Our History

North Waseca Lutheran Church was founded by early Norwegian immigrants. History tells us that in the forty years between 1825 and 1865, an average of 2,000 people left Norway each year for America. For the eight years that followed 1865, an average of 13,862 Norwegians came to America each year.

 
By 1855, the first group of Norwegians had come to Waseca County. John Sigurson (Johnson) and his son Torbjorn, Sjur Olson (Bagne), Aslak Herlaugson (Quitney), Peder Nilsen, Jens Olson, Kristoffer Olson, and Tarald Anonsen (Anderson) were in this first group. Several more Norwegians arrived in 1856 and settled on land in Iosco and Blooming Grove Townships. Since most of the neighbors were Norwegian, they lived much as they did in Norway, clinging to the old customs and especially to the native language.

 
In the midst of adjusting to the new land, new friends and new problems, it did not take them long to realize that “man doth not live on bread alone.” They felt the need of a Church in which they could worship. They felt the need of the Word of God. Pastor Laur Larsen from Rush River, Wisconsin was contacted and asked to come for a visit. He was a Norwegian missionary pastor who traveled throughout this part of the territory. On Sunday, October 17, 1858, some of the settlers gathered at the home of Aslak Herlaugson to organize a Lutheran congregation. Pastor Larsen was with them. He had drafted a constitution. It was read and adopted and the congregation was established.

The first pastor called to North Waseca Lutheran Church was Pastor Bernt Julius Muus.  He was replaced by Pastor Quammen and later by Pastor Melby.

When  the church was finally built, a dedication service was held on July 9, 1874.  The speaker at this event was Pastor B.J. Muus, who later became the first President of St. Olaf College in Northfield.

 

In 1905, North Waseca Lutheran Church was instrumental in establishing a new church in the city of Waseca.  It was first known as First English Lutheran Church, and today is known as Grace Lutheran Church.

Four pastors have served at least 20 years at North Waseca Lutheran Church.

 

They are:

Pastor O.A. Melby  1872-1896

Pastor  R.P. Wasbotten 1897-1922

Pastor Ivar Ramseth 1926-1947

Pastor Allan Tveite  1972-2006

 

The spirit that was created in North Waseca Lutheran Church in 1858 still exists today. That spirit shows every Sunday as we gather in our sanctuary to worship and sing hymns that have been sung here for 150 years. That same spirit shows in the smiles from our newest to oldest members. The members of this congregation are the bedrock of this church community. A church built on a foundation of belief in Jesus Christ. We welcome new members and long to make them feel the warmth, camaraderie, friendliness, and spirituality displayed here. There is an abundance of young spirit minded people to establish growth and longevity. This family spirit takes on forms…joy, serenity, peace, and love. All can be found in this place; All are welcome in this place.

Pioneers of Faith

North Waseca Lutheran Church was founded by early Norwegian immigrants. History tells us that in the forty years between 1825 and 1865, an average of 2,000 people left Norway each year for America. For the eight years that followed 1865, an average of 13,862 Norwegians came to America each year.

 
By 1855, the first group of Norwegians had come to Waseca County. John Sigurson (Johnson) and his son Torbjorn, Sjur Olson (Bagne), Aslak Herlaugson (Quitney), Peder Nilsen, Jens Olson, Kristoffer Olson, and Tarald Anonsen (Anderson) were in this first group. Several more Norwegians arrived in 1856 and settled on land in Iosco and Blooming Grove Townships. Since most of the neighbors were Norwegian, they lived much as they did in Norway, clinging to the old customs and especially to the native language.

 
In the midst of adjusting to the new land, new friends and new problems, it did not take them long to realize that “man doth not live on bread alone.” They felt the need of a Church in which they could worship. They felt the need of the Word of God. Pastor Laur Larsen from Rush River, Wisconsin was contacted and asked to come for a visit. He was a Norwegian missionary pastor who traveled throughout this part of the territory. On Sunday, October 17, 1858, some of the settlers gathered at the home of Aslak Herlaugson to organize a Lutheran congregation. Pastor Larsen was with them. He had drafted a constitution. It was read and adopted and the congregation was established.

 
A call was extended to Pastor Larsen. He accepted. It provided for the Pastor to visit twice a year. No definite sum was promised as salary, but each member was to give a voluntary contribution “so as to cover traveling expenses and as an appreciation of the Pastor’s labors.” Accordingly, the new congregation started out with twenty-three families and increased to twenty-seven.

