Hope Lutheran Church 150th celebration set for June 11-12
Former Hope Lutheran Pastor John "Jack" Thorstensen, 93, has not visited the church he presided over since he left in 1977 to become pastor in Fairmont.
Rev. Thorstensen was pastor here for 16 years, beginning when he took over for Rev. Howard Gravrock in 1962. Rev. Thorstensen is planning to return here on June 11 and 12 to help celebrate the 150th anniversary of the congregation.
"I'm looking forward to coming back," said Rev. Thorstensen, who lives in Denver with his wife, Louine. "It will be interesting to see our home and the church again."
Three other former Hope Lutheran pastors are also planning to return for the two-day celebration, including Rev. Gerald Staehling, who succeeded Rev. Thorstensen, Rev. Timothy Larson and Rev. Thomas Kolden.
The sesquicentennial celebration will include a myriad of games, events, tours, food, social gatherings and services. The events are open to the public.Rev. Thorstensen received a letter from Scott Josephson inviting him to the 150th anniversary.
"We weren't going to make it at first," Rev. Thorstensen admitted. "But my kids were here for Easter and thought it would be fun if we all went."
Two of the four Thorstensen children live in Colorado, one lives in Fairmont, and the other in New York City.
"They all tell me that they are planning to come," said Rev. Thorstensen. "My wife and I are going to fly to Minneapolis on Friday (June 10) and stay with our granddaughter who lives there. Then we will use her car to drive to Minneota on Saturday afternoon. We plan to leave on Sunday afternoon."
Among the planned anniversary events for Saturday, June 11 is a memorial lantern lift-off.
"We will be releasing illuminated Memorial Lanterns on Saturday (June 11) evening following our worship service," said Roberta Josephson.
Lanterns may be purchased by sending or delivering a $5 contribution to: Hope Lutheran Memorial Lanterns, Hope Lutheran Church, 113 S. Jefferson St., PO Box 87, Minneota, MN 56264. Include the name of the person donating the lantern and who you want it to be in honor of, or in memory of.
The names will then be read as the lanterns are released at dusk. The lanterns are made of flame-resistant paper and are 100 percent biodegradable and environmentally friendly. They can fly about 3,000 feet for approximately 10-12 minutes before they float to the ground.
Following the Sunday, June 12 worship service at 10 a.m., a dinner will be held in the Fellowship Hall.
Hope Lutheran started out as the Immanuel Lutheran Church by Norwegian settlers with the first service held on Dec. 17, 1872, according to Mascot records, in the Knut Gigstad farm home now owned by David Dovre south of Minneota. Services were also held in other farm homes and in the Chicago and Northwestern train depot that inaugural year. The first baptism took place on that first service and was conducted by Rev. Lars Engelbritson Green of Madelia.
After that first year, services were conducted in a section house. Rev. Olaf Hoel of Canby was named the first pastor of the church in 1875 and he was installed on Aug. 27. 1876. He remained until 1892.
Rev. A.N. Kleven became the first resident pastor, installed June 26, 1892. During his pastorate, the parsonage was built and the church completed.
From 1879 to 1889, the congregation used the village school house at the corner of Madison and Second Street for its services before the original church building was constructed in the summer of 1892 at a cost of $4,000. Dedication services were held March 18, 1894.
The name of the congregation was changed to Minneota Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran in 1910 and to Hope Lutheran in 1926.
In February of 1946, a fundraising drive began to build a new church. During the drive, $45,000 in cash and pledges was raised. A building committee was elected and an architect, Thorwald Thorsen of Forest City, Iowa, was hired. Thorsen designed hundreds of churches, schools and other buildings throughout the Midwest.
The church was built by Hasslen and Sons Construction Company and the first service at the current location was the Christmas Eve Sunday School program in 1948. The total cost of the new church, which boasted a seating capacity of 600, was $170,000.
150th Anniversary Celebration
Memorial Lantern Liftoff
Given by: ______________________________
Celebrating 150 years
(Saturday, June 11)
3-4:30 p.m. - Parsonage & cemetery walk-thru
3-5 p.m. - Bean bags & carnival games
4 p.m. - Little Scrapper kiddie tractor pull
5-6:15 p.m. - Picnic supper
6:30 p.m. - Outdoor church service
7:30 p.m. - Root beer floats
8:30 p.m. - Memorial lantern lift-off
8:45 p.m. - Reunion choir practice
9 p.m. - Fire pit fellowship
(Sunday, June 12)
9:30 a.m. - Reunion choir practice
10 a.m. - 150th celebration church service
Noon - Church dinner in Fellowship Hall
1-3 p.m. - Parsonage & cemetery walk-thru
Hope Lutheran pastors over the years:
Rev. Olaf Hoel - 1876-1892
Rev. A.N. Kleven - 1892-1910
Rev. E.J. Hinderlie - 1910-1925
Rev. O.P. Stensrud - 1925-1943
Rev. J. David Larsen - 1945-1951
Rev. Otto Dale - 1951-1954
Rev. E. David Natwick - 1955-1960
Rev. Howard C. Gravrock - 1960-1962
Rev. Jack Thorstensen - 1962-1977
Rev. Gerald M. Staehling - 1977-1982
Rev. Karl E. Hansen - 1982-1988
Rev. Timothy P. Larson - 1989-1996
Rev. Timothy J. Wittwer - 1997-2002
Rev. Ann Dwelle Ward - 2003-2009
Interim Pastor Bruce Drackley - 2014-2019
Interim Pastor Lance Isaacson - 2019-2020
Pastor (William) Allen Campbell - 2020-present