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Messiah Lutheran Church 1881-1931

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Golden Jubilee—Messiah Lutheran Church [Page 36]


Pastor. A. B., Augustana College, 1888. Graduated Augustana Theological Seminary, 1892. Ordained Lutheran ministry, 1892. D. D., Augustana Theological Seminary, 1922. Pastor, Marquette, Michigan, 1892-1900; Zion church, Chicago, 1900-1905; First church, Galesburg, Ill., 1905-1920; First church, Maywood, Illinois, 1920. Member of board, Augustana Book Concern, 1906-1924, and its president, 1908-1924. Member and vice-president of Board of Augustana Book Concern, 1930. Member of board of The Lutheran Mutual Fire Insurance Association since 1911 and vice-president of same, 1913-1923, and president, 1923. Member of the Executive Board, Illinois Conference since 1919, vice-president Illinois Conference since 1919, treasurer since 1920.

Present address, Maywood, Illinois.

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A retrospection is wholesome—if it does not foster pride in achievement or self-sufficiency in high standard of attainment. There is danger of neither in this case. In all humility and self-accusation, for lack of activity and because of many mistakes made, we shall seek to review this period in the history of the Messiah Church, the greater part of its second decade.

This period came early in the life of the congregation. The congregation was not large. It numbered 228 communicants and 125 children, in all 353 members, at the beginning of this period, and 283 communicants and 221 children, in all 504 members, at its close. This made an average net gain of nineteen members per year. The Sunday School had an enrollment of twelve teachers and fifty scholars at the beginning of the period and nineteen teachers and one hundred and twenty-three scholars at the close. Summer School was held each summer during ten or eleven weeks. In 1892 the enrollment was thirty-nine, and in 1899 it was sixty-nine. There were two societies within the church—the Women's Society and the Young People's Society, both quite strong numerically, and always active in good work. There was no society among the men. The Men's Society or Brotherhood within our Augustana Churches belongs to a later period.

The church was not rich in property. It owned the lots on which the church building and parsonage now stand. And the front or main part of the present church building was then the church, having been erected in 1883, however, without a basement. Not only services and Sunday School and Society meetings were held in the church, but even, at times, social affairs, there being no other room available. The church property was valued at $8,000.00 with an indebtedness of $173.00. In 1893 the present parsonage was erected, but not with all its present conveniences; it was lighted with kerosene lamps and heated with hard coal stoves. The pastor's salary was $800.00 per year and living quarters; rooms were rented for the pastor until the parsonage was built, after which he had the free use of the same. The congregation held its own financially from year to year, defraying all its expenses without incurring any indebtedness of any consequence. In 1900 the property was valued at $9,000.00 with an indebtedness of $300.00.

Golden Jubilee—Messiah Lutheran Church [Page 38]

life and church work bore the marks of the enthusiasm and hope of youthful vision. The Word of God was preached in its truth and purity, and the sacraments were administered as instituted by Christ. The children and the youth were instructed and nurtured in the fear of the Lord. The law and the gospel were taught to young and old without fear or favor. The word fundamentalism was not known at that time, but the reality was practiced. And true Lutheranism was both known and ardently held forth.

The language question was not a serious problem. The Swedish language was used almost exclusively, which was very natural, the members having rather recently arrived from Sweden. But the English was used when required or convenient.

The congregational and Sunday School singing and the Church Choir and a Ladies' Double Quartette and a Girls' Quartette are all worthy of mention. If the singing was not as artistic as later years may boast, it was, undoubtedly, as sincere, soulful and joyful—singing the praises of God.

The pastor had very good assistants in students from Augustana College during the summer months all these years. These young men served ably and faithfully in preaching the gospel, in teaching in the Church summer school and in Sunday School, in the work with the choir, and in whatever other work was delegated to them. These young men were C. A. Wendell, P. S. Miller, E. G. Chinlund, C. J. Sodergren, A. S. Hamilton, and O. A. Henry, men who by this time have served well for many years in the ministry of Jesus Christ and are well known and prominent among the pastors of our synod. With grateful joy do we look back upon their enthusiastic and cordial cooperation in the work of the church.

