Morris Memories

God moved mightily through Pastor Morris Vaagenes. We want to use this space to share memories and celebrate his life. If you'd like to add a memory, click here

Leading Many to Christ in his Norwegian Style

Pastor, leader, shepherd, encourager/exhorter. We shared many moments 1973-1994: Vikings, investments, politics. etc. I’m thankful I had some relaxed times away from church having pizza etc. My Confirmation/Marriage Ceremony. I have some questions that I guess I need to wait for heaven for answers. Save room in the percussion section for me. Thank you for leading so many to Christ in your Norwegian style. It is with gratitude and hope we will all join you someday. Little drummer boy with love. – John Hiiva

“Always Good.”

First, I need to say what a wonderful smile he would have on that sweet face. But my greatest memory of Morris is of what he would say. If you asked him how he was, his response was "always good." I know that was true for him because of Morris's great love for his Lord. - Jaci Napper Layton Klick 

A Gentle Man

I remember family camp at Wapo 40+ years ago and how Pastor Morris would be there sitting by one of the buildings with children sitting around him ~ or on him! Our daughter was one of those kids who was drawn to this gentle man. Truly Pastor Morris was a good and kind shepherd who loved his "flock" and gave his life willingly to serve.  -Steven Marty

His Gang

Pastor Vaagenes was a wonderful man of God!!! Growing up at NHLC, I was involved with His Gang. As teenagers, we used to stay over night at church, and Pastor Morris would come to the church and lock the doors; he always asked “does anyone need a ride home?” At that time, it was such a blessing to the youth. We would make popcorn, and he would always say “I need my own bowl.” My parents were concerned about all the time we spent at church, but he always said that we are in the best place on earth. Also going through confirmation when it was time to meet with Pastor V, we were always nervous. Then he would open the pop machine, and he and I would have a soda just to talk ,and we felt more at ease. There were a lot of prayers excepting the Holy Spirit, the Lord, and speaking in tongues. That’s where my gifts were with the church. Pastor V was always with us. The Lord and Pastor V was such a huge part of my life and The His Gang group!!! He was a huge part of my life and every youth out there. - Jody Larkin Frilseth

A Good Neighbor

He was a neighbor of my wife and me. When my wife’s cancer came back, he visited her in the hospital, and we prayed together. After her passing, he invited me to his weekly bible study at his house. On many occasions, he and his wife would walk the neighborhood, stop by, and say hi. He will be missed by many. Welcome home good and faithful son. - William DeRoche

Always the Jokester

Morris was always the jokester, and every time we were together, we referred to the two of us as “Mor & Les.” I have too many stories to count, and a part of him will always remain with me. - Leslie Golie 

Great Wit and Sharp Mind

Over the years, I spent time in the Roseville office praying before the Sunday service. This is about his great wit and sharp mind. Several years ago, Morris and Bob B and Greg B and I were about to pray and I said, ”you guys get paid to be good.” Morris snapped back, “and you’re good for nothing.” Another time when we were in the office, I stated; “they won’t let me sing in the choir. In fact, Tom Hardwick told me he never wants to catch me singing in church; it will scare people away.” Morris snapped back, “you can sing all you want at church as long as it’s one foot out the back door.” Another time I mentioned to Morris that his son Tim rides his motorcycle with me, he stated TNT. Two years ago, Morris was walking into the church, and I said to him, “how’s Bonnie doing with her pain?” He said, “I’m her biggest pain.” There is more…. - Tim Skon

A Real Man of God

Over 30 years ago, I had to resign my official government position, partly because I was pro-life. As a new member of NHLC, I was very pleased that Pastor Morris came to my house to pray for me. He was a real man of God, and we have been close brothers in God's family. He will be greatly missed by me, his family, his church, and all who have been blessed by his ministry but welcomed by Jesus and all in heaven. -John Mccally

A Blessing to Serve

For several years whenever there was a funeral that he spoke at, I would take time to be with him as he robed on the day of the funeral. Pr. Morris always took time to thank me for helping him get his robe on and make sure everything was straight. Then I prayed over him before he met with the family before they went into the sanctuary. It was a blessing for me to know I could serve him, and Morris was so appreciative. - Mary Lehan

“Well done good and faithful servant!”

