St. Luke Lutheran Church Recounts 100-Year History

"St. Luke Lutheran Church Recounts 100-Year History." Wishek Star, 13 July 2005, 8.

In the late 1890’s, as the railroad moved north, German/Russian pioneers moved north also, searching for farmland resembling the lands they had left in Europe. Because the number was small at first, these pioneers had to be content to practice their faith by themselves.

This they did by diligent use of the Bible, their old German hymnals, and occasionally a book of printed sermons which they had brought from their old homes in South Russia. Later, several families began gathering in homes to have a more communal service. This desire to share their worship of God, as they had in South Russia, soon resulted in small congregations being organized and church buildings being built.

God and family continued to be the central focus of these hardworking, pioneers’ lives. It is this focus that caused nine such Lutheran congregations to come to be in the Wishek agriculture and retail area.

The birth date of St. Luke Lutheran Congregation can be regarded as Jan. 1, 1905, with the gathering of five charter families. Services were held in homes and school buildings. The first church was built in 1909-10 timeframe with seven members pledging the sum of $475 toward the building. By 1913, the congregation had grown to 35 families. In 1914, the church was enlarged with a wing on the north side at a cost of $3,081. Electric lights were installed in 1917. The first English service was conducted in March 1918. By the fall of 1918, the congregation had grown to 60 families. By 1926, the church building had to be enlarged again and a south wing was added. In this same year, a new parsonage was built.

In late 1950, the membership roster listed 286 families and the need for a new facility became apparent. This new facility and the present church, was dedicated on July 10, 1955 and had been completed at a cost of $165,000. A mortgage burning ceremony was held in 1960.

During this timeframe, the Salem, Jehovah, St. James Peace, St. Paul, and St. John congregations merged with St. Luke. The congregation now consisted of more than 380 families, with a baptized membership of more than 1,200 souls.

St. Luke can count among its many accomplishments the fostering of 10 native sons and a daughter who were ordained and on the clergy roster of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. Additionally, two former pastor’s sons also have been ordained and two St. Luke daughters were commissioned as Parish Workers.

The St. Luke Women of the ELCA continue to support Lutheran World Relief through the weekly gathering for sewing of quilts, preparation of school kits, layette kits, and personal hygiene kits which get sent to disadvantaged areas around the world. In the past year 247 quilts. 20 health kits and 45 school kits have been shipped in an ongoing dedicated support of LWR. The music program continues to be active with many choirs and groups for all ages.

Remembering and, often times, reliving the past one hundred years is a good reason to have a celebration. You have heard many times the theme chosen for this anniversary celebration: “Here by The Grace of God.”

As we fondly and gently close this chapter in the life of St. Luke Lutheran and its predecessor churches, we can only wonder what God has in store for our future. As so many before us, the manner in which we choose to live our lives is a product of what we learned in St. Luke and its predecessor churches. It is this communal focus that we hope to pass along to future generations.

One can only imagine the technological advancements in the next 100 years. The one thing that always has withstood the test of time is not how wealthy we’ve become, or how important we are, but rather the fact that we are all here by the grace of God!

Reprinted with permission of the Wishek Star.

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller