Prince of Peace Lutheran Church


Church for the Deaf

Spring Lake Park, Minnesota



Welcome to the website of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church. We are located in Spring Lake Park, a smaller suburb tucked between Blaine, Fridley, Coon Rapids and Mounds View. We are easily reached via highways 65 (Central Ave.) and 47 (University) being located on the corner of Osborne Road and Monroe Street right across from Unity Hospital.


Prince of Peace Lutheran Church proclaims, receives, lives, and shares the humble and simple Savior of the world, Jesus Christ.

What We Believe

The life of the Christian is that of faith in Christ, and the love of our neighbor. Through faith the Christian receives the forgiveness of sin, life and salvation. Through love the Christian humbly serves all of his neighbors in his vocation.

Christians take their name from Jesus of Nazareth. We believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God (Matthew 16:16). He alone has the Word of eternal life (Acts 4:12).

Having been crucified for our transgressions, raised again from the dead for our justification (Romans 4:24-25), and ascended to the Right Hand of God (Acts 2:33;5:31), all power in heaven and on earth has been given to Him (Matthew 28:18).

Jesus Christ therefore remains present with His church on earth in these End Times (Matthew 28:20). By the power of His Holy Spirit, He dwells in the heart of every Christian (Ephesians 3:17), strengthening the New Creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) He has established there and daily combating death that remains (Romans 6:4).

He does this primarily by causing the Word of God (the Bible) to be preached and baptism (Matthew 28:19) and the Lord’s Supper (Matthew 26:28) to be administered according to His command.

Prince of Peace Lutheran Church was founded over 50 years ago in order to create and sustain this faith, and urge and encourage such love until Christ returns on the Last Day.


Why do I have problems?

Common answers include: Bad decisions, inferior genes, inadequate education, faulty advice, poor health, lack of motivation, a wrong attitude and limited access to opportunity! But these are problems too, aren’t they? A whole basket-full! Yes, we would like to think we are like some sort of talent-laden, but undiscovered singer or actor, just needing our one big chance. In reality, we are more like the latest tablet computer, loaded with great programs but plagued by pesky viruses! We can function, but not nearly as well as we think we can or should.

So what is the answer?

The Word of God tells us that we are all born with a problem not unlike a computer virus. That problem is sin (Psalm 51:5). Sin is the source of our bad decisions, inferior genes and so on (Romans 3:23). Being infected with sin, we ourselves sin, and that is, we think and do and say things we should not. The result? Problems! Lots of them!

And Jesus?
At this point you may be thinking: “Well I suppose you are going to say that Jesus is the answer. Jesus is the antivirus software that will take away my sin once and for all, allowing me to reach my full potential, and my problems will disappear!” Not exactly.

As long as you live you will be plagued by sin. In fact, the reason you age, the reason you suffer, the reason you will die, is because of the sin that wreaks havoc on your body (James 1:15).
Can it get worse?
Actually yes. Unlike your computer which you can replace, your body cannot be replaced. That means you will be forced to watch, and think about, and dread sin’s effects upon you for the rest of your life! (Psalm 90:10).

So what does Jesus do?
The Word of God teaches and Christians believe that Jesus is indeed the answer to sin (Romans 6:23), but like our computers which must constantly be scanned for, fight off, destroy, and be repaired from the effects of viruses, so must we ourselves constantly receive the forgiveness of sin, and the comfort and aid in the face of the effects of sin, which Jesus gives to us. “All who are weary,” Jesus said, “come to me, and I will give you rest. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
Is there more?
Yes. The present assurance given to us by Christ is accompanied by the sure and certain hope that upon our death, we will live forever with him, no longer plagued by sin.

What is the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Jesus said: “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11:25-26 (ESV)). Whoever believes in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior from sin, death, and the power of the devil, will live forever with Him. Yes, if a person dies before Christ returns on the Last Day, the body will undergo death. But the soul will instantly enjoy the presence of Christ. On that same Last Day, the soul will be reunited with a recreated body that will last forever.

Salvation in Jesus Christ is not earned by our efforts, our good intentions, or will. It is a free gift of God: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV)).

Salvation in Jesus Christ comes to us simply by the preaching of the Gospel: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith”” (Romans 1:16-17 (ESV)).

Faith trusts the Gospel and thereby receives what it gives: Forgiveness, life, and salvation: “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1 (ESV)).

What is a Church?