I was a member at North Heights for over 50 years. The exceptional leadership of Pastor Vaagenes greatly influenced my faith walk as he led the church during the 1970's time of renewal. I appreciated his focus on the Word even when the pressures of society challenged this. It's how he led North Heights. He stayed true to the Word. And I loved his sense of humor. He often kidded me when he saw me that he confirmed me and married me and that I must be really old. It was just as much fun to then remind him of how old he must be! He led an amazing life, and he no doubt recently heard the words, "well done, good and faithful servant!" And, I will always remember his positive response when asked how he was. He was “always good”! He set an authentic, holy example. He will be missed. - Julie (Rieger) Kimble

Baptism of the Holy Spirit

Pastor was a big part of my life, first when my wife and I joined the church. Also when was being treated by the VA every other week, I would come to his office, and he would pray for me. After about a year, he said that I should receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit which he prayed for me in his office. After, I went back to my car and started to speak in tongues. Also, I stopped taking my medication, so I believe I was also healed. -PTL BILL

Christ-centered Teaching

I am very blessed to have met and known Pastor Vaagenes. What I am grateful for is his Christ-centered teaching and preaching. He always lifted up Jesus. I was encouraged and emboldened as a result. I praise the LORD for the life and ministry of Pastor Vaagenes. I will miss him. - Ogbazghi Sium

The Enjoyment of Scripture

My husband, Vale, and I first met Pastor Vaagenes through The School of the Bible. It was life changing. We were introduced to Scripture in a way we had never experienced before. It opened our eyes to what is in Scripture and how important it is in our lives - it strengthened and encouraged us. It birthed in us an enjoyment of Scripture. Our understanding was broadened, and there was a joy in it that we had never had before. We were so blessed by Pastor Vaagenes. - Carol Pengra

“Shalom, Shalom!”

I will never forget the trip we took to Israel in the spring of 1982. Pastor and Bonnie Vaagenes led our group of 35, along with Byron and Lesley Schmid! It was the most meaningful journey of my life, and one of the sweet fruits of it was that every time I would see him after that, his greeting to me was always “Shalom, Shalom”! - Nancy Shea

The Switch to North Heights

I was a 12-year-old girl who was just going to start confirmation with all of my Sunday School contemporaries at a neighboring Lutheran church. My mom and dad decided to switch to North Heights, and I was NOT happy. I held onto that frustration for quite a while, but at Wapogasset Bible Camp, when I was 15, I went to the altar to pray and Pastor Vaagenes prayed with me. I received the gift of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. I could feel how much God loved me AND Pastor Vaagenes. My stubborn anger melted, and I told him I loved him. I went on to be in his confirmation class, and years later, he was the pastor who married my husband and me. God blessed many people through Pastor Vaagenes, and I smile to picture him in heaven. - Rachel Brough

An Amazing Example

One year we attended the Gospel Dinner and Concert that Jerry and Ginger used to host. When we left the concert at probably close to 1am, we found that someone had stolen the wheel off our car. As we were gathering everything, we needed to put on the spare wheel, and Pastor Vaagenes came by and asked if we needed help. My husband said we were alright, just needing to replace the wheel. Pastor Vaagenes proceeded to begin jacking up our car and assisting my husband to put the spare wheel on the car. That for me was a real Jesus moment. An amazing example of living as Christ. -Ted and Jean Anderson

Leaping through Heaven

We are so very thankful for Pastor Morris for baptizing our 5 children and sharing those memories with them. He will always be in my memory from the many shows my sister and I did for Passion Play. I won’t ever forget his “Good Evening/Morning” or his Blessing! He was an amazing man, and I know he is leaping through heaven with all the people who he brought to the Lord! - Ashley Weber

Norwegian Jokes

Pastor Morris Vaagenes was truly unforgettable. He not only was gifted in teaching, shepherding, speaking, and loving others, he was also such fun! I remember his low basso profundo voice in "The Splendor of Christmas" in the male quartet. He was such fun, telling his Norwegian jokes. He had a powerful presence, and I believe that was the Holy Spirit. Love you forever, Pastor Morris! - Debbie Severson

Christmas Production

At one Christmas production, I was the bear in the Children's Christmas Parade. Very fun to do, but it was difficult to see anything from inside the furry exterior except straight ahead. As I came up the main aisle during a production, Pastor Vaagenes stood up and shouted "Would anyone like to see me make this bear kneel?" and leaning over said to me, "I won't really do it." A narrow escape as it would have taken help to get up off the floor! Another time he told me that two Pastors roomed together during a Holy Spirit Conference: Pastor Loveless and Pastor Fullilove!! (The latter was a friend of mine) -Margot Avey

