“The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed which a man sowed in his field; it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” (Matthew 13:31-32)
“Certainly the history of Lake of the Isles Lutheran Church is a living example of this parable.” These were opening lines of the foreword to the short history written in 1956. From small beginnings the story of a congregation’s eventual growth unfolds, replete with adversities, crises, and triumphs.
The life story of Lake of the Isles Lutheran Congregation followed an atypical pattern. Most American congregations began as missions started by pastor-developers, worshiping in temporary quarters until sufficient resources could be mobilized for building more permanent facilities. Lake of the Isles, however, began with a substantial church edifice which its builders had abandoned.
Before we begin the story of our congregation’s Lutheran era, however, let us first patch-in some of the pre-Lutheran information that was not included in the 1936-1956 history. Documentary information about the early years has always been sketchy, but a few additional documents have been given to us by neighbors who found them in their attics, and we have also found several papers concealed in the church building. They include a worship bulletin printed in 1931, found under the origin al chancel floor when it was remodeled in 1980, indicating that the building was used for worship by the original congregation at least until 1931.
Our most important “find ” took the form of a surprise visit by former pastor Louis P. Penningroth one Sunday morning. He introduced himself to pastor Otto Sotnak, saying that he just wanted to see the church he had been so influential in building. Pastor Sotnak invited him to address the congregation, and, after the service, interviewed the former pastor, taking notes for a future time such as this.
Louis P. Penningroth was the pastor of Lowry Hill Congregation from 1920 until 1927. It was during his tenure that plans were eventually made for building the present church building. The Lowry Hill Congregational Church, built in 1900, stood at the inter section of Dupont and Franklin Avenues, across the street from Fowler Methodist Church, which was sold in the year 1916, when Fowler Methodist Congregation merged with Hennepin Ave. Methodist Congregation and moved into the new Hennepin Avenue Methodist Church at Groveland and S. Hennepin Ave. The old Fowler Methodist building eventually be came a Scottish Rite Temple, and a parking lot now occupies the space where old Lowry Hill Congregational Church stood until it was destroyed by fire in 1922.
During the interview, Pastor Penningrot h explained that he became dissatisfied with the location of the church at Dupont and Franklin. It was too close to the large churches that had been located on Hennepin Avenue: The Basilica of St. Mary built in 1915, The Cathedral Church of St. Mark built in 1910, and Hennepin Avenue Methodist Church built in 1916. Pastor Penningroth did not believe Lowry Hill Congregation was of a suitable type to compete with the large churches in the area, and encouraged his congregation to consider relocating to a residential area. The fire in 1922 precipitated matters considerably, and a new site was selected on Lake of the Isles Boulevard at 21st Street.
Unfortunately the desire to move was not unanimous. Some of the opposition was so hostile that, at one point in the building process, Pastor Penningroth arranged to have the blueprints of the new church building removed to a secret hiding place in an Iowa farmhouse. Someone had threatened to destroy them. It did not seem to matter that the plans had been prepared by Hewett & Brown, Architects, the same prestigious firm that had designed both The Cathedral Church of St. Mark and Hennepin Avenue Methodist church buildings. Eventually, however, the work of building the new church at the corner of West Lake of the Isles Boulevard and twenty-first street got under way. A basement structure was built by George Leighton, Co., (Mr. Leighton was a member of the congregation) to be used while the remainder of the church was being built. However the conflict over the new church remained so acrimonious that in 1927 Pastor Penningroth resigned, hoping by this sacrificial act to remove one of the personal sources of antagonism that had grown so harmful to the congregation’s life.
Pastor Penningroth was convinced that had the congregation been solidly united behind the building and relocation project, the outcome after 1929 might have been much different. Cost of the new church has been reported at varying dollar amounts in publicity about the church: $100,000; $125,000; $160,000, and $200,000 as cited by Dr. Wm. Christy in the 1956 history. The explanation may be found in the fact that the congregation (at) first anticipated the cost to be $100,000, and did indeed raise bonds to finance the cost up to that figure. However, while construction progressed, so did the cost, so that by the time construction was complete, there was insufficient financial backing even before the stock market crash in October 1929.
When Lake of the Isles Church situation was finally placed in the hands of the Minnesota Fourth Judicial Court, there were twenty-two contractors having liens against the property. None had been paid for their investment of labor and materials. The principal original bondholders suffered such losses in the stock market crash that they were unable to pay. From the time the new Lutheran congregation was organized in January 1936, until May 16, 1940. Dr. Richard H. Gerberding, then synod president, personally represented the congregation’s interest throughout the legal proceedings.
During the time that Lake of the Isles Church was being built, the Kenwood area of Minneapolis, in which it was located, was an affluent residential neighborhood. A number of prominent families owned mansions there. Originally, Lake of the Isles is supposed to have been a shallow cranberry bog, and geologists have shown it to have been part of the backwaters of the Mississippi River at one stage in its evolution. This was before early residents built lake homes along its shores, and before the lake was dredged in order to make it more attractive and usable. The two large islands now standing in the lake were created by means of dredging. Some of the small lake homes were moved away from the lake when large, stately mansions were built in their place, and may still be found scattered throughout the neighborhood.
During the years of the Great Depression, 1929 and later, a number of Kenwood homes were vacated. The church was not the only vacant building. When seminary student, John Gable, tallied results of his 1935 community canvass, he noted 67 vacant houses within the survey area. A promotional piece, showing a beautiful nighttime view of the church reflected on still lake water, boasted: “Bought for $50,000, (Cost $172,000 to build) on almost unbelievably easy terms, this beautiful Gothic church, an inspired architectural achievement set in idyllic surroundings. Truly, ‘His Yoke is easy and His burden is light.’ There need be no fear that those who ally themselves with this loyal congregation will be undertaking a load under which they will stagger.” Nowadays we would question the wisdom of that style of stewardship promotion, but in those days economic conditions were much different.
[The following material reproduces the short history written by Dr. William P. Christy, and Dr. Bryce Shoemaker, published in 1956. Occasional updates written by Pastor Sotnak will be inserted within brackets.]
A short history of Lake of the Isles Lutheran Church was written by Pastor Christy in 1950 at the request of the Church Council. Records of the early years were incomplete and unsatisfactory. A summary of what occurred during the formative years was desired for historical purposes. The following is condensed from the original for this Twentieth Anniversary Celebration. Dr. Shoemaker has added an account of what has occurred since 1950. It is a general practice to establish mission congregations in growing communities where surveys show a considerable number of un-churched people who are interested in organizing a Lutheran Church. These usual prerequisites were not in evidence in the Kenwood District where Lake of the Isles Church is located. This community had long since been developed and most residents had membership in churches of other denominations. A few Lutherans in the district belonged to congregations in other parts of the city. There was no evidence of need for a Lutheran Church in the Kenwood community.
