A Great Past and A Glorious Future
Salem Lutheran Church looking from the Southwest to the Northeast
Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church was organized December 18, 1874. Worship services were initially held in member’s homes. The First Church was built in 1883, the Church Bell installed in 1892, the original Parsonage in 1889 and present Parsonage in 1923, Luther League Hall in 1911 through 1926, and the present Church built in 1924/1925. The first service in this sanctuary was on Palm Sunday, 1925.
Pastors (Called and Interim) who served the Salem Congregation were Reverend S.P.A. Lindahl (1871), Reverend N.G. Bergenskold (1873-74), Reverend John Seleen (1875-76), Reverend Hakan Olson (1877-78), Reverend P.J. Sanden (1878-87), Reverend F.A. Bonander (1888-01), Reverend A.S. Segerhammer (1902-11), Reverend Gustaf Nyquist (1911-22), Reverend A.T. Train (1923-30), Reverend C.A. Julius (1932-42), Reverend Dr. Carl A. B. Swanson (1943-1957), Reverend Waldo C. Ekeberg (1957-1958) Reverend Alfred W. Lindberg (1958-64), Reverend George L. Search (1964-70), Reverend Vernon Swenson (1970-73), Reverend Reuben Carlson (1973-1974), Reverend Charles Hanson (1974-84), Reverend Paul Johnson (1984-1985), Reverend Clifford Swanson (1986-92) Reverend Sverrer Lundh (1992-96), Reverend Harlan Stutheit (1996-00), Reverend Stanley Floth (2000-2002), Reverend Milton Olson (2000-2002), Reverend Kristin Kuempel (2002-2005), Reverend Christine Iverson (2005-2007), Reverend Charlene Barnes (2007-2012), Reverend Dr. Mark Rich (2012-2103), Reverend Russell Glaser (2013 – 2014), Reverend Matthew Durance (2014-2017), Reverend Cynthia Cone (2018-April 2022), David Winquist, Parish Ministry Associate (May 2022 to present). There have been 95+ Pastors and Laity and Supply who have served the Salem congregation from 1874 through today.
Our congregation experienced organizational changes in its history On June 5, 1960, the Augustana Synod (which was national church that was founded by Swedish emigrants in 1848) merged with three other Lutheran Church bodies to form the Lutheran Church in America (LCA). Thus, the Augustana was not a Synod of the LCA at the time. The official names of the four which merged were: The American Evangelical Lutheran Church, The Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church, The Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the United Lutheran Church in America. At the same time, four other church bodies also merged to create the American Evangelical Lutheran Church. They were the: American Lutheran Church, The Evangelical Lutheran Church, The Lutheran Free Church, and The United Evangelical Lutheran Church. Then on January 1, 1988, the Lutheran Church in America (LCA) and The American Lutheran Church (ALC) merged to create the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). The third group to join the ELCA was a group known as Seminex which broke off from the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod. It was known as the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches. Salem Lutheran’s Pastor operated in a multiple Call Pastoral arrangement with Frieden’s Lutheran Church, Home KS (from the 1980’s until it closed in 2010) and with New Hope Lutheran Church, Onaga, KS until 2017 (when Salem voted to join Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ/North American Lutheran Church and New Hope remained rostered with ELCA). Salem Lutheran began a new history as a rostered LCMC/NALC congregation after September, 2017.
The original Organ purchased in 1885 was replaced by a reed organ in 1885. The reed organ was replaced by the present Hinner pipe organ purchased in 1905. The Luther League paid for a large portion of the $1000 cost. The organ components were shipped by rail from the Illinois factory to Vliets, KS and transported to the Church in several lumber wagons. Added to the cost was freight and the round-trip fare for one man from the factory manage the assembly, set-up and tuning of the organ. Hinner Organ Company made no additional charge to do this work... only the traveling expense. Records show that the first Church service in which the Hinner Pipe Organ was used was on October 30, 1905. Before electricity was installed in 1940, the organ was pumped by hand (an air bellows) to give it the necessary air for operation.
The Salem Church’s bell was installed in the original church in 1892. The bell is made of tin and copper and weighs (est). 1,000 pounds. It was manufactured in St. Louis MO at a cost of $200 to the congregation and paid for by the Ladies Sewing society and other donations. The church bell is pitched in the tone of “G” and bears the inscription “Svenska Evangeliska Lutheran Salem’s Forsamling, stiftad 1874, Kyrkan byggd 1884.
Many organizations have supported Salem’s evangelism efforts over the past 148 years. Kvinnornas Forening (Ladies Aid 1875-1958) and the Kvinnornas Mission och Uppbyggelse Forening (Women’s Mission and Upbuilding Society) found ways to support missionary endeavors. They pledged and applied amounts for missions, needs of the church and deeds of kindness to unfortunate neighbors and friends. Willing Workers (1890-1958) was a young and mature Women’s society interested in quilting and embroidery and earning amounts directed towards the Lord’s work. There were also the Women’s Missionary Society (1921-1959), Junior Missionary Society (1923-62), Three L Daughters (1925-58), Teen-Age Missionary Society (1956-63), Augustana Lutheran Church Women (1959-1962), Salem Lutheran Men’s Brotherhood 1925-1975, Lutheran Church Women, Women of the ELCA, and Women of Salem (1962-2021), and Luther League/Salem Youth Group (1890-present).
