Calvary Lutheran's History Continued

The activity of the church, as described by Mrs. Oien, was characteristic of what constituted the worship, education and activity program from the founding through the early 1900's. The first pastor of the church, Reverend Reitan, had come to this area to farm, having given up an active ministry due to health concerns.  But, since he was one of the founders of the church, and the church did not have a minister, he agreed to serve as the pastor until 1904.  Reverend Reitan was born in Norway in 1855.  He was married to Josephine Erickson in 1882 and they had five children.  Reverend Reitan attended and was ordained for the Huage Synod Seminary in Red Wing, Minnesota.  He performed the first marriage of the new congregation, that of the union of Margaret (Maggie Storlie and John Carlson.  The congregation remained small in number, but active in worship and fellowship throughout the early years of its existence, fulfilling the desire of its founding fathers to provide continuity of religious expression and traditions from the "old world" to the new.  Characteristic of the time, the early founding families were large in number - over 50 offspring were born to those seven founding families!  Thus, special attention was focused on the services for the youth of the congregation, as described earlier by Sigrid Oien. 

Life on the farm was difficult, and the work was hard with little in monetary resources for these families.  the land had to be cleared of trees, stumps, brush and stones had to be picked out of the fields before the sowing of crops could begin.  There were, therefore, limited resources from which to draw operating funds for the new congregation.  During the annual meeting of 1900 it was decided to provide $25.00 as a yearly salary for the pastor.  Additionally, each family was to provide two days of work or two dollars per year to pastoral services.  Special offerings were taken up at holidays of the church to help supplement the pastor's salary.  Gifts of food and other materials were given by the farm families to the pastor as circumstance, opportunity and providence allowed.  At the annual meeting of 1901 it was decided that the congregation would celebrate Holy communion twice yearly in the Spring and Fall. 

Because of increasing problems with his health, Reverend Reitan resigned from his pastoral duties in 1904.  During the interim, students from the seminary at Augsburg College served the congregation until the arrival, in 1905, of Reverend John J. Hanson, who shortly resigned in July of that year to be succeeded by Reverend/Doctor Claus Morgan.  Reverend Morgan also served as Kanabec County Superintendent of Schools.  He traversed the county with his team of horses and buggy to serve the needs of the schools and congregation.  With his interest in education and professional skills, the congregation launched a six-week summer parochial school.  During this same period of time, Gunval Gunderson donated an acre of land to the congregation which was to be designated the Riverdale Cemetery which consisted of a post office and small general store.  The town faltered and the post office and store were closed.  The name of the cemetery was changed to "Knife Lake Cemetery". The cemetery exists and is cared for to this day by congregational members, and is the final resting place of the majority of the original founders of the congregation. 

Until the early 1900's, the congregation had not been affiliated with any established church synod or seminary.  The question of joining a synod was brought forward
during the 1904 annual meeting.  The two main choices for affiliation were the Hauge Synod or the United Church.  Primarily because the church had had the opportunity to be served in a favorable manner by a number of students from the Augsburg College and Theological Seminary of Minneapolis, it was finally decided at a business meeting held on May 8, 1910 to affiliate with the Lutheran Free Church and to issue pastoral calls from that time on from that synod.  At that same time, it was decided that the St. Ansgar Church in Sandstone, Minnesota and this congregation would be served by the same pastor, who was to reside in Mora. 

As part of the agreement, this congregation promised to pay  $100.00 plus the proceeds from three special offerings per year towards the salary of a pastor to be called to succeed Reverend Morgan, who resigned in 1909.  The Lutheran Free Church Home Missions Board also agreed to pay  $300.00 annually toward the salary of the two-point pastor.  The Reverend Ole Hustoft, a young, unmarried seminary student from Augsburg was called and accepted the pastoral leadership of the two congregations.  In this area, Reverend Hustoft rode a bicycle from town to church.  He traveled by train from Mora to Sandstone to conduct services for the St. Ansgar Congregation. 

Reverend Hustoft apparently had musical talents and been engaged in music study and activities while attending Augsburg College & Seminary. In 1910 he formed the first church choir whose members sang at services and other church functions, much to the satisfaction of the members of the congregation.  During this time, it was decided to expand the number of communion services held per year from two to four.  Parochial school, which had been discontinued in 1911, was resumed in 1913 and a decision was made to pay the teacher $35 for the six week term.  Reverend Hustoft made an extended trip to Norway, his native land.  During his extended trip the congregation was served by interim pastor, M.M. Midthum.  Reverend Hustoft returned from Norway and resigned his pastoral duties in 1916.

Reverend Theodore Jensen was called to succeed Reverend Hustoft and began his duties in 1916.  From the founding of the congregation to this time, all services had been held at the Hamilton School.  From 1906 and on, there had been hopeful discussion about building a church structure to house the congregation.  At an annual meeting during that time, member George Amundson was appointed to head up a fund solicitation drive to build a church.  Various sites for the church had been considered over the years.  At a business meeting held on November 4, 1917, member Ole Berulson offered land for a church site located on his farmland four mile Northwest of Mora.  Considering the growth of the building fund coupled with Mr. Berulson's generosity, a building committee was formed to plan the new church building.  The elected committee was comprised of Ole Berulson, Gunval Gunderson, Thomas Johnson, Adolph Larson, Andrew Ugland, Arne Storlie, Tilman Oien and Joseph Reitan.

With a site and money to build at hand, the committee moved rapidly and proposed ten days later at another business meeting to build a 26 x 32 ft. church structure with an 8 x 8 ft. entrance and a steeple with a height of 25 feet.  The building was constructed with labor supplied by members of the congregation and completed and occupied in 1918 at a total construction cost of $886.45.  This was accomplished with no indebtedness to the congregation as all of the funds had been raised in advance of the building project!  Tilman Oien constructed the pews, altar and railings for the church, all of which were painted white.  The new church provided much needed space for the growing membership of the church and the increase of worship and fellowship activities.