Our Saviors Lutheran Church
The year is 1968 and a new congregation is born!! This new congregation is composed of 4 churches, Christ Lutheran Church Wanda; St Matthews Lutheran Church of Waterbury Twp; Sharon Lutheran Church and Zion Lutheran Church. This new congregation would be called OUR SAVIORS LUTHERAN CHURCH.
Christ Lutheran Church was originally organized January 13, 1902. The decision was made in June of 1902 to build a new church building. The cornerstone laying service was held on August 3, 1902. This church conformed to the Evangelical nature and to the adherence to the work of God, both of which were distinguishing marks of the Ohio Synod of the Lutheran Church.
St Matthew’s Lutheran Church of Waterbury Township was organized October 23, 1892. The church was built in 1897 in Waterbury township at the site of which is now St Matthew’s Cemetery. Groundbreaking was held on April 25, 1965 for a new church in Wabasso. Due to many families living south of the old country church, many left to attend Christ Lutheran of Wanda or one of the Lutheran Churches in Lamberton.
Sharon Lutheran Church was organized on May 15, 1894. The first church building was erected in 1895. Originally this was a Norwegian speaking church; in 1917 it was decided to use English as the language. In 1960 they became part of the American Lutheran Church. God had richly blessed and sustained SLC throughout 74 years and the members gave thanks to the glory of God and faced the challenge of forming a new church in 1968; Our Saviors Lutheran Church.
Zion Lutheran Church was organized in 1869. In the winter of 1885-86 the first section of the first church building was built and the following summer a parsonage was erected next to the church. In 1953 it was decided to build a new church. Land on the southeast corner of Lamberton was purchased where the church was built; and still resides today. The first service was held on August 28, 1955 and the building was dedicated July 15, 1956.
As the old American Lutheran Synod joined with other Lutheran bodies and formed the new American Lutheran Synod, it became advisable to merge the churches to form a new congregation. It’s always difficult to discard the past and plunge into an unknown future. Many of the Sharon and Zion church members were not sure that a merger was desirable and many discussions were held. After numerous votes, the merger vote passed. The birth had been a difficult one, but a new congregation was born on March 11, 1968. Pastor Nels Lillejord, who had served at Zion Lutheran Church, was called to serve this new congregation of 968 baptized members. From 1968 to 1971, the former Sharon Lutheran Church was used for extra educational space, but as years passed it became obvious that a new educational unit was needed. In January of 1971, the congregation voted to build a $100,000 addition to the east side of the structure. The new addition was completed in 1972 and included a new kitchen, fellowship hall, church offices and space for Sunday School rooms. The old basement area was converted into education rooms also. In September 1972, the Cornerstone Laying Ceremony was held. A sealed container holds a copy of the constitution, a membership list, a copy of the Lamberton News and the contents taken from the Cornerstone of the Sharon Lutheran Church. The Good Shepherd window from Sharon Lutheran was also installed at the north end of fellowship hall.
Pastor Lillejord resigned as Pastor in November of 1972. In November of 1972 a call was made to Pastor Earl F. Amundson, from Brooten, MN. He accepted this call and was installed on March 4, 1973. The old Sharon Lutheran Church was torn down, its furnishings disposed of and the parsonage sold to Robert Melena. The former Zion parsonage was sold to Olga Senst. In 1975, the Rural Internship Program was implemented by the council. This involved a 3 year commitment on the part of the pastor and church. Interns that served under Pastor Amundson were: Hal Anderson, Tim Tengblad, and Alan Cheney. Two others, David Hagstrom and Nancy Keysor, worked as interns during the summer months. A member of OSLC and the school Librarian, Karen Hasskamp, felt called to be a missionary and served in Monrovia, Liberia. In March of 1975, a resolution was made that members of OSLC would not elect a council membership of more than 1/3 women. This was changed several years later to read that there would be no distinction. Also, in 1975 the church began Communion to its 5th graders. In 1977 we celebrated the “Mortgage Burning Ceremony” as the church became debt free. In 1978 the new green hymnals, LUTHERAN BOOK OF WORSHIP, were used for morning worship. In 1979 the stained glass art windows commemorating the four parent churches of OSLC were installed in the Narthex. In 1984, through the SEARCH program, OSLC hired Alice Waldow as Parish Worker/Secretary to help with ministerial duties. Miss Waldow served until 1989. In August of 1985, Pastor Amundson resigned and later accepted a call to Pine Island, MN. During the interim Pastor Robert Marenson and Pastor Alice Horton conducted worship services. A call was extended to Pastor Lee Harder of Milan, MN in the summer of 1986. Due to no parsonage being available, the call was declined. The congregation wished to pursue this call so housing options were considered. OSLC purchased a home on the corner of Grove and 6th Ave for the parsonage and it was then that a second letter of call was sent to Pastor Harder, which he accepted. Pastor Harder served in this capacity until November 2008, when he resigned. Pastor Harvey Pederson became our interim pastor for a short time until Pastor Stew Carlson took the reins in this same capacity in July of 2009.
In January of 1988 we became ELCA due to the merging of Lutheran Churches. We remained with the ELCA through October of 2000 when the congregation voted to join LCMC/Word Alone, but still be affiliated with ELCA. A final vote in February 2005 was done and the congregation voted to leave the ELCA and since that time we have been affiliated with the LCMC/Word Alone network. In the summer of 2000, after more than 20 years since the original building of fellowship hall, the Courtyard was planted for our congregation to enjoy with many donated plants, bushes and monetary gifts. Included in this private sanctuary are flowers, a water fountain entitled, “Rebecca at the Well”, a gazebo and numerous bushes. A beautiful stained glass insert window was installed looking into the area. It is a beautiful area for wedding pictures! Over the years, numerous projects were done at the parsonage, including: family room and 2 rooms in basement (1986); new steel siding and windows (2002); new carpet in original rooms and kitchen flooring (2002); bathroom tile and shower (2002); landscaping and cement deck (2007); regress window in basement (2007). God also has blessed us with the ability to make some needed changes to our church, including: new carpeting and painting of the west entry (2006); pews refinished and extra book holders installed (2007); west end boilers were replaced (2008); new Our Saviors Song Book “OSSB” for use during worship (2009); organ renovation and midi system installed (2010); new sound system and mics installed (2010); new printer and computer system in secretary’s office (2010); Laraway Rooding repaired the Vestry Hall and Fellowship Hall roofs (2010-2011); purchased a laptop computer for the church Treasurer (2011).
Integral parts of our church today are the Church Council, which consists of 9 members; Our Saviors Women's Group; Altar Guild; Ladies Circles; Bible Study; Confirmation instruction; Vacation Bible School; Sunday School; Luther League; to name a few.
Our worship services are mainly traditional in nature; but in January 2009 we began holding a Contemporary service on the 3rd Sunday of each month. We have a talented group of people that lead us in song during this service.
Our 9th grade students are Confirmed in their faith in May of each year. Our ladies group holds a Senior Brunch in the end of May to honor our graduating Seniors. First communion for our 5th graders is held in May where students commune for the first time with their family. We also present Bibles to our 3rd graders in September.
We are blessed to have many people that give of their time to lead our youth. Our young members are able to participate in Sunday School, Vacation Bible School and Luther League. Each December our Sunday School children hold a Christmas program. In July of 2011 our Luther League went on a Mission Trip to Colorado and many stated it was a life changing experience for them. Our Saviors Lutheran Church currently has 636 Baptized members and 512 Confirmed members.