75 Year Pilgrimage: Norse Seekers Built Our Savior | News, Sports, Jobs

Photo Submitted Our Savior’s Lutheran Church’s first full-time church building was located on 8th North and Minnesota. The first service was held in this building on December 18, 1949. The New Ulm Fire Station is currently located on this site.

NEW ULM — On Sunday, September 11, 2022, members of the Lutheran Church of Our Savior (OSLC) gathered in front of the Grand Center for Arts and Culture to begin a mini-pilgrimage in honor of 75 years of history of the congregation.

In March 1947, six families met with a seminary student at the Grand Hotel to discuss the establishment of a Scandinavian Lutheran church.

In 1947, it was a challenge for New Ulm citizens of Scandinavian descent to find a Lutheran church where they felt at home.

Since New Ulm was settled by German immigrants, the German language has continued to dominate worship services. Members of Swan Lake and Hanska Lutheran churches participated in the survey to determine if another church was needed. Peter Anderson, a student at Swan Lake Seminary, was the leader.

At first it was unclear if the church would last. Redeemer Lutheran was also starting around the same time and no one was sure if there was enough interest for either church to last, but the early members had faith.

The OSLC’s current location is 1400 S. State Street. The first service was held there in February 1961.

In 2022, the OSLC congregation honored the original six families with a prayer outside the Grand, given by Dale Aufderheide, a descendant of Helen Aufederhedie, one of the founding members. A prayer would be given at each of the places where Our Savior worshiped during his 75 years.

From The Grand, church members traveled to 127 N. Minnesota St. in front of the Guten Tag Haus. However, 75 years ago the Guten Tag Haus was known as the Silver Latch Cafe. On March 23, 1947, he held the first regular worship service and Sunday school for the OSLC. It costs $2 to rent the space at the Silver Latch Cafe on a Sunday.

OSLC’s first official act was the baptism of John L. Anderson. Anderson wrote the book “Scandinavian Humor and Other Myths.”

A few months later, the church will officially adopt the name “Lutheran Church of Our Savior of New Ulm” June 8, 1947.

From the Guten Tag Haus, the congregation traveled to the city water plant on Third North Street. By the fall of 1947, the congregation had outgrown the Silver Latch and began renting space at the Filtration Plant. Of all the places of worship in OSLC, the water plant is the only one to retain its primary purpose.

In 2022, the OSLC congregation marched west on 3rd North until they reached Broadway, the location of the old Creamery Hall. Today it is the location of Broadway Haus.

The room created a unique problem for OSLC. The creamery served as a dance hall on Saturday evenings. This meant that members had to clean up the space before Sunday morning church services.

By the time the OSLC moved into Creamery Hall on Broadway, the church had 33 students enrolled in Sunday School. From the beginning, the OSLC placed a strong emphasis on the education of young people; a tradition that continues. It didn’t take long to outgrow the creamery, but the next move was a building in its own right.

From N. Broadway and 3rd North, the current OSLC congregation walked five blocks north and gathered near the garage doors of the New Ulm Fire Department – being careful not to block the driveway in case of a fire call.

It was at 8th North and Minnesota that on June 26, 1949, the cornerstone of the first Church of Our Savior was placed. On December 18, 1949, a white frame building was completed and worship services began. That evening, the Sunday school held an evening Christmas program.

It took two years, but OSLC had its own building. The problem was that he had no money for benches and other items. Families bought their own pews from a Lafayette church.

The OSLC grew in the 1950s. Most of the time the church shared a pastor with Swan Lake, but by 1957 it needed a full-time pastor. Pastor Jim Sumption became the first pastor to serve the church independently from Swan Lake.

After prayer at the New Ulm fire station, the current OSLC congregation prepared for the final leg of the pilgrimage. Some of the members boarded a school bus to make the final trip to 1400 S. State Street.

In 1959, the OSLC again overran its building. The number of children in Sunday School required three separate sessions. In the fall of 1960, 237 children were enrolled in Sunday school.

The land was acquired at 1400 S. State St. through donations from the Aufderheide and Salter families. Looking ahead, the church bought the rest of the block to ensure that if the church continued to grow, they could expand the building rather than move. Construction began in the summer of 1960 and the first service took place on site in February 1961.

The first expansion took place six years later. An education unit was added to the building to accommodate Sunday school demands. A parish library was established in the 1970s. In 1972 the congregation reached 1,500 members. The sanctuary has been remodeled and enlarged according to the current design, adopting semi-circular seats. Additional classrooms and offices were also built.

The church would see another major renovation in 2004, with further expansion of the sanctuary, the creation of a larger communion hall, and more classrooms in the lower levels.

Currently, OSLC has 1,666 baptized members, all of whom began when six families met 75 years ago. The original need for a Scandinavian church has faded, but people are continually drawn to the OSLC more than seven decades later.

The 75th Anniversary Committee believes that the OSLC has been a welcoming church from the start.

“That was an important theme for us,” said Pastor Kathleen Ulland-Klinkner. “People feel welcome, whether it’s when they walk through the door or during Holy Communion. We are very open.

Maxine Remme said the openness of the church is evidenced by how it has grown steadily for 75 years.

The committee credited the women’s organization of the OSLC with being inside and outside the church. They raised a lot of money for good causes.

The church has always had a strong youth ministry since its founding.

“Our children and youth are learning here, but they have traveled all over the United States on mission trips,” said Ulland-Klinkner. “We do so much to build community here. We like to get out of our house and help others.

The musical history of the congregation turned out to be a draw. There are choirs for kindergarten and up. There are currently 100 children in the choir program.

The church adapts to its time. During the COVID pandemic, they moved services online for social distancing. Coming out of the pandemic, the church still has its online presence on Facebook.

For the past several years, the OSLC has served as the Ward 4 polling station during elections.

“Part of our calling is to be good citizens, and part of that is to vote,” Ulland Klinkner

On September 18, the OSLC worship service will focus on music and how God has shaped them.

The 75th celebration is September 25 with a meal to follow. Reverend Jen Nagel will pastor the service. She grew up in the congregation. Several official pastors will also be present and will give short presentations during the service.

The meal is Scandinavian themed with Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes, lefse and special treats.


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