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History

The first church service for the Norwegian pioneers was conducted on May 2, 1854. Reverend H. A. Preus who had traveled to Mt. Morris from Spring Prairie in Columbia County performed it. During those early years, services were held outside, or in barns and private homes.

The next three ministers who came to Mt. Morris were traveling ministers. These ministers visited many of the early congregations in the area that were just getting started. O. F. Duus, who was a pastor for a congregation in Scandinavia, Wisconsin, visited Mt. Morris between the years of 1855 – 1858. He was responsible for helping the settlers organize the Holden Lutheran Church and cemetery.

Reverend Nils Brandt came to Mt. Morris many times between 1858 – 1863. It was during his pastorate that a decision was made to build a church.

The first church building measured 28 x 40 feet. Two wood stoves heated it and the lighting consisted of kerosene lamps. They conducted the first service there on October 3, 1862, but it was unlikely that the building itself was completely finished because many of the men in the community were away fighting in the Civil War.

The last traveling minister was Reverend Amund Mikkelson. He held his first service on August 18, 1873. Reverend Nils Berge assisted him. In 1872 the new church was finally dedicated.

The first resident minister was K. O. Eidahl. The first parsonage was built in 1874 within the village of Mt. Morris. It still stands today. Reverend Eidahl was also instrumental in organizing the Mt. Morris Norwegian Mutual Insurance Company, and served, as it’s first president.
   


Pastor A.L. Dahl and family
Beginning in 1883, Reverend Dahl served the Holden Lutheran Parish congregation for 28 years. In 1885, the Mt. Morris church was enlarged. Twenty feet was added to the west end, and a steeple 12 x 12 feet and 70 feet high was built. The twenty-foot addition on the church’s west side provided a gallery for the organ. A vestry 16 x  20 foot was also built on the east end. The church was dedicated anew on October 14, 1886.

On March 16th 1890, before there was a West Holden congregation established west of the Holden Church, the settlers held their first worship service in a rural schoolhouse, later named "Willow Grove". A new church building was completed and the first service was held on August 12, 1894. The dedication of the West Holden building was on Sunday, July 26, 1903.

Other changes during this pastorate include: the first services conducted in English, the organization of the Ladies Aid, a new Mt, Morris parsonage, the 50th Jubilee Celebration and the addition of new pews, also an alter and pipe organ.

Pastor Dahl resigned his position on December 12, 1911 due to health concerns.
 
   


Rev. H.A. Helsem and family 

About the time Pastor Dahl left, Wautoma and West Holden Churches met and decided to have a pastor of their own. Rev. H.A. Helsem was called to serve the two young churches.

Reverend G. H. Bakken was called on April 9, 1912 to Mt Morris Holden. In 1916, additions were added on the north and south sides of the Mt. Morris church so that the completed shape would form a cross. A basement measuring 28 feet wide and 56 feet long was added. Reverend Bakken drew up all the plans for the work to be done. It was during this remodeling project that the beautiful stained glass windows were installed.

Rev. Helsem served the Wautoma / West Holden congregation until 1918, he moved to Grafton, North Dakota.

   


Rev. C. J. Nolstad and family
Rev. C.J. Nolstad moved to Wautoma to serve West Holden and Wautoma Holden congregations. The Nolstads lived here for five years and left in 1923, taking another call.

   


Rev. H.O. Bach and family  

Rev. H.O. Bach was called to the West Holden / Wautoma Holden congregations the first time after Rev. Helsem left. Pastor Bach opted to accept a call in North Dakota rather than at West Holden / Wautoma Holden parish at that time. After Rev. Nolstad left in 1923, a second call was extended to Pastor Bach and this time he accepted. Rev. Bach served until 1929.

During his last few years at Mt. Morris Holden Lutheran Parish, Reverend Bakken was in poor health. His son-in-law O. P. Steensland, performed some of his duties. He resigned in September of 1921 at which time Reverend C. G. Bjelland was called as a temporary pastor. The call became permanent and he remained until 1929.

Since horses were a common form of transportation, new horse barns were built on the north side of the Mt. Morris church. In 1927 women were given the right to vote at all meetings, and electric lights were installed in the church.
   
 

Rev. C.M. Vevle and family
In 1929, Mt. Morris voted to join Wautoma and West Holden to form one parish Reverend Bjelland resigned and Pastor C. M. Vevle took his place. While Reverend Vevle was here, a new kitchen and restrooms were built. A new electric motor was also installed on the pipe organ so it didn’t need to be physically pumped anymore. Before Reverend Vevle left, a decision was made to do away with services in Norwegian.
   