North Heights Christian Academy

There are so many memories I could share. One stands out right now. In the early days of NH, Pastor Vaagenes literally walked around the NH Roseville property. This was a regular thing, to see him walking, praying, and proclaiming God’s will for the development of a Christian school there. The public elementary school next to Roseville church closed. The building was put up for sell. NH was able to buy the building and start NeHi preschool and North Heights Christian Academy in this building. In this same building, North Heights also housed the Lay Ministry Training Center for several years which drew students not only from MN but also from many other countries. I went on to teach at the preschool. My son went through NHCA. All thanks to a man who walked around the property and prayed. Pastor Vaagenes’ life of prayer and his firm belief that God hears and answers prayer has a lasting impact. -Phylllis Goodman

A Healing Prayer

When one of our sons was nearing graduation from college in Boston, he was hospitalized for severe depression and was suicidal as a result of false teachings in a church he attended. Morris heard this and immediately cleared his calendar of meetings to counsel and pray with us. It meant the world to us! Soon after that meeting, our son returned home from Boston. A week later, our son and my husband approached the altar railing for healing prayer with Oliver Carlson and Morris Vaagenes. When our son returned to the pew, he was white as a ghost and shaking, saying he was healed. We were afraid to believe this, but indeed, it was true!! Only after the healing experience was he able to benefit from counseling with a Christian therapist. He was weaned off all psychiatric meds, and his progress was rapid. He was able to return to college in Boston to complete his degree. Nearly 30 years later, our son is healthy, married, has three children, is a Christian, and has a successful career. Years later, I learned that my husband only heard those healing prayers in tongues while our son only heard English. Our family is so grateful for Morris Vaagenes and his obedience to the Lord! -Joyce and John

The Necessity of Spiritual Warfare

One important thing to remember about Pastor Morris is his belief in the necessity for spiritual warfare. He strongly believed that when he marched around the church praying that all that transpired afterwards had much to do with those actions and, of course, his own baptism in the Holy Spirit that preceded all that was to come. -Mary

Rejoice and Be Glad

THIS IS THE DAY THE LORD HAS MADE, LET US. REJOICE AND BE GLAD IN IT. Psalm118:24 Thank you for all you did and ALL the lives you have touched! May God continue to Bless You! -Pat Knitt

Puns Off at 10 Paces

Never in my life have I respected a minister more than Morris. My husband Kevin and I came to North Heights to portray Peter and Mary in the Passion Play for 19 years. Morris cared for us as individuals, always with a perfect word or prayer to help and encourage us—and help us heal from serious hurts. When friends were visiting the Passion Play, Morris personally walked the whole length of the church to help them find Kevin and me. Needless to say, those visitors joined North Heights. For Kevin and Morris, it was “pun-offs at 10 paces.” Morris (and Bonnie) had a delightful sense of humor. Oh, how I will miss him!!! -Rebecca Norberg

Skipping Confirmation Class

In 7th grade, I was skipping out on Confirmation class and hiding out in the old fellowship hall. Looking to change locations, I ran to the door and scared the life out of Pastor Morris as I threw it open. What could I say? I was busted! Since that was about 54 years ago, I don't remember what he said to me. However, it must've been perfect, whatever he said, because I have no shame associated with that moment. Maybe a little fear! But no shame. Also, I thank him for teaching me about the far reaching arms of grace. I fully understood I could never "out sin" the Father's love and lose my salvation. Pastor effectively taught Ephesians 2:8-9. So grateful for "Grace alone. Faith alone." -Traci

Long History of Friendship

Pastor Morris had a long history and friendship with our family. My father, Pastor Oliver Carlson, and he grew up in Madagascar together as missionary kids, my dad being 8 years older. They then returned to Madagascar as missionaries the same year, studying French together in Paris in 1954-55. Morris would tell a funny story about unknowingly bringing a French cake soaked in rum to my Mom's birthday party :) Then in 1961, they came into the baptism in the Holy Spirit together, and my Dad and Mom enjoyed going to the renewal prayer meetings at the parsonage at that time. Later, when my parents retired from the mission field, Morris invited them to live there in the parsonage. They continued to enjoy wonderful fellowship through many missionary gatherings and prayer meetings. And at the end of my parents' lives when it was hard to get to church, Morris and Bonnie would often bring communion. So, they did a lot of life and ministry together, right up to the end. What a blessing his life was! -Christopher Carlson