In view of these circumstances, which appear to be so unfavorable, it is natural to ask why this church was brought into being. The answer to this question is that a new and costly church building in the center of this district, a mile from the nearest church, had been abandoned when the congregation that built it was dissolved. [There was a frontier spirit still motivating American Lutherans. The United Lutheran Church often made use of the Latin phrase, “Ecclesia Plantanda,” which means, “The Church must be planted.” Although Dr. Christy took special pains to exclaim over the special find inherent in such a beautiful church building standing empty, we know that he shared with a good many church leaders of his generation a natural bias toward missionary expansion, which included a willingness to accept a challenge, even in the face of discouraging odds. In addition, there was a growing spirit of Lutheran unification at that time. The United Lutheran Church, formed in 1917, represented the most complete example of denominational consolidation attempted to-date by any Protestant body in our country. Dr. Christy stood with a vanguard of pastors who advocated cooperation and unity in place of ethnic parochialism. What might seem to outsiders a stubborn refusal to face the facts about the situation in Kenwood may also be seen as a living-out of a conviction that the church should expand.) The Lowry Hill Congregational Church, located at Dupont and Franklin, was destroyed by fire in 1922. The congregation then bought two lots at 21st Street and West Lake of the Isles Boulevard for $15,000 and transferred its assets to a new corporation called Lake of the Isles Church.
Plans for the church were adopted and the basement was constructed as a temporary place of worship. The cornerstone from the Lowry Hill Church was laid in the new foundation on November 8, 1925, by Dr. Lotus Coffman, President of the University of Minnesota. During the next three years the church was served successively by two pastors, [The Rev. Louis P. Penningroth, who resigned in 1927, and Dr. John Walker Powell, an instructor at the University of Minnesota, who was supply pastor from 1928 to 1931.] During Dr. Powell’s ministry the church building was erected on the foundation, and pulpit, pews, pipe-organ and other necessary furnishings were installed. The total cost of property and furnishings was about $200,000. The high cost of materials and construction at this time and the succeeding economic depression together with other causes brought about the dissolution of the congregation and the loss of the property to creditors and holders of bonds. No evidence is available to show church activities after the end of 1932. Church services were discontinued and the congregation disbanded. The church building was unoccupied for nearly three years.
[Before the church was abandoned, however, attempts were made to raise money to save the church by selling bonds to the general public. The church archives include portfolios assembled for volunteer bond sellers who presumably attempted selling door-to-door.]
In the winter of 1933-34, the writer, (Rev. Christy) pastor of St. Mark ‘s Lutheran Church, Minneapolis, was told that the pipe organ at Lake of the Isles Church was for sale. St. Mark’s was ready to buy a new organ, so the pastor visited Lake of the Isles Church to inquire about its organ. It was soon discovered that the organ had been removed. He then inspected the building from basement to tower. Although lack of care was in evidence, the substantial and beautiful structure with its many facilities for church purposes, together with its unsurpassed location on boulevard and lake, made an impression that led to consequences of greater worth than the missing organ.
As a missionary pastor who had served congregations in lodge halls and makeshift chapels, who knew of the struggles of scores of missions, the “find” of this churchly gem appeared unparalleled in the records of American Lutheran Missions.
This discovery was made known to the President of the Synod of the Northwest, United Lutheran Church in America, Dr. Richard H. Gerberding, who upon inspection was likewise impressed with the possibilities which the building afforded. Within a short time Dr. Gerberding and the writer visited a prominent holder of the church’s bonds, inquiring as to rent or purchase if it were decided to organize a Lutheran congregation. There were no immediate results, chiefly because of the terms asked for the use of the property. Negotiations with attorneys for the bond holders continued for six months, until January 8, 1935, when the President of Synod was given permission to conduct services in the church on a rental basis for an indefinite period with the formation of a Lutheran congregation in prospect.
Dr. Gerberding personally assumed responsibility for this venture and contributed generously of his time and rich experience in its promotion. Seminary student, John Gable, was engaged to conduct a survey of the neighborhood.
The 1,013 cards returned gave the following figures:
Episcopalians – 183
Roman Catholics – 167
Methodists – 91; Congregationalists – 64
Presbyterians – 62
Christian Science, – 53
Baptist – 46
Jewish – 43
Lutheran – 28
others – 49
non-members or unchurched – 227
226 members of other churches expressed interest
29 refused to respond
436 were not at home
Lutheran women employed as maids totaled 121, but were tallied separately.
With such slim prospects as this survey showed, the organization of a Lutheran congregation in a non-Lutheran district in which another church had so recently failed, was a venture of faith alone. Some experienced missionaries regarded it as a foolhardy undertaking, merely “to salvage a pile of stone”. Few believed that the Lord would work a miracle here. But, notwithstanding the misgivings of many in our synodical churches and in the surrounding community, plans were made for a first service on Sunday, February 10, 1935. Newspaper advertisements and write ups together with doorstep dodgers brought together an assembly of interested and curious persons. Dr. Gerberding conducted the service and preached. The first meeting in the interest of forming a congregation was held in the home of Mr. and Mrs. John Nelson (both now deceased) on March 1, 1935. Other meetings followed and on Easter Sunday, April 21, twenty-five people stood and united in an agreement to become a congregation when a total of 100 likewise agreed.
On April 24, 1935, a small group of interested persons met with Drs. Gerberding and Dressler as advisors, and constituted themselves, “A Committee for the Advancement of Lake of the Isles Church “. This committee then drafted a request to the Synodical Home Mission Board for aid in the formation of a congregation and for the services of a pastor. The Board approved organization when fifty candidates for membership were secured and also agreed to pay one-half of the pastor’s salary and to endorse a loan for the purchase of the property. At a meeting on May 13, a temporary Church Council was elected and steps were taken to adopt a constitution and incorporate when fifty signers to the agreement were secured.
