History Notes from the Selbu Lutheran Church Centennial (1903-2003)
In the early 1900’s, Norwegian immigrants began to move West, and a group settled in the LaCrosse area. These founding fathers gathered at the home of Peter J. Wigen, on May 2, 1902 to discuss organizing a congregation, knowing that they must provide for the spiritual needs of themselves and their children. The Rev. Ivar Andreassen, then pastor at Deary, Idaho, was asked to serve once a month for a year. Early services were held at the Mud Flat School until a church could be built. In 1902 land for the church and cemetery, in the rolling hills southeast of LaCrosse, was donated by the George J. Wigen Sr. Family.
In January, 1903, the group organized as a Lutheran congregation with the following members: Mr. & Mrs. Peter J. Wigen and family, Mr. & Mrs. John C. Carlson and family, Mr. Peder Baken, mr. Arendt Nervig, Mr. & Mrs. Alex Hogan and family, Mr. & Mrs. John Aune, Mr. & Mrs. George Wigen, Sr. And family, Mr. & Mrs. Halvor Grondahl and family, Mr. & Mrs. Peder Hagen and family, Mr. & Mrs. Simon Lee and family, Mr. & Mrs. August Gustafson and family, Mr. & Mrs. Halvor Garberg, Mr. & Mrs. Jens J. Wigen and family, and Mr. Charles Halvorsen.
During 1904 the first church, a wooden structure, was built. The name “Selbu Lutheran” was chosen because most of its members were originally from the Selbu district near Trondheim, Norway. http://www.wikiwand.com/en/Selbu_Church. This newly established church continued many of the traditions of the Norwegian parent church, the Selbu Kirk, with initial services being held in the Norwegian language.
A.M. Mannes was called to serve as pastor of the new Lutheran congregation, serving also in Moscow, Idaho. Other pastors who have served this congregation from Moscow are: J.K. Lerohl, J.F. Adriansen, and M. A. Hall. From 1918 the congregation has had it’s own resident pastors—G.A. Carlson, T. Himle, P.S. Stenerson, J.O. Trontvet, L.G. Henderaket, K.J. Arne (interim), I.S. Tweeted, J.W. Carlson (interim), R.L. Larson, J. Thompson (interim), C.B. Gunderson, J.L. Walla, D.A. Bay, and John Cross.
The present brick church was built in 1928, and included beautiful stained glass windows. Pastor Trontvet preached the first sermon in the new building on Sunday, December 2, 1928. The dedication occurred June 23, 1929, with Bishop A.M. Skindlov, Rocky Mountian District, giving the address. The theme for the dedication was based on Luther’s Smll Catechism.
Facility additions and renovations have occurred as follows:
1948 A Moller Pipe Organ was dedicated.
1950 A new parsonage was dedicated. Located next to the church, it replaced a house in town.
1952 Sunday School rooms were added to the bell tower.
1957 The cemetery and adjoining grounds were seeded to grass. Later a new pump and underground sprinklers were added.
1960 A tile room replaced the church’s shingled roof.
1961 The sanctuary was extensively remodeled with a new altar, altar railing, pulpit and Baptismal font. The seats were replaced with pews.
1974 The new entry and ladies restroom were added.
2000 Two stained glass windows removed from the front of the sanctuary during the 1961 renovation, were restored and replaced in their original locations.
2001-2002 In preparation for the Centennial, a complete refurbishment was done. This involved recarpeting and both inside and outside painting, including the bell tower. The stained glass windows were cleaned and protective covering reapplied. Much of the labor was done by members of the congregation.
THE EARLY CHURCH CONSTITUTION, which was a translation of the original Norwegian Constitution, actually called the name of the church the “Selbu Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Congregation” of LaCrosse, Washington. This would be consistent with the congregation’s early association with the Evangelical Lutheran Synod, representative of Norwegian Lutherans.
In 1960 the Evangelical Lutheran Church was one of the three Synods to merge into the American Lutheran Church. This united the Synods of German, Danish, and Norwegian origin. Finally in 1988, another merger occurred between the American Lutheran Church, the Lutheran Church of America, and the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches. This newly formed Synod is the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). In 2011, Selbu Lutheran Church moved to join the Lutheran Congregations in Mission to Christ (LCMC).
LCMC is not a denomination, LCMC is a movement. We view the local church as the place where people in the community come to get connected with God and one another. We celebrate the fact that that everyone is wired a little differently; it allows each and every one of us to serve according to our own unique strengths, skills and talents.
While the Sunday worship service is central to our spiritual life, we have also been nurtured in our Christian faith through the teaching and fellowship of its organization and related activities. Christian education has provided a strong influence in the lives of the congregation’s young people. The work of the Sunday School began at the time the congregation was organized, and has continued through the years. Today, our Sunday School, summer Vacation Bible School, and Confirmation Classes teach the Word of God and its application to everyday lives. The Sunday School presents a Christmas each year as part of our annual ALL-CHURCH CHRISTMAS FEST.
Luther League was started early in the history of the congregation. Spiritual programs with songs, readings, and Bible lessons were given on Sunday evenings, with the entire family attending. In the 1950’s, the format was changed to include only the young people from grades 7 through 12. There is no active group today due to the small number of youth in this age range.
