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Messiah Lutheran Church 1881-1931

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strom. These men were specifically charged with two duties: first, to procure stone for the foundation and the basement and to see to it that the masonry would be done carefully; secondly, to make an estimate of the cost of the church and to present it to the congregation for approval. It was decided at this meeting to make the church 50 feet in length, and 30 feet wide, with an addition for sacristy, 12 by 16 feet, and a tower 8 feet square.

At the yearly meeting two months later, it is interesting and inspiring to read that these pioneers went on record as being willing from the beginning to support the general work of the Synod, such as "the educational institution, the synodical missions and other beneficent institutions". The fact that the congregation was young and small and that a building program had been begun did not seem to them sufficient excuse for withholding their support to the general work of the church. It is this spirit in our congregations which will make for unity and progress in Christ's church. Plans were also laid for the beginning of the Sunday School and the so called "Sewing Society". Both came into existence that same year, 1883.

On March 21, the Building Committee had still made no beginning on the building. They reported to congregation on that day a proposition from the Baptists that involved a trade of property. They offered their church for our lot plus $2,000.00. The offer was promptly rejected, and a unanimous decision made to proceed with the building.

The next few meetings were filled with cares about the details of building. One cannot escape the feeling that everyone was intensely interested in the work. The whole congregation seems to have been one large building committee discussing such details as securing double strength glass for the windows, making the platform one foot longer, raising the platform for the pulpit to 27 inches from the floor, etc., etc.

Just when the church was used for the first time is not mentioned in any of the church's official records, but through the courtesy of one of the charter members, an authentic report of the dedication of the church has been made available. It is found in "Augustana och Missionären" for December 12, 1883, and translated into English reads as follows:

A VISIT IN MARQUETTE : This beautiful city is situated by a bay of Lake Superior, about 15 miles east of Ishpeming, Mich. Saturday evening, Nov. 24, I left Ishpeming together with brother Beckman and his wife, and about 40 members of the congregation in Ishpeming. The purpose with the


C. J. ANDERSON (not shown)


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visit in Marquette was to dedicate a Lutheran church. As we arrived late that evening we were met by Brother Frykman, who kindly had arranged lodging for the whole group of visitors. On Sunday morning at 9:30 the congregation gathered in their new church building. The service was impressive and was made more festive by the singing of the choir from Ishpeming. Because of the shortness of the time, the usual order of service had to be broken in such a way that the dedicatory address and the dedication proper occurred first, and after that Pastor Granath preached on the text of the day. The dedication ceremony was conducted by the undersigned, assisted by the pastors Frykman, Bäckman, Granath and Linder. A short history of the organization and development of the congregation was read by the local pastor. The church is about two years old. It is said that youth and wisdom seldom are companions, but the saying is not true in this instance. This young congregation has erected a church of brick, 56 feet in length and 32 feet wide. Both the church and the worshippers in it made a very favorable impression on me. Credit is due this voting congregation and its pastor, and glory to God. At 12:30 the train left for Ishpeming and we had to hurry. At half past two brother Backman was to be installed in the Lutheran Church in Ishpeming, which also occurred. About these things another brother has promised to write a report to Augustana. I arrived safely home from my journey on the morning of Thanksgiving Day, and service had been arranged to be held in the Opheim Church. After the close of this service a collection was made for the Orphans' Home in Andover, and a subscription for the Conference Inner Mission, amounting to $68.00. In this collection there was found a twenty dollar gold piece. Thanks to the givers of this gift, and "the Lord be praised for his unspeakable gifts"! Signed: G. B-D.

At the annual business meeting the following January 30th, there was general rejoicing and thanksgiving for the completed church building. Resolutions of gratitude were passed, "first of all to God, secondly to all those within the congregation who have contributed by gifts and volunteer work, and finally to the Americans who have so generously subscribed for the erection of the Church building". And it cannot be gainsaid that these pioneers had here erected a splendid monument to their devotion to God and their willingness to sacrifice. For none of


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them had much of this world's goods. But their trust in the Lord, their honest diligent labors, and their thrift, together with God's blessing, crowned their undertaking with success.

