Rising from the Ashes, Church Celebrates 100 years

Post a Comment » Written on July 17th, 2008     
Filed under: News
BAUDETTE, MN (July 17, 2008) – The small band of Christians from the two-year-old Scandinavian Mission Church huddled under a bridge singing Swedish hymns as the Baudette fire of 1910 reduced their community and church building to a heap of ashes. The editor of the local newspaper would later write, “… the very heavens were opening with a cloudburst of fire.”

Fire photo used by permission of Lake of Woods County Historical Society.That fire was headed toward the bridge while the church members watched helplessly. And then suddenly the winds shifted, sparing their lives.

On July 5-6, members of the Evangelical Covenant Church of Baudette celebrated 100 years of ministry that rose from the ashes to touch lives around the world. Former children of the church were Allan Holte, a Covenant pastor who helped spearhead the denomination’s ministry to Sudanese refugees, and Gerald Stenberg, former superintendent of the Canada Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church. The father of former Covenant President Paul Larsen escaped the flames that day by jumping into the river.

Holte and Stenberg participated in the Sunday morning worship service, as did former pastor Greg Odell; Jim Fretheim, superintendent of the Northwest Conference; and current pastor Scott Christensen. Sunday worship also included a Centennial Choir made up of present and former attendees.

The weekend celebration began with a meal and concert by the Berge Family Bluegrass Band. Special musical numbers by visitors who sang regularly in the church while growing up also highlighted the weekend.

The church’s history actually dates to 1904, when pioneers from Little Falls, Minnesota, arrived by wagon and raft to the Spooner-Baudette area and began to meet together. In 1906, minister Carl Olson came to conduct worship services, meeting in a little log schoolhouse on the banks of the Rainy River. Financial help from a local lumber company and others enabled the congregation to construct its first building that year. The church was officially organized as the Scandinavian Mission Church in 1908 with 16 charter members.

For several years after the fire the congregation could not rebuild. Finally, in 1939 and 1940, they were able to purchase, dismantle, and reconstruct a building formerly used by a Methodist congregation. The construction was done in weather that turned bitterly cold at times. The congregation renamed itself and became the Mission Covenant Church of Spooner. An addition was built in 1964.

The groundbreaking ceremony for the church’s current location was held in 2003 and the building was dedicated in 2004.

Fire photo used by permission of Lake of Woods County Historical Society.

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