One festive occasion should be mentioned. On the seventeenth day of May, eighteen hundred and ninety-six, the fifteenth anniversary of the organization of the church was observed. The speakers on that memorable occasion were pastors C. P. Edlund, P. A. Wenner, M. Frykman and M. C. Ranseen.

This period was a period of missionary efforts. The spirit of the Messiah Church was not selfish. The church relinquished one Sunday morning a month for services at other places. And the pastor was permitted to use whatever time he desired during week days for missionary

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work, and that without complaint and without reduction in remuneration. It was sometimes said that our missionary efforts covered three counties. And that was relatively true, and will be apparent to all when we mention the annexes and mission places, viz: Skandia, Lily Lake, Carlshend, Limestone, Chatham, Munising, Newberry, Michigamme, Skanee, Baraga and Chassel. The congregations at Skanee (1892), Skandia (1894) and Newberry (1897) were organized during this period. And the church buildings at Skanee (1895) and Newberry (1898) were erected during this period.

In this connection should be mentioned services held at the State Penitentiary quite regularly twice a month during the greater part of this period, and some personal work done among the prisoners.

This brief review of 1892-1900 in the history of the Messiah Church should bring into view for all, who enjoyed the privilege of being in the bosom and the work of the church at that time and are still among her faithful members, a period of rich blessing from God, years of joy and happiness never to be forgotten. And we believe that the many who were along then, but now by the grace of God in Christ Jesus are home with the Lord, rejoice with us at this anniversary, looking back upon that time as a time when the grace of God was made manifest unto salvation and eternal life.

The Messiah Church was our first charge. There our pastoral labors began, and continued for nearly eight years. And during this period, we received as our good and faithful wife and life-companion and co-laborer in the Lord's work, Miss Armida Wilhelmina Bergh, in marriage, May twentieth, eighteen hundred ninety-seven. Thus the congregation received its first pastor's wife. And the fact that we still remained nearly three years, bears testimony of her splendid talents and excellent character proven in the important position as pastor's wife. And permit us to say, in all humility, that by the grace of God we sought to serve the church faithfully. The character and results of our labors we have left and do leave with God to appraise and reward in His mercy and love, upon Whom we are in all things dependent, from Whom we seek daily forgiveness of sins, from Whom we receive always all blessings, and unto Whom alone shall be all honor and glory !

F. A. Johnsson.

Golden Jubilee—Messiah Lutheran Church [Page 40]


Born July 4, 1856, in Falun, Sweden. Came to America in 1875. Entered Augustana College and Theological Seminary in 876. Ordained to the ministry in 1883. Spent the first ten years of his ministry on the Mission fields of Wisconsin, California, Colorado and Utah. From 1893 until his death he served the following congregations: Lemont, Ill., 1893-1900; Marquette, Mich., 1900-1906; Geneva, Ill., 1906-1914. Salem and Gethsemane in Omaha, Neb., 1914-1918. Acting head of the Deaconess Institute in Omaha from 1918 to 1920, when he became chaplain of the institution. He passed away Jan. 22, 1927. Rev. Linder served for some time as vice-president of the Illinois Conference and later, during six years, as President.

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In Memoriam

Dr. F. A. Linder, our pastor from 1900 to 1906, served our church with much zeal and enthusiasm. He was a strong man in the pulpit, possessing a powerful and dignified personality, and was earnest in his work of caring for souls. He always had the church's welfare at heart and was also very faithful to his public obligations. He was a noble man, and all who came in contact with him trusted him implicitly. Kind and gentle in disposition, always ready to accord a respectful hearing to the views of others, he was nevertheless forceful in maintaining the courage of his convictions when he felt himself to be in the right.

His record as a pastor reflects true leadership and marked ability. We miss him, yet we do not envy him his well-earned rest after serving the Master so faithfully. May the blessed memory of his faith, love, and devotion live long with us!

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Messiah Lutheran Church 1881-1931

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