During the summer months of 1935 no developments are recorded. Dr. Gerberding continued as acting pastor and other local preachers and students assisted at Sunday services. The attendance was small, but a faithful few were in evidence. On October 3, 1935, the induction of the Rev. Paul H. Roth, D.O., as President of Northwestern Lutheran Theological Seminary was held in the church with an attendance of about 450. While most of these were from other churches in the Twin Cities, the occasion enabled many to learn something of this missionary undertaking. During the fall and winter efforts to purchase the property continued. The price asked was $50,000. The Board of Church Extension promised a loan of $10,000 without interest when the local group numbered 50 and raised a like amount. But the required 50 and the $10,000 were not in sight. Subject to completing its membership roll of fifty, the unorganized group adopted Articles of Incorporation under the laws of the State of Minnesota. Although the required 50 charter members were not secured until February 23, January 17, 1936 has been regarded as the date when Lake of the Isles Lutheran Church was organized. The adoption of the Constitution and By-laws and the calling of the first pastor on February 3, also took place before the roll was completed.
The Rev. Albert E. Birch was installed on March 22, 1936 by Dr. Gerberding. The sermons were preached by Dr. Paul H. Roth and J. H. Dressler. His support was made possible by a liberal salary grant by the Board of American Missions. There was not much to encourage this young man in his big undertaking. Some of the subscribers to the agreement showed no further interest in the church. A few members of the disbanded Congregational Church joined the new organization and have continued among the church ‘s most devoted members. There were few un-churched Lutherans nearby, and the little group of members with a sprinkling of strangers in a “hired “house, many times too big for it an d plastered over with liens, bond holders’ claims and threatening legal action, could scarcely impress visitors favorably. The records of Pastor Birch’s two-year ministry are brief. They could not be otherwise. Pastor and Mrs. Birch worked with zeal to develop the congregation, particularly through the Women ‘s Guild and in the Sunday School. Dr. Gerberding reported to Synod in 1938 that the failure of the court to ratify the agreement by the trustees for the owners of the building had retarded the growth of the congregation. “This failure, occurring unexpectedly at the time of Pastor Birch’s entering upon the work, in creased the burden of leadership so far beyond anything anticipated that beginning with March 1st, the pastor took an indefinite leave of absence.” This leave terminated on May 31, 1938, when he resigned to accept a call to Resurrection Church in Milwaukee. The congregation had 71 members and 51 in Sunday School as reported to the Synod in 1938. Court approval for the sale of the church was finally secured after six years of negotiations. Synod obtained title on May 16, 1940, at the actual cost of $22,424.45. This property, including lots, building and furnishings, exceeded $200,000 in cost. The Lutheran congregation today worshipping comfortably in its possession, should know and appreciate the favorable outcome of what seemed a hopeless legal mess, through which donors and trusting investors in bonds experienced a loss by which we have richly, though innocently, gained. As God’s human agent in acquiring this property we are more indebted to Dr. Gerberding than to all others.
When Pastor Birch left in May 1938, the Home Mission Board placed the newly ordained Rev. Charles P. Smith in temporary charge of the congregation. This arrangement was perhaps the best that could be made at the time, but, unfortunately, a temporary pastor was not what the congregation needed. The property was still encumbered with legal claims, and its ultimate purchase was doubtful. Mr. Smith’s status as supply limited his pastoral influence as the church’s official head. This arrangement continued for two years when Rev. Smith accepted a call elsewhere. The 1940 report shows 65 members and a Sunday School of 30. From December 1, 1940 to March 1, 1942, pastoral over sight was provided by The Rev. Prof. Paul E. Huffman of Northwestern Seminary. This service was rendered without remuneration and at great personal sacrifice, while he continued his duties as a teacher. He and his talented wife took over and gave leadership to the congregation. Prof. Huffman instructed confirmands, directed the choir, and tussled with a contrary heating plant. Records show no gain in membership, but his optimism helped to dispel discouragements and to implant confidence.
At the annual congregational meeting on February 9, 1942, it was voted to call as pastor the RevWilliam Passavant Christy of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. This call was accepted because from his first visit to the abandoned church in 1934, he had remained confident that a thriving Lutheran congregation could be gathered at Lake of the Isles and had defended the project when the wisdom of it was questioned. Dr. Christy was installed on March 8, 1942 by the Rev. E. J. Wackernagle, president of conference.
Years of greater growth and blessings coincide with this pastorate. Pastoral maturity enabled some to look toward the future with more confidence and to enlist their interest and help. A citywide acquaintance acquired during twenty-eight years at St. Mark’s was of great value in locating prospective members and getting help for material improvements. The real problem up to this time was expressed by a layman at Church Council meeting when he said, “We just can’t do the things that need to be done here until the church’s population is increased.” This became central in all endeavors. But it required much footwork and gasoline. Tabulations showed that for every member added an average of 25 calls were made. 29 new members made a total of 97 at the end of the first year. Additional loans from the Board of American Missions were made to arrange residential rooms for the pastor on the second floor of the parish house and for the custodian’s family on the third. This required alterations of walls, plumbing and wiring. The loan also provided for reconstruction of the chancel to conform to Lutheran usage. A young couple, then new members, donated the beautiful altar with the cross and candlesticks. During previous years the lack of a competent caretaker caused continuous trouble. Willing volunteers could mow the lawn, shovel snow, etc., but to get needed heat from a furnace that had been unintentionally abused for years was beyond them. It was not until capable and genial Mr. and Mrs. Lendel Johnson took charge that anything like comfort for residents and worshippers was provided.
Space in this condensation forbids a realistic account of the plague of water that frequently flooded the church basement for several years with inches of water and in the furnace room over two feet. Several times the “crew” pushed water to the drains until two o clock Sunday mornings. Adequate pumps were finally installed, and the furnace floor and all on it was raised by volunteer men who spent long hours for many nights on the job. Neither can an adequate account of the work of our women be given space here. Throughout the years, in spite of the ups and downs that affected their numerical strength, the women have contributed effectively to the material, spiritual, educational and missionary needs of the church.
A wholesome missionary spirit was encouraged by the presence in our worship and work for several years of veteran missionaries Dr. and Mrs. C. W. Hepner, and Martha Akard from Japan; The Rev. and Mrs. H. M. Bly and family from China; and Hector and Mrs. Magalee, natives of British Guiana, who were attending seminary. In order to illustrate the changed attitude of non-member residents toward our church and also to show their neighborly goodwill, a paragraph about our organ must be inserted. An organ builder friend in our neighborhood asked if he could store an organ in the church basement until he found a buyer. The former owner paid $13,000 for it. He said he would install it in our church for $4,000. The church council granted permission to store it but had no money to buy it. In the night of the day when the organ was delivered, the pastor was calling in the home of a non-member and told what happened and of the offer. To his surprise the lady said, “That ought to be easy. Just get 40 persons to give $100 each. I’ll start you with $100.” Within ten weeks the entire amount was raised, 95% given by personal friends and kind neighbors. It was dedicated on Sunday, September 18, 1943, with Mr. Arthur B. Jennings, University organist, at the console.