The congregation has supported Camp Lutherhaven, and over the years many youth from this congregation have attended Bible Camp at this beautiful setting on Lake Coeur d’Alene.
CHRISTIAN SERVICE Several individuals with roots in this congregation have gone into Christian service. On September 8, 1957 a Christian Service Flag was dedicated and placed in the church. Betty Ann Aune was the honored guest as the Parish Worker in Springfield Lutheran Church, Springfield, Oregon. This flag represents young men and women, originally from the Selbu Lutheran Church, who were called by God to serve as pastors, parish workers, missionaries, ministers in music, and directors in Christian education. Seven people were originally honored, with crosses placed on the flag as reminders to pray for those individuals. Pastor Gunderson urged that prayer also be given for all those in the Lord’s service not represented by these crosses.
Those honored in 1957 included:
Gustav Carlson – Pastor, ordained 1912
John W. Carlson – Pastor, ordained 1912
Julie Aune – Parish Worker, 1948
Beverly Wigen – Parish Worker, 1950
Mable Aune – Parish Worker, 1954
Iva Kjosnes – Parish Worker, 1954
Betty Ann Aune – Parish Work, 1957
Those honored later were:
Velda Wigen – Parish Work, 1948
Gloria Stueckle – Missionary, 1962
Charles Mays – Pastor, ordained 1966
John Tweeten – Pastor, ordained 1971
Paul Tweeten – Pastor, ordained 1979
David Kyllo – Pastor, ordained 1979
Heidi Emerson – Minister of Music, dedicated 1985
Janell Wigen Kurtz – Pastor, ordained 1989
Terry Kyllo – Pastor, ordained 1991
Rebekah Bay – Director of Christian Education, 2001
The lay members of this congregation have also been actively involved in sharing the Gospel, not only through their financial support, but by the witnessing through their words and lives, both in this community and in other communities to which they have moved.
Missions on a worldwide scope have always been supported, both by prayer and gifts of money. Through the years, Lutheran World Relief has been the beneficiary of disaster funds and quilts, along with health and school back-packs assembled by our Sunday School children.
THE SELBU WOMEN’s groups have been active since the early years. In 1902 ten members gathered to organize the Ladies Aid for the purpose of Christian fellowship and nurturance of their lives in Christ. They met in the homes for the whole day, with the entire family frequently attending. In 1938, the L.D. R. (Lutheran Daughters of the Reformation) was organized by Mrs. L.G. Hinderaker. This organization met monthly for many years.
The first recorded “Ladies Aid Sale” was held in 1908, with the early day “sales” usually held outdoors with a picnic lunch, and were an all day affair. Today, the Selbu Women sponsor an annual fall Bazaar on the second Sunday in November, following the monthly Potluck luncheon. The proceeds from the Bazaar are given totally to Missions, educational institutions, and local charitable organizations.
The first Norwegian Smorgasbord sponsored by the Selbu Women was held in March 1959. The church dining room was decorated with items from Norway, and servers wore Norwegian costumes. Many Norwegian recipes were used in preparing the food and Norwegian pastries were served.
In 1988 the Selbu Women incorporated many of the Norwegian recipes into the first Selbu Lutheran Cookbook—with the proceeds used for local expenses and church/parsonage improvements.
Over the years, the Selbu Women held Mother’s Teas and Christmas parties with special programs and inviting guests. The Selbu Women have continued the tradition of providing food & fellowship following funerals for family and friends of the deceased. Monthly potlucks encourage the congregation to gather for a time of Christian fellowship and enjoyment.
Norwegian Table Prayer – I JESU NAVN GAR VI TIL BORDS, A SPISE OF DRIKKE PA DITT ORD, DEG GUD TIL AERE, OSS TIL GAVN, SA FAR VI MAT I JESU NAVN. AMEN
Table Prayer Translation – In Jesus name we go to the table, To eat and drink upon His word, God to honor for our benefit, So we get food in Jesus name. Amen.
The first All-Church Christmas Fest was held in 1957. This fun & fellowship event has become a favorite annual tradition, including a potluck, trimming the tree, decorating the church for Christmas along with singing Chrismas carols and Sunday School program. A favorite and special way to honor the beginning of Advent.
PAST ANNIVERSARIES were commemorated with praise and thanks to God! In April 1953, Selbu celebrated its 50th Anniversary with a weekend of activities. The Rev. R.L. Larson was pastor. Two Sunday morning services were conducted: a Norwegian Service led by Rev. M. A. Hall, and the Festival Service led Rev. L.G. Hinderaker. The 75th Anniversary was celebrated in 1978, with the Rev. J.L. Walla as pastor. A 90th Year Celebration Worship Service was conducted by the Rev. Dennis Bay on November 28, 1993. The Anniversary Theme chosen for all three occasions was: “Founded on Faith to Render Light” and it was also the theme for our Centennial Celebration in 2003!
As we look toward the future, we ask for God’s continued blessing on this Congregation. It is time for rededication to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and to continue to spread His Word throughout our own community, our nation, and our world. For “God’s Word Is Our Great Heritage.”