Nor did they lack in vision and foresight. For at this same meeting in 1884 they proposed to organize a Sick Benefit Society. This shows that they early planned to make the church not only a place of worship, but an agency for social betterment as well. Unfortunately, the plan was not carried through, for some reason, until twenty-five years later.

As the year wore on, Rev. Frykman found it impossible to continue to care for the spiritual needs of the church here, on account of the expansion of his activities in other fields, and after a call had been sent to student Axel Wenner, but rejected by him, it was decided not to call anyone else for the time being. In the interim, Mr. N. J. Forsberg from Ishpeming was engaged to preach here two Sundays per month.

However, when the Christmas season approached, a call was sent to one of the students at Rock Island to serve the church during the holidays. The idea was to look him over as a possible candidate for a permanent call later. As a result, Student C. P. Edlund was called at the annual business meeting in 1885 to serve this congregation alone, full time. He thus became the first resident, full-time pastor of Messiah Lutheran Church.

As one reads the records of the next few years, it becomes clear that the church now has passed from the class of missions to that of established congregations. Such things are now discussed in the general business meetings as Daily Parochial School and the proper number of Communion Services during a year. The second Wednesday after New Year is set for the "stämma" each year (though this decision later was changed many times). Regular pastoral reports are read annually, though, unfortunately, they have not been made part of the records.

Naturally, the raising of funds became for some time an important part of the work. The church had not been built without considerable debt, and now it was time to decorate it. Also the purchase of an organ involved expense. In spite of this, the question of raising money for a parsonage came to the fore as early as 1885, and two committees existed, side by side, one to raise money for the proposed parsonage, the other to reduce the debt on the church. The chief sources of revenue were the regular dues, special subscriptions, and the Sewing Society.

That the outlook was not always bright is attested to by the fact that at the yearly meeting, Jan. 5, 1887, all the trustees (three at that

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time) resigned at the same time. But, as so often is the case, others were found to take hold of the work, and the storm was weathered. There were evidently men who together with the pastor clearly saw the principle, ever true in church work, that if the people can be made to come to worship and place themselves under the influence of God's Word in a receptive mood, all the financial worries are over. For that reason it was specified that no solicitations would be permitted at the church services. People should be allowed to come there without fear of being "buttonholed". And to build up further a spirit of welcome the deacons and the trustees were appointed to be the "ushers" in the church. It is indeed interesting to note how the old pioneers in the eighties, thus pointed the way to the ideal of a winsome, inviting congregation a roadway, which we have been exceedingly slow to walk.

Rev. Edlund's health did not permit him to carry on the work with full strength, and he resigned on Oct. 9, 1889. His resignation, however, was not accepted and he remained as pastor until the fall of 1891. During his pastorate the membership more than doubled, mounting above 200 at the time of his resignation. Among decisions of interest during this period, the following may serve as examples:

Jan 11, 1888—Decision to pay a janitor.

Pastor's salary raised to $800.00.

Decision to build a parsonage, provided sufficient help can be had from outside the congregation. (Did not materialize).

Office hours to be held in the church, when dues might be paid. (This was intended to lighten the work of the trustees, who otherwise collected the dues monthly. It did not work, however).

Dec. 18, 1889—Decision to buy an organ with money from the organ fund, and from the "sofa that was raffled off".

Jan. 8, 1890 Committee of "girls" appointed to raise money for the debt, and a special committee to raise money among people "outside the congregation".

At the close of Rev. Edlund's services here, Student F. A. Johnsson was called to take charge after his ordination the following June, and during the vacancy Student C. O. Johnson served very capably.

With the coming of the new pastor the church was stirred to new enthusiasm and greater activity. It was now definitely decided to build the parsonage, which had been contemplated so many years. One can-

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Messiah Lutheran Church 1881-1931

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