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Message from Past Dean Michael Olson

I am delighted to serve as the past Dean of the Red River Valley Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. I also serve as the North Dakota District Convener, looking after the Red River Valley Chapter and the Northern Valley Chapter (in Grand Forks and the surrounding area). I have recently heard some talk about revitalizing a chapter in Bismarck and that area, so I'm excited to see what comes from that discussion.


I have been a member of this chapter since 1985 when I began my position as Minister of Music at First Lutheran Church in Fargo. It has been exciting and fun to meet organists from various churches, both large and small, and all different denominations, over the past 35 years. There are many lovers and appreciators of church music in our area for sure -- organists, choir directors, clergy, and other wonderful people.


As we celebrate our Diamond Anniversary -- 75 years of existence as an organization -- it is exciting to look back and see where we've been and to look forward and to see where we're headed in the future. I cannot begin to thank the countless volunteers who have served in various capacities over these past 75 years to make the AGO what it has been and will be.


I think back to our chapter hosting the regional AGO convention in 2001. That was an exciting event for our chapter, and it really put Fargo/Moorhead "on the map" for many people. I do know that a number of people who came to our convention had never been in Fargo, or North Dakota, or the Upper Midwest. And I know for a fact that many people were pleasantly surprised and delighted with the instruments, the churches, and the hospitality of the folks "up here". I think back to the first regional AGO convention I attended -- way back in 1987 in Billings, Montana. And that was a great first regional convention for me. I knew, right then and there, that "we could do it, too" and proposed the idea -- and we did it!!


As I write this letter for our anniversary booklet on Tuesday afternoon, August 11, 2020, we were supposed to begin our Diamond Anniversary season in just a few weeks. With the COVID-19 pandemic upon us for the past several months (and perhaps several more months to come), we have decided to postpone "the festivities" one year, and we will begin to celebrate in earnest in the fall of 2021, when it's safer and more prudent to be together.


Church looks different these days. Life looks "way different" these days. We need each other now more than we ever have. And we need the camaraderie of the American Guild of Organists in these uncertain and ever-changing times. Thanks for what has been, and thanks in advance for what will be.




Michael Olson

Minister of Music, First Lutheran Church, Fargo, ND

Past Dean, Red River Valley Chapter, American Guild of Organists

North Dakota District Convener, American Guild of Organists

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