In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. GENESIS 1:1
In the beginning we speak, sometimes, of the birth of a nation, of an idea, of a song — hence, the birth of a congregation. In this sense “birth” refers to the start of something — its origin, its source. When we think, say, or do things that are in tune with the Spirit of God, how did that get started? Jesus says it started with our spiritual birth. The Spirit gave us faith. Once we were born of the Spirit, our life took on a spiritual thrust. God became the center of our lives. We began to depend on Him for help and thank Him for our blessings. How important it is that we remember the roots from which God brought us.
In the year 1870 it was a custom of large congregations of the Missouri Synod to call missionaries as assistant pastors, enabling them to work the extensive surrounding mission territory more easily from a central point. At that time the Rev. W. Friedrich, pastor at Waconia, MN. had charge of the mission interests of the Northwest. To assist him, his congregation called Candidate H. Vetter from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO. He was ordained as pastor and missionary in July, 1872, and place in charge of the central part of the State of Minnesota.
Pastor Vetter carried on his mission work systematically, dividing his territory into three circuits — St. Cloud, Sauk Centre and Dakota — and served these to the best of his ability. In these large circuits, he organized congregations and preaching stations from which his ministry could be directed into surrounding territories. One of these stations was in Fairfield Township, Swift Country, where the Rev. Vetter served until February 1888.
Thus, Lutheranism in the Appleton Circuit was “born” and began to grow by leaps and bounds. Fourteen congregations are evidence of this movement.
On November 8, 1896, God breathed life into the German Evangelical Church Society when a group of German families decided they wanted to praise God together.
A church society was a very common name in the beginning of the organizing of a future congregation. A “society” is a group of people with a common belief, language, and heritage.
Rev. August Bartling from Trinity, Odessa, began serving as a vacancy pastor until 1903. Services were held in the homes in the Ortonville and Big Stone areas and then in the Swedish Lutheran Church in the City of Ortonville. (Located at 224 5th St. N. West, it has since been converted into apartment housing.) The first order of business was to have the congregation incorporated. On March 28, 1903 at 9:00 A.M. the German Evangelical Lutheran Trinity Church Society of Ortonville, MN. was duly recorded.
In 1903, the Rev. George Kase became the pastor and served the Ortonville Society through 1906. It was in the Swedish Lutheran Church in Ortonville that Rev. Kase was ordained into the sacred ministry on August 24, 1902, by Pastor August Bartling of Odessa, MN.
MORE CHURCH HIGHLIGHTS:
- October 1911: Pastor August Bartling had finished serving the Odessa congregation; but the congregation did not want to give him a peaceful release for these reason: 1. In June, Odessa truly is one-third larger than Ortonville; 2. That the school instructions were urgently neede at Odessa 3. The pastor’s work in their midst was blessed.
- January 8, 1911 it was decided to build a parsonage.
- On Christmas Day, 1911 some members informed the congregation for their desire to own their own church building. For the sum of $1.00 the congregation purchased the “Hurley Church Building” from O.D. Hurley of San Diego County, California, on February 6, 1912. An article in the Herald Star dated March 21, 1912, read “Church Comes To Town”–“Members of the German Lutheran Congregation have purchased the Hurley Church building, which was up the lake a few miles and had the building moved to this city. The building was brought onto the ice and brought down the lake and is now at the foot of Madison Ave., but will be soon moved onto lots near the parsonage, where it will be remodeled into a modern place of worship. Mr. J.J. Hausauer and some other men from the community moved the union church for what was known as the Hurley. This was accomplished by the use of seven teams of horses on the ice of Big Stone Lake.”
- July 28, 1912 the newly renovated church was dedicated and held 2 services that day and a Divine service in the evening.
- Up until 1920 all services were in the German language; however students were to take confirmation classes in English as well as in German. Younger members wanted services in English so they decided to have one service in English every 3 weeks.
- August 26, 1929, Pastor Bartling submitted his resignation after 45 years in ministry he was granted a peaceful release.
- Early in 1930 Rev.William Hartman began serving as our pastor. Ater 37 years he retired in September of 1945.
- Pastor Koch served as a vacancy pastor until Rev. Ray Hozhauer answered our call to be shepherd of our congregation.. He was installed in July of 1946.
- Our congregational constitution was being revised at this time and the final draft of the constitution was approved by the Voter’s Assembly in January 1947. One major change that was made was its name. From this time forward, the German Evangelical Lutheran Trinity Church Society will be known as “TRINITY LUTHERAN CHURCH” of Ortonville, Minnesota.
- 1947 we also joined the Missouri Synod.
MORE OF OUR STORY TO COME………………….