Congregation will observe 125th year of church building

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 13, 2006

By Ed Shannon, staff writer

Six years ago the members of Bear Lake Concordia Lutheran Church observed the 125th anniversary of their congregation. Now another special occasion will be observed at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, when the members of this church located 10 miles southwest of Albert Lea observe the 125th anniversary of their historic house of worship.

The guest speaker at this special service will be Dr. Bob Albers, a professor at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, and a great-grandson of the church&8217;s founder, the Rev. Ferdinand Tiede.

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This church shares the name of Concordia with the Pickerel Lake congregation. The use of the name is based in part on the late 1850s, ’60s and early &8216;70s. That’s when the scattered families of German settlers in Nunda, Pickerel Lake and Mansfield Townships were served by several traveling preachers and worshiped in private homes and school buildings.

The Bear Lake congregation became a separate organization with the arrival of Tiede. He came from Germany at the age of 17 and was ordained as a Lutheran minister a few years later. Tiede became the pastor of this newly formed church group on Sept. 10, 1875.

A strong base for this congregation came with the donation of the land for the present church building, nearby parsonage structure and cemetery by George L. Sherb.

For the first six years the people attended worship services in the parsonage or at a nearby schoolhouse. The present church building was constructed in 1881. According to church member JoAnne Fink, the contractors were Thomas and Jorgen Olson from Albert Lea. The original building measured 28 feet by 40 feet and cost $2,100. She added that small additions have been made to the front and back of the building and a basement added during the past 125 years.

Tiede served this congregation for 36 years, plus traveling by buggy to serve as the pastor at Mansfield Lutheran Church. Then he became the pastor for just the Mansfield church for four more years.

Fink said 13 descendants of Rev. Tiede have served in the Lutheran ministry. In fact, the present president of Luther Seminary in St. Paul, the Rev. David Tiede, is a great-grandson of the pioneer preacher at Bear Lake.

The use of the German language in this church gradually declined in the 1930s and finally faded away in 1940, according to Fink.

During its history this congregation had been known by two other names for short periods of time, Fink explained. One was Nunda, based on the name of the township. The other was Clover, based on the name of a small settlement to the north which once had a post office and a rather short history. (A historical marker now marks the site of Clover in the south part of Pickerel Lake Township.) Yet, all through the years the name of a nearby lake has persisted as the traditional title for this country church.

This church currently has approximately 200 members. The Rev. Gary Hanson presently serves this congregation and lives part time in the parsonage just to the west of this historic church.