Editor’s Note: This is the first story in a four-part series about the First Lutheran in Chariton, which is celebrating its 150th Anniversary this year. The second story will be in Thursday’s Herald-Patriot.
The event that has been eagerly anticipated for months is now only weeks away. The First Lutheran Church of Chariton will be celebrating its 150th Anniversary on Sunday Sept. 15, 2019. There will be articles involving members spanning several generations of faithful attendance and dedication to their church. This first article gives a brief overview of the church’s history from its inception in 1869 until the present.
• Swedish immigrants began settling in this area between 1867 and 1869.
• Many of the people in the community had a spiritual hunger after being touched by the Holy Spirit during the great spiritual re-awakening in Sweden.
• Mr. Olaus Olson and J.F. Ekfelt took an active part in leading the initial services.
• The First Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church of Chariton, Iowa was organized Nov. 3, 1869. There were twenty-six members consisting of adults and children.
• Traveling ministers and deacons served the congregation until 1875 when M. Frykman became the first regular pastor. He served until 1880.
• The first baptism was celebrated on Nov. 15, 1886 while the first Confirmation of Faith for eight members was held in 1889.
• English was introduced in 1896, but most services were still spoken in Swedish until 1915.
• The congregation built its first church building in 1875 and dedicated it on Nov. 18, 1880. The building was located on the corner of North Eighth Street and Roland.
• The cornerstone of their next church building was laid on the same site on May 4, 1903. Beautiful stained glass windows depicting Biblical figures were incorporated in the new design. The church bell, forged in Sweden, was said to be “the best church bell in town.”
The inscription on the bell was Swedish and translated:
“I to the church the loving call, and to the grave do summon all.”
The bell also has an inscription from Jeremiah 22:29 which states, “O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord.”
This same bell is still in use every Sunday.
Read the September 3, 2019 edition of the Chariton Leader for the rest of the story.