Long-time missionary to Native Americans, Geraldine Tornfelt, went to her eternal reward May 4, 2018, at 89 years old.
Geraldine was born August 30, 1928 in Cleveland, Ohio to James and Alice Schuler but was raised by her grandparents, Erling and Marie Tornfelt in Ely, Minnesota. After graduating from high school in 1946, she attended North Central Bible College and graduated from there in 1949.
Geraldine joined Sylvia Kempas in 1951 to work together in what became a lifelong partnership of ministry to Native Americans as missionaries with the American Indian Crusade—in South Dakota, Colorado, and Wisconsin. In 1984, Geraldine and Sylvia “retired” in Atkinson, Minnesota—but as members of Journey Christian Church (formerly Cloquet Gospel Tabernacle), they continued to minister for years, visiting and encouraging shut-ins, hospital patients, and other.
Geraldine and Sylvia originally served in neighboring Sawyer Chapel, a church on the Fond du Lac Reservation begun by members from Cloquet Gospel Tabernacle. However, they embarked on what they called the 10,000 mile journey in 1957. They traveled the west, visiting and serving in reservation after reservation. When they traveled they went by car, camping in a little tent at night, cooking and eating outdoors along with their beloved dog Skippy.
They served as co-pastors on the Rosebud reservation twice for a total of 14 years. In all, they served the Sioux, the Lakota, The Mohawk, Chippewa, and a number of other tribes. Their lives were consumed with caring for people, leading native churches, Vacation Bible Schools, visiting shut-ins, and praying for others. Called by God and empowered by the Spirit, Geraldine and Sylvia together comprised a most remarkable ministry team.