The Journey with First Lutheran Church:
First Lutheran Church was founded in 1869 as a Swedish Lutheran Congregation under the Augustana Synod. Lars August Hocanzon, a lay leader, led the services, which were held in parishioners' homes. On Sept. 10, 1869, Pastor Peter Sjoblom of Red Wing presided over 50 families as they signed the charter to officially begin our church's history.
Swedish was the language used in all the services until 1920, and there was no resident pastor for the first 10 years. The members were mostly Swedish, but there were also several Norwegian and German families. The original part of First Lutheran Church was completed in 1875. The first pastor was Rev. S. A. Lindbolm in 1880, and the first parsonage was built in 1881.
In 1899 a reproduction of the original painting “Christ in Gethsemane,” which still hangs in our sanctuary, was painted right in our building by Jonas Olaf Grafstrom.
Four acres of land were purchased in 1900 for Oakwood Cemetery, which is still owned by First Lutheran Church and maintained by its members.
By 1920 three services a month were in English and one in Swedish. Also in 1920, women were given the right to vote, but they were not allowed to become members of the Church Council.
The church has been renovated several times over the years. In 1973 the Education building. was completed and then added on to in 1988. Our 125th Anniversary was celebrated in 1994.
Over the years our mission has remained much the same as the original members had intended. One of our former pastors stated in his annual report: “The world changes and the pressures of society come in different ways in different generations, but people and their needs and concerns remain the same. The task of our congregation is still to build and sustain the presence of God in Christ Jesus throughout the world, for this is still the life to which all of us are committed.”
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