Other improvements during these years were pew cushions made by our men, donated hymn board and flags, sound amplifiers and tower speakers, storm sash and screens for the parish house windows. The bronze rail in the vestibule and railings at the side entrance were donated and erected by a kind friend. A member of a sister church presented the offering plates. Parents in the church gave the baptismal font in memory of their son, killed in the war.
All of the art windows in the nave and vestibule were donated by families as memorials or in gratitude for blessings. The large window over the balcony was paid for both by members and other friends in response to a letter and was graciously inscribed by the window committee: “To the Glory of God and in honor of our pastor and his wife, Dr. and Mrs. William Passavant Christy, Easter, 1947.”
It may appear from what has been written here that progress in material things has been the chief concern through the past years. On the contrary, they are merely an external evidence of the spiritual development within the congregation and in the lives of our people. This church came into being in reverse order: first a building, then a congregation. God provided this pattern. We at Lake of the Isles have endeavored to build as He planned. We can see the structure, but He alone knows the substance in the hearts of his people.
Because of advancing years and the increasing responsibilities of a growing church, Pastor Christy presented his resignation which became effective on August 31, 1950. This pastorate was summarized by another who wrote in the Synodical Bulletin on December 24, 1950: “When the congregation of Lake of the Isles Church, Minneapolis, gathered on September 29 to honor the Rev. Christy’s retirement, an important epoch of eight years in the congregation’s fourteen -year history was brought to a close. During Pastor Christy’s eight years of ministry, Lake of the Isles Church, in a prevailingly non-Lutheran community, grew in confirmed mm1stry from 68 to 221. Benevolent contributions multiplied more than ten times, from $123 in 1942 to $1,643 for benevolence in 1950. Pledges for the entire budget this year were $10,186. “In January, 1949, the congregation assumed full self support after being previously aided by the Board of American Missions. In addition to the regular sums for current expenses and benevolence, Dr. Christy and his helpers succeeded in raising $30,000 during the past seven years for material improvements and debt reduction. This included about $13,000 for such purposes as chancel renovations, a new organ and art glass memorial windows. Much of these additional funds came necessarily from donors outside the member ship. The church edifice and parish house are valued today at more than $300,000. On Pastor Christy’s first Sunday in charge at Lake of the Isles Church in 1942, he found five pupils and one teacher present in Sunday School. Today the enrollment of the church school is near 100 with a high average attendance and a capable staff, superintended by Mr. Wallace Schutz.
“The new pastorate of The Rev. Louis E. Ulrich, successor to Dr. Christy, opened auspiciously the first Sunday in October, with the largest attendance at Holy Communion in the history of the congregation. Confidence in the church’s future under divine blessing is in greatest contrast with the years of uncertainty just prior to the coming of Dr. Christy in 1942. He remains in the fellowship as Pastor Emeritus.” (Synodical Bulletin, December 24, 1950.)
[Pastor Christy’s pastorate at Lake of the Isles coincided with years of World War II. Economic depression gave way to wartime boom. Population shifts occurred all over the country as young men went to war, and others went to work mobilizing the country. Kenwood began to change, too, as vacant homes were re-occupied, and a number converted to rooming houses.
Pastor Ulrich’s tenure began in the postwar era. The first atomic bomb had been dropped over Japan, jolting the world into the Nuclear Age. A shooting war yielded to cold war between two superpowers, The United States and Russia. The United States had achieved an economy that was little short of miraculous, and Americans began to cope with the strains of affluence. In Kenwood, the old population was succeeded by a younger population. For a while it appeared that Kenwood Elementary School might be closed for lack of pupils. Then suddenly families with children began to arrive, and, instead, the school needed enlargement. Kenwood and Lake of the Isles Church were entering a new age.]
Pastor Ulrich was installed on October 1, 1950, by Dr. Jonas Dressler and Dr. Paul H. Roth, both of Northwestern Lutheran Seminary. Pastor Ulrich approached his ministry with the enthusiasm and optimism of youth. The building of an active church program on the sturdy foundation laid by his predecessor was his chief concern. To do this he felt that it was necessary to increase the membership of the Congregation, and organized an evangelism committee which achieved remarkable results. The church had in previous years become well known in the community and the uncertainties which had surrounded its beginnings were removed and so increase in numbers- while not easy – was nonetheless ·now possible. In the five years of Pastor Ulrich’s ministry large advances were made in membership growth. The church records show the following figures:
January, 1951 January, 1956
Baptized members 269 689
Confirmed members 204 520
Communing members 180 425
In 1950 the budget was $7,600 for current expenses and $1,700 were given to benevolence. In 1955 the current expense budget was $21,230 and benevolence giving reached almost $7,000. This increase is only a natural result of increased membership and consequent increase in responsibilities.
In evaluating these figures one must remember that the growth in the congregation was due to the fact that the church was ripe for an increase and that the complexion of the neighborhood had considerably changed since the organization of the church. When the original religious census was taken, there were only 23 Lutheran families in the immediate neighborhood. World War II greatly altered the situation and many of the imposing residences were now multiple dwellings. On the east side of Lake of the Isles, the community was rapidly becoming more transient and dwelling units were much smaller.
Another area to which Pastor Ulrich turned his attention was the increasing of church staff. One of his first acts was to hire a church secretary to take care of the ever-growing office duties. Miss Elizabeth Burmeister, Miss Neva Korthof (Mrs. Arnold Stilwell), Mrs. Marcia Wold, and Mrs. Esther Starr have served in this position since it was established. Mr. and Mrs. L. A. Johnson had admirably served the church as caretakers for seven years. When they decided to leave, a displaced person from Europe was sought, and in 1952, Mr. & Mrs. Endel Pahlberg arrived. Pastor Ulrich also felt that it was desirable to have the choir director and organist functions combined. This was done and Miss Dorothy Hawkinson, and Mrs. Fern Sewell McKay have served the church in this position. Seminary students had helped with the church in previous ministries, and this contact with the seminary was maintained. Mr. Paul Clement, Mr. Ralph Sandgren, Mr. Arnold Stilwell, Mr. Ray Hansen, and Edwin Starr and Michas Ohnstad served in this capacity. I n 1954 it was possible for the church to secure the part-time services of Dr. Bryce W. Shoemaker, Professor of New Testament Studies at Northwestern Lutheran Seminary, as Assistant Pastor. He was duly called, and assumed work on August 1, 1954.