What is a church?
Some would say a church is simply a group of friends that have a shared interest in the Bible. Others would assert that a church is a number of people of the same income level and ethnic origin who gather together to worship God. Still others would understand a church to be a collection of individuals who are all seeking somehow to experience the divine.

So what is a church?
Jesus Christ used a simple example to explain what a church truly is. He said: “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). In other words, the church is where the branches—those who believe in Christ—are connected, and stay connected, to Christ, and through Christ, to each other!

How does Christ stay connected to Christians?
Through His Word, by which He sends His Holy Spirit into our hearts, and His sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. It is by means of the Word of God and the Sacraments that Christians are strengthened weekly to live each day of their lives, to love all those around them.

Can't I worship God anywhere?

That is true. You can indeed worship God anywhere. Jesus Himself taught that a time was coming, and now is, when all who worshiped would not need to worship in certain location, like Jerusalem, but would worship “in Spirit and in truth.” Jesus also promised that He would be present with each individual Christian.

So what is the problem? Usually when people assert that they “can worship God anywhere” what they are really saying is: “I do not need to get together with other Christians on Sunday morning to confess my sins, to receive forgiveness, to hear the Word of God, to sing, to pray, and to receive the Lord’s Supper!”

Well, actually you do! Why? The Third Commandment is all about setting aside time to hear God’s Word each week and receive from Him the gifts He wants to give to You through His Word and Sacraments. So even if you do not want to go to church, God wants, no He commands that you go! For your good!

“But why?” you might be thinking at this point. “I can watch a church service on television, on my computer, or simply listen to a service on the radio! These are modern times! Back in Jesus day, people did not have televisions and radios and computers. We do! So we don’t need to get together with others to worship God!”

Strangely enough, even without such modern conveniences, ancient Christians came up with reasons for not assembling for worship. But the Apostle Paul urged them not to do so (Hebrews 10:24-25)! Why? It is very simple really: How can we encourage each other to love and to do good works if we do not regularly see each other?

Let’s face it: We want to be left alone! But Christ would that we be together!

The Word of God teaches and Christians believe that we are to express our love for each other with words of encouragement, and concern, and well being. Christians are, after all, the body of Christ, each being in unity, and community and fellowship, with each other! It would be awfully hard for our own bodies to do anything at all, if the various parts of our bodies were spread throughout house!

Why traditional Christianity?

Such a question continues to be asked! The astounding success of books like The Shack(2007) and television programs like Oprah (1986-2011), both of which encouraged individuals to discover their own spirituality, prove that millions of people truly want to find God, but don’t think a traditional religion, specifically traditional Christianity, is the place to look!

Who is to blame them? Scandal after scandal has rocked traditional Christian denominations, from child molestation to murder. Evangelical mega-churches are not immune from criticism, being dismissed popularly as motivational seminars designed ultimately to enrich their founders. And fundamentalist churches are despised as havens for the backward and ignorant.

Of course there is a basic problem of logic when it comes to the blanket rejection of organized religion. If ever more than one person is interested in the same set of religious ideas, some sort of organization naturally is formed.

So the issue really is not organized religion, but what any given religious organization teaches. But immediately that presents a problem too, doesn’t it? What if, ultimately, what a religious organization teaches is true?

Sure, by rejecting all religious organizations, that problem does not need to be faced. But it should be faced. Why? You are alive today, but you may not be tomorrow.

What then? The Word of God teaches and Christians believe that where we start with such a question is Jesus. The Apostle Paul, in Athens, pointed out to the Athenians that the uniqueness of Jesus was (unlike Gautama Buddha, Mohammed, Joseph Smith, etc.) that God raised Jesus from the dead (Acts 17:30-31).

Jesus himself proclaimed: “I am the resurrection and the the life. Whoever believes in me, thought he die, yet shall he live” (John 11:25).

Wouldn’t you like to know more about this Jesus?

What will happen when I visit Prince of Peace?

Will anyone talk to me?
If you would like to talk to someone, sure. If not, no.

Will I be given a special visitor’s button?
No. We figure we will get to know you eventually.

Must I stand up in front of everyone and be recognized?
Of course not!

Must I sit in a special pew?
No, you can sit anywhere you wish.

Must I do something special in the service? Hug someone? Hold their hand?
Well, before the service starts, we greet whomever is sitting next to us, with a handshake, other than that, it is a matter of standing and sitting.

What if I don’t know what to say?
A bulletin will provide a nice outline of the service that is easy to follow. Participate as much or as little as you wish.

Will I be forced to sing?
We do sing hymns in the service. You may sing along or simply sit and listen.

