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History of The First Swedish Pioneers

By: C. J. Johnson, 1915


Organization of the Swedish Lutheran Church Near Kiron and One at Odebolt

The influx of new settlers brought in many Lutherans, the state church of Sweden being of that denomination. On July 28, 1875, a congregation was convened and a church organized by Rev. J. Fellen, of Des Moines, Iowa, and in the fall of 1878 a church building was erected in the township of Wheeler, Sac county, one-half mile north of the Crawford county line.

The first regular pastor was P. A. Pihlgren, who came from Clinton, Iowa, i n 1881. He was succeeded in 1887 by Rev. S. J. Liljegren, of Algona, who passed away in 1890. Then followed A. M. Broleen, Jules Mauritzson, J. A. Benander, E. C. Jessup and J. A. Christenson, who is the present pastor in charge.

The church edifice has been remodeled twice and enlarged with the addition of a basement and reception parlors. A twelve hundred pound bell was placed in the tower of the church building in 1891, which was a great addition. The present membership of the church is nearly three hundred, both the church and the parsonage are lighted by acetylene and the church is heated by furnace, hot water radiators being used in the parsonage. The value of the church property is estimated at eight thousand dollars and is clear of debt.

Aside from this church, there was a Swedish Lutheran church organized in Odebolt in 1891 and a building erected, which is an annex of the Bethel church, the same pastor serving both congregations. The membership was ninety-nine on Jan. 1, 1915, and services are quite regularly held.

There is also a Covenant Mission church at Odebolt, which is a very nice edifice and regular services are being conducted. We are not able to state at this time the membership nor the name of the pastor and value of church property.

Another Covenant Mission church was organized six miles south of Arthur during the year 1899 and a building erected for regular services. However, during later years the organization was abandoned and the members joined the Odebolt church.

In 1890 a Free Mission church was organized in Ida county between Arthur and Ida Grove, the charter members being those who had moved to that locality from Kiron. Religious services and Sunday school have been conducted quite regularly since that time, although no regular pastor is in charge at present.

The first Swedish church was organized in 1868 and the last one in 1899, there being about thirty-one years intervening. During this time the Swedish colony has organized nine churches, including three Baptist, two Free Mission churches, two Covenant Mission churches and two Lutheran churches, and if the people have salvation in proportion to the number of church organizations all is well. The church merely, however, will not help us to salvation and only the blood of Jesus Christ our Saviour can save from sin. If we know that we have been born again by God's holy spirit and believe in Christ to salvation all is well, and everything we do should be done to the honor of God and if we organize churches and support ministers it is in accordance with the will of God and we shall be rewarded in the new dispensation when Christ shall appear in glory to regard everyone according to his deeds in the body during his life.

I earnestly wish that the Swedish people of Kiron in general may awaken to see what it means to be saved from sin. It is only a new birth in Christ which can help and as Christ said to Nicodemus, "Ye must be born again," and emphasized that unless a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. Glory to God who has opened the way to eternal life for all who want to enter. 

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