This is the 125th anniversary of Zion English Lutheran Church in Grafton. We are having an observance. In 1987 we had a celebration and prayerfully the church will celebrate again in another 25 years unless Christ returns in the meantime. The anniversaires in between, it seems to mean are important but we can dial it back a bit. We are having no special preachers or dignitaries. We are going to invite the parish and former members that have moved way and we are going to have a service based upon “Witness, Mercy and Life Together” and a catered meal afterwards. Worship begins at 11 a.m. and dinner after.
It was in 1879 in a few pioneers settled in Acton Township near Grafton the Dakota territory. Seven years later they gathered enough courage to extend a call to Rev. Julius Frick who had served Crystal and St. Thomas and Hillsboro since 1882. The Grafton parish was then on the cusp of what was a great push from the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod to evangelize the Dakota territory. The great Northwest District of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod was formed in 1875 including Wisconsin, Minnesota, Dakota – Montana territory as well as huge portions of central Canada. Two years later the official newspaper of the church, “Der Lutheraner” editorialized that “more work needed to be done in this “great shield of opportunity”. It was around 1880 very young pastor named Freidrich Pfotenauer moved to Odessa South Dakota and began extension mission work all the while sending back letters to St. Louis stressing that “Dakota must become Lutheran”. He would later become the president of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod Traveling preachers were sent out in every direction in those days and their stories read like something out of “Lonesome Dove” or Zane Grey. Prairie fires seem to have been a particularly nasty plaque; swarms of mosquitoes and almost choked men and horses; pastors and their students holded up in two room church schools for days after blizzards, some dying. These were the stories of early Lutherans who cared enough about the “one thing needful” that they often risked life and limb to hand down to their children and grand children a church. Whether the following generations care enough to keep it is another story. That’s why an “obervance”.
We would be interested if anyone reading this blog knows who these people are? I know and will let you know, but we have talked anout the connections up here in the North country and some of our friends in Minnesota might want to look carefully at this picture. The young student Pastor looks remarkably like Pastor Chepulis up in Cavalier.
We welcome visitors on our observance Sunday. We would like a head count for the meal so if you could call me at 701-520-0154 before the 7th of Decemeber it would be appreciated.