Will there be some sort of altar call at which time I will be embarrassed if I do not participate, and embarrassed if I do?

What about offering?
There is no obligation to give anything.

How about communion?
Well actually, we would ask that you simply observe that part of the service until we get to know you better.

Can I bring my small children?
Of course! We have lots of children in our services!

What if they begin to cry?
Well, usually crying stops soon after it starts. If it continues, however, we would ask that you do what our parents do, and that is use the narthex in the back of the church until your child is feeling better. The service can be seen and heard from there and don’t worry! There will be other parents and their children there as well!

How long is the service?
Usually under an hour.

Will I receive harassing phone calls after my visit?
No. You will be given the opportunity to leave contact information, but it is up to you how much information you leave. But if you leave your address, we will deliver a fresh loaf of bread to your door!

And why should I come to your church?
Here the Gospel of Jesus Christ is taught in all its truth and purity and baptism and the Lord’s Supper are administered according to His command.


Pastor Strawn with a student from Nigeria

Pr. Strawn with a student in Nigeria

Prince of Peace has been served by the Rev. Paul M. Strawn since November of 1999. Pr. Strawn grew up in Nebraska and Colorado. He attended Concordia College, Ann Arbor, Michigan, Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, and Philipps University in Marburg, Germany. Before being called to Prince of Peace, Pr. Strawn served Immanuel Lutheran Church in Silver Creek, MN.

Along with his pastoral duties at Prince of Peace, he has translated and edited a number of works of Martin Luther, and been called upon to present papers at colleges and seminaries in the United States, Germany, Nigeria and Ghana.

Pr. Strawn has been married for 23 years to his wife Kristi, an elementary school teacher. The two have been blessed with six children, and two grandchildren.

Pastor Gehlbach

Pr. Gehlbach

Prince of Peace Lutheran Church for the Deaf is served by the Rev. Daryl Gehlbach. Pr. Gehlbach grew up in Central Illinois. He graduated from Illinois State University and attended Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. He vicared at Gallaudet University and Christ Lutheran Church for the Deaf in Washington, DC. Upon his graduation and ordination in 1983 he began serving Lutheran Church for the Deaf, West Hartford, CT. In 1991 he accepted the call to serve Prince of Peace Lutheran Church for the Deaf in the Twin Cities. From 2002 until 2010 he also served Trinity Lutheran Church, Arden Hills.

In addition to serving as pastor for the deaf, he is the instructor for two video courses for the Deaf Institute of Theology. He also serves on a committee producing a series of children’s Bible stories for the Deaf. He has also served as District Secretary in both the New England and Minnesota South districts.

He and Janet have been married for over 30 years. They have been blessed with adopted children.


Prince of Peace has served Spring Lake Park, Minnesota and the surrounding communities of Fridley, Coon Rapids, Mounds and Blaine since its inception on October 31st, 1960. After initially meeting in a local elementary school, its first building was completed in 1961 at its current location. Two further expansions (1966, 1991) were completed bringing the building to its current size.

A great part of the history of the congregation was its Christian Day school, which throughout its 51 years of existence, educated over a thousand students. It continues this tradition with its missions support of Lutheran education overseas.

Currently the congregation is actively pursuing bolstering its Sunday morning and mid-week educational programs, its support of the Lutheran Church of Nigeria, Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO, Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, and outreach efforts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, St. Paul, Minnesota, and on the campus of the University of Minnesota.


Prince of Peace maintains a small food shelf to help members and others when need arises, but also supports Southern Anoka Community Assistance (SACA), a large food shelf which serves Anoka County. It also supports Alexandra House (a home for battered women), as well as providing quilts for numerous nursing homes and nursing agencies. Many of the members of Prince of Peace volunteer at Unity Hospital, which is just across the street from the church, and assist with worship at Crestview Lutheran Home in Columbia Heights. In years past the congregation has participated in the city of Spring Lake Park’s Tower Days parade, hosted the neighborhood National Night Out gathering, as well as offered a free Bluegrass concert to the community in the summer featuring the Triple L Band of Portales, New Mexico.

Just this past year the congregation renovated an unused plot of land to the west of the church building for use as community garden plots. The retired residents of the apartment building next door are looking forward to their first gardens next spring!

For a number of years the congregation has made its spacious gymnasium available to groups such as the American Red Cross, the international award winning rhythmic gymnastics club Twins Cities Rhythmic, the Blaine Backcourt Club, and the square dancing Hotfoot Stompers.

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7700 Monroe Street NE
Spring Lake Park, Minnesota, 55432



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