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Salem's History
Pastors:   Dreher   Lebahn   Mardorf   Ermisch   Schlutz   Augst   Quello   Tungseth   Parbst   Reisig   Hendrickson
Events:    New 1938    Main 1953    Educaton 1961    Remodel 1971    Tower 1979    Addition 1988    Remodel 2000

William Dreher

"Let this be written for future generations, so that a people yet unborn may praise the Lord." Psalm 102:18
On October 20th, Reverend Dreher from Emmanuel started the new congregation called "Salem". The word Salem is derived from the Hebrew word meaning "Peace". Services were held in the Lange store for a short time. Soon a lot on the corner of So. Robert and Bunker was purchased. Along with Reverend Dreher, charter members were: H.F. Lange, John Kulenkamp, J. Helmbusch, Jacob Bohrer, C. Gruening and Aug Mews.

Salem church was built on the lot. Gustave Semmler was the contractor.

Reverend Dreher left Salem and in July the congregation asked Reverend William Utesch of St. Paulus in So. St. Paul to come preach to them. Reverend Utesch moved his residence to a rented parsonage on So. Robert Street. He soon became the second pastor of Salem.

Through an exchange of pastors, Reverend Uteach went to Texas, and Reverend David Lebahn came to Salem from Texas. On July 1st Reverend Lebahn was installed.

The church was renovated by an active Choir and Young People's Society. The Ladies' Aid bought the pews. Mr. Gustave Semmler built an alter and a pulpit. The church was redecorated. Two lots next to the church were purchased. A combination school house and parsonage was built in 1901.

In January, Reverend Carl Mardorf became pastor. Reverend Mardof tried to establish a day-school at Salem, but this proved unsuccessful. He introduced English evening services for the youth of the church.

Reverend Karl Ermisch was installed as pastor on April 5th. More English services were added. There was $100 in the Building Fund.

On June 6th, the women of the congregation were given equal status and representation with the men. Plans for a new church were suggested, a basement was to be used temporarily.

The problem of more "English" was solved with the founding of an "English Mission" within the bounds of the German congregation.

Instead of a new church, a full basement was built under the present church and the church was renovated. A new bell, art glass, a valuable two-manual reed organ, and equipment for the kitchen and stage were added. The dedication was held on October 10th in conjunction with the 25th Anniversary of the church.

E.C. Schlutz

Reverend E.C. Schlutz was installed as pastor on September 4th. At this time the church carried a debt over $10,000.

Reverend Schlutz took a 6 month furlough to visit Europe, chiefly Germany. Reverend G. Blessin took over temporary pastoral duties. The chairmanship of the congregation was permanently transferred to laymen.

The "English Mission" was now a established within Salem as a full-fledged, fully-accredited sister congregation.

The old St. Paul Courthouse was dismantled. Under the guidance of Reverend Schlutz, the congregation purchased some valuable cornice stone (Kasota marble) from the courthouse for a future church. Architect N. Edward Mohn was engaged to compute the amount of stone needed for the new church. The Ladies Aid (English) merged with the Ladies Aid (German). The German language was no longer used in this group. In January, the two congregations (English and German) merged to form one congregation with English as the official language. The "Nachricten", after a span of many and useful years, was voted discontinued. In October the church celebrated 40 years of serving Christ.

With her passing, Mrs. Semmler willed most of her possessions including some property to the church.

Reverend Schlutz had previously acquired 6 tax-delinquent lots in West St. Paul. Acting on a motion by Miss Ethel Thrift, the church council was instructed to take definite action relative to a new church. The congregation purchased the lots acquired by Reverend Schlutz at their cost to him: under $300 per lot. The congregation strongly considered building the "first unit" - a basement. An agreement was also reached that a parsonage in turn be built immediately after the church basement.

New Salem

After a heated meeting, the congregation voted unanimously in January to instruct their architect, Mr. Mohn, to proceed with drawing up the building planes for both projects. In May the final decision was made to proceed with the project. Over 700 people attended the ground breaking ceremony at the site of the new church on Hall and Bernard on June 12th. On November 6th , the last congregational meeting was held in the old church. On December 16th the basement church was dedicated. Dr. Karl Ermish preached the farewell sermon in the old church.

In April, the old parsonage was sold for $3000. By July, the congregation moved to accept the plans for a new parsonage and garage. Building began at once.

A February house-warming of the parsonage was accompanied by a mild blizzard. A supper followed in the church. The parsonage was dedicated in April with Reverend Elmer Braun presiding. In May, Salem's group of women known as the "Willing Workers", adopted the name "Cotta Society". In July, Salem hosted a service commemorating Dr. Ermisch's 40th anniversary in the ministry.

In September, Salem celebrated its 50th anniversary as a congregation with a Jubilee Service. A fellowship dinner was held at the church at which time the church mortgage was burned. The church basement was debt free.

