150th Anniversary Events

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Outdoor Worhsip

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Anniversary Celebration Worship with Open House

 

 

150th Anniversary Themes of the Month

January

Congregation Life

 

February

Neighborhood/ Mission/ Outreach

 

March

Women's Ministry/ Faith and Feminism

 

April

Music

 

May

Pastor/ Staffing/ Buildings

 

June, July, August

Events

 

September

Faith Formation/ Sunday School/ Confirmation

 

October

Worship

 

November

Saints

 

December

The Future (Babies!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

150th Anniversary

Called, Nurtured and Sent to Celebrate, Serve and Do Justice since 1869

 

 

Our Saviour’s At 150

Singing a YES on Our Way Forward

 

May 2019 -  Served by Pastors of Our Saviour’s

 

As was noted at the 100th Anniversary of the congregation, Our Saviour’s has been blessed with some truly amazing servant-leaders as pastors over the years.

Our first pastor (Niels Th. Ylvisaker) was actually a part-time missionary who was serving a parish in Red Wing at the same time. The first few were either Norwegian born or first-generation Norwegians, and nearly all of our following pastors have had some Norwegian heritage. Many have then gone on to be leaders for their synod (including Han Stub who became President of the Norwegian Lutheran Synod, and Don Rudrud as an assistant to our Bishop) as well as professors or leaders at Lutheran colleges (Thoralf Hoff, Raymond Olson). 

There were 11 pastors during the first 100 years (all male) and 9 associate pastors (all male).  During the last 50 years, of the 12 who have served in pastoral and associate roles, 7 have been male and 5 female (including Laurie Eaton, our first female senior pastor).   Over the years, Our Saviour’s has also included four visitation pastors on staff.  Our Saviour’s has also been served by 9 different interim pastors.  This includes one who will likely hold the record for longest interim (9 years), Janet Tidemann, until we were able to convince our Synod to drop a rule to allow us to call her as an associate pastor.

Of the 14 people who have served as our lead pastor, three were called directly from their ordination (Ole Vangness, Herman Preus), with one (Hans Stub) at 23 years old, the youngest as well.  Only once has an associate pastor risen to fill the role of senior pastor, that being Warren Sorteborg who followed David Quill.  Our oldest pastor to be called (Alf Kraabel) was 56 years old.  The range of years of service has been from 3 to 22 years (J.W. Preus).  The average years of service works out to around 10.   Notably there have been two periods of very lengthy pastorates – 20 and 22 years, as well as 17 years, and one transition time in the 1950’s in which there three calls during a 12-year span.  In what will be another “story” told in the months ahead, one of our associate pastoral staff on a three-year contract, lost a vote to be re-called by the narrowest of margins.  And also notably, not just our first pastor, but another (Hans Lee) was called to serve a congregation that had no physical building.

While our pastors have been historically praised for their preaching, teaching and worship leadership, we should also be aware of the other ways we have been blessed by these leaders.  During our 150 years, we have had excellent administrators, program leaders, supervisors and counselors, as well as social change agents and dynamic witnesses for social justice. 

The May anniversary display table includes photos of each of the pastors and interesting biographies for each, so I won’t go into further detail except for a listing of the 14 and their years of service here.

 -Daniel Swenson-Klatt


 

April  2019- Music as Ministry – We Sing!

 

It has already been acknowledged that music has been a vital part of our congregation’s story.  Whether that is our music directors, choirs, organ (or lack thereof), instruments, congregational singing or liturgy, there is something special about Our Saviour’s that is recognized by anyone who visits.  A reference to the music of Our Saviour’s often becomes part of what creates and sustains our members.

We were blessed to have strong musicians, Ole Vangsness and JW Preus, as two of our congregation’s earliest pastors.  Both were widely known for singing beautiful solos and encouraging high standards for musical expression.  JW Preus was a leader for the national choral union movement among Norwegian-American Lutherans.

A large pipe organ in the church’s second building on 7th Street was dedicated in 1903 with a concert that drew attention outside of the congregation.  Beginning in 1905, the congregation’s choral society performed Handel’s Messiah, Haydn’s Creation, and Mendelssohn’s Elijah over the course of three years, offering evidence that talented musicians were present at Our Saviour’s.

The church built at 24th and Chicago, meant to be a gothic – Norwegian – American cathedral, included an organ flanking the altar at the east wall and choir stalls facing the congregation, breaking from a traditional Norwegian church layout.  Within 10 years, the first renovation of the interior moved the altar forward and built a large organ chamber behind it with an array of pipes arranged on either side. In the 1970’s a new organ was built during a reorienting of the worship space that moved the altar forward.

During early church membership growth, options for choirs became numerous, including children, youth, women’s and men’s choirs from the 1940’s into the 1960’s.  The choir’s liturgical support and concerts built a reputation for Our Saviour’s that sustained a vibrant worship community.  An aging and declining membership in the 1970’s and 80’s meant not just the loss of choirs, but the need to rethink musical liturgy itself.  While the husband and wife team of the Sheldon and Ruth Fardig cared for standard adult choir and organ duties, a group of young adults began to stretch the musical boundaries.  It was this forward-looking group that in the 1970’s encouraged a young campus minister, Ray Makeever, to put his musical talents to work, first singing with, and then leading and writing liturgical songs for a group that became the New Voices.  Pastors Art Dale, Warren Sorteberg, and Don Rudrud found ways to encourage these contemporary musicians and in 1984, Ray published a liturgical songbook through our congregation, With All Your Heart.  Its support by the national Lutheran church meant it had far-ranging impact, encouraging our congregation to grow its music ministry in new directions.

A small, alternative worship service formed around Ray’s music.  Over the course of a few years, this found its way into the main worship setting, first as special music offerings, then as once-a-month worship services, and finally as a fully integrated part of a more diverse and musical worship service. Ray’s songs are found in the red Lutheran Hymnal and woven into our congregation’s current worship.

Focus on music in worship led to hiring Peter Moberg and then Mary Preus to serve as music directors with a scope much larger than just directing a choir or accompanying worship on the organ.  Then the fire of 1995 destroyed the organ, leading to long discussions about whether a rebuilt church sanctuary should include an organ at all.  A donation of a small organ arrived during the years of worship in Lutheran Social Service’s chapel, but the congregation’s comfort level began to shift toward piano and guitar as more reflective of the liturgy being used.  It’s no surprise that congregational singing grew through the choice of these instruments, but it was also assisted through the song-leadership of Mary Preus and the talented musicians she was connected to through the group Bread for the Journey.  This brought Tom Witt, Tony Machado, and Bret Hesla to Our Saviour’s as well, adding their own gifts to music ministry.

Children’s music ministry was reborn out of the fire as well, as the songs of the Kaleidoscope summer program brought children eager to sing with Amy Hartman, Judy Halvorson, and Mary Preus over the years. While sheer numbers have not been matched from the Amy Molstad years at the turn of the 20th century, the life and energy and ministry of these recent groups of children has had just as much impact on our congregation and the wider community.

-Daniel Swenson-Klatt

 

 

March 2019- Women's Ministry/ Faith and Feminism

 

What has been the role of women in Our Saviour’s history?

While it seems that traditional structures and systems meant that the earliest women were not amongst the decision makers, they were clearly active, mission-oriented and, although behind the scenes, clearly visible and influential.  I can almost imagine the conversation (in Norwegian) that led to the formation of Our Saviour’s:

She: Don’t you think it’s time to call a pastor and start a church here in our new country?

He: Well, yes, now that you mention it, I was thinking it might be a good time to do that.

She: Perhaps you could gather a few of the men at the mill and propose that?

He: Well, yes, I might as well do that.

She: I’ll be glad to set up our parlor and set out some coffee, you just let me know when they will be coming over.

