainstream denominations were moving away from standing upon the inerrancy and infallibility of the Word.
Both Les and Jan had been reared in the Lutheran faith and feared they may no longer be able to call a Lutheran church their home. Late in 1964, they heard of a fledgling church body, the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations, which had chosen to remain separate from previous mergers and boldly take its stand on historic orthodox Lutheran pietism, church polity and a high view of Scripture.
Les enrolled in the second class of the Free Lutheran Theological Seminary in the fall of 1965. Les enjoyed his seminary years and would graduate in 1968. He was ordained July 16, 1968 by then AFLC president the Rev John Strand at the AFLC Annual Conference at St Pauls Lutheran in Cloquet.
Pastor Les and Jan were a true partnership in ministry and they enjoyed serving the following congregations: Hope Lutheran parish, Stacy; Green Lake Lutheran parish, Spicer; Calvary Lutheran, Everett, WA; Our Saviors Lutheran parish and school, Thief River Falls and King of Glory Lutheran, Shakopee.
Les stayed busy in retirement assisting and providing pulpit supply for a host of other congregations. He always stayed busy serving the national body of the AFLC. He held the following positions: member of the AFLC School Board of Trustees; AFLC Co-ordinating Committee and served several stints as Chairman; business administrator and AFLC vice president.
While Les was business administrator, he oversaw the construction of the existing AFLC administration building on the beautiful Medicine Lake campus. He always made sure to stay busy with Bible camps (often as camp dean), mid-winter Bible conferences, annual conferences and pastor’s retreat.
Les loved the local ministry of the church, but always made sure to be involved in broader ministries that helped solidify the spiritual bonds that tie the local congregations together. In his pastoral ministry, Les faithfully preached the Word and administered the Sacraments. He really excelled in visitation and wanted to make sure each congregant personally knew Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
Les was a fine husband and father. He enjoyed cooking, cleaning, gardening (even though Jan was credited with the “green thumb”) and was highly organized both at church and at home. Often on his way to some type of meeting—clad in suit, vest and tie—he found time to throw a baseball around the yard. Not a big sports fan, he attended his first Twins game on July 27, 1985 and somehow knew how to track the game on a scorecard (we still have that scorecard). In later years, he enjoyed serving his community with Meals on Wheels and was an election judge, sign holder for his favorite candidates and Republican party delegate.
Les leaves behind his children, whom he dearly loved: Janeen of Shakopee, James (Cindy Saas) of Hastings, and Jon (Sherry Goebelt) of Medina, OH. Some of his most cherished moments of his ministry were baptizing each of his grandchildren–Hollyce Renae, Keziyah Lee and Leif Jefferson. There are two sisters, Bethel (Harold Erickson) and Marjorie (John “Barry” Demsky). He is also survived by a number of cousins, nephews, nieces and a host of other family and friends. It is also important to note he considered each congregation and member as family and he loved them dearly too.
Les was preceded in death by only 33 days by his partner in ministry and beloved wife, Janet; both parents Chester and Eldrid; an infant son, Kevin. Also preceded in death by aunts, uncles and cousins.
Les touched all of us. As he said some 36 hours before death, “My first thing to do in heaven is to praise Jesus!” May the Lord bless his memory! Blessed be the name of the Lord!
A video of the funeral service may be viewed at