War Years
Salem kept in close contact with her men and women in the service. Names and addresses of service people were furnished to the congregation. A service flag was dedicated with the chaplain of the 99th Minnesota Infantry as the guest speaker.

By December 5th the congregation was entirely debt free. The congregation began efforts to provide funds for the main project: the superstructure and permanent sanctuary for Salem.

A plan was inaugurated whereby members donated war bonds to the church's building fund. By October Salem had $25,000.

In September a celebration was held in honor of Reverend Schlutz's 25th anniversary at Salem.

In March a Men's Club was organized. Excitement and talk centered on the superstructure and the 'New Church'. Estimates were that that the new church would cost $100,000 to 125,000. Salem had $42,000 in the building fund.

A four hour congregational meeting was held to discuss the type of building wanted by Salem. Proposed plans for the interior were well received while those for the exterior were somewhat controversial. By November, agreement was reached on exterior and interior plans and the congregation approved the plans of the architect. The architects were Magney, Turner and Setter who used a church in the mountains of Mexico as their inspiration.

In April, 5th congregation voted to borrow any additional funds needed to construct the superstructure and the contractors were instructed to go ahead as soon as the money was available. In May the "Tithing Plan" was adopted whereby each member was to donate 10% of his income for one year. This plan proved to be a marked success as a large number of members adopted the plan, a considerable number of contributions exceeded the tithe. Construction by the Kraus-Anderson Co. continued but not without inconvenience to the congregation. In September, Reverend E.H. Doerring of Highland Park Lutheran Church, St. Paul, preached at the cornerstone laying ceremony. Basic construction cost for the new church were to be $144,091.

The Ladies Cotta Society bought modern white oak pews for the new church at a cost of $5,300. The choir planned to buy new robes. Lyle Ingelbert, an intern from Luther Seminary, was engaged to help Reverend Schlutz and Henry Mayer was to assist in the summer months. A dedication date was set for September but had to be postponed until spring. $1,800 in donations had already been received for an altar. In May the long awaited day occurred as the first service was held in the superstructure. The church floor was titled at a cost of $1,335. The congregation adopted a plan calling for the partial overlapping of the Sunday School hour and the service. The children were to attend the service until after the sermon and then proceed to there classes. The plan was a success and continued for some time. In June, a $4,000 Wurlitzer organ was purchased and dedicated. In December the congregation honored Reverend and Mrs. Schlutz on their 25th wedding anniversary. Also in December the new choir robes were worn, and a new wrought iron lectern was installed.

In March the new pews were installed. Carpeting in the chancel and sacristy was completed in April at the cost of $1,297. A wrought iron baptismal font and sterling silver bowl were donated by the Ladies Cotta Society. The newly completed Salem Lutheran Church was dedicated on April 26th. At 10:00 a.m. altar dedication sermons were given by Reverend Elmer J. Braun and Dr. Karl Ermisch. The altar had been carved and sculptured in Italy from white Carrara marble and depicts the "Last Supper" in relief. Three mahogany figures placed on top of the altar had been carved by a local artist, Mikels Geistaut. The figures represent two angles "adoring the triumphant Christ". On September 20th Henry Mayer was ordained and installed at Salem as assistant pastor with sermons by Dr. Karl Ermisch and Reverend E.C. Schlutz

Norbert Augst

On March 18th Reverend Norbert A. Augst was installed as pastor at Salem. The Kaiser property, an 80 foot frontage on Humboldt Avenue, was purchased for future classroom space.

In April, the Capital Fund Drive was begun to reduce the mortgage on church property. An organ fund was established, which grew to $9,100 by 1965.

A planning committee was established in January to study needs and finances necessary to build a Parish Education Building. The purchase of the Schmidt and DeWoody properties in October gave another 80 feet of frontage on Humboldt Avenue.

The congregation voted to go ahead with the education building and in November the architects' preliminary drawings were accepted. The Cerney Association, Inc. served as architects.

By March the congregation had accepted the bid of the Bretoi Construction Company. The congregation voted to borrow the necessary funds. Classes were held in November for the first time in the new parish Educational Building. The building was dedicated on November 18th with Dr. E.C. Reinertson, President of Southeast Minnesota District conducting the service of dedication. In September Pastor Alexander Eisner became Salem's Visitation pastor.

A new electric organ was purchased and installed at a cost of $14,358. The reverend Arnold Thalacker was installed in September as assistant pastor. He served until July 1966.

The organ was paid off and a balcony pew fund established. In September, Salem celebrated it's 75th year with special services, programs and a picture display. Many members dressed up in old fashioned costumes.

In January, Reverend Jules Quello was installed as Salem's pastor. The church budget was $75,099. New church lights were installed and more pews were added. Salem began the year with 1,314 baptized and 946 confirmed members.