While the church had been beautified and well cared-for during its first 15 years, there still remained many things to be done. In 1951 the church heating system had to be completely renovated. A new bin feed stoker and boiler were installed during the summer of 1951, and additional repairs were made on the church building itself. During the summer of 1954 the church organ was rebuilt at a cost of $6,788.00. In the fall of 1952 the residence at 2423 W. 22nd St. was purchased for use as a parsonage. Unfortunately this purchase brought about many hard feelings and open conflicts, so that two council members resigned and several persons dropped their church membership. During the spring of 1955 a financial campaign was conducted to raise funds with which to redecorate the nave of the church and the sub-auditorium. These projects were completed by November 1955, at a cost of about $3,000. The Women of the Church refurbished the Guild Room in 1953, and the Altar Guild has now completed its project of furnishing the sacristy in an appropriate manner.
On September 9, 1951, the congregation began having two services every Sunday, except during July and August. At first the attendance at the 9:30 Service was small, averaging about 45 the first six months. In 1955, the attendance at the first service averaged 110, and at the second service there was an average attendance of 140. In his report to the congregation at its annual meeting in February 1955, Pastor Ulrich had said that the goal for average Sunday attendance in 1955 should be 250. This goal was exactly achieved! Not only has attendance at the worship services increased as the membership has grown, but the size and activity of all t he organizations of the church have been noticeably benefited.
Pastor Ulrich resigned from his pastorate at Lake of the Isles on September 1, 1955, to assume a call as pastor for Lutheran students at North Dakota University, Grand Forks. He preached his farewell sermon on August 28, 1955, with 271 people in attendance. At this writing, the pulpit committee is still seeking a permanent pastor. Meanwhile Dr. B. W. Shoemaker is acting pastor.
[The following text was written by Pastor Otto A. Sotnak.) Dr. Shoemaker subsequently accepted a call to become Pastor Ulrich’s successor at Lake of the Isles, and, in so doing, resigned his position at Northwestern Lutheran Seminary. He served as pastor of Lake of the Isles until August 18, 1957.
The Rev. Olney Eaton was called as pastor of Lake of the Isles Congregation on December 12, 1957. He was installed February 9, 1958.
The new society that had been in the making since World War II continued to mature, and with maturity seemed to become introspective and concerned with its own validity. The problems and anomalies imbedded in the social system, at first only grudgingly acknowledged, came to be actively sought out and considered. More and more the nation came to confront a complex of issues, and there followed a period of public debate, division, and even strife such as had seldom been seen in any time.
One of the most painful issues was that of racial injustice. A special commission headed by Otto Kerner, of Illinois, concluded that the United States was becoming more and more a nation divided between White and Black. The United States Supreme Court, in a landmark decision in 1954, had called for the integration of the nation’s public schools. Desegregation did proceed slowly in some parts of the country; more rapidly in others. As time wen t on, it began to be realized that the problem wen t even deeper than mere segregation of schools. Church services were termed “the most segregated hours of the week”. The neighborhood around Lake of the Isles Church was now reaping the benefits of economic good times. Families with children moved into the area, and the future appeared essentially bright when Pastor Eaton arrived. With rare exceptions, the residents of the area were Caucasian. It is interesting to notice, however, that in 1960 an entry was made in the minutes of one of the church council meetings recording that two Negro men had recently attended two services of worship. Nothing further was said, other than this hint of anxiety over the issue.
Records show that life in the congregation continued to thrive. A new parsonage at 2012 W. Lake of the Isles Boulevard (next door to the church) was bought in 1960 for $34,500, and the previous parsonage at 2423 W. 22nd St. was sold for $23, 100.
In 1962, a merger of three Lutheran bodies created the Lutheran Church in America, and Lake of the Isles Congregation adopted a new constitution based on the model of the new church. Property improvements were added: Three gaslights installed on the east and south sides of the church property in 1962; chancel area remodeled, with addition of a new pulpit, lectern, and paneling on the chancel walls in 1963; an automatic Storm Guard sewer shut-off valve was installed in 1963 to prevent the miserable sewer backups that occurred during heavy rainstorms; and in 1964 a library was created in one of the church basement rooms.
Membership leveled-off during this period and even began a gradual decline. Records show a gradual drop in worship attendance from 1956 to 1966. Population in the community had stabilized, and even though evangelism efforts were repeatedly mobilized, there was not the numerical growth of the early 1950’s. Whenever numbers diminish, anxiety is generated, and people look for reasons. In this case, it is instructive to examine the social, religious, economic, and political developments which were proceeding in the entire country, all of which were to have a profound effect on religious institutions everywhere.
Prosperity did not extend uniformly into every part of the nation. Cities suffered from misuse and neglect in many of their parts, especially industrial and older sections, creating what some analysts called, “An Urban Crisis.” Increasing numbers of people moved from city centers to outlying areas. Most of them were economical y able to do so; upwardly mobile people who were often the “movers and shakers” of society and industry. A new term was coined to describe the phenomenon, “Exurbans”; people who left urban environment for non-urban areas, but maintained their connections with the city, often continuing to commute to the heart of the city for employment.
Although the Kenwood and Lowry Hill neighborhoods were located close to downtown, the spacious open areas, the lake, and desirable housing made them seem somehow like suburban residential areas. They had developed a character unique among city communities. A Twin City real estate firm described Kenwood in one of its promotional brochures as “a club”. The term did not fit exactly, because residents of the area could hardly be described as homogeneous, socially, politically, or religiously. There was more diversity than uniformity, and it was precisely this which made the community so difficult to “evangelize” in traditional ways. Privacy, furthermore, held a high priority among the residents, and there was strong reluctance about imposing one’s religion too much on one’s neighbors. Technology and knowledge were growing at an unprecedented rate. Youth became objects of concern. They bore a heavy burden of adaptation, and yet they were not fully accepted by their parent-command generation. A youth culture developed in the land, accompanied by a denigration of older generations. “Never trust anyone over thirty!” became one of the taunting axioms of the younger generation. Sociologist David Riesman described this generation as the “Uncommitted Generation.” Churches were on the receiving end of a challenge to their traditional authority. Some clergy gave up on traditional methods of educating/ catechizing their youth, opting instead for confirmation retreats, individualized learning, or small-group experiences, because classroom teaching presented too many battles for control.
United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War generated a painful alienation within the population, the youth growing especially resentful about having to fight a war no one seemed able to justify satisfactorily. This, too, poisoned the atmosphere within the churches, creating bitter divisions.
