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2B Vermillion Plain Talk Heritage 2016, www.plaintalk.net ELCA Lutheran Church Trinity Celebrates Long History In Vermillion BY DAVID LIAS david.lias@plaintalk.net Aside from the short-lived Haugean society organized by the Rev. Gunnar Graven and the lay preacher George Norbeck in 1874, there is little record of any Lutheran church activity within the town of Vermillion prior to the formation of the Trinity Lutheran congregation in 1891. During the late 1880s, however, the Dakota Republican noted occasional trips by Norwegian families to Sunday services in the Pleasant Valley house of worship, served at the time by the pastor of St. Paul’s congregation in the Brule settlement in Union County. There is, also, a record of Lutheran services in Charrlin Hall during July 1883. When the Rev. Oli T. Nelson accepted a call to the St. Paul parish in 1891, he began to hold occasional services in Vermillion, meeting in private homes as well as in the former Episcopal structure on Church Street that had become the home of the Swedish Congregational organization. A congregation was organized and a constitution adopted by the end of the year. The original membership included six married couples and two single individuals. The following February, the sum of $825 was raised by subscription and a lot procured on the northeast corner of National and Harvard streets for a church building. The contract for the construction was let H.O. Malby, one of the charter members. Since the entire cost of the project was about $1,200, making it necessary to place a $300 mortgage on the property, articles of incorporation were drawn up on Dec. 2, 1892 by the trustees which included G. P. Gilbertson. The church society was incorporated as the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Trinity Church of Vermillion, affiliated with the Augustana synodical body. The membership almost doubled by the time of the annual meeting held in the early part of 1893, according to Herbert S. Schell in his book, “Clay County”: Chapters Out of the Past.” The congregation then established a Sunday School which has remained in continuous operation to the present time. The church was dedicated on July 20, 1896 In the meantime, several Danish families, who had taken up residence in Vermillion, organized a Lutheran congregation served by a minister from Beresford. In November 1902 this society entered into a relationship with the Norwegian Trinity Lutheran group whereby it shared in the services, including Sunday School and Luther League. The congregation was left without a regular pastor until July 1906 when the Rev. J. R. Lavik assumed the position. Within a year after his arrival, steps were initiated for a replacement of the original building now no longer considered adequate. The congregation had grown to a membership of 150, made up of Norwegians, Danes and Swedes. There was, moreover, a Sunday School enrollment of about 60. A new structure was, accordingly, built on the corner of Main and Harvard at a cost of $12,000; dedicatory services were held on June 20, 1909. Three years later a parsonage came into existence at 17 South Harvard. By 1914, the membership roll had grown to 174, including 90 of Norwegian stock. The rest, generally, represented members of Danish, German, Swedish and mixed ancestry. Pastor Lysness was followed by A. T. Tolleys who served for two and a half years and was succeeded in turn by L. A. Roseland who accepted the call in July 1926. He served as the pastor until June 1951 -- a period of 25 years. In 1931, Pastor Roseland also assumed duties as the superintendent of the Dakota Hospital. The Rev. Richard E. Larson, director of religious activities at the University of South Dakota, became assistant pastor in charge of student activities in 1945, holding that position for seven years. The Rev. David W. Preus was installed as pastor in March 1952, remaining in his position until June 1957. He, subsequently was to play a prominent part in national church activities, becoming president of the American Lutheran Church in 1973 and vice-president of the Lutheran World Federation in 1977. The Trinity congregation began an era of expansion during the ministry of Pastor Preus which coincided with the rapid growth of the Vermillion community and, more particularly, the sharp increase in university enrollment that was nearing the 2,500 mark. The latter brought to the town a vast Lutheran clientele which needed to be served through improved facilities as well as by enlarged staff for Lutheran student work. In addition to several innovations instituted by the new pastor within the congregation, a parish worker was employed for the first time in September 1954. The congregation took its initial step in the expansion program by purchasing a residence at 24 South Harvard for use as a parish house. This was followed a year later by a decision to launch a building program to relieve an overcrowded situation with respect to After 55 years in its old building, the congregation of Trinity Lutheran Church decided to build a new structure at the northeast corner of Plum and Clark streets. Of modern design, the building used an