A brief history of the Salem Church, Marshall Co. Ks., written for the 25thanniversary celebration on the 18th of December 1899, By Pastor F. A. Bonander – copied (from translation from Swedish to English)
“He who scattered Israel will gather them and will watch over his flock like a shepherd. Jer. 31:10.”
So writes Jeremiah, when he sees both how Israel was forced among the nations and how it gathers around the Lord and is cared for by Him. Many of our Swedish people have and will be scattered, especially in this vast country during the last half of the previous century, and do we not believe this was the will of the Lord? Many seeds of corn have been spread. Later, in a foreign country, the same Lord sought them, cared for them and cares for them, as a shepherd with his flock. Likewise, our people are spread over a wide area like seeds of corn. God, our and our Fathers’ God, has also followed them here (page 2) and blessed them here. He has given them a home and blessed their work. He has also given them a heart to cherish the Kingdom of God, build the house of the Lord with its spires pointing towards the sky, gather for worship and ceremonies and raise cries of joy to their God. In this way, this almost deserted land been transformed by His blessing.
Swedes from various places first came to this area in 1870. They began by settling in and fixing up their new homes, and they began to produce something from the prairie as fast as they could. They came here poor and most of them had to be away a large part of the time in order to earn cash to help them get ahead. However, they did not forget their new homes on the prairie in Marshall Co. and always returned as soon as they could. The number of Swedes in the area was not large (page 3) but increased later. Even though there was poverty, people were content, and there was hope for a better social life and friendships, and the fact that some Swedes lived here together contributed to the pleasant atmosphere. People visited each other’s homes for small parties. It is almost unbelievable that so many of our people would come here to gather and live as they do now.
The intention of this history is to briefly document the beginning and history of our churchly work in this community.
In the fall of 1871. Mr. J. A. Nork wrote to Mariadahl, Ks., to inquire whether Pastor S. P. A. Lindahl, who was then doing missionary work among the Swedes in northern Kansas and living in Mariadahl, could come here because there were a number of Swedes living here (page 4)And among other things, Mr. Nork wanted to have his little daughter baptized. A response arrived, and Pastor Lindahl came by train to Vermillion on the 7thof October where Mr. Nork picked him up. The news spread that a Swedish pastor had arrived, and that a service would be held at Mr. Nork’s home. Just as the people were assembling but had not yet begun, they noticed a powerful prairie fire coming from the north, driven by the strong wind. All had to go outside to protect the house from the fire. Pastor L. himself worked as hard as he could, and learned how to set a counter fire for protection. Once it was all over, everyone went in, washed off the soot and gathered their thoughts, and Pastor L. gave a sermon for those gathered, which numbered about 15 persons. The home country’s songbook was used as the hymnal. Mr. Nork’s little daughter, almost three months old, (page 5) was carried up to the holy baptismal font, where she received the name Hulda Amelia (now Mrs. Holm in Kansas City)— (Selma Björk, now Mrs. John Erlandson, was the first person baptized in the Swedish community. She was baptized by her father because there was no pastor available). Mr. Nork’s place was 4 ½ miles north of where our church is located now. These were the circumstances of the first Swedish service held at another place. The day was 8 October 1871.
People thought Sundays were long, and there were surely some who had need of God’s word. For this reason, people began to discuss meeting in each other’s homes to hear a sermon. Some time passed before this got started. On Sunday 11 June 1872 (page 6) several were invited to Mr. Nork’s, where they agreed to at least read the day’s gospel and sing some hymns. (Klaes Anderson lead the singing) The next Sunday, people were invited to a service at the home of Mr. Hurtis, where Mr. Hurtis read a sermon. Mr. Anderson was asked to lead the singing, which he did. This was actually the first service and was held on Sunday, 18 June, 1872. Thereafter people gathered here and there in each other’s small houses every Sunday morning in a group of 10 to 20 persons. People even prayed in their own words. As simple as these meetings were, it was still edifying for several to hear the good words of God. God’s word, as it was read, was not without benefit. People also gathered there for simple prayer meetings. Among other things, people prayed (page 7) especially that God might send more of our Swedish people here, so that there might possibly be permanent Christian activity here such that even God might send those that could lead this type of work. In retrospect, must we not say that these prayers have been heard? From all different directions Swedish folk have gathered, even though the area has not been advertised in newspapers. We must especially acknowledge that the church has received much help in the form of a number of active members from Rockford.
The services continued, and at Christmas ’72 people gathered for early Christmas Day services. This was also at the home of Mr. Hurtis. The weather was cold, and quite a bit of snow had fallen. Nevertheless, everyone gathered at the usual time. Mr. Hurtis had made a number of preparations. Among other things, (page 8) there was a chandelier with a three-branched candle in the little house. Mr. Hurtis read a Christmas sermon. Mr. Anderson sang Swedish Psalm 55, with the others joining in on Vår Hälsad Sköna Morgonstund (All Hail to Thee, O Blessed Morn). This was the first Christmas service to be held here. Around 30 people were probably there. As simple as it was, all said it was very pleasant and ceremonial.