Early records show mission funds, events and committees formed by women and for the women of Our Saviour’s.  Of course, music, arts, and hospitality were offered as options to be involved outside of the preaching and decision-making realms of the church, but it is obvious that leadership was forming amongst the women in ways that out-paced the men of the congregation.  It seems that at several points in the early years, while the deacons (men) sat in endless discussions, the women dealt with the practical needs and just made things happen.  Whether it was the purchase of land for the site of the present church (made in a trade for a site they purchased at Franklin and 10th Ave), or the purchase and construction of the pastor’s residence, raising funds for music leaders or supporting mission sites along the growing edge of the city, the Our Saviours’ Miss and Mrs’s were a driving force for the congregation.  In the early 1900’s the women even ran a refreshment booth at the Minnesota State Fair.

Also from early records it is clear the women of Our Saviour’s were keepers of their Norweigan heritage and language and culture, helping new immigrants adjust to being away from home.  It took many years for Norwegian to disappear from the meetings they held.  The last of the women’s organizations that served to bind them together lasted until 1983.

While the general history of Our Saviour’s is a list of the nineteen men who signed on to the letter of call for their first pastor and the many men who followed as pastors.  But women were active leaders as well. One of the early leadership roles was through music. The hiring of Ms. Amy Molstad as the women’s music director created a parallel path to the standard worship leadership led by the male pastors.  Over the course of many years, their formal concerts, benefits, and reunions provided a place for socializing and outreach.   Pearl Gorvin, Ruth Fardig, Karen Moberg, Rhonda Degelau, Amy Hartman, Judy Halverson and Mary Preus, Catherine Preus and many other talented women have continued to share this music leadership thread.

Church education efforts also drew women leaders through the years and Mabel Sihler, Lydia Borgendale, and Laura Nelson have become something of legends along the way.  And, of course the keeper of the kitchen keys (always a woman) always held as much power as the pastor.

Another position that offered a public lay leadership role was that of “pastor’s wife.” Phyllis Sorteberg brought her passion for arts into her prominent role and led the congregation’s efforts to create festivals, concerts, and events, beautiful vestments and banners.  Nancy Lee’s musical talents were at always work during her time alongside her husband Pastor Hans Lee.

With such a strong foundation, it’s no surprise that Our Saviour’s would become a place for one of the first women allowed into “called ministry”  with Lynn Ziese serving as an intern in 1973.  Marilyn Breckenridge, Mary Albing, and Marlene Helgemoe followed in her path.  Cathy Malotky joined her husband Dave Englestad in 1986 to become the first woman pastor to serve at Our Saviour’s.  When Cathy and Dave left to take a call at Buffalo Lake MN, the synod was encouraged to provide a woman interim pastor, and thus Janet Tidemann joined us in 1989. And although Pastor Janet didn’t fit the original call profile, after 10 years of serving as an interim (the longest in synod history) Our Saviour’s was able to convince the synod to adjust its rules and allow us to call Janet Tidemann as an associate pastor, where she served until 2009 and took on the role of visitation pastor and finally pastor emeritus as her Parkinson’s limited her physical ability but not her spirit to serve our congregation. 

Elaine Olson served alongside Pastor Hans Lee and then as the congregation considered moving to a solo position, a call was presented to Laurie Eaton to lead the congregation. With the call to Martha Schwehn Bardwell, to fill our growing congregation’s needs it is clear Our Saviour’s continues to be a place that nurtures women as pastoral leaders.  

During the most challenging point in Our Saviour’s history, the time of the 1995 fire, three women guided us in prominent leadership roles. Gayle Lamb as Council president (not the first as president, that was Rena Rustad in the 1970’s), Pastor Janet, and Shelby Andress (our strategic planning facilitator) nurtured and inspired a congregation that needed to heal, re-imagine itself, and rebuild. A number of theologically trained and rostered female members are currently active in our congregation and continue to shape our mission and ministry in ways that reflect those earliest years, only now we know their first names too: Elaine (Degelau), Amy (Hartman), Sandy (Aslasken), Amy (Bluemenshine), Suzanne (Burke), and Karen (Stevenson). Their prodding and wondering has brought us new ministries (Cherish All Children, The Coming Home Collaborative, Godly Play) and encourage us to keep alive and ready for more.