Churches have long been regarded as islands of stability and havens of refuge. The architectural style of Lake of the Isles Church is itself a vestigial remnant of a bygone era when churches served as fortresses of defense against invading armies. Now they were caught in a tug-of-war between those who wanted them to provide familiarity, security, and peace of mind, versus those who expected them to lead the way on moral-ethical issues, advocate for justice, and embrace the future. We have described jus t a few of the challenges facing the churches of the 1960’s. While economic conditions improved, the social and intellectual environment tested the ingenuity of church leadership to the utmost degree.
Through these years, Lake of the Isles Lutheran Congregation had maintained a definite neighborhood church character, and this was to serve it well in the difficult years ahead, when its neighboring congregations would struggle for their very existence.
Pastor Eaton resigned January 19, 1965. A pulpit committee was formed, and its search led eventually to Pastor Otto A. Sotnak, who was then serving WoodlawnImmanuel Lutheran Congregation, located south of the campus of the University of Chicago. A call was extended on August 1, 1965. He accepted and began his ministry on October 1.
A bit of coincidence: Pastor Sotnak had been a student of Dr. Shoemaker at Augsburg College, when Dr. Shoemaker taught speech and philosophy there in the late 1940’s. He had also been a student of John Hanson, now a member of the congregation, when Mr. Hanson was an instructor in philosophy and history at Augsburg in the early 1950’s.
Moving to Lake of the Isles Church and community was an abrupt change in lifestyle for Pastor Sotnak and his family. They had previously lived for six years in one of the most overcrowded sections of Chicago; an urban ghetto; home territory of the Blackstone Rangers, a youth gang that made the pages of Time Magazine in 1966.
Pastor Sotnak’s experience in Chicago had trained him to view churches within their communities; not as private societies. He had seen many churches and synagogues abandoned by their congregations when different ethnic and social populations moved in, and he was convinced that city churches ought to take a profound interest in their surrounding neighborhoods. To do so was not only evangelical but simply enlightened self-interest.
Older city neighborhoods live a precarious existence as a rule. The majority seem to go through birth, growth, maturity, and death life-cycles. There is rebirth for some, but the process is often painful for those who must live through the latter part of each cycle. Woodlawn in Chicago was one of those neighborhoods that had once enjoyed a thriving existence as a white-collar “bedroom” community for people who worked at the University of Chicago or commuted downtown. By 1973, however, Woodlawn was a wasteland awaiting urban redevelopment. There was no longer any kind of community for the church to serve and its doors were closed.
At Woodlawn-Immanuel, Pastor Sotnak’s focus in ministry had placed priority on people. Buildings are meant to be used. A church without people might appear beautiful on the outside, but as the history of Lake of the Isles had already proved, it could only be truly beautiful if it was used by people; the more the merrier.
To the new pastor, Lake of the Isles and its surrounding community seemed·an exciting urban situation. It promised a healthy future if given proper care. In this community were people who held cosmopolitan interests and possessed valuable knowledge and skill needed for community preservation and development. Furthermore, there was the stabilizing influence of the lakes and parks helping to maintain desirability of the area for residential purposes.
The congregation was conscious of its small size, and understandably so, since Minneapolis had so many large churches, and also, no doubt, because there were memories of the beginnings of Lake of the Isles Church. In actuality, however, the congregation’s size would have been average or above in most other cities. The neighborhood was well-populated with children and youth. The spirit of the times did not favor traditional styles of youth and young adult ministry. The Lutheran Church in America abolished its Luther League and urged congregations to try experimental youth ministries and to incorporate their youth and young adults into the total life of the congregations. In 1966, our congregation made an investment in special equipment (bumper pool tables, ping-pong tables, and a soft-drink machine), and attempted a youth center approach. However, as Young Life organizers had already discovered, the center of youth’s social life was no longer located in churches but in the schools. A strictly congregational approach seldom worked.
In the winter of 1965-6, Dr. James Martin, pastor of Trinity Community Church, located on Lincoln and Bryant, and his wife, Jane, invited Pastor Otto and Lewann Sotnak to their home for dinner. After the meal, Dr. Martin asked, “Otto, what do you think our churches could do together that we cannot do as well separately-without stealing sheep from each other?” It was a question that would lead to a series of developments.
First, the two pastors began meeting twice monthly for breakfast at the Rainbow Cafe to brainstorm. In the meantime The Rev. George Easley became pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church, near 28th Street and Hennepin, and The Rev. Will is Steinberg became rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Logan Ave. & Franklin. The four pastors continued their bi-weekly meetings, and out of their discussions came arrangements for cooperative youth drop in centers. Junior Highs met at Lake of the Isles, and Senior Highs at St. Paul’s Episcopal.
Trinity Community Church had employed a community outreach coordinator, part-time. Her name was Judith Justad, and Trinity volunteered her time as coordinator of the drop-in centers, also. These were the tentative beginnings of the Neighborhood Involvement Program, although more formal arrangements began with a meeting on November 20, 1967, at St. Pau l’s Episcopal Church, to consider sharing approximately $8,000 annually to hire Judy Justad as supervisor of joint programs. Dr. William Bevis, William Westphal, John Bergford, Jr., Arthur Peabody, and Pastor Sotnak represented Lake of the Isles at this meeting. The Neighborhood Involvement Program was to grow beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. By 1986, it had moved into its second building facility (all programs were initially housed in the churches) costing more than a million dollars. Its programs at one time numbered as many as 17, but changing times and needs dicta ted adjustments, and presently they include: walk-in counseling, a health clinic, dental clinic, Rape and Sexual Assault Counseling Center, Seniors and Income Assistance, and youth programs.
A substantial population of young adults (post high-school and up) lived in the eastern part of the area, especially around Hennepin Avenue. A few attended our services, and also joined our congregation, but they represented but the tip of the iceberg. Remember, these were times when the mood of young adults was very much antiestablishment, and still churches cared about them, even if that message wasn’t being received. Coffee houses had started-up in many cities, beginning on the east and west coasts. Coffee houses were alternatives to bars, where thoughtful young people could meet kindred spirits and find support. If the young folks wouldn’t come to the churches, why not try co-optation? Open a coffee house where it would be acceptable (the term of choice was “OK”) to talk about religion; Christian religion. Representatives of the four area churches began to meet for the purpose of opening a coffee house ministry in the Hennepin – Lake area. The name of the venture was to be, Young Adult Centers, Inc., or its acronym, YAC. However, the project failed mainly because no one could be found who would provide the needed capital to lease and outfit a coffee house facility without first seeing a viable program already in operation. In other words, no one would take the financial risk. While ministries to youth and young adults were being pursued in manners just described, the life and worship of Lake of the Isles Congregation continued its own course.