 
Three trustees were elected at the organizational meeting: Sigurd Johnson, Peder Nilsen, and Torbjorn Johnson. The first Sunday was busy for the Pastor. Twelve children were baptized. Some had been privately baptized but now received the blessings of the Church. Five boys and one girl were confirmed on this Sunday, ranging from 16 to 19 years. Parents had seen that they had learned the catechism and Bible history. A marriage was also solemnized: Jens Olson to Brita Larsdatter



Pastors Called

The second visit of Pastor Larsen was on June 19, 1859. At this time, land was given by Torbjorn Johnson and dedicated as the cemetery. The first recorded funeral was April 18, 1860 for Anne Nilsen, wife of Peder Nilsen.

 

In 1860, Pastor Bernt Julius Muus accepted the call through the trustees, Sigurd Johnson and Torbjorn Johnson to serve this congregation twice a year as its pastor. On April 17, 1860, Pastor Muus preached in the forenoon at the home of Hans Hansen and in the evening at the home of Tarald Anonsen.


Religion School Organized

 At a meeting on September 19, 1860, arrangements were made for six weeks of religion school. School was to be held one week at each home. Tarald Anonsen was engaged as teacher at fifty cents per day. In 1861, Jacob Svendson was engaged as teacher and received $10 per month. He also was to conduct Sunday school the year around. In 1862, arrangements were made for nine weeks of school with Jacob Svendson as teacher. That same year, the congregation voted to join the Synod of the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (NELCA).

 
At a meeting on May 10, 1863, it was decided to build a church on land already set aside as a cemetery--the dimensions to be 24 x 30 feet. Sigurd Johnson, Sjur Olson Bagne, and Andrew Nilson were elected to the first building committee. Two hundred fifty dollars was subscribed at that meeting toward the construction of the church. This committee was instructed to get estimates for the cost of materials and report to a special meeting as soon as possible. The church was built in 1864. It was far from finished, but could be used for services. Planks were used as pews.

 

Extending the Call

 Pastor Quammen took up the work in North Waseca midsummer 1866 and served until the end of 1871. The records give very little information about this period.

 
In 1871, a new parish was formed with Le Sueur River congregation and North Waseca. A call was extended to Pastor O.A. Melby who had just finished his theological course at the University of Christiania in Norway. He arrived in January of 1872 and entered upon the work at once. He is said to be the first resident pastor, even though he was to live in the Le Sueur River settlement. This was twenty miles away. In 1873, North Waseca raised $235 toward the parsonage at Le Sueur River. Money also was raised to buy a horse and buggy for the Pastor to provide reliable transportation.

 

During his pastorate, the Church edifice was completed. On July 9, 1874, it was solemnly dedicated with Pastor Muus as guest speaker. He spoke on Romans 3:28. There was a large audience and dinner was served to all in the nearby grove.

 

Organization of Ladies Aid

 
In 1883, Ladies’ Aid was organized through Pastor Melby’s initiative. Two Aids were organized, the East and the West. In Blooming Grove (East) the first meeting was held at the home of Mrs. Gullick Knutson and Mrs. Peter Thorson entertained the first meeting in Iosco (West). On March 21, 1923, the two Aids voted to unite into one with the meetings being held in the church parlors. The women worked to support the church in many ways, with prayer, worship, teaching and many service and mission projects.

 
Church Growth

 As the congregation grew, Pastor Melby realized the need of more intensive work and succeeded in dividing his parish. In 1897, North Waseca formed a new parish with the Waseca Norwegian Lutheran Church and candidate of theology R. P. Wasbotten was called. Pastor Melby preached his farewell sermon on the morning of July 11, 1897. At the evening service, Pastor Wasbotten was installed by Pastor Melby. Pastor Melby had served North Waseca for 25 years.



Into the 20th Century

In 1905, Aurora congregation of Steele County became a part of the parish.
On January 1, 1922, a new congregation was organized in Waseca and took the name of First English Lutheran Church of Waseca (today is Grace Lutheran Church). Having decided to have half of its services in English, the North Waseca Church formed a new parish with the new congregation. Up to 1922, the Norwegian language prevailed in all church activities, but with the new parish, the English language was used more and more.
On January 22, 1922, Pastor Wasbotten resigned after accepting a call to be manager of Homme’s Old People’s Home in Wittenberg, Wisconsin. He preached his farewell sermon July 23, 1922. Pastor Wasbotten served North Waseca 25 years.

