Success Stories From Williston’s Concordia Lutheran Church

David Knuckles, who moved to North Dakota from Kentucky, sits on a cot at Concordia Lutheran Church in Williston, where he slept for two weeks before finding a job that provided housing. Amy Dalrymple/Forum Communications

WILLISTON, N.D – Many people who got their start in North Dakota by staying at Concordia Lutheran Church in Williston are now working full time and have housing. I have previously written three stories about men who either stayed at the church or in the parking lot who have since moved on.

David Knuckles and his 18-year-old son, Mitchell, stayed at the church for two weeks before getting jobs at Walmart that included housing. David is the overnight supervisor and Mitchell is one of the crew members. David spent almost seven years training Iraqi police officers.

When I interviewed David for that story, he had this to say about the Rev. Jay Reinke of Concordia Lutheran:

“I don’t know where he gets his energy. But he never seems to run out of energy or compassion. It’s been a real blessing. I’ll never forget the way we were greeted here.”

Justin Day, 20, of Salem, Ore., lived in his VW van in Williston, N.D., in the Concordia Lutheran Church parking lot while looking for work in the Oil Patch. Carrie Snyder/The Forum

Justin Day of Salem, Ore., lived in his 1979 Volkswagen Riviera camper bus in the Concordia parking lot while he looked for work. Day moved to North Dakota without any oilfield experience, but his persistence in his job search helped him get a job on a workover rig in Dickinson. The job also provides him housing.

Day told me he was worried about finding a safe place he could park when another pastor referred him to Concordia.

“It’s been such a blessing to be here,” Day said at the time. “I feel comfortable.”

Day continues to be in contact with Reinke. His VW broke down and is now parked at Reinke’s home, where Day visits on weekends.


Eric Steff found a job that provided him housing in a crew camp near Williston while he stayed at Concordia Lutheran Church.

Eric and Levi Steff, brothers from New York, also stayed at Concordia after they survived some nights living in their pickup in the Walmart parking lot. They stayed at Concordia for about a month. Eric got a job for Superior Oil near Williston and Levi got a job as a welder’s helper near Tioga. Both jobs provided them housing in crew camps.