In 1864, two Swedish families had homesteaded near Oscar
Lake in Holmes City Township, Douglas County. The A. G. Solberg and Ole Fahlin
families built log homes and began to clear their land. Each Sunday they came
together in one of homes and read the Bible and sang hymns.
When other families moved into the area they were
invited to join them at this Sunday worship. A licensed lay preacher and
student, Jonas Magney, came to the wilds of west central Minnesota seeking
Swedes or anyone else who needed his ministry. On August 8, 1866, in the
unfinished Ole Fahlin cabin, Pastor Magney held the organizational meeting of
the Oscar Lake Evangelical Lutheran Church. A. G. Solberg served as secretary,
using an emigrant truck for a writing desk There were 25 who subscribed as
charter members at that time.
On November 1, 1866 this new congregation decided to
build a church, 30' x 24' x 12', on a ten acre square lot one mile north and
one mile west of the present church. Ole Erickson was the contractor receiving
$1.50 per day. The other work was mostly volunteer. The original cemetery for
Oscar Lake Lutheran Church was south of its 1866 location and moved when the
new church was built in 1884. In 1921, a monument was erected at the site of
the original cemetery in memory of the more than 200 people still buried
In 1884, H. L. Lewis donated a two acre plot of land on
which the present church, a 60'x 32'x18' structure with an 80 foot tower, was
built. As is the tradition at Oscar Lake, the members of the congregation
provided the majority of the labor. In 1888, Trinity Lutheran (Lekvatten) in
Holmes City joined the parish. Although at times they were part of a three and
four point parish, Oscar Lake and Trinity are today a two-point parish.
On May 19, 1918 a tornado struck the church and the
steeple and bell were toppled to the ground. With the interior wet from the
heavy rains, the confirmation service scheduled for the following day had to be
postponed a week. The damages to the church and steeple were repaired. However,
because the bell cradle had to be welded, today only the clapper moves to ring
Through the years, Oscar Lake Lutheran has added a
Sunday School room, a storage room and bathrooms, remodeled the kitchen to
include running water and, most recently built a larger, more functional entry
and narthex while stabilizing the 1884 bell tower. The congregation of Oscar
Lake Lutheran Church raised the funds needed for each addition and renovation.
The majority of the labor was provided by members of the congregation, a
tradition begun with the founding of the church.
Oscar Lake Lutheran Church has an active membership
which includes the WELCA ladies group, Bible Study, Sunday School (shared with
Trinity Lutheran Church), a Hand Bell Choir shared with Trinity, quilting
group, a Men's Pancake Breakfast and the annual Harvest Festival celebration.
The ladies of the church have an excellent reputation for their pies and for
the Swedish Meatball and scalloped potato dinner served each year in September.
In 2005, Oscar Lake and Trinity adopted the Rancho San Juan Bosco
Orphanage of Tectate, Mexico as their mission. Funds are raised through an
annual Parish Auction and other activities to fund a bi-annual, week-long trip
to the orphanage. During this week, parish members support the orphanage by
completing any general maintenance and construction projects they may need.
In addition to the Mexico mission, in 2012 the parish began supporting
a mission in Minnesota, the Heartland Girls Ranch in Benson. Oscar Lake and
Trinity congregations support this mission with donations of their time and
talents in updating and maintaining the buildings and grounds of the
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