Date/Place of Birth: November 3, 1967; Green Cove Springs, Fla.
Parents: Kenneth Tonnesen and Carol Tonnesen.
Spouse/Marriage Date: Debra (Janisko) Tonnesen; July 30, 1988 in Delray Beach, Fla. Children: Julie Laureen, Gregory Todd.
Education: Lenoir-Rhyne, B.A. History, 1989; Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, M.Div. 1993. Ordination: May 21, 1993 by North Carolina Synod.
Calls: Cross and Crown, Matthews, 1993-97; Bishop’s Assistant, Salisbury, 1997-. 


Date/Place of Birth: October 12, 1938; Elizabeth, N.J.
Parents: Einar Tonnesen and Elsie (Corneliusen) Tonnesen.
Spouse/Marriage Date: Carol (Kolbjornsen) Tonnesen; August 18, 1962 in Staten Island, N.Y.
Children: Laureen Wacenske, Philip.
Education: Concordia College, (Minn.), B.A. History 1960; Luther Seminary, M.Div. 1964.
Ordination: June 1964 by Eastern District, Florida Synod, American Lutheran Church. Calls: Advent, Orange Park, Fla., 1964-71; Hope, Selden, N.Y., 1971-75; Grace, Raleigh, 1975-90; Mt. Pisgah, Hickory, 1990-. 

Messiah of the Mountains Council Members and Officers

Pastor Phil Tonnesen

President   Barry Kelly (term ends 2021)

Vice President   Mike Hix (term ends 2022)

Secretary   Joyce Watts (term ends (2021)

Treasurer  Gary Curtis (non council member)

Financial Secretary  Beth Kelly (non council member)

Council Member  Jerry Strand (term ends 2020)

Council Member  Jackie Murray (term ends (2022)

Council Member  Pamela Hartsell (term ends 2020)

History of Messiah of the Mountains

(Facts and quotes from the history written by Evelyn Clark, Louise Edwards, Ardis Tysland, Ruth Wenhardt and edited by Pastor Wm. Raymond Hollifield.)


1975    Louise and Bill Edwards moved to the area.  They were very interested in having a Lutheran witness, and they sought the advice of The Rev. David Johnson, Mission Director for the Division of Ministry in North American of the LCA.  Pastor Johnson suggested the area be surveyed for the number of interested Lutherans.


1976    On February 18, 1976, a meeting was held at the Amber Jack Fish House.  Sixteen people attended.  The group began to meet at least once a month and Pastor Ron Teed, a caseworker for DSS, held meetings on Sunday afternoons in a room provided by DSS in Burnsville.

 In June, 1976, Pastor Johnson met with the group at Carolina Hemlocks and encouraged the group to keep searching for a place to meet permanently and to be faithful in continuing to meet for worship. Eventually space in Burnsville was found on Mitchell Branch across from the Recreation Park.


1977    By this time, Pastor Teed had left and leadership fell to faithful lay people. On September 11, 1977, Wanda McNeill led the first worship in Burnsville.


1977     It was now time for a name for group identity, Messiah of the Mountains.


1978    Pastor Paul Rimmer came on November 1, 1978, to become Messiah’s first full-time pastor.  A parsonage was purchased on Charlie Brown Road with the assistance of the Division for Ministry, LCA.


1979    The group continued to grow and on March 4, 1979, they moved into the basement of a building on 19E across from the Mountain View Motel.  On October 28, 1979, thirty-five persons signed the first Living Charter and now thoughts began of becoming an officially organized congregation.


1982    Pastor Rimmer left in October 1982 due to cutbacks in funds from the Division for Ministry. Pastor Jerome Kaufman came to serve in a part-time capacity in November.


1983    Pastor John D. Mauney Jr. was appointed by Bishop Michael McDaniel as a Mission Development Pastor.  He began work in October. 


Pastor Boyce Whitener was now the Mission Director for the Division of Ministry.  He received permission and funding for a building on a site in Micaville that had already been purchased.  The groundbreaking for the foundation of the new modular unit was on August 21, 1983.


1984    Dedication and Open House was held on April 29, 1984


1985    Educational Unit was added.  August 11, 1985, was the date of official organization and May 30-June 1 Messiah of the Mountains was received as a member of the North Carolina Synod at the annual convention at Lenoir-Rhyne College.


1988    Pastor Raymond Hollifield became Messiah’s full-time pastor.


1996    Messiah became a self-supporting congregation.


2006    Pastor Hollifield retired and Pastor John Propst began serving as a part-time pastor with   the assistance of supply pastors.


2008    Vicar Linda Wimmer from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago served from August 2008 to July 2009 as our seminary intern under the supervision of Pastor Chris   Webb of St. Mark’s in Asheville


2009    Vicar Andrew Isenhour from Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary served from August 2009 until July 2010 as our seminary intern under the supervision of Pastor Chris Webb of St. Mark’s in Asheville.


2010 – Present Pastor Phil Tonnesen.


Messiah of the Mountains Lutheran Church
Pastor Phil Tonnesen
4011 Hwy 19E
P.O. Box 117
Burnsville, NC 28714


©2020 Messiah of the Mountains Lutheran Church. All Rights Reserved. Designed By Blue Ridge Visions of Spruce Pine, NC