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 original Parsonage in 1889 and present Parsonage in 1923, Luther League Hall in 1911 through 1926, and the present Church in 1924/1925.
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-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 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. 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). 750+ 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 144 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-present), and Luther League/Salem Youth Group (1890-present).
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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