By 1967, attendance at the 11:00 a.m. Sunday Service had declined in favor of the 9:30 Service. After a self-study, the congregation decided to eliminate the 11:00 a.m. Service altogether and concentrate on one service at 10:00 a.m., with Sunday School running concurrently. There was dissatisfaction with the new arrangement, particularly among Sunday School teachers who had to miss the service. Eventually, Sunday School was scheduled earlier, at 9:30, and the service at 10:30 a.m.
Comparison with other Christian congregations invites analysis, because similar adjustments have been made in other churches as well, particularly in urban and suburban churches. The most logical explanation seems to be that people desire earlier worship so as to have the remainder of Sunday for other activities. Another possible explanation is that the church has become more a church of the people, and less of the clergy, so worship times are determined by democratic processes, rather than by convenience for the clergy, although the latter is still necessary where pastors serve more than one congregation.
One of the ecclesiastical benefits to come out of all the social science research in the post World War II era was improved management and administrative procedures. Corporations invested large sums of money and effort in the improvement of management and administration, knowing that by so doing they would become more effective and efficient. The result was a better understanding of how people work in groups. Everywhere these developments have occurred unevenly, requiring much trial and error to arrive at the best method. Reviewing the minutes of church council meetings as research for this history was a revelation in itself of an organization attempting to improve its administrative and decision-making methods.
In 1967, our church council held its first planning retreat at a small group study center on Lake Hubert. Results were both frustrating and gratifying, but, profiting by our mistakes, church council planning retreats have become a standard practice at Lake of the Isles.
In 1968, responding to a desire to have youth more involved in the total life of the parish, a special position was opened on the church council for a person 18 years of age or under.
In 1969, the congregation sought alternative worship format for youth and families with children. Guitar was used to accompany congregational singing in place of organ or piano. The congregation’s constitution was amended, lowering the voting age from 18 years of age to confirmation. Previously, persons 18 years of age to 20 could vote on all questions except when state law required a minimum age of 2 1 for voting on sale or exchanges of real estate.
In 1970, Grace, Trinity, St. Paul ‘s Episcopal, and Lake of the Isles congregations collaborated on mailed distribution of a four-church introductory brochure to all new residents in the area for an experimental period of three months. During the 1970’s several surprising developments encouraged a rethinking of many views and beliefs that had emerged in the previous decade: Although God had been pronounced dead in the 1960’s, He appeared to be very much alive in the ’70s. The cynicism and despair of the ’60s gave way to a revival of interest in religion. The San Francisco Bay area seemed to have been a particular center for this revival among the young adults. A 1973 survey discovered hundreds of religious groups and cults there. Gradually, interest in religion became more acceptable again. By 1976 one could walk across the campus of the University of Minnesota and overhear students witnessing to one another about personal faith in Jesus Christ; quite a change from the ’60s!
Young adults gained access to prosperity. A new category was created: Young Urban Professionals; YUPpies. Men and women who once groomed and dressed themselves in a counter-cultural fashion re-styled their hair and donned suitable business attire.
The Vietnam War had nudged young men into seminaries as an alternative to military service. This did not happen as often among Roman Catholics, but the effect on Protestant churches was an oversupply of clergy.
Then, the women’s movement gained momentum. By 1982, nearly half of enrolling students at most Lutheran seminaries in the U.S. were women. These developments subtly affected the congregations, Lake of the Isles being no exception.
Increasing numbers of young adults have attended worship. Female seminary students have done contextual education work in our congregation, preaching, leading worship, and trying their skills at as many pastoral activities as time and inclination permit. The large enrollment at Luther Northwestern Seminary in recent years permitted Lake of the Isles to share in the services provided by these students, and the benefits have been reciprocal.
So many things that have been said and written about churches could have been said about any social institution: buildings built, members gained and lost, programs started and terminated, leaders came and went. These matters all have their value. Most important is the divine-human encounter that occurs when a congregation gathers in His name. Only God truly knows who encountered Him here. Historically, what we can do is attempt to describe the manner of our coming together in order that God might be in our midst.
There is no doubt that weekly worship still stands as prime time. That is when the greatest number of us is together. Our worship services since 1976 have been affected by several material elements: A new Lutheran Book of Worship, purchased in 1978; a new pipe organ, purchased in 1980; and a new altar and chancel arrangement, installed in 1980. The pipe organ, in particular, resolved a long standing issue over whether to restore or replace its predecessor. It was dedicated November 16, 1980, with organist Mary Smith at the console, and Dr. George Lundquist, Synod Vice-president, serving as officiating minister. We have been fortunate over the years to have a fine volunteer choir to lead the congregation in singing and to provide special music as well. Their director, John Madson, has filled that position capably since March 12, 1961. The Kenwood Chamber Orchestra rehearses at Lake of the Isles Church each Monday evening, and from time-to-time donates musicians for our festival services.
Lake of the Isles can rightly claim to have been a pioneer in the practice of involving la y participants in The Service. We first began with lectors who read the Old Testament and Epistle lessons each Service, and when the Lutheran Book of Worship arrived, we had already begun having lay assistants during Communion, so it was a natural step to have laypersons (men and women) serving as assisting ministers throughout The Service.
If worship is prime time, then learning is full time, for we learn even while we worship.
Sunday School enrollment fell during the period currently under review. All the children and youth who were here during the 1950’s and 1960’s had grown up and left their parental homes. Although some of the parents of that generation sold their homes and moved away, many continued to live in the area as “empty nesters”, and of the new residents, not many brought or had as large numbers of children as were evident in the 1960’s.
In order to assure continued quality of Sunday School education, the congregation employed Christian Education Directors, the first being Louise Esbjornson, a student at Luther Northwestern Seminary, in 1978. Since then, Lewann Sotnak and Barry Kiel have occupied that position, with Barry Kiel holding that position at present. Over the years our adult education programs have included Sunday Bible classes, adult forums, special presentations sponsored by the Lutheran Church Women, and discussion groups.
John Hanson has led Sunday discussion groups for the past twenty years, or so. Recently Stephen Green joined him as co-leader. Interest in discussion format as a means of personal growth and education has heightened recently, and a Sunday Evening Discussion group was added to the Sunday Morning Discussion Group in 1984. It meets in individual homes every other Sunday evening.