altar from the original Norwegian Lutheran Church. This building was dedicated on Nov. 20, 1965, and a new sanctuary was built on the east side of the church in the 1990s and used some of the old stained glass windows from the previous building that had been saved by a contractor. This photo, courtesy of Jeanette Williams, appears in “From the River Valleys to the Rising Bluff – A Pictorial History of Vermillion, South Dakota.” Sunday School activities as well as to accommodate the growing number of Lutheran students at the university. At the annual meeting held in January 1956, it was decided to secure lots on the northeast corner of Plum and Clark streets for the purpose of constructing an education building that would include a fellowship hall made temporarily available for religious services. In the meantime, a residence at 408 East Main began to serve as parish house in replacement of the structure on Harvard Street. The latter became the parsonage following the sale of the residence acquired in 1912. The first services in the new one-story building north of Prentis Park were held on Sunday, Nov. 6, 1960, with about 500 people in attendance. The anthem was sung by a massed choir of 110 voices, representing the combined junior, high school and senior choirs. The program was preceded by a short service conducted outside the building. Full use of the new structure began two weeks later. The new construction contained a large fellowship hall that could be used for services until a proper sanctuary was added on the east. The altar was specially DAVID LIAS/FOR THE PLAIN TALK Built of durable brick and stone on the northeast corner of Main and Harvard streets for approximately $10,000, the new Trinity Lutheran Church was a tremendous improvement over the old wooden frame building. The building served the congregation until 1965, when it was razed. designed so as to be concealed whenever the room was utilized for other activities. The building, moreover, contained a Student Center -- supported by the National Lutheran Council -- a number of Sunday School classrooms, a youth room accommodating the junior Vermillion’s Methodist Churches and senior Luther Leagues, a pastor’s study and four offices as well as complete kitchen facilities. Although the original plans called for a later sanctuary, it was decided in 1978 to continue the existing facilities for regular religious services. The Student Cent- er, however had been moved during 1972 to the southwest corner of Cherry and Plum streets. In the meantime, numerous improvements were made to the building for its more efficient utilization. Circuit Rider Held Methodist Services Here In 1860 BY DAVID LIAS david.lias@plaintalk.net ABOVE: After a fire destroyed their original church in 1927, the congregation of Vermillion’s Methodist church built a new place of worship on the corner of Dakota and National streets. Dedicated on Sept. 25, 1929, the church consisted of a sanctuary on the north, a social room and kitchen in the center, and the Wesley Foundation on the south. The church still serves the congregation today, and is also home to The Welcome Table. This photo appeared, courtesy of Jeanette Williams, in “From the River Valleys to the Rising Bluff – A Pictorial History of Vermillion, South Dakota.” RIGHT: Methodism began in Vermillion in October 1860, when circuit rider Septimus W. Ingham held a service in a city tavern. On Oct. 31, 1873 – 13 years after that original meeting – the Vermillion Methodist Church dedicated its new building, built on top of the bluff on the corner of Church and Bloomingdale streets. Image courtesy of the Clay County Historical Society Methodism began in Vermillion in October 1860, when circuit rider Septimus W. Ingham held a service in Mulholland’s Tavern. A Methodist religious organization was formed in town on Jan. 31, 1861, but it took 12 more years before they were to get their own building. On Oct. 31, 1873, the Vermillion Methodist Church dedicated its new building, built on top of the bluff on the corner of Church and Bloomingdale streets at a cost of about $2,000. It was the largest church in town for 15 years. With the growth of the church came the need for more space. On Jan. 17, 1896, the new Methodist Church was dedicated on the northwest corner of Main and Dakota streets, a large brick building that cost $9,000 and was a big improvement to the old frame one on Church Street. On Nov. 24, 1927, the church was practically destroyed by fire. The cause was later determined to be due to a short circuit in the wiring caused by someone putting two pennies behind the fuse plugs instead of replacing them with new ones. As a result, two pennies caused over $17,000 in damage to the building. After the fire, the Methodists sold their corner lots to Wright and Carlson for $12,500 and built a new church on the southwest corner of Dakota and National streets. Dedicated on Sept. 25, 1929, the church consisted of a sanctuary on the north, a social room and kitchen in the center, and the Wesley Foundation on the south. Information for this story was provided by the history book, “From the River Valley to the Rising Bluffs.”
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