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History of The First Swedish Pioneers

By: C. J. Johnson, 1915


Organization of the Free Mission Church of Kiron and Its History to the Present Time.

From the records of the first Swedish Baptist church we find that during the year 1880 there was some difficulty in that organization regarding minor matters, which finally developed into a separation. Many of the older members left the church and organized themselves into a church which they called the Church of God, according to their articles of Faith recorded in the recorder's office of Crawford county, Iowa. These members of the new church decided to erect a church building and purchased a site from Peter Olson close to the Kiron cemetery, the size of the building when completed being 24 x 36 feet. The contract for the erection of the church was let to William Brothers, of Odebolt, and was soon completed and dedicated. In 1892 a parsonage was built on the premises. Later, in the year 1897, it was determined to move the building to old Kiron, where a new site was purchased of Andrew Norelius, the place being the one now owned by Lars Swenson, who afterwards purchased it with the parsonage. When the railroad was established the church was again moved in the year 1899. The following year, 1911, the new parsonage was erected.

According to the church records we find that the following pastors have served the congregation: G. A. Young, in the fall of 1892; J. A. Axelson, A. Hedling, A. Wikstrom, A. Modig, the latter being pastor at the time of its location in old Kiron and after it was moved; Rev. Modig served the church successfully until 1901. He was succeeded by David Anderson, who remained until September of the following year. In April, 1903, N. Wicksell, of Ludington, Mich., came and filled the pulpit until 1904, when he accepted the call to Nebraska and took with him a Kiron girl, Alice Lundberg, as his wife. Rev. Swenson then accepted the call and remained until early in the year 1906, being followed by Frank Lavin, of Alta, Iowa, who served until the spring of 1908, when Rev. F. O. Dahlberg was secured. In the spring of 1910 he was followed by A. J. Youngberg, who continued the work until Jan. 1, 1912.

At this time Irvin A. D. Johnson, born and reared in our community, was chosen to minister to the congregation and took charge of the meetings. During the year 1912 Rev. Irvin Johnson was tendered a formal call to take charge of the work, which he accepted and has so successfully conducted up to the present time. Great interest has been manifested in the career of this young pastor by all the people of the community in which he was reared. His request to be ordained was granted and the ordination service, which was conducted in the little church in Kiron, was of such a solemn and impressive nature that it will remain long in the memory of all present. Our pastor is an upright, earnest and zealous worker in the Lord's vineyard.

Soon the old building of worship proved inadequate to accommodate the large numbers who assembled to hear the gospel as expounded by this home boy. His own recent conversion and his earnestness in the work stood as strong and convincing evidence of what the gospel of Jesus Christ and His salvation could do for one who accepted and followed it. The little church was turning people away, hence, the pastor and his congregation were forced to plan for a larger edifice.

It was pronounced an impossible task to raise the required amount of money for building the new church, but at the January meeting a building committee, consisting of the pastor, August Linman, Olof Sandin, Gust Sanders and A. F. Lundberg, was appointed to solicit funds and the members responded quickly. The business men of Kiron were more than liberal in their contributions and even as far away as Denison the business men donated freely and soon the required five thousand dollars was subscribed.

During the past summer the new church became a reality and the old building which had long held the services was sold to serve another purpose. But many solemn memories, especially of the old people who used to worship in that little church building, go with it as God's Holy Spirit has manifested itself in a most wonderful power. Souls have been saved and sanctified, God's children have been revived and awakened to a new life and to see their duty to serve the Lord wholly. What the writer says about this little church building he can say about the old church building of the Baptists and the old Charles Star school house, which is yet standing as a landmark and holds memories which will be held sacred for all time to come in the minds of the early settlers.

May God's blessing rest upon the churches in the future, that the will of God may be done and that the new church buildings which have been erected and dedicated to the Lord's service may not be turned into houses of merchandise as the temple in Jerusalem was, and as many of the churches today are, as those used for all kinds of amusements. God's holy spirit has been grieved and there is only a form of godliness left, forsaking the power.

The new building is 42 x 58 feet in size, the main auditorium having a seating capacity of one hundred and fifty, with additional prayer or class room which seats fifty, the size of the room being 16 x 24 feet, and separated from the auditorium by folding doors. The floor is both slanting and bowled and comfortable assembly chairs fill the two rooms. A large basement under the entire building is made up of a large dining room for the purpose of serving large numbers at times of special meetings or conferences, storage and fuel rooms and a furnace room equipped with a heating furnace which will be ample for its needs.

The dedication of the church was held during the latter part of August 1914, the plans having been prepared by Joseph A. Engberg, of Kiron, who also superintended the construction, which has proved in every detail his excellent ability in this direction. The only church bell in Kiron was the special desire of the pastor and it serves its purpose well in calling the people to the house of God.

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