Our Saviors Lutheran Church - Skogdalen Lutheran Church -ELCA 
 


 

A History of Our Savior's Church

The history of Our Savior’s Church originates with our founding fathers in Norway. 

          Christianity became established by King Olav Haraldson, later becoming known as St. Olav who reigned about 900 hundred years ago.   Christianity came to Norway at the point of a sword. It was by King Olav’s decree.  The early church was ruled by the Vatican.  It was a State Church that later broke with Catholicism and embraced the teachings of Martin Luther.

          Our church was founded by immigrants from Norway.  Their reasons for immigration were several.  The Norwegian State Church was despotic; church law took on the power of state law and capacity to render justice.  This rankled the lower classes, already oppressed by in justices.  Norway was a class society with little opportunity for advancement, including the acquisition of land.  There was a religious group led by Hans Nilson Hauge that worshiped in people’s homes; they were known as “Haugianers”.  The state frowned on the practice to the extent that the imprisoned Hauge.  Many of his followers took umbrage to that treatment and immigrated to the USA.

Among those immigrants was Tollef Saugstad a Haugen follower from Rinsaker in Norway, not far from Ringebu, St.Olav’s birthplace.

          Tollef was a pious man with a pious family he had a son the name of Christian whose life was a story in itself.  He had a daughter who was a missionary.  He donated land for a Methodist Cemetery east of town.  Later, he sold the land to his Son-in-las Sigbjorn Constalie

          He was instrumental in the establishment of Sankt Petri (St. Peter) congregation, donating land for a log church building and a cemetery. 

          Meanwhile, settlers traveling the Black Hawk Trail from Prairie du Chien observed a prairie that could quickly cleared for agriculture and timber nearby for buildings.

          A settlement was established known as Coon Prairie.  One of the first things the immigrants did was to establish a church.  It was known as the Coon Prairie Lutheran Church. Land was donated for the church, parsonage and cemetery.

          Most of the immigrants were of very modest circumstances, opportunity for earning money was limited but by dint of perseverance a substantial church was built.   As often happened the church burned but was quickly rebuilt. The congregation had outgrown their rural church and the new one was built in town.

          In 1888, Church families were not different from filial families; friction developed to the extent that part of the congregation split off, forming the new Our Savior’s Congregation.  At the same time an invitation was extended to the St. Petri Congregation to join the new Our Savior’s.  The invitation was accepted, swelling the numbers in the new Congregation. 

          A new frame church building was erected across the street to the south of the present church building.  ai That building was moved to Milwaukee street and is now Mike’s feed and supply.   A temperance hall was erected on the old church site.  That building stood empty for some time. Later, it was sold to Benny Johnson who remodeled into the dwelling that stands there to this day.

          In the years since our Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration in 1938, many changes have taken place in the Church.  Originally the floor in the church basement was wood.  Moisture would make it roll and buckle into waves.  The second floor was supported by a series of posts.  The posts were removed and the second floor was supported by steel beams.  The wood floor was removed and a concrete topping received the resilient flooring you see today.  A stage was built.

 There is a fan room next to the boiler room with heating coils.  Air from the second floor had to pass over the basement floor on its way to the fan room, creating an icy blast across the floor.  This was corrected with an under-floor tunnel from the southeast stair well to the boiler room.  Later, the addition of furnaces made this equipment unnecessary.  The original boiler was a cast iron, coal fired boiler.  It was replaced by a gas-oil fired boiler, making the coal bin obsolete. The coal bin was remodeled into the ladies rest room.  A new more efficient boiler was installed later.

          Our organ is a fine instrument but originally it was operated pneumatically, an old time ineffective system prone to problems.  The organ was remodeled to an electrical system with a new console in a new location north of the southeast stairway.   A platform was constructed to accommodate the changed console location.

          In 1963 the church embarked on its first major construction project. A new parish hall was built.  Presently it houses a lounge for the congregation.  Additionally, and more importantly, it serves a great community need in providing space for the day care center.

          After a great amount of deliberation, a long needed elevator was installed, a boon to the elderly and handicapped of the congregation.

          Other important additions and changes include:

 Attic Insulation

 Metal roof

Parking lot

Re-decoration

Carpeting

Pew cushions

Kitchen remodeling

Storm windows to protect stained glass windows

Cooling

          In addition, for more than two decades, on the first Saturday in February, the Men of Our Savior’s (MOOS) have presented a Lutefisk supper in recognition of our Scandinavian origin.

          The event is a fund raiser for the congregation and turns out to be a great vehicle for fellowship, not only for the diners but also for the workers.  There is a bonus in the event as a training ground for our youthful servers; they learn to be a serious, courteous part of the adult world that spills over into their everyday life.