Zion Lutheran celebrates 125th anniversaryZion Lutheran Church of Cloquet celebrated its 125th anniversary on Sunday, Sept. 18, starting with a service that blended 125 years of music, history and services. Barry and Vivian Bergquist of Cloquet presented the Swedish portion of the service.
By: Dave Redford, For the Pine Journal, Pine Journal
Zion Lutheran Church of Cloquet celebrated its 125th anniversary on Sunday, Sept. 18, starting with a service that blended 125 years of music, history and services. Barry and Vivian Bergquist of Cloquet presented the Swedish portion of the service.
In her sermon, the Rev. Linda Schumacher pointed out many challenges the congregation has faced over the years. The original church had just been remodeled and redecorated in 1918 and it was to be dedicated the day the 1918 Fire burned the city down. The church had 400 members at the time, with 175 children in Sunday school. Schumacher pointed out that another major challenge was in the 1930s when the church dropped the Swedish service.
Last Sunday’s church service was followed by a traditional Swedish meatball lunch. Jim Nelson of Cloquet was Master of Ceremonies for the luncheon and the program that followed.
In the program Kyle Terrio Johnson of Cloquet played the part of three different pastors, including C.O. Swenson (1899-1914), Edward Olson (1915-1919) and O.L. Nelson (1927-1946). Each pastor told of the concerns they had but concluded with such statements as, “We have new hymnals and I see nothing but growth for our church.”
Recognition was given to Betty Jane Davis of Cloquet and Ted Troolin of Esko as the oldest members.
Bob Nelson of Cloquet gave a presentation of the history of Zion (a DVD is available for those who are interested). He pointed out the present Zion Lutheran Church building was built in 1957 at a total cost of around $400,000. The first service was held on Thanksgiving Eve in 1960. He said that when the construction first began, cedar pillars were put in place that would support the entire sanctuary area. The local people called them “The Swedish Hurdles.”
Many commented on the outstanding leadership of Zion Pastor Phillip Pearson, 1955-1970, in the development of the new church. This was not necessarily an easy task. Rol Otterson of Cloquet pointed out that many people asked him why they were building a church way out in the country. Otterson was treasurer of Zion at the time and said, “I was just not against building the church. I was vehemently against it! How are we going to pay for it?” Later he apologized and admitted he was wrong. He made the first monthly payment to Lutheran Brotherhood and 19 years later sent in the final check. Some months there was not enough money for the monthly payment so to make it up he held back some of the pastor’s salary. Otterson’s history goes back to the beginning at Zion with his grandfather, one of the founding fathers. His father took an active part in rebuilding the church after the fire. Otterson was baptized, went to Sunday school and was confirmed there, and has been active for 87 years.
Pauline Roberts of Cloquet is also a longtime member, starting Sunday school at 4 years old. She was confirmed and married in the church and has participated for 79 years.
“The women worked really hard when the new church was built,” she said. “We had all kinds of money-raising events with a smorgasbord being held in April and meatball supper in October.”
Roberts has been working in the kitchen on all the meatball suppers since 1960. She pointed out the next one will be held on Oct. 5. This is now a community event with people coming from as far away as Duluth.
Today, Zion Lutheran has a team pastorship with the Revs. Loren and Linda Schumacher providing the leadership.
“Throughout our history,” said Linda Schumacher, “the congregation has shown faith, willingness, commitment and a sense of purpose.”
The church recently remodeled the lounge and social hall, and added a new Wednesday night service to meet the needs of those who cannot attend Sunday. The service includes an evening meal, regular church service and Sunday school, and has been very successful.