 
Pastor A. Elmer Moe was called as pastor and entered upon his duties in September 1922. Pastor Moe was very popular. It caused great regret when two years later in 1924 he resigned to accept a call to Aberdeen, South Dakota.

 

For one whole year, September 1924 to September 1925, the parish had no pastor. Neighbor pastors came in to preach occasionally. Pastor Edward Nervig of New Richland took care of the ministerial work. In February of 1925, a second call was sent to Pastor Ivar Ramseth, Beloit, Wisconsin. He accepted and was installed September 4, 1925.

 
During the summer of 1925, the parish built a new parsonage in Waseca. In 1926, the Sunday school was organized with Miss Christine Olson as the first superintendent. In the same year, electric lights were installed in the Church.

 

Women’s Right to Vote and other Changes

 The women of North Waseca were given the right to vote in 1931. In 1937, the church interior took on new look. The sacristy was enlarged and the balcony remodeled. In 1940, art glass (stain glass) windows were installed. 1942 saw a new schedule for Worship Service, 9:30 every Sunday and Sunday school at 10:30 am.

In 1947, Pastor Ramseth resigned and Pastor M. Donald Hinderlie accepted the call to serve North Waseca Lutheran Church and Grace Lutheran Church.

 
In 1948, the furnace was converted to burn oil; the days of coal were gone.

 
In 1949, a Wurlitzer was purchased to add additional beauty to the service.

 
In 1953, the cemetery was enlarged to the North.

 
In 1954, Judeen Johnson, the first son of the congregation to enter the ministry was ordained. Pastor Hinderlie resigned in 1955 to accept a call to serve Grace Church in Midway, Washington (a Home Mission congregation). Pastor Hinderlie served eight years.

 

Resident Pastor Called

 November 5, 1955 was a significant day in the life of North Waseca Lutheran. At a meeting of the congregation, the group voted to call their own pastor. Being a small group, this was a real challenge, but the group was determined to make the most of the new venture. In 1956, the parsonage (of the former two-congregation parish) was purchased to become the home for the new North Waseca Pastor.


Pastor Charles H. Akre accepted the call to be the congregation’s first solo resident pastor. He began his ministry on June 17, 1956. These were exciting days at North Waseca Lutheran. Even the most stout-hearted wondered at the wisdom of becoming a one congregation parish. But before 1956 was ushered out, the congregation began to develop a confidence that this would be a wonderful experience. In that same year, Myrwood Bagne, the second son of the congregation to enter the ministry, was ordained at North Waseca Lutheran Church.

 
Throughout 1957, the congregation grew in numbers and stature. People were responding to the new set-up with enthusiasm. In 1958, the new Service Book and Hymnal was added. This became known as the “red hymnal”.

 


“God’s Word Abideth Forever”

In 1960 a new pastor was called to serve North Waseca. Pastor Gordon Narvesen, a native of New York, arrived. A little over a year later, he brought his new bride, Beatrice, to live in the parsonage. North Waseca was his first pastorate after graduation from Luther Seminary in St. Paul.

 

The new addition project of 1963 brought extensive changes in the church property. The 85 year-old landmark steeple was removed and replaced with a new exterior that included a 24 x 36 addition. This resulted in a new entrance, remodeled kitchen, overflow room, cry room, pastor’s office, and Sunday school space.
The old 800 pound bell with the inscription “God’s Word Abideth Forever” was put in the new tower that replaced the steeple.



North Waseca Shares Pastor with Faith in Janesville

 In the closing months of Pastor Narvesen’s pastorate, he was authorized to work with a group of persons interested in establishing a congregation in Janesville. This resulted in a new parish partnership with Faith Lutheran in October of 1964. Pastor Narvesen resigned in 1966 and headed east to Laurel, Maryland to become pastor of the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, serving a military congregation.

 
Following interim service at North Waseca, Pastor Merle Metcalf accepted the call to serve full time in 1966. He served diligently and faithfully until resigning in 1968 to accept a call to teach at the Lutheran Seminary in Taiwan. Pastor Metcalf would teach Greek and Hebrew languages and the New Testament to Chinese students preparing for the ministry.


Pastor Vernon Hunt of Newell, South Dakota came to serve as pastor of the new two-congregation parish in 1968 until November 1972 when he accepted a call to serve First Lutheran Church in Circle, Montana and as a part-time medical technologist in the local hospital. Pastor Robert Anderson, a former Madagascar missionary served as interim pastor for two months until the arrival of a new pastor.