Rev. H. H. Running and family

Reverend Halvard H. Running arrived in 1945. He was ordained and installed at Mt. Morris Lutheran Church on April 8, 1945. The congregation’s centennial celebration took place in June 1954. That year they installed a new oil heating system, remodeled the basement, rewired the church and installed new lighting. Plans were begun for a Sunday School and by 1947 the classes were organized and the students and teachers were actively learning.

In 1949, another significant decision was made by the congregation. Until this time, women had not been allowed to vote in church decisions. That meant there were many widows and single women who were left unrepresented in congregational decisions. Pastor Running had purposed this be changed but the first time the proposal was defeated. At the second meeting, on December 12, 1949, the idea was accepted and the women members were given the right to vote.

   


Rev. and Mrs. Borreson 

In 1956, G. E. Borreson took Reverend Running’s place. He was the last pastor to serve the three-point parish, Wautoma Holden decided to separate for the parish and become an independant congreation, now called Hope Lutheran. As in tradition when a multi-congregational parish splits, Pastor Borreson began looking for another call. Pastors are usually encouraged to leave all the congregations when a parish splits. Pastor Borreson was the first to organize Vacation Bible School in 1959. Almost 60 children attended. He ministered at Holden Parish until November, 1959 and accepted a call to Elk Mound, WI.

   


Rev. and Mrs. Halvorson
In 1960, a new parsonage was built and Reverend Conrad Halvorson and family were the first to occupy it. He remained in Mt. Morris until 1966. Because he was a former missionary to Madagascar, the Mt. Morris congregation formed a Missionary Club in 1962 that supported a Mission Hospital in Zululand, South Africa. He was affectionately known among the members as the pastor who would preach two times each service. The first sermon would be from the pulpit, then he would come down to the floor for a few minutes later and preach the same sermon again in a re-phrased  form. Pastor Halvorson and his wife had three children but left West Holden / Mt. Morris Holden Church in 1966.
   


Rev. Ries and family
Pastor Merle Ries came to Holden Lutheran Parish in December 1966. He started the Bethel Bible Series within the parish. During this time the decision was made to build an educational annex onto the Mt. Morris Church. This annex provided classroom space, office space, restrooms, a library, storage and a recreation room. This project was dedicated July 28, 1974, the year of the congregational 120th anniversary. In 1977, Rev. Ries and his family moved to Ashland, WI.
   


Rev. and Mrs. Walker
The 125th anniversary saw the congregation under the leadership of Pastor John Walker, fresh out of seminary in 1978. He was instrumental in arranging our anniversary celebration on the weekend of August 4, 1979. Also on November 11, 1979 a ground breaking ceremony was held at the new site of the West Holden Lutheran Church. and construction was started. Pastor Walker and President Hank Wilson led the Council in this special event. Pastor Walker stayed until 1981.
   


Rev. Rasmussen and Paula Nemes
Pastor Stephen Rasmusson came to Holden Lutheran Parish in 1981. Pastor Rasmussen led the West Holden congregation from the old building to the new one on July 12, 1981. On September 27, 1981 the West Holden Church was officially dedicated. He was known for a gifted carpenter and woodworker as well as his music ministry. He encouraged visitor outreach and developed Saturday evening worship on the mountain during the summer. Rev. Rasmussen and his wife left in 1987, were he accepted a call in Marshall, MN.
   


Rev. Carmela Aderman
Pastor Carmala Aderman arrived in November, 1987 and was the first woman minister for Holden Lutheran Parish. In 1993, West Holden celebrated its centennial anniversary throughout the year with special events. In 1994 the Mt. Morris church added a new front entrance, which was wheelchair accessible, a wheelchair lift and a handicap bathroom. Other improvements were a new furnace, a ramp leading up to the altar and an enhanced sound system.  On November 13, 1994, the congregation celebrated its 140th anniversary and dedicated the new addition. Pastor Aderman accepted a call as an Assistant to the Bishop in the Northwest Synod of Wisconsin and left the parish in January, 1998.
   
Rev. John Steinbrecher

Rev. John Steinbrecher arrived at the parish in 1998. In January of 1999 he celebrated his 25th ordination anniversary. In preparation for the 150th anniversary the sanctuary was painted and wainscoting applied. Pastor Steinbrecher initiated the sesquicentennial committee to begin planning in 2000, and worked with them until his retirement due to health concerns in 2003.

   

Rev. Blaine A. MacNeil

Pastor Blaine and his wife Melanie are originally from Minnesota and became second career adults.  Melanie returned to school at midlife to become a Special Education Teacher and graduated from the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point in 2007.  Pastor Blaine was a nurse and worked for 20 years in the Health Care Industry.  He returned to school and graduated from the Alfred Adler Graduate School with a Masters Degree in counseling in 1999. While at Adler, he served as President of the Student Organization.  He was a diplomat for the school at the Adlerian Society's nation annual board meeting.

