Rev. Irene Peterson walked the Lord's talk

  • Article by: TIM HARLOW , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 16, 2009 - 11:14 PM

She cofounded Calvary Temple Soul's Harbor and hosted a radio and TV program produced by the church.

Rev. Irene Peterson

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The Rev. Irene Peterson delivered her first sermons as a teenager who spoke at tent revivals put on by her father on the Midwestern plains. That was the beginning of her career in a ministry that lasted more than 65 years and included the founding of Calvary Temple Soul's Harbor, now called Calvary Worship Center in St. Louis Park.

Along with her late husband, the Rev. Gordon Peterson, her voice was heard on the long-running radio program "The Man With the Message." She read poems and letters sent in by those who listened to the daily broadcast, which began on secular radio station WDGY-AM in the 1950s, and later moved to KTIS-AM until it went off the air in 1984. She also read scripture and delivered prayers on the "Soul's Harbor" TV show, which often aired after broadcasts of the former Minneapolis Lakers basketball games in the 1950s and later ran for about 25 years on Sunday evenings on KMSP-TV, Channel 9.

Irene Peterson died of complications from lung cancer last Wednesday at the Benedictine Health Care Center at Innsbruck in New Brighton. She was 92.

Born in Woodston, Kan., Peterson attended Glad Tidings Bible College in San Francisco, where she concentrated in pastoral studies. She married in the 1940s, and in 1946 she and her husband moved to Minneapolis and started Calvary Temple Soul's Harbor in the former Lyceum Theater on 11th Street in downtown Minneapolis. The church grew and later bought and met in the former Nicollet Hotel building on Nicollet Mall. The church ran a Bible school and conference center in addition to its radio and TV programs and weekly services.

"She was quietly involved behind the scenes, but her presence made people feel encouraged," said Jim Robinson, a longtime Soul's Harbor member, elder and board member. "When she prayed, the sincerity in her voice and heart and emotions was so strong that people believed that if God was going to answer a prayer, it would be hers."

For 35 years, she coordinated activities for the church's Gospel Ranch summer camp near Hibbing, Minn., attended by scores of students, families and troubled youths sent by the court system, said her daughter-in-law, Nancy Peterson, of Minnetonka. Irene also taught a popular Sunday school class at the church for 20 years.

She enjoyed traveling and leading mission trips. She led groups to the Middle East and in 2001 smuggled Bibles into China, Nancy Peterson said.

"She was a real worker for the Lord," Nancy added.

Irene Peterson is survived by her daughter, Sherril Risk of Columbia Heights; a son, Gordon Jr. of Minnetonka; a brother, Norwood Patterson of Denver; two sisters, Della Moring of Clear Lake, Calif., and Sherley Bott of Gravois Mills, Mo.; five grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Emmanuel Christian Center, 7777 University Av. NE., Spring Lake Park.

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