 

Pastor and Jane Tveite – 1970’s

In February of 1972, Pastor Allan Tveite and his wife, Jane, arrived from Duluth having served as an assistant pastor of Trinity Lutheran and Our Savior’s Lutheran to become North Waseca’s thirteenth pastor. Pastor Tveite served the Lord and the congregation well for 32 wonderful years. He and Jane retired in 2004 and moved to Burnsville, Minnesota. It needs to be acknowledged and appreciated that Jane Tveite, an accomplished musician, served as the church organist for 32 years!


Some notable happenings of the 1970’s include the following: remodeling of the church basement in 1971; remodeling of the parsonage in 1972; lowering the age for first communion to grade 5 in 1974; the purchase of a new Rodgers organ in 1975; a break-in robbery of the Church in 1976 (which resulted in the loss of documents and parish records); new cemetery rules and policies that were adopted in 1979; use of new Lutheran Book ofWorship Hymnal and liturgy (“the green book”) in 1979.

 

The third son of the congregation to become an ordained minister was John Fahning. He currently resides in New Hope, Minnesota.

 

Interim Pastor Serves

 After Pastor Tveite retired, Pastor Karl Korbel from Owatonna, served as interim pastor from 2004 to 2006. Pastor Korbel had served in Indiana and had retired after many years in the ministry to serve as an interim pastor through the Southeast MN Synod. Pastor Korbel is remembered for having the ability to give a sermon without written notes and rarely stood in the pulpit.

 

We Continue in Faith…


In 2006, a call was extended to Pastor Nancy Hansen, ordained at First English Lutheran Church in Faribault, Minnesota. The call was accepted and Pastor Nancy, as she is known, began her ministry in July of 2006. She became the first woman pastor of North Waseca. Pastor Nancy and husband Wayne bought their own home and the 81 year-old-parsonage on 3rd Avenue NE in Waseca was sold, when it was deemed that it was no longer needed. Another new “red hymnal” called the Evangelical Lutheran Worship was introduced in 2007.

During 2006-2008, many improvements were made inside the Church and outside to prepare for the 150th Anniversary of this Church. The interior of the upper level of the church (sacristy) was painted and the foyer area expanded bringing on a feeling of openness and brightness to the entrance. A handicapped accessible ramp was built along the south side of the Church to accommodate wheelchairs, etc., creating another “welcoming” door. Extensive work in the cemetery was done, raising and straightening gravestones to honor the founders and lives past.

 
As we look back over 150 years we think of the hardships and the sacrifices. We are impressed with the willingness generations of people assumed in maintaining a Christian congregation. We honor the memory of our mothers and fathers today and thank God for what they gave us. “The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad” (Ps. 126:3).

 
The spirit that was created in North Waseca Lutheran Church in 1858 still exists today. That spirit shows every Sunday as we gather in our sanctuary to worship and sing hymns that have been sung here for 150 years. That same spirit shows in the smiles from our newest to oldest members. The members of this congregation are the bedrock of this church community. A church built on a foundation of belief in Jesus Christ. We welcome new members and long to make them feel the warmth, camaraderie, friendliness, and spirituality displayed here. There is an abundance of young spirit minded people to establish growth and longevity. This family spirit takes on forms…joy, serenity, peace, and love. All can be found in this place; All are welcome in this place.

The Church built on a hill by early immigrants with faith, hope and love still stands after 150 years. With the prayers and support of our current congregation, we look to God to lead us to continue what our forefathers and mothers began - sharing His Word with the next generation - thanks be to God!

 


This history was written and compiled by Gladys Carlson with resources listed below. Able assistants were Delores (Jackson) Srp, Pastor Nancy Hansen, and June Rezac.

 


Sources of information:

 
· Alland Family Saga and the Fretham Family Saga

 
· Hand written notes and memorabilia left by Allert Jackson

 
· North Waseca Lutheran Church 75th Anniversary Booklet

 
· North Waseca Lutheran Church 100th Anniversary Notes


· North Waseca Lutheran Church 125th Anniversary Notes

 
· Our Journey of Faith by Lillian S. Teisberg

 
· Protokol, “handwritten” by Pastor Laur Larsen in 1858

 
· Waseca newspaper articles

North Waseca Lutheran Church

40430 120th Street, Waseca, MN

 

507.234.6463

nwlcnorth@gmail.com

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