The meetings continued through the winter, spring, and summer of ’73. During the winter a choir was formed to practice singing, and on the first Sunday in May a small Sunday school was started. Mr. J. Söderquist lead the first time, and he is our Sunday school leader today, though he has not been every year since the beginning.
The text was John the Evangelist, starting at the beginning. Sunday school was held between 10 and 11 in the morning. For a time, there was even Sunday school in English (page 9) on Sunday afternoons led by Mr. C. A. Swanson.
During this time, the idea of bringing a preacher here was discussed. But the question was, where was someone who could and wanted to come. Mr. Hurtis knew someone, Sven Andersson, who used to preach and who used to live in Keokuk, Iowa, now in Walsburg, Ks., and wrote to him to inquire if he could come. But he did not. In the summer of ’73 Mr. Hurtis was in Randolph at a mission meeting. There they met, among others, Preacher Mellgren, whom they knew in Sweden. He recommended (some maintain that it was C. J. Lindahl, now in Brantford, who recommended Bergensköld) Preacher Bergenskjöld, then living near Seapo, Republic Co., Ks, and belonging to the General Synod, and arranged that he come here (page 10) to visit in August of the same year. B stayed for about a week and preached several times. The first Swedish service in Fairs? (Farrars) schoolhouse, where so many have gathered since, was held. Especially memorable was 12 August when communion was held, the first among the Swedes in this place.
Those who had been away working were now mostly home. Church services had become well-known and it was almost surprising to see so many Swedes gathered here. The schoolhouse was almost full. Most of the older people went to communion, which is said to have been very solemn and touching for many. At the same time, two of Mr. Per Johnsson’s children were baptized, Jonas and Peter. The parents had come quite a distance from St. Bridget, on the “lumber road,” and could not return on the same day, but (page 11)nevertheless they were very happy because, among other things, they got their children baptized. Previously they had gone all the way to Marysville to find a Lutheran pastor, but could not find one, and the Catholic priest in St. Bridget had refused to baptize the children because the parents were Lutheran. The memory of this service and the first communion offered here lives strong in many people. A collection was taken for Preacher Bergensköld which came to 15 dollars.
At this visit Bergensköld was invited to become the pastor here. The invitation had not been put in writing, but a verbal agreement was made for one year. (page 12) The salary was to be $10 per household. Bergensköld moved here as soon as the fall of the same year.
Shortly before Bergensköld moved here, Pastor J. Saleen, then living in Mariadahl, paid a visit here. Mr. C. G. Olson belonged to the church in Mariadahl, but worked in between in Frankfort and up here among the Swedes sometimes. One time he went to Mariadahl with Mr. John Johnson. They told Pastor Saleen that there were some Swedes up here and asked him to come up here sometime, which he promised he would do. As well, Mr. Klaes Anderson and possibly several other had been to Mariadahl and (page 13) also asked Pastor Saleen to come up here to preach sometime. It ended up taking a while before he visited. But he did come as asked later in the fall, possibly in Nov ’73. He stayed a few days and preached several times, partly in Fairs schoolhouse and partly at the home of Mr. John Johnson, where Mrs. Bäckström now lives. In Frankfort, on his return trip, he met Bergensköld who was in the process of moving here.
Bergensköld exchanged land with John Johnson and settled down here. Services were held in Fair’s schoolhouse every Sunday, often in the afternoon while the Americans used the schoolhouse in the mornings. Bergensköld also visited (page 14) St. Bridget, where four Swedish families lived. These families had also gathered on Sundays for study meetings like those in the south.
Bergensköld preached here for a year. He also had confirmation students, three in number. Severin Winquist, Ida Hurti och Carl Andr Hurti. In the spring of 74 confirmation was held, the first in this place. Sunday school had continued and still does. There was still not an organized congregation, but the name Salem was taken for the organization. The Swedish handbook was followed for services. The Swedish Psalm book was used as the songbook and Klaes Anderson lead the singing. (page 15)
Plans were now being made for the church and cemetery, and four acres in the northeast corner of section 5 were donated by Euclid Waterhouse for this purpose. The purchase agreement was written on 27 May ’74.
During Bergensköld’s time preachers Mellgren and Person came here to preach a few times.