The Sunday School enrollment was 403, and Salem joined the St. Paul Lutheran Council. In July, Pastor Reg Torrison was installed as Salem's assistant pastor. A Scout Troop was started at Salem. The kitchen was refurbished at a cost of $15.360.

The congregation approved plans for a chancel renovation on May 16th. Mr. Potente was chosen as architect and the project eventually cost $47,753. The large mosaic on the wall behind the altar was secured from Italy.

The April 12th minutes record that Pastor Quello chased a bat around at the council meeting. On November 12th, pastor Erling Tungseth was installed as Salem's pastor. The boiler exploded late in the year.

Communion settings started to include a folk setting. On June 3rd, Communion was expanded to include 5th and 6th graders.

The congregation moved to open communion to all who were of age, and sincerely believed in the redemption of Christ. We went to two communion settings - contemporary and traditional.

John Parbst

On January 5th, Pastor Bradly Enerson was installed as Associate Pastor. In July, the congregation voted to sponsor a Vietnamese refugee family. Very soon the Bui Van Sau family arrived. After much work, the "Salem Work Team" repainted, remodeled, and spruced up the rented old-Nasvik home so that by September the family could move in. On October 19th, Pastor John Parbst was installed as Salem's senior pastor.

The confirmed membership now stood at 1259. Salem went to two church services with Sunday school between services so that families could attend church together. The weekly bulletin was begun.

In January Pastor Schultz was made Pastor Emeritus. The congregation undertook a project to repair the roof and do some painting at a cost of $58,000. On October 12th, Pastor Emeritus Schlutz died. Discussion began concerning a Bell Tower as a memorial to Pastor Schlutz.

A Bell Tower fund was established and on October 12th the congregation gave approval to undertake the construction of a Bell Tower. Ed Frenette was the architect and Concrete Design Specialties did the construction. The bell was obtained through Mass- Rowe Carillon Company.

On September 9th the Memorial Bell Tower in honor of the Reverend E.C. Schlutz was dedicated. The cost of the project came to $63,724. The tower was adorned with a memorial plaque and the bell was a Paccard Bronze bell cast in France.

On June 1st the congregation voted to sponsor another Southeast refugee family. The Yang family (Hmong refugees) Shoua Lor and her four children: Blia, Ying, Bai, and Xiong, arrived in July. In August the congregation moved to buy and repair a house at 4 West Winona. The family was settled in October.

Reverend Peter Raquet was installed as assistant pastor on January 11th. Mr. Bui, Salem's first sponsored refugee, became a U.S. citizen. The SLCW decided to refurbish the fireside room. Salem hired a Director of Youth and Parish Life, Rob Schultz.

In July the 90th Anniversary Committee met. Theme for the celebration was "Shalom - Peace - Salem". October 20th, actual date of the anniversary there was an evening service honoring the elderly. October 24th was Heritage Sunday. Reverend Reg Torrison, former pastor, was the guest speaker.

Shoua Lor and her children moved from the home bought for them at 4 West Winona St. in St. Paul to Fresno, California to be with Shaua's sister. The council began to discuss plans to renovate Fellowship Hall and the first floor bathrooms. Director of Youth, Rob Schultz and family moved into the house at 4 West Winona St.

It was a congressional decision to permit pastors to occupy the parsonage or obtain their own housing with a housing allowance. Pastor Raquet vacated the parsonage in May, and Rob Schultz moved in. The house at 4 West Winina was put up for sale.

Jan Wilson was elected as the first woman president of the church council. In June Reverend Norbert Augst, a former Salem pastor, returned as a visitation pastor. In July Reverend Donald R. Reisig came to Salem from Albert Lea as associate pastor. In early summer when his daughter had finished her school year, Reverend Raquet and family moved to Switzerland.

An Agreement Plan for the merger of the "American Lutheran Church", "The Lutheran Church in America", and "Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches" was to become the "Evangelical Lutheran Church in America". The new headquarters was to be in Chicago.

In January Reverend John Parbst announced plans for his retirement, after serving Salem for 15 years. Reverend Donald R. Reisig was called to become the Senior Pastor in November. The congregation voted to proceed with an East addition of 3,440 square feet, 8 new Sunday School rooms, two new pastors offices, a new youth room, and the remodeling of Fellowship Hall. The total cost of the program was $628,616.

In January the new addition was dedicated. In April the congregation voted that Reverend Lisa Holt, a youth director at Salem during her internship, be called for the position of Associate Pastor of Youth and Family Ministries at Salem. At the January meeting the "Staff Needs Assessment Committee" recommended a full-time youth director and a full-time director of Parish Life. Brian Peterson resigned as Youth Director and Maggie Novak was hired as Director of Parish Life. The annual Christmas Pageant became an all-congregational event and featured participants and actors from all age groups.

