First Lutheran Church of Glenville is celebrating its centennial

Published 10:30 am Saturday, May 15, 2010

 Glenville’s First Lutheran Church is celebrating 100 years of faith and fellowship this year.

The church kicked off its yearlong centennial celebration on March 14 with a special worship service with time to reminisce following.

On May 1, a mother-daughter banquet was held. The church also published a centennial cookbook and launched sales earlier this spring. Cookbooks are $10 and available at the church office and at Citizens State Bank of Glenville.

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And that’s just the beginning. “We’re looking to past traditions while looking to the future,” said the Rev. Krista Stokke, the church’s pastor.

In addition to weekly car hops (Wednesday night suppers served drive-in style) this summer, the church is also planning to again hold Wednesday services in the Glenville park in conjunction with Glenville’s United Methodist Church and Lutheran Churches out of the city limits.

A dinner and special service to celebrate will be held Sept. 18 and 19. The bishop plans to attend the Sunday service. In addition, former pastors and interns have been asked to come back and preach throughout the year. The church has had 11 pastors, 21 interns and nine interim pastors in its 100 years. The Rev. A.C. Korsrud served for 37 years. The Rev. David Hernes served for 19 years.

“We’ve had pastors who have raised their families here,” said Gloria Hall, council president.

According to Stokke, the church has about 550 members.

She has been the pastor since August of 1988 and came from Grandville, Ill. She was intrigued by the close-knit, friendly congregation.

Members of the church’s council said they enjoy the fact that they worship in a close-knit community.

“It’s home,” said Violet Hanssen, the church’s treasurer, who was baptized, confirmed and married in the church. “I have no other church to compare it to.”

Douglas Wallin, a trustee, said he feels like he is “among friends here.”

Gary Gulbrandson said if he for some reason isn’t at church on Sunday, he feels like he’s missing something.

Hall said the close-knit congregation is a great statement for the whole community. “Everyone works together to make things better,” she said.

Chris Westland, who helped with both the cookbook and the upcoming picture directory of church members, said she likes the fact that there’s always something to be done. “It’s a small community where everyone knows you and it’s friendly,” she said.

Nancy Heskett, who has also worked on the cookbook and the church’s history, echoed her sentiments. “Everybody know everyone. I’m a member because I grew up in Glenville and still live in Glenville.”

According to Heskett’s history, the first 18 years of records at First Lutheran Church were written in the Norwegian language. Beginning in 1926, the English language was used more and more for devotions at the ladies aid meetings. In December 1928, the secretary chose to write the church council minutes in English.

Round Prairie Lutheran Church is the mother church of Glenville First Lutheran. On March 7, 1910, the Rev. O.A. Sauer called a special meeting to see if a church for the Glenville community could be organized.

The first five charter families joined at this time, and a month later, two more families joined. The congregation was officially incorporated on April 18, 1916.

The congregation had its own cemetery before it had its own church building. On Feb. 6, 1916, N. P. Nelson offered one acre of land free of charge to be used as a cemetery. It’s still the site for the church’s cemetery.

Discussions on building a church didn’t take place until four years after the congregation was formed. Construction began around March 28, 1919. Henry Houg paid $500 for the lot. The total cost for the church, including the furnace and furniture, was $10,000. The ladies aid society paid for the full basement.

The church became an independent congregation, separating from Round Prairie and Lunder Lutheran, in August 1957.

In 1963, a two-story educational wing was added to the church.

By 1973, plans were under way for a new church building, since the congregation had outgrown its first building. The congregation found itself without a building for nine months. Worship services were held in the Glenville elementary gym while construction took place.

The church has also made a number of purchases of tracts of land (one for a parsonage, one for an intern residence and others for parking lots and cemetery expansion). A labyrinth, in honor of the centennial, is being built on the grassy lot to the west of the church.

On Jan. 1, 1961, following a merger of church organizations, Glenville First Lutheran became part of the American Lutheran Church. As part of another merger, the congregation became part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America on Jan. 1, 1988.

Today, the women of the church hold a fall festival in September. There are garden produce, quilts and other items donated for the sale. Coffee, rolls and doughnuts served during the morning hours and a meatball dinner at noon. Marian Trytten and Marcella Nelson, assisted by Mary Nelson, are the chairwomen.

The church also hosts a successful soup and pie supper on the first Wednesday in December. 2010’s will be the 29th annual supper.

There are two circles, Mary Martha and Miriam, that meets once a month.

Church members make quilts for Lutheran World Relief and for the Ronald McDonald House in Rochester.

There is an altar guild made up of many members, serving a month at a time, preparing for community and caring for the altar for services each week.

The church also has dart ball teams for the men.

The church’s mission is: “To be the people of God in this community and for the world, having our teaching, worship and our living inspired by the life and teaching of Jesus Christ.”