In the fall of ’74, after Bergensköld had been here a year, a decision had to be made as to whether he was going to be invited back. Overall, he had not made a favorable impression and in addition he wanted the church to join the General Synod, which not all were in favor of. One thing and another (page 16) led to his not being invited back for a second year. Instead a committee was formed made up of Klaes Anderson and Nels Petterson to go down to Mariadahl and ask Pastor Seleen if he would be able to visit occasionally. Pastor Seleen came in December and stayed a few days and preached a few times. He also gave advice to the church founders, and it was announced that a general meeting was to be held at the home of Mr. Hurtis on 18 December 1874 at 2:00 in the afternoon, exactly 25 years ago today. The meeting was held and opened with the Word of God from Pastor J. Seleen, after which J. A. Björk was elected president and Nels Peterson secretary, and the first board of the church was agreed upon. The following people gave their names and declared themselves willing to become members of the church: (page 17) N. Peterson, Klaes Anderson, K. A. Johnson, August Nork, J. A. Bjork, G. Blomberg, Nels Winquist, J. Blomberg, S. P. Erickson, John Palson, Fredrick Johnson, Olof Backman, Erik Englund, P. M. Nelson, Christian Iverson, John Söderquist and Severin Winquist, 17 persons in total. Most also had families. Nothing is mentioned about them, but we assume they are also included, as the final number was 28. The following decision was now made: We declare that we, the above-mentioned persons, in the name of the Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, unite ourselves in a Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church, and so according to God’s Word 1 Cor. 14:40, Gal 2:5 “let all things be done decently and in order” (page 18) and adopted the following church constitution, and we hereby commit ourselves before God and one another to serve as examples. The Augustana Synod’s proposal for the church constitution was accepted, after which the following was read into the minutes: That the forthcoming articles have been accepted at a general and properly convened meeting on this day as the constitution of this parish is confirmed by our own signatures and seal
Salem, Marshall Co. Kansas, 18 December 1874.
On behalf of the congregation
J. A. Björk N. Peterson
Now the election of officers for the congregation was made and the following were elected:
Deacons – August Nork for 3 years
Christian Iverson for 2 years Klaes Andersson
For 1 year, och for trustees-
John Söderquist for 3 years
N. Peterson for 2 years
G. Blomberg for 1 year
It was also unanimously decided that entry into the Augustana Synod would be requested at its next meeting. The church was founded on a Friday, and the minutes were read and approved on the following Sunday 20 Dec. ’74.
Not all of those present at the meeting wanted to join the newly formed congregation. In addition, several of those who usually attended the meetings were absent. Several of these did join the congregation later, both those who lived here and in St. Bridget. Of the 27 who were present at the founding of the church, 11 are still members, namely Klaes Anderson och wife, K. A. Johnson (page 20) S. P. Erickson, John Polson and wife, Fredrik Johnson, John Söderquist and wife, Severine Winquist och Mrs. Björk. (these are certainly all here today.) Five are dead, namely J. A. Björk, J. Blomberg, Erik Englund, P. M. Nelson and Nils Winquist.
The following 19 January ’75 the congregation held its annual meeting at the home of Mr. C. G. Olson, opening with a prayer and contemplation of the word of God by Pastor Seleen. His salary was set at $100 and he was to visit as often as he could, but at least 6 Sundays during the year. At additional meetings the same year, decisions were made regarding the location of the cemetery, about disposition and distribution of the lots, etc.
At an extraordinary meeting on 25 May ’76 a deed for 40 acres was reviewed (page 21) -??? Land, the so-called “sturland,” which was purchased by 24 members of the old so-called Gothenburg “settlement.” The deed had been sent to Klaes Johnson, and in a private letter it was stated that the land was donated to Salem parish as long as there were no original ownership claims. In some way there was a cost to receiving the land, because the parish announced that each of the members were to pay a certain amount. The financial report of the following year shows at $14.67 was taken in to purchase the sturlandet.
In the fall of ’76 Pastor Seleen moved from Mariadahl and resigned his position as of 1 Sept. ’76, so the parish became vacant. There had not been any Sunday visits the first year either, because it is said that the congregation in Mariadahl did not want Pastor S. to be away so many Sundays. He (page 22) however had visited for some days about once a month. Pastor Seleen’s work in the congregation lasted only one year and 8months. Every time he was here he stayed some days and willingly preached every day and sometimes twice a day.
Pastor Seleen often came here under difficult circumstances, especially in the cold of winter. He normally traveled in the snow and was sometimes almost completely frozen when he arrived. In particular there was one time when he could not talk until he was able to warm himself up. He usually stayed with various families in turn, and was always very welcome. He was generally well-liked and is held in fond memory by many from that time. A buffalo skin that he had with him in the wintertime (page 23) was often put to good use in the small, cold houses on the prairie.
Pastor Seleen’s work was a blessing. His short period of activity could perhaps be called a time of revival, although no more special or general revival occurred. He preached with zeal and warmth, and his words were heard with attention. Some bad habits which had been emerging were now more or less eliminated. Here and there his words reached hearts and roused concern and the desire for salvation. Many people gathered at each of his visits and they were not disappointed. The testimonies were simple about sin and grace.
Sunday school continued during Pastor Seleen’s time as before as far as one can remember. There was also a sewing group (page 24) sale in Frosts schoolhouse, probably the spring of 75. The confirmation students from here were taught and confirmed in Mariadahl.
The winter of 76-77, the congregation was served for three months by school teacher P. Sundström, who also served as chairman at the annual meeting on 6 Jan ’77. At this meeting the congregation probably elected its first conference delegate. Mr. J. A. Björk was elected and attended the conference meeting in Salemsborg in April 77. This meeting became a great blessing for him by the grace of God, because he was now more than ever influenced by the word of God, and a turning point in his life occurred, which he himself told me of. He then became more than ever very active for the good of the congregation, was so until his death in July ’94 and is remembered fondly by us.