On May 20th, Salem members ratified some changes in the constitution: The church name was changed from "Salem Lutheran Church" to "Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church". All references to the "American Lutheran Church" would read "Evangelical Lutheran Church in America". All references to the "South-East Minnesota District" were changed to "St. Paul Synod". The district president would be refereed to as Synod Bishop.

May 19th the original Salem Lutheran church at South Robert Street and Bunker burned to the basement. It had been sold several times and was occupied at the time by St. Mary's Antiochian Orthodox Church. A few tears were shed by elderly Salem members who recalled services in the little building. By Christmas Eve St. Mary's had been mainly rebuilt and the congregation celebrated the Savior's birth in the new building. In June, a special meeting of the congregation voted to sell the parsonage and the property next to the church on Hall Avenue. The council was to make recommendations as to how to use the money derived from this sale. It was sold in the fall for $92,000. October 20th was the kick-off day of Salem's Centennial Year with a march from the site of the old Salem Church to the present Salem followed by a Sauerkraut dinner. The all-congregation Christmas Pageant featured a look at Salem Christmases over the past 100 Years.

In 1995, Pastor Donald Reisig accepted a call to Moorhead, MN and left Salem. Harry Mueller served as Interim pastor.

Mark Hendrickson

Mark Hendrickson was called and assumed the duties of Senior Pastor at Salem in the Fall of 1996.

On June 22, 1999, funeral services were held at Salem for Pastor Lisa Holt Thompson (who was then serving as pastor at Westwood Lutheran Church in St. Louis Park, MN). Pastor Lisa's passing at age 38 from a heart attack was deeply felt by all Salemites that worked with her and knew her - especially the youth members with whom she had worked so closely.

The worship area of the church received an extensive renovation/remodeling with added windows, renovated church front, balcony removal, special area for handbells at the rear of the church.

Pastor Mark Hendrickson resigned as Salem Senior Pastor in November of 2006.

Marilyn Breckenridge was assigned by the Synod to be Interim Pastor.
Pastor Marilyn Breckenridge assumed the Interim Pastor position in February, 2007 (last Sunday - Jan 18, 2009). In October of 2007, Heritage Sunday was celebrated -- 115 years ---. An addition to the "HISTORY OF SALEM" was planned/promised --- we await it's arrival to update these pages.

A Call Committee was elected in January 2008 for the purpose of securing a Senior Pastor for Salem.

Lynn Erickson is called to become Salem's Pastor in January 2009. Pastor Lynn Erickson's first Sunday - February 1, 2009. In August, Budget considerations combine Youth Director and Director of Parish Life positions into a "part-time-volunteer" position. Maggie Navak, Director of Parish Life, resigns after 20 years of service to Salem.

Original page written by: Peter J. Gudel on Jan 15, 1997 (Used with permission!)

an Invocation by Peter Nasvik

A century has passed since 1892.
    A century since Pastor Dreher knew what he had to do.
The Lord gave him a plan that called for a bell and altar and pew.
    Salem Church was built by saints of old for sinners like me and you.

For that first congregation, life had a new lease.
    They had hope and excitement and grace to release.
The Salem Church was founded in the name of God's Peace
    By a few faithful people time destined to increase.

The Lord's newest house built by Herr Gustav Geminder.
    Doors opened in '94 before the snows of December.
The German language was spoken for every German member.
    A few still are here, a few still remember.

The sauerkraut, the songs, the fellowship and meditation,
    The emergence of English throughout the congregation.
The pastors, the projects, and joy of God's creation,
    Salem Church was a center for sinner's salvation.

The Church grew and prospered and installed a new leader.
    He had vision and courage and the strength of St. Peter.
E.C. Schlutz served God as our friend and our pastor,
    and inspired new growth with Christ as our Master.

The congregation was ready, a burnt mortgage was proof.
    A new building was built for God's mercy and truth.
Up went the sanctuary that stands to this day
    As a symbol for people who believe and who pray.

More changes, more pastors, more cement and more clay.
    The Augsts, and the Quellos and the Parbsts lead the way.
There's too many to name as the years roll away,
    So many that came and were determined to stay.

Time can change everything, or time can slip away,
    But Christ is the rock upon which Salem lay.
His words echo in these halls, just listen to what they say,
    Love your neighbor as yourself, though the cross you're okay.

There have always been changes, there is no status quo.
    The old tree gives way so the new one can grow.
First comes the warm summer, then comes the snow,
    Be ready for challenges from above and below.

We've gone fast on occasion and then we went slow.
    It's never been easy and we don't always know,
But the Lord stood beside us 100 years ago,
    He still stands among us, he's promised us so.

100 years have gone by and much has been done.
    100 years have gone by but the work's just begun.
100 years have gone by and souls have been won.
    100 years of faithful service to the Almighty three in one.

God bless us and keep us in mercy though his son.

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