It was a cold day in February 1883 when a group of
Scandinavian residents of this area met at the home of Ole Knudsen to organize
what is now Minnewaska Lutheran Congregation.
These men were farmers, laborers, and a few
businessmen who had recently emigrated from Norway and other Scandinavian
countries and settled in and near Starbuck. They were men of faith and courage,
and were anxious to continue the worship they were accustomed to in their
homeland. They had gathered occasionally in homes or schoolhouses to share the
Word of God. At one such meeting they had drawn up a constitution which was
read and accepted on February 9, 1883, and thus began Hauges Menighet at Pope
County. Rev. Olson Tuve was chairman at this meeting. During the early years
many pastors served the congregation. Some of them came long distances.
Consequently, services were very irregular. Rev. Tuve conducted the first
confirmation service in May 1886.
Services were held in homes or in the schoolhouse
during the first twelve years. With increasing membership and a desire to have
a church, the congregation began negotiations for suitable church property and
the gathering of funds. Faith, prayer, hard work, and sacrifice resulted in the
completed church in 1896. The name was changed to Norwegian Evangelical
Lutheran Congregation. Shortly after the Lutheran Free Church was organized in
1897, this congregation became a member of that church body, and the name was
changed to Minnewaska Lutheran Free Church Congregation. In the 1950s a new
constitution was adopted and the name of our church was changed to Minnewaska
Lutheran Church. In 1963 the church became a member of the American Lutheran
Church. In 1987 a major change came about when the ALC along with two other
church groups formed the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and we became
In 1952, it was decided to remodel the church--adding
to the length and building a basement. Much of the work was donated and many
items were given as memorials, serving as silent but permanent reminders of
church members who gave of their strength and means so that future generations
may share in the blessings that this church offers.
Over the years, Minnewaska Lutheran Church has had
working relationships with area churches, including Lands Congregation of
Hoffman (1921-1955) and St. Petri Congregation of Cyrus (1955-1962). In 1964
the councils and membership of Minnewaska and Fron churches of Starbuck voted
to enter into a working relationship (1964-1990). The year 1990 saw many
changes. At this time we began a re-awakening of spirit and calling and began
praying for a new direction for our congregation. After much soul searching and
prayer, we voted unanimously on July 28, 1996, to withdraw from the ELCA and
return to our roots by affiliating with the Association of Free Lutheran
Congregations (AFLC). In 1999 Pastor Todd Klemme was called to serve and became
our first full time AFLC pastor residing in Starbuck.
Minnewaska Lutheran Church observed its 120th
Anniversary on August 10, 2003. The focus for our 120th Anniversary was Romans
8:28 which continues to give us strength and guidance: "
all things work
together for good for those who love GOD and are called according to HIS
"For 120 years, the Minnewaska Lutheran Church has
preached the Word, administered the Sacraments and has offered people the
opportunity of a living relationship with Jesus Christ. The Congregation has a
rich Lutheran heritage. We have been connected with the surrounding communities
in our Gospel outreach. We look forward to serving this area in the future. We
thank God for the 120 years of blessings and growth that we have experienced at
the Minnewaska Lutheran Church." Pastor Todd Klemme
135 YEARS . . .AND MOVING FORWARD IN FAITH.
by Alice Kyvig