Pastor Håkan Olson arrived (page 25) in Mariadahl as early as the fall of 1876 by request of the parishes in Mariadahl, Walsburg, and Waterville. The same fall, he was asked by this parish to visit here as well, but he recommended the recently mentioned schoolteacher Sundström. He himself came later, in the spring of ’77, if not sooner. He then visited the congregation about once a month, mostly on weekdays for a period of a little under a year and a half. At the annual meeting of ’78, held on 29 Dec. 77, the meeting was opened by a public religious service by Pastor Håkan Olson, after which the agenda was addressed in the usual order. The most significant task of this meeting was without a doubt the calling of catechist P. J. Sanden to be the congregation’s preacher, probably recommended by Pastor Olson, who had too many places to visit himself. The terms were set (page 26) at 200 dollars for the first year including house and firewood, or $250 total for the year. This was for half time. He was left free to spend the remaining half of his time in the mission field or elsewhere.
Pastor Olson continued to visit here until the “summoned one” arrived in the summer of ’78. (Pastor S. apparently moved here in April ’78) His journey here in bad weather was quite difficult, yet he made it as far as possible. In particular, it is told how he had a difficult time getting out of Vermillion because of the river. He and his son made it over on piled-up logs and arrived at Mr. Klaes Anderson’s, where quite a few were gathered, and where he then preached. Pastor Håkan Olson’s time here coincided with perhaps one of the most difficult partisan disputes. They argued especially about reconciliation but also about other things. During the study meetings (page 27) and during Bergensköld’s time, the situation continued. Later, a division began to emerge. Pastor Persson and others began to visit, and the people divided into two groups. Once, a public discussion was announced and held in the school house. Such disputes were also common at that time elsewhere, both in Sweden and America.
Pastor Olson worked faithfully, was always very welcome by our circle, was cheerful and happy, preached with emotion, spoke easily in individual conversations about spiritual things, and worked with good will. The Spirit of God continued his work, which is clearly felt. Pastor Olson is fondly remembered from that time by the older people, and we are sorry that the former pastors of the congregation cannot be with us today. We should instead, another time, when they are closer to us, invite them here and relive good memories (page 28) from the old days in their presence.
Sunday school continued and so did the sewing group. The confirmation students from here studied and were confirmed in Mariadahl.
Although they now had regular preaching visits, from time to time people still gathered for study meetings to which even pastors Seleen and Olson were invited.
Catechist P. J. Sanden accepted the call here, requested ordination, and was ordained at the Synod of Princiton in 1878. Before that, he paid a visit here and became acquainted with his future congregation and congregation with him. In the meantime, a meeting was also held where it was decided that the congregation would help him build a house, etc. Pastor Sandin moved here in the summer of '78 and took over the care of the congregation. For the first time since its founding, the congregation now had its own preacher living on the site and (page 29) had regular preaching more often than before, and on Sundays, as well as more activities in general. This was a good and significant step forward. We cannot say how the congregation grew from the beginning, but as far as we understand from the church records there were about fifty communicants at the time of Pastor Sandin’s arrival. Pastor Sandin at times served elsewhere and at times served exclusively here. The services were held mostly in Fair’s schoolhouse, which had served as the church for several years. There were Sunday services, mission meetings, communion services, confirmations, Christmas parties, children's parties, and other meetings, and there are many fond memories of gatherings in this schoolhouse. Attendance numbers increased and eventually it started to get too crowded. Besides, it was not open (page 30) for meetings when school was in session, which often made it inconvenient. In both internal and external respects, the work was successful. The first general meeting at which Pastor Sandin served as chairman took place on 11 January ’79. The meeting’s minutes are the first that mention Sunday school. It was decided that Sunday school would continue and that J. Soderquist would be the principal. It was also decided that the pastors’ and clerks’ salaries, as well as a 25-cent fee, would be paid together in the form of communicant dues.
One of the pressing issues for the congregation was that of building a church.
As far back as the meeting on 6th Jan ’77, when the congregation was just over two years old, it was decided that every family within the congregation would bring to the church site (the old one, that is) ½ cord stone in the year ’77. (page 31) This decision was overturned already in the autumn of the same year before any stone was delivered. At the meeting on 13 May, it was decided that the old site should be retained as the parish church and burial grounds.
However, this decision was then repealed by a majority of six votes at a meeting of 25 Aug '80, and a committee made up of C. H. Dotts, P. Froom, C. Iverson, E. Benson, G. G. Olson, Klaes Anderson and G. Rudien, was appointed to find a new location. The committee was not allowed to choose a location more than 20 km south and one mile west of the old one. Nothing was done with this matter at the following annual meeting, but at the meeting on 22 January, the southwest corner of section 16 was adopted as the church site by a 13-vote majority. This would be about where Mr. Lindeen now lives. The decision was final. It was decided (page 32) that a contract be drawn up for 10 acres, that grave plots be laid out, etc. For one reason or another, however, no purchase was made, and at the meeting on 14 Oct the same year a new committee consisting of A. Kjellberg, J. Polson, Per Johnson, J. H. Edberg and J. A. Winquist was appointed to select a site in Sec. 5, thus one mile north of the previously decided location.
