By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The largest Evangelical Lutheran congregation in the country is mourning the loss of its senior pastor.

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Paul Youngdahl from Mount Olivet Lutheran Church in Minneapolis died unexpectedly Monday. He had a medical problem at Cathedral of the Pines Camp near Lutsen, Minn.

Medics flew him to the Twin Cities, but he died at the hospital. An aneurysm took his life.

Assistant pastor Stephen Cornils said Youngdahl grew up as a preacher’s kid and learned to love the church.

The pastor especially loved Cathedral of the Pines, Cornils said.

“Which is where he was until this morning when the physical situation called for him to go to the hospital. He was transported down and that is where he died,” Cornils said.

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Youngdahl was pastor to over 13,000 people. He managed a staff of 900 and was a spiritual mentor to many more.

“There is going to be personal grief, because you just always expect that he is going to rise tomorrow,” Cornils said.

Mt. Olivet Lutheran Church flourished while Youngdahl was its senior pastor. Youngdahl led with grace and governed according to the gospel.

“People felt it was a privilege to serve with him and call him their pastor,” Cornils said.

The church gathered Monday evening to mourn his passing and many others left messages on Facebook to remember the man they now believe has received the greatest gift of all.

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“When I was with his family today shortly after his passing, there were no worries for him,” Cornils said. “He believed what he preached, and we know he is at perfect peace.”

Reg Chapman