He was also a speaker on the field of Developmental Psychology at the society's national annual conference in St. Paul, MN in 1997.  Following this, he prepared for ordained ministry at Luther Seminary in Saint Paul, Minnesota and graduated in 2004 with a Masters in Divinity.  While at Luther, he completed his Clinical Pastoral Education requirements serving as a chaplain at the City of Lakes Transitional Care Center in Minneapolis.

Pr. MacNeil was ordained on July 24, 2004 in his home church, Augustana Lutheran, in Cumberland, Wisconsin after being called by the Holden Parish in Waushara County, Wisconsin.  He served from August 2004 to June of 2006.  Pr. Blaine and his wife retuned to Minnesota at that time after being called by Bethel Lutheran Church in Little Falls to serve as their pastor.

The MacNeil's have three children and two grandchildren. Melanie MacNeil works as a Special Education teacher in a private Native American school.  Pastor MacNeil is gifted in sharing children's sermons, as a playwright of Christian skits and as a Christian musician and songwriter. He is a Senior Member of the United States Air Force Auxiliary/Civil Air Patrol and is applying to serve as a volunteer chaplain for his squadron. Together the MacNeil's, along with their dog, enjoy their country home in central Minnesota
.

   


Rev. Dr. Todd Murken and Mrs. Murken
Rev. Dr. Todd Murken began serving Holden Lutheran Parish in the summer of 2007, and was called to be our pastor in 2008.  In September 2009 he married the former Julie Fondow.

My loves in ministry are:
Preaching the great news about Jesus Christ preparing worship services that express and strengthen our faith in a lively way, using heart and mind and body. Teaching.  I love the Scriptures, theology and true knowledge about God and life.  And I love to share these treasures with all ages. Pastoral care and counseling.  I am honored when people share with me their joy and troubles, questions and fears.  They tell me that they are not only comforted, but gain some insights into their situation and some good plans for how to move forward. Youth.  Amazing, these young people.  As they try to find their way, I love to show them respect, to care about their struggles, and to give them some wisdom to help them find the Light. Retreats.  Wonderful things happen when Christians “go apart” for awhile, to focus on God, listen to each other, and let the Spirit whisper to them. Addressing community issues.  The world is hurting, and too often hurting itself.  I like to work with people to increase understanding and compassion, to bring help and solve problems. Music.  Music supports and propels God’s life-giving Word. And it’s fun.

The Reverend Dr. Todd Murken, God's faithful servant, passed into the loving arms of his Lord in the early morning hours of Saturday July 7th, 2012. He died due to injuries incurred in a bicycling accident. - See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/postcrescent/obituary.aspx?pid=158457810#sthash.SqgoFYNZ.dpuf
The Reverend Dr. Todd Murken, God's faithful servant, passed into the loving arms of his Lord in the early morning hours of Saturday July 7th, 2012. He died due to injuries incurred in a bicycling accident. - See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/postcrescent/obituary.aspx?pid=158457810#sthash.SqgoFYNZ.dpuf
The Reverend Dr. Todd Murken, God's faithful servant, passed into the loving arms of his Lord in the early morning hours of Saturday July 7th, 2012. He died due to injuries incurred in a bicycling accident. - See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/postcrescent/obituary.aspx?pid=158457810#sthash.SqgoFYNZ.dpuf
The Reverend Dr. Todd Murken, God's faithful servant, passed into the loving arms of his Lord in the early morning hours of Saturday July 7th, 2012. He died due to injuries incurred in a bicycling accident. - See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/postcrescent/obituary.aspx?pid=158457810#sthash.SqgoFYNZ.dpuf
The Reverend Dr. Todd Murken, God's faithful servant, passed into the loving arms of his Lord in the early morning hours of Saturday July 7th, 2012. He died due to injuries incurred in a bicycling accident. - See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/postcrescent/obituary.aspx?pid=158457810#sthash.SqgoFYNZ.dpuf
The Reverend Dr. Todd Murken, God's faithful servant, passed into the loving arms of his Lord in the early morning hours of Saturday July 7th, 2012. He died due to injuries incurred in a bicycling accident. - See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/postcrescent/obituary.aspx?pid=158457810#sthash.SqgoFYNZ.dpuf
The Reverend Dr. Todd Murken, God's faithful servant, passed into the loving arms of his Lord in the early morning hours of Saturday July 7th, 2012. He died due to injuries incurred in a bicycling accident. - See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/postcrescent/obituary.aspx?pid=158457810#sthash.SqgoFYNZ.dpuf
Rev. Dr. Todd passed into the loving arms of his lord in the early morning hours of July 7, 2012. He died due to injuries incurred in a bicycling accident.

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  History of Ladies Aid