-Daniel Swenson-Klatt


 

February 2019- Neighborhood/ Mission/ Outreach

 

How have we expressed mission and outreach as a congregation to our neighborhood?

For most of us, Our Saviour’s identity has been tied to urban ministry through two well-established and long-lasting mission programs, The English Learning Center and Our Saviour’s Housing.  Now nearly forty years later, it is difficult to imagine a congregation that didn’t include them as part of how we talk about, provide service, or visualize our congregation’s mission.  But these were not the first mission programs that shaped Our Saviour’s and they most definitely would not have begun here without the long history of mission and outreach to our neighbors during our 150 years.

Leading up to the 80’s, two programs in the 1950’s and 60’s also started out of member passion, and then also grew beyond our congregation and eventually became programs outside of the congregation. Open Door Center provided services and spiritual opportunities for children with mental and developmental disabilities.  And Southside Family Nurturing Center grew out of an effort to provide support for young children who had experienced abuse.   As programs within the congregation, they were ways members could be actively involved in service and ministry, but they also were strengthening the identity of our congregation as accessible, open and welcoming, a place of hospitality and love.

That sense of ministry had deeper roots though, for this congregation had in the 1940’s seen itself as a place for those who had been displaced by World War 2.  Our Saviour’s women had been active since the beginning of the congregation in providing care for families in need. In the 1920’s a Benevolent Fund was in place helping people in need, it is now the Our Saviour’s Foundation and has been helping the congregation thrive for many years. While lots of energy was focused on construction projects in those first years outreach ministries were active.   And throughout the years, efforts to help start new congregations in a growing city also point to a very mission minded community of faith.

The Phillips Neighborhood underwent many changes during our 150 years. As one of the first neighborhoods outside of downtown, the area reflected Minneapolis’ early growth. There was vibrant commerce to the north along Franklin and south along Lake Street and up and down Chicago Avenue where the streetcars ran. The first major hospital, Abbot Northwestern, was founded here along with two influential corporations, Minnesota Moline and Honeywell.  The large railroad yards just to the east were a major employer for the area.  But vast differences in wealth from east to west were present throughout Phillips history for although it was always had a working-class feel, it also was home to many of the grandest mansions in the city along Portland and Park Avenues.    During the Great Depression years, Phillips was a home to immigrants and freed black population arriving from the south, but much of the neighborhood was considered slum housing.  The development of the interstates in the 1960’s isolated the neighborhood further and kept it from being able to change much since those difficult years.   In the early 1970’s Little Earth was created as the only American Indian preference rental assistance housing community in America.  Recent efforts to redevelop Franklin Avenue have brought some stability back, but “distressed”, “blighted”, and “poor” are the descriptors most often used for the Phillips Community.

At year 75, the congregation wrestled with one of its most important mission goals, to provide education to its children.  In 1946, the “parish” building was constructed, some 25 years after the congregation had moved into the worship building with a note that there had been forces beyond its control that had kept any investment from occurring during those years.  And grow they did.  This group of members was given a goal of $100,000 to construct a building for education that included the recreation space for young people as well.  They even envisioned a third floor and a chapel space to grow into once this part was completed.  It was clear at that time that Sunday school education was first and foremost in the decision process.  And when staffing was added the emphasis was always on youth and outreach, including efforts to minister to the American Indian population of Phillips. 

In the early years, it was from Scandinavia and eastern Europe, and in years to come, new Americans from southeast Asia, west Africa, central America and east Africa, have made Phillips their first home.  Our Saviour’s has, in many ways, found ways to welcome the stranger and keep its heart open to a changing neighborhood.  That seems as true now as it ever has.