At the next general meeting on 7 June ’82 Pastor Sundeen stressed in his annual report to the parish the necessity of agreeing as soon as possible on a church site. For some reason nothing was done at this meeting, but in the autumn at the meeting on 4 Nov, the most recently appointed committee reported, and after a lively discussion the matter was reconsidered and (page 33) the southeast corner of section 7 was decided upon as the parish church site. The one in section 16 was rejected. Forty acres were purchased and a committee to gather pledges was formed, made up of A. Kjellberg, S. P. Colberg och Klaes Anderson. This was the location where the church now stands. For a time, the location was hardly in the middle of the community, but recently several people have settled in the west and northwest. Incidentally, the location is suitable and beautiful. Here stands the parish’s peaceful temple and next to it, the peaceful field where the final resting places of so many are being prepared.
Once the church site was acquired, it did not take long before the question of the church building was taken up. After two and a half weeks, another meeting was called (page 34) and a building committee was appointed, made up first of trustees, as well as A. Kjellberg, J. A. Björk, S. J. Odell, S. S. Colberg, C. G. Olson och Klaes Anderson.
Furthermore, it was decided that the church be built of stone, 60 (?) feet long and 40 feet wide with a lower level. J. A. Nork, F. Johnson och C. W. Steinman were elected to the committee to acquire pledges for the building. At the meeting on 20 Jan ’83 the building committee reported that it had seriously discussed the question of the church building and submitted a proposal, which was adopted, that the lower level not be built and the size be reduced to 70 (?) and 40. At the meeting on 17 March, the size was further reduced to 60 and 35.
A new meeting was called by 12 voting members on 2 August, who did not want (page 35) the church to be built of stone. The decision was made that the church was to be built of frame and the size was further reduced to 50 and 30 feet with a lower level of five feet, and with a tower and pews. As per this decision the church was built in the autumn of 1883 with Mr. A. Hoff from Olsburg as the builder. Construction was far enough along so that Christmas morning service could be held there, and all the rest was completed the following year and the church stands now as the congregation’s sacred edifice. O, how many times we have gathered here, and how many beautiful and, we hope, wholesome moments we have shared. Blessed be God who always keeps his word and everyone who comes here to worship!
The cemetery was laid out north of the church, plots were assigned and the cemetery charter was adopted in 1885. (page 36) The parish invited the conference to hold its autumn meeting here in 1886, which it did, and the parish church and burial ground were also inaugurated for their respective purposes.
From June '82 to June '83, Pastor Sandin had been on leave from the congregation and working in the conference mission field. In the year '86 he submitted his resignation, but then withdrew it at the request of the congregation. The following year '87 he resigned and moved in August of the same year, a little over nine years since he moved here.
It is clear that these nine years have had a significant impact on the development of the church. The number of communicants had grown to about 115 and the total number of members to about 240. The parish now also had a church, (page 37) although with some debt. Consistency and order also grew.
The inner spiritual development is more difficult to measure and describe. It is clear that this development has also happened. The Word had not been preached in vain. It has here and there led to revival and renewal. They are here today, those whose spiritual lives began at that time. It was also during this time that the congregation received several zealous members from Rockford, Ill. We also know that there have been some difficulties in recent times.
After the congregation became vacant, student Joel Hoff was called to become the congregation's preacher after his ordination. He gave a negative answer, after which the undersigned was called in Jan '88. After some time of deliberation, the call was accepted. Ordination in Galesburg on June 24, ’88 and my arrival here in July then the whole congregation (page 38) and the whole church to meet me are two events from that time that will never be forgotten. Eleven-and-a-half years have passed since then. These years are close to us and we want to briefly recall some events, partly from the minutes and partly from memory.
In the fall of '88, the young people procured chandeliers and rugs for the church. On the 9th of January ’89, the congregation gathered in their church to seek final payment of their church debt. Three to four hundred dollars was still left. Some money was received in the evening and the work was then continued until almost all the debt was paid. On July 26, '89, a meeting was held to discuss building a rectory. The building committee was appointed consisting of parish trustees as well as A. Steinman, A. Kjellberg, F. A. Bonander, Peter Erickson, J. Polson and J. A. (page 39) Peterson. At a later meeting, a more detailed decision was made. The house was built during the autumn with A. Ylander and A. Steinman as builders and was completed just before Christmas (’89).
Partly through the construction of the house and partly because the communicant fee was reduced from 15 dollars per family to 10, the congregation had recovered a little over $700 debt. At the meeting on 25 Feb '91, it was decided to make final payment of this debt on its due date in Jan '92, and pledges was taken during the year. It was the same year that Pastor Selleen collected pledges for Beth. College. He also visited here and had good success. Because Dr. Olson (page 40) worked for Beth. College we had postponed some parish work to be able to help with the school. This time we intended to try with both. The exterior of the church was also repainted the same year. It was just before New Year ’92 that all this piled up, in addition to the general expenses. We wondered how it would all turn out and called to God. Things worked out, and that year the crops were very good. The church debt was eventually paid and almost all the pledges came in for Beth. College, etc. (page 41) Pastors Seleen and Sandeen were invited and delighted us with their presence. Just before, a bell had also been installed in the tower. It was paid for by the sewing group partly through its sales and partly through a small cash collection. The bell is 1000 pounds in weight, cost $200 and bears the following inscription: “Sv. Ev. Luth. Salem congregation founded 1874, church built 1883. All thy works shall praise thee, O Lord, and thy saints shall bless thee. Psalm 145:10.”
