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Augustana Lutheran celebrates 125 years

Augustana Lutheran Church in rural Detroit Lakes will celebrate 125 years on Sunday, July 31, at 10:30 a.m.

It was 125 years ago that the building housing Augustana Lutheran Church was built in rural Detroit Lakes -- and this weekend, the congregation is planning to celebrate that milestone in style.

On Sunday, July 31, Kathie Brekke & the Gospel Blues Band will be leading the 10:30 a.m. worship service, and many former pastors will be in attendance as well as the congregation's current spiritual leader, Rev. Paul Peterson -- who also serves as pastor of St. Peter's Lutheran Church.

Besides Peterson, former pastor Marv Johnson will also speak at the festivities, which will be followed by a catered lunch, fellowship and children's games lasting well into the afternoon hours.

"There will be memorabilia displays set up in the church, and commemorative ornaments for sale," said congregation member Iris Johnson, who is the author of the church's two most recent history books, for the 100th anniversary celebration in 1986, and now for the 125th anniversary event.

"This building is 125 years old, but the actual church is older than that," Johnson added. "It was first formed in 1874, and the congregation met in members' homes until this church (building) was built in 1886."

Currently, the church is in the process of working with St. Peter's Lutheran to reorganize as a two-point parish, with Peterson as their pastor.

But Augustana's recent affiliation with St. Peter's is only one of the partnerships that the church has been involved in over the past 125 years, Johnson added.

Originally known as Svedlanda Lutheran Church, it first partnered with Eksjo and Upsala Lutheran churches to share the services of a pastor.

Some years later, the congregation decided they wanted to move into Detroit Lakes, so they purchased the old Baptist church, closed the Svedlanda church and reorganized under a new name, Trinity Lutheran.

Some members were unhappy with having to travel into town for worship services, however, so the Svedlanda church building was reopened with a new name --Augustana -- while those who preferred the Trinity building stayed there.

Over the years, the church has also partnered with Grace Lutheran in Detroit Lakes, and the rural parish of Lund Lutheran.

Today, the congregation numbers about 50 members strong, Johnson noted.

Though the current Augustana church building is on the same site as when it was built 125 years ago, the structure itself has undergone several changes through the years, Johnson said.

"The original church building was constructed by members, and it was built on three logs," she added. "There was no basement. One of the logs was larger than the other two, and it happened to be in the middle, so when there was a shift in the wind, depending on which direction it was going, the church would tilt that way."

Eventually, a basement was added, and then some Sunday school rooms.

"There was a new altar added in the 1970s, and a new steeple -- but we saved the old bell," Johnson said.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454