In 1984, an interfaith discussion group was organized at the suggestion of an interfaith committee at Temple Israel. It has been meeting monthly, alternating between Lake of the Isles Church and Temple Israel. When these discussions were evaluated in May, 1986, there was unanimous agreement that the discussions should be resumed in the fall.
Lake of the Isles has been fortunate over the years to have had both a Lutheran Church Men’s organization and a Lutheran Church Women’s organization. Attendance has diminished, however, i n both groups, as the men found it difficult or impossible to attend midweek meetings, and as more and more women took daytime employment. The L.C.M. continues to sponsor an all-congregation torsk dinner each year, and to serve Easter Breakfast. Proceeds from these two events are used to purchase greens and Christmas trees for the sanctuary at Christmas time, and the men volunteer their labor to decorate the sanctuary. The L.C.W. meets monthly, prepares and serves some of the meals for special events, especially congregational meetings, and takes much responsibility for special cleaning and renovating jobs around the church. It would have been hard to exist without them. An Altar Guild has continued in existence since the 1950’s, having begun during Pastor Ulrich’s tenure. It assumes responsibility for maintenance and placement of the church paraments, linens, preparation of the altar for communion, and sees that everything is in order when there are baptisms. In addition, they prepare and serve a festive Julebord, Scandinavian-style, annually; decorate the chancel with poinsettias for Christmas, and Easter flowers at Easter. They also prepare a Passover (Seder) meal for the congregation each Maundy Thursday. A midweek Bible Study group meets on Wednesday mornings at 8:00 o’clock. It is led by the pastor. Several persons from the community, who are not members of the congregation, regularly attend the class. We believe this demonstrates an atmosphere of openness and acceptance for which we are deeply grateful, and it is reassuring to sense a reawakening of interest in study of The Scriptures.
On January I, 1988, it is anticipated that there will be a new organizational unity of Lutherans in America, formed by a merger of our “parent” body, the Lutheran Church in America, The American Lutheran Church, and the American Evangelical Lutheran Church (which separated from The Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod). The effects of such a merger on the life of our congregation will not be much noticed at first, provided, of course, the merger takes place. As the time for merger has been approaching, voices of objection have been raised within the L.C.A., primarily, over constitutional issues and over the proposed location of the new church’s national headquarters.
Aside from that, there is an even larger question of denominational identity in general. The old ethnic communities which had so much to do with the formation of Lutheranism, and other denominations, in America have been disintegrating. Most marriages at Lake of the Isles and other Christian churches now involve partners from different denominational backgrounds. Denominational loyalties give way to a more basic interest in Christian identity. Because Lake of the Isles Lutheran Congregation has always existed within a cosmopolitan environment, we might say t hat it enjoys a unique advantage. In a sense we have always had to define who we are in relationship with other religious institutions about us.
We are a Christian congregation in the Lutheran tradition, welcoming all who are spiritually hungry and thirsty, who desire the fellowship of others who want to grow in grace, in knowledge of God as disciples of Jesus Christ.
Otto A. Sotnak May 28, 1986
2/10/35 The church building re-opened with a service of worship
2/20/35 The Sunday School and Choir organized
5/6/35 Request presented to the synodical Home Mission Board for aid in formation of a congregation and for services of a full-time pastor
5/13/35 A temporary church council elected
11/4/35 A women’s guild was organized
11/22/35 The first meeting of the congregation
1/17/36 The congregation formally incorporated in accordance with the laws of Minnesota
2/3/36 The constitution and by-laws formally adopted. The Rev. Albert E. Birch called to be the first regular pastor
2/23/36 The church council formally installed
3/22/36 Pastor Birch installed
5/5/36 The congregation received officially in to membership in the English Lutheran Synod of the Northwest, United Lutheran Church in America
11/6/36 Men’s brotherhood organized
May-38 Pastor Birch resigned and The Rev. Charles P. Smith was placed as temporary pastor by the Home Mission Board
12/1/40 The Rev. Prof. Paul E. Huffman, of Northwestern Lutheran Seminary, assumed part time pastoral duties
5/8/42 The Rev. William P. Christy, D.O., installed as full-time pastor
10/1/50 The Rev. Louis E. Ulrich, Jr., installed as Pastor
1951 Frank Meyer memorial cross placed on church steeple
8/1/54 Dr. Bryce W. Shoemaker installed as part-time assistant pastor
9/1/55 Pastor Ulrich resigned
8/18/57 Dr. Shoemaker resigned
12/1/57 Pastor Olney E. Eaton called
2/9/58 Pastor Eaton installed
1960 Present parsonage at 2012 W Lake of the Isles Pkwy., bought for $34,500 and previous parsonage at 2423 W 22nd Street sold for $23,100
1962 Lutheran Church in America was formed. New constitution and by-laws adopted. Gas lights installed on front and side lawns of church
1963 Church chancel area remodeled: pulpit, lectern & paneling. Storm-Guard valve installed to prevent basement flooding
1964 Library room installed in church
1/19/65 Pastor Eaton resigned, effective 2-28-65
1965 Kleinsteuber Memorial Evergreen planted (several had been planted previously, but did not survive)
8/1/65 Pastor Otto A. Sotnak called as pastor
10/1/65 Pastor Sotnak began duties
1966 Driveway on west side of church blacktopped. Coke machine installed for youth center. Security alarm system installed in church. Sanctuary lamp given by Gordon Haga family in memory of his parents. First church council planning retreat held at Lake Hubert Minnesota Synod Small Group Study Center (Food served was best of all retreats to date.)
1967 N.I.P. program began. Began organization of Young Adult Centers, Inc., congregation committed $100.00. Discussion leading to beginning of N.I.P.
4/8/68 Church heating plant destroyed by fire when safety controls malfunctioned. Replaced during the summer with present plant.
1968 Youth member assigned to church council.
1969 Congregation had an informal worship service at request of younger members. Constitution was revised to lower voting age to confirmation. Young Life youth program at West High School competed with congregation’s programs.
1970 Grace, Lake of the Isles, St. Paul’s Episcopal, and Trinity churches collaborated in mailing out a four-church brochure as a promotional venture.
1971 Raymond and Ralph Seydel Memorial Outdoor Signboard installed on front lawn.
1972 Church kitchen was remodeled.
1980 Old pipe organ was removed, and a new tracker action pipe organ was installed by Daniel Jaeckel, of Duluth.
1986 The congregation celebrated its fiftieth anniversary as a Lutheran church.