It called to worship for the first time on the first Sunday in May ’92, and accompanied the praise at the mentioned Thanksgiving party. And ever since it has called the parishioners to worship services on Sunday mornings, or with its iron clapper (page 42) called the living to revival when they realize how soon we are going to be transported to our last resting place.
Since then, minor improvements to the church property have been made. The cemetery has been improved, the church and rectory have been painted and wallpapered on the inside, a fence has been put up in front of the church, stone sidewalks have been laid, trees have been planted, etc. Last year the pastor’s house was enlarged and painted on the outside, and this year the church has been repainted. Small fundraisers were held for these activities and the work has been accomplished with willingness and harmony. Pledges were also made for this work. Only one refused to give, and that was not out of reluctance but out of principle. The congregation has not really had any debt since ’92 (page 43) The one debt it had was only temporary and was due to a late payment from a communicant.
On Sunday, July 7, '95, the congregation had a small, happy celebration. Miss Lotta Severson was then ready to leave for India to serve in the foreign mission. The congregation had a small farewell and congratulatory evening for her. In the same year, another pleasant conference meeting was held in the parish in the autumn. Over the years, the undersigned has memories of several lovely parties at Christmas and other times, devotions on Good Friday, Sunday school teacher meetings, etc. We also have memories of distress as a congregation, but the Lord (page 44) has helped us through them successfully.
The congregation has now and then felt loss over the years, when the Lord has taken through death those who have been very devoted to our congregation.
Sunday school has been held, it seems without much interruption since the first Sunday in May ’73, thus nearly 27 years.
The Sunday school is older than the parish. The congregation has also offered Christian everyday school. The first, as far as we can tell, was held in the winter 76-77 by the aforementioned P. Sundström. It was held in various peoples’ homes. The schoolhouses were not available at that time of year. (page 45) During Pastor Sanden's time, Mr. S. J. Odell and student E. Glad served as school teachers. For the past thirteen years, the parish school has been held every year, usually three months a year. The following have served as teachers for one or more years: Natalia Hoff, F. A. Bonander, Kristine Olson, A. W. Lindquist, Mary Holcomb, Netta L?? and D. J. Lawrence. Sunday school was attended by a maximum of 100 children one year (‘89) and by 72 at everyday school (‘88).
During these 25 years the following have served the congregation in the following offices: 1- As chairman before the congregation had a pastor living on the site: J. A. Bjork during the years 75, 76 and 78 and J. Palson during the year 77. 2- As the parish secretary N. Peterson (2 years), F Johnson (5) J. A. Nork (3), Klaes Johnson (3), John Kjellberg (2) John Froom (9) C. A (page 46)
Kjellberg (1) of which John Froom the longest 9 years
3- as deacons:-
J. A. Nork (3 years), C. Iverson (2), Klaes Anderson (4), J. Söderquist (19), P. M. Nelson (3), J. A. Björk (14), S. P. Colberg (8), C. G. Olson (3), G. Rudin (3), S. P. Erickson (3), F. Johnson (12), A. Kjellberg (4), S. J. Odell (8), A. Carlson (10), J. P. Johnson (15), L. P. Olson (9), G. A. Gräns (7), John Froom (5), of which J. Söderquist longest, 19 years.
4- as trustees
J. Söderquist (3) N. Peterson (2), G. Blomberg (1), L. Johnson (3), C. g. Olson (12) J. Wallenström (9) S. P. Erickson (3), J. E. Benson (3), C. H. Drotts (9), Klaes Johnson (11), N. P. Olson (1), J. H. Edberg (2), J. A. Winquist (3) G. A. Gräns (6) C. A. Edberg (3), J. Froom (4), J. A. Nork (2) Klaes Anderson (3), (page 47) John Kjellberg (2), C. W. Steinman (5), John Polson (2), S. P. Rosvall (3), Alfred Lindeen (5), Peter Johnson (3), A. Kjellberg Jr (3), A. Ylander (3), N. P. Johnson (3), A. W. Alquist (3), J. A. Olsen (5), August Larsen (3), Alfred Johnson (4), C. A. Kjellberg (1), C. W. Johnson (2), Walter Carlson (3), H. P. Anderson (1), of which the longest serving is C. G. Olson 12 years.
5 Mr. Klaes Anderson served the congregation as choir director for 17 of the 25 years, along with A. Kjellberg one och C. A. Edberg one. Anna Söderquist and Effie Söderquist have served as organists for three years each.
