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Short History of the St. Pauli Congregation

Written and researched by Mrs. Gust (Marie) Gustafson in 1980

The first annual meeting was held in the Braaton schoolhouse on January 3, 1895. Reverend Evenson was chairman and Pete Paulson was secretary. The constitution of the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church was read and adopted. St. Pauli was chosen as the name for the new congregation which was to be served by Reverend I. T. Aastad, pastor of what is now Trinity Lutheran Church in Thief River Falls.

Charter members were:
Gilbert Anfinson;
Ole, Jim and Arne Braaten and their mother, Kari Braaten;
Tollef Erickson;
Andrew Odegaard
Ole Peterson;
Ole Torkelson
Gilbert Sherva;
John Sherva

Following are the first officers elected:
Andrew Odegaard ­ trustee for three years;
Gilbert Sherva ­ trustee for two years;
John Sherva ­ trustee for one year;
Pete Paulson ­ secretary for one year;
Ole Peterson ­ treasurer for one year.

Each family was assessed $3.00 for one year, the money to be used to pay the pastor’s salary.

Sunday School was organized in 1896 with John Sherva and Andrew Odegaard as teachers. Ole Hestekind and Jacob Amundson also taught Sunday School.

Other early members of St. Pauli were:
Hans Amundson,
Alek Arveson,
Knute Finstad,
Hans Fredrickson,
Ole Helgeson,
Andrew, Ole, Tillie and Gina Hestekind,
Halvor Hostvet,
Torgrim Jorgenson,
John Kvall,
Jorgen Larson,
Lars Lokken,
Martin Loken,
Peter Nelson,
Cornelius Oien,
Mikkel Seeland,
Fredrick Sherva,
Peter Simonson,
Peter Stene,
Tobias Stene,
Peter Thune,
Gunder Torgerson,
Halvor Torstveit,
Ole Valsvik,
Ole Vigen,
Halvor Wiken.

In 1899, Hans Amundson gave one and one-half acres of land to the congregation. This land was to be the building site of the church, which was to be built by volunteer labor. Members were asked for pledges toward the building fund. Men of the congregation were each asked to haul a load of rocks to the building site. These were hewn and used for the foundation of the 26’ x 44’ building. The Ladies Aid gave $100.00 to help pay for lumber and the church was finished in 1901.

On August 11, 1901, Albert Hestekind, Goldie Hostvet, Tilda Thune and Willie Erickson were confirmed in the new church.

In 1904, the Chancel was added to the church.

The Ladies Aid members worked faithfully, and every year they had a sale of knit articles and crocheted and embroidered items as well as pieced quilts they had made. All money was given to the congregation treasury.

Parochial School was taught every summer for one month in the Netteland schoolhouse and one month in the Braaten district. Albert Odegaard and Anfin Torkelson were teachers. In 1908, Francesca Alfson was the first woman to teach parochial school, and in 1913, Gertie Kvall and Tillie Hestekind became the first women of the congregation to teach Sunday School.

In 1908, St. Pauli joined the St. Hilaire parish.

Another active group was the Young Girls Serving Society (Pigeforening). Articles they had crocheted, knit, embroidered or sewed were sold at the Annual Ladies Aid Sale and the money saved. In 1906, these girls gave the altar, communion rail and pulpit to the church. They were made by Mr. Albert Angell, who was paid $70.00 for his work.

1910 saw the building of the steeple on the church and the gift of the bell to the congregation by the Young Peoples Society. The bell cost $120.56.

In 1911, the baptismal font was given by the Sunday School children. It cost them $9.00. This same year, the reed organ was bought by the Young Peoples Society at a cost of $60.00 plus $2.00 freight.

1912 saw the installation of pews in the church, given by the Young Peoples Society at a cost of $211.00. Now the new church was completely furnished. We still have all of these treasures except the organ. This same year Marie Oien became the first member of St. Pauli to serve as organist, a job she had for twenty years.

In 1917, Hamar Congregation joined St. Pauli.

In 1920, a basement was built and a wood-burning furnace installed. Special thanks were extended to the Ladies Aid and Young Peoples Society for their generous financial help.

In 1926, it was decided that there be three Norwegian services and one English [each month]. The Luther League bought Concordia song books and Lutheran Hymnaries.

In 1938, it was decided that thenceforth records of all meetings be written in English and from 1939 on, all worship services were in English.

An automatic oil-burning furnace was installed in 1947, and in 1951 an electric organ was purchased. The interior of the church was remodeled in 1954 and again in 1978. Now in 1979 and 1980, the basement has been enlarged and a new narthex built. [This is also the first time that indoor plumbing became available in the basement kitchen and a bathroom in the narthex replaced the outhouse that still remains south of the church.]

Through the years, there has been a steady growth in membership in St. Pauli Congregation. There are new members who have joined this year, worshiping with grandchildren and great-grandchildren of some of the charter members.

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