Slice of Heaven on Earth

I have known Pastor Morris back to 1993 when I first became a believer in Jesus and came to Lay Ministry Training Center, which was a Bible School at North Heights that I believe he started that was like a slice of heaven on earth with people from all over the world. He taught on Victorious Christian Living at LMTC and has always been such a positive and always pointing people to Jesus. He is such a caring, genuine, and wise man that made such an impact on so many. What a role model for victorious Christian living here on this earth and now beyond as he rejoices in heaven with so many that have gone before. This amazing man made such a difference.

Holy Land Pilgrimage

My fondest memory of Pastor Vaagenes was a Holy Land Pilgrimage that he and Pastor Byron Schmid led in 1983. It was great to see him in a more casual, everyday context. I recall our very Jewish and knowledgeable guide always saying at every holy site: “and now we will hear from the pastor.” There was always a prayer, devotion, or hymn to accompany the history. It was a transformational experience on many levels, and some participants have remained lifelong friends. I have always felt a special bond with Pastor Morris since this trip and we have greeted each other with “Shalom” from that time forward. RIP good and faithful servant! -Suzanne Wiebusch

Christ-centered Education

While still in California, we heard about the work being done by the Holy Spirit at North Heights through Pastor Vaagenes. When looking to resettle our family closer to home, the position at NHCA was made known. Once I began at the academy, I got to know this godly man on a personal level. He was the senior pastor, with whose approval, North Heights Christian Academy was founded. Whenever we met, he would always ask about the school, share with me his prayers for the students and staff, and relate to me the importance of Christ-centered education. He knew the battle lines and the war that rages for the heart and minds of our children. I felt nothing but love and support from this man of God! While saddened, I rejoice in the knowledge that he is Home with Jesus! I have a feeling that he will continue to be praying for us. -Jeffrey Taylor 

“Let’s PRAISE God!”

In 1982, we were looking for a new church. My brother invited us to visit their church, North Heights Lutheran Church in Roseville. During the opening song, Pastor Vaagenes stood up and waved his arms to stop the music. He said "This is supposed to be a song of praise to the Lord - let's PRAISE God !!" We looked at each other and agreed - we found our new church home! We became members shortly after that. -Dennis & Fonda Youngquist

Posted by Hannah Varberg

Pastor Vaagenes Goes to His Heavenly Home

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Morris G. C. Vaagenes

September 30, 1929 - May 8, 2023

To see the memorial service, click here

Our hearts are both uplifted and saddened as we announce that Pastor Morris Vaagenes went to his heavenly home last night. Pastor Morris Vaagenes led faithfully at North Heights for 38 years and impacted thousands. He was North Heights' senior pastor from 1961-1999 and pastor emeritus from 1999 to 2023. We mourn for ourselves, but we rejoice greatly for him as he is without a doubt seeing Jesus face to face.

In his earlier years, Vaagenes graduated from Augsburg College (1951) and Augsburg Seminary (1954), received his master of divinity (1970) and then his doctorate at Luther Seminary (1979). Vaagenes also served in Madagascar for four years in the '50s and was president of Renewal International, which supports mission projects in Madagascar and spiritual renewal in churches. Vaagenes' sisters, Lois and Adelaide, were even buried in Madagascar. Vaagenes also has ties to Norway, where both of his parents were born and lived. 

Vaagenes impacted thousands from both the pulpit and face to face. He had a heart for kids and families and poured into the next generation. Youth, often intimidated to meet him at first, were immediately relaxed at this down-to-earth nature. Vaagenes would commonly sit with individuals students, drink a pop, and have a conversation before each one was confirmed. He was described as having a great sense of humor and quick wit.

This is a hard loss for many. The Church has lost a prayer warrior and influential figure. A family has lost a beloved member. Hundreds have lost a personal friend. What Pastor Morris Vaagenes started can and will continue. The community can find comfort in his signature prayer: "I can't. You (God) can. Please do. Thank you. Amen."

Pastor Morris Vaagenes' memorial service was Saturday, May 13 at North Heights Church. See the service here

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