6 As sexton since the church was built G. A. Gräns (2), Olof Nord (3), Eddie Söderquist (1), J. A. Peterson (1), Wm Johnson (1), John Salin (1), P. A. Bäck (7) of which the longest serving is P. A. Bäck, 7 years. (page 48)
We cannot say what the parish's expenses have been during these 25 years because we have not reviewed all the old treasurer's reports, and it is uncertain whether they are all even complete.
27 communicants were part of the congregation at its founding, 192 have since been admitted through testimonial or confession. 165 have been confirmed during these years. Total 384. Of these, 238 belong to the parish today, about 30 have died, and the others have moved or otherwise left the parish.
The church has not grown particularly fast for some time, but it has grown consistently. The same can be said of the more uplifting spiritual relationship. I do not think we can say that there has ever been much of a (page 49) general revival. But at the same time, I think we can say that the Spirit of the Lord has surrounded the work of the church from the beginning and ever since. It has been a joy to see how the Spirit of the Lord, in the beginning and even in recent years, has gradually won victory over one or another, until we can acknowledge to God's praise that, as far as we understand, quite a few have experienced sin and grace and still have God as their source of joy. The greater purpose of the church is to serve man's upbringing for time and eternity, in the spirit of God.
We cannot describe what this church has accomplished during these 25 years. However, it is something and probably not insignificant. God's word (page 50) has been important for younger and older people, of course. It has been an invaluable advantage for parents to be able to take their children with them to church on Sundays, rather than letting their children waste their Sundays and get in trouble. We are also convinced that those who have been brought to salvation through the activities of this church thank God on his throne today. May God’s spirit always be felt among us, if not the strong and mighty, then the still and quiet, which also surrounds and warms.
The congregation has been pleased that a significant number of young people are involved in the church, not only as members of the congregation, but as regular worship attendees and participants in the services.
The church has been spared (page 51) from much friction and internal struggle, and what was broken has been healed again when minor issues have occurred. Social life has been brotherly from the beginning, which has often contributed to a pleasant atmosphere.
The Christian spirit has, in my opinion, not been rigid and highly ecclesiastical. Neither has it been the casual type that respects order and seriousness for no reason. Instead it has been the free, biblical Lutheran.
It is now exactly 25 years since people gathered at the home of Mr. Hurtis and founded this congregation. In memory of this, so many are gathered here today. How many of us will be here in 25 years when we celebrate the 50th anniversary? Until then, and forever, the Lord’s grace rests upon the church and (page 52) over all of us. We end with the following words from Psalms “The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” Psalms 126:3
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces. For my brethren and companions’ sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee. Because of the house of the Lord our God I will seek thy good.” Psalms 122:6-8
The program as it was held at the 25thcelebration on the 17-18 Dec. 1899
I. the 17th Sunday
10:30 a.m. reading, Pastor J. A. Hemborg, Text Ps 84
Morning service Pastor L. G. Sundquist
Text 3rd Sunday in Advent, II edition
(Pastors J. A. Hemborg, and A. W. Lindquist served as liturgists)
6:45 p.m. – sermon Pastor A. W. Lindquist Text Es. 35:1-2
Sermon Pastor L. G. Sundquist: ??Salem (congregation name)
The choir sang Lammets Lov 261 (Our God is Great) as conclusion Hymnal P. 168 “Amen, Amen, etc.”
I the 18th
1. Swedish Psalm 213
2. Bible reading and prayer. Pastor L. G. Sundquist
3. Swedish Psalm 66
4. Speech Dr. C. A. Svensson
5. Music by the choir
6. Song by the choir (song album 67)
8. Swedish Psalm 3:7
Midday noon-2:00 pm
1. Swedish Psalm 3:5-6
2. Bible reading and prayer Pastor A. W. Lindquist
3. Swedish psalm 26 ??
4. Letter from Pastor H. Olson
5. Choir (song album 52)
6. Speech Pastor J. H. Hemborg – Our religious work among settlers in the west
7. Swedish Psalm
8. History of our religious work in this society up to now. F. A. Bonander
9. Choir: Hymnal. p. 179.1-3
10. Prayer – Dr. C. A. Svensson
11. Music – Band
1. Heml. S.
2. Bible reading and prayer
3. Hymnal song 91:-
4. Sermon for the youth by Dr. C. A. Svensson
5. Choir Bright ?? no 147
6. Pastor A. W. Lindquist short talk reading 3:1 prayer
7. Music by the music choir
8. Song by the congregation ??page 438 all standing
9. Choir “amen, amen, etc.” Hymnal p. 168
The celebration was thoroughly enjoyable. The church was filled to capacity five times over.
This is a historical document of Salem History written (in Swedish) by Pastor Bonander in 1899 and translated to English in 2022.
Vacation Bible School [Svenska Skolan] (Swedish School)] was first held in homesteads in the winter of 1876-1877. Initially held to provide Christian education for the young and to continue the Swedish Language in the “Swede Settlement”, Swedish school was held full time for up to a month during the summer months utilizing public school facilities within the community. Records from 1942 show Bible School was held for two weeks. Today, Bible school is a three to five-day ecumenical mission with other churches in the Axtell and Frankfort area.
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