-Daniel Swenson-Klatt


 

January 2019- Congregation Life

 

Who are we as a congregation these 150 years later?   It might just come down to the willingness to say yes.

Yes to questions of mission and ministry that at the time aren’t easy to say yes to.  That might not have a clear path ahead.  That might not even be practical.  That probably don’t have society’s blessing.  But when love gets into the heart of missionaries (in whatever form one might be found) questions of ministry gets asked.

And the congregation of Our Saviour’s is built on years of being willing to answer difficult questions with yes.

The initial request from a missionary from Red Wing, Minnesota to a small group of Norwegians living in downtown Minneapolis, was the first question that didn’t have a clear path ahead.  But the offer to gather for worship in the Norwegian language created a space where new immigrants to Minnesota could find comfort in a shared culture and hymns that could remind them of home.

The question to call strong pastoral leaders who were intent on building strong lay leadership brought yes answers that meant Our Saviour’s would have the ability to weather its changes.  We would ask this question many times over the years with similar results.

Answering questions of where to locate have also formed this congregation. The initial site in the seven corners area of Washington Avenue was near immigrant mill workers.  A second site sought to distance itself from commercial activity while staying downtown.  As congregation members moved out of the downtown area, the question was asked; do we want our church in our own neighborhood?  So the final site landed in a neighborhood on the outskirts of the city. The neighborhood would soon grow into a solid middle class neighborhood with craftspeople, professionals and medical centers.  Saying yes to Phillips neighborhood may have been a way to acknowledge the hopes of immigrant families who wanted a place in the growing city of Minneapolis that would bring them security, community and a promising future as the 1920’s approached.

Ministry questions at Our Saviour’s seem to have a similar theme.  How do we open the door wider to allow God’s love to reach into new territory?  Early on the congregation said yes to support new ministries on the next outskirts of the city in Richfield and Bloomington.   We said yes to support members who wanted to participate in seminary training.  We said yes to create a worship space and educational program for people with mental disabilities.  We said yes to welcome in European families displaced by World War 2, and then to Black and Native American families in the 1950s.    You can hear the direction that love took during those discussions to keep answering yes.

Our Saviour’s needed to ask tough questions when the freeway system was built in the 1960’s.  Changes to the Phillips neighborhood came quickly, with loss of buildings, homes, roads, and access.  The congregation said yes to feed itself with music and art, with educational activities and worship.  It responded to questions about women’s leadership roles.  It responded to questions of need for neighborhood support.  It continued to say yes, again and again even as members moved out to the suburbs to begin new versions of Our Saviour’s.  Yes was the reason to stay in Phillips.

During the following years of the 70’s and 80’s many more questions would be asked about community involvement.  It included adding community outreach as a pastoral position, seeking new forms of worship and music, language and partnerships.  We said yes to Hmong refugees who wanted to worship in their own language of course.  We said yes to house homeless men in our basement gym.  We said yes, a bit too soon, to support people who were gay or lesbian in the church.  That became one time in our congregational life where the door was opening too quickly and too many changes were happening in and around the church.  Many chose to say no to the welcoming question being presented at that time but then left the congregation to be a place where those who stayed could keep being a church of yes.

In the 1990’s the church was asking the question of how to maintain an old aging building and an older aging membership.  It needed to say yes to its future.  The answer came through a question at an annual meeting to create a youth group of 15 where there had been none for many years. It was just a testament to the congregation’s willingness to be mission minded.  And when the church building burned in 1995, the ability to say YES to staying and rebuilding was coming from a very long history of answering the question with love.

Whether it be through the English Learning Center, welcoming Liberian refugees, hosting the Lutheran Volunteer Corps house, becoming Reconciling in Christ, offering Godly Play, building a bread oven, or so many more acts of ministry, we can be certain that the original Norwegian immigrants would have answered our questions with the same resounding yes.  And we can be assured that if we push the door open a bit wider, love will enter in.

-Daniel Swenson-Klatt


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