Our Savior’s Lutheran Church’s 125 Years of History: 1892 to 2017
1992 Centennial Video
1892- Everett’s First Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Church Is Born
In May of 1892, a year before the city of Everett, Washington was incorporated, fifteen men and women of Norwegian heritage gathered to establish First Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Church of Everett. Pastor L.C. Foss, who traveled the region to organize churches in communities throughout Puget Sound, aided the efforts of these pioneers.
A Church Travels Across Everett
In 1892 the young congregation started to build a church at 25th and Harrison Street in the Riverside Neighborhood. However, midway through construction they reconsidered their choice of location since the faster growing Bayside region that faced Port Gardner Bay was eclipsing the older Riverside neighborhood. By 1892 it was clear that Bayside would become the prosperous center of the Everett community.
The congregation decided to somehow move their unfinished building closer to the center of Everett by hauling it 35 blocks west across town to a new location at 2926 Lombard Avenue between Hewitt Avenue and Wall Street. By 1893 the building was finished for $5,500 and stood facing east looking east across Lombard toward the Cascade Mountains.
By 1908 the congregation obtained property beside their new church and at 2932 Lombard Avenue built a large, two-story parsonage for $3,100. The parsonage also provided space for Sunday school classes for the children of the rapidly growing church.
1892-1901- Pioneer Pastors Serve First Scandinavian Lutheran Church
The first pastor of First Scandinavian Lutheran Church’s was Reverend J.C.K. Moss. He served during the seminal years of 1892-93. Next came Pastor C.S. B. Hoel from 1893 to 1896. That year Reverend L. C. Foss returned and served until 1897. Pastor I. J. Blaekkan led from 1897 to 1900 and Ove Hagoes served during 1900-1901.
Scandinavian Church Shares Home with Emmanuel Lutheran for 11 Years
In these early years First Scandinavian shared its building with what became Emmanuel Lutheran Church of Everett who held Everett’s first German Lutheran service at First Scandinavian Lutheran Church in 1893. In April 1898 Emmanuel Lutheran’s new pastor Pastor Herran Ebeling began holding services in the Scandinavian Church building at 3 pm on the second and fourth Sundays of each month. This arrangement continued until Emmanuel Lutheran finished its own church in August of 1904.
1901- Reverend Foss Returns to First Scandinavian Lutheran Church
In 1901 Reverend L.C. Foss returned for the third time to First Scandinavian as pastor, and then served as the President of the Pacific District of Norwegian Churches beginning in 1912. During their time in Everett, Reverend and Mrs. Foss had raised a large family. Their children were cousins to Stanley Score’s mother, Georgia (Foss) Score, and remained longtime members of our congregation. Georgia’s descendants remain active at OSLC today in 2017.
1912- Pastor Carl H. Norgaard Begins 40 Years with Our Savior’s
The church next called Reverend Carl H. Norgaard from Spokane. He arrived with his wife and infant daughter Ruth in October 1912 and remained pastor of Our Savior’s until 1952. Reverend Norgaard led the congregation through World War I, the 1925 move to the a new building on Hoyt Avenue, the Great Depression and World War II. During his forty-year tenure the church prospered, and contributed greatly to the local community.
During his time at Our Savior’s Pastor Norgaard’s family grew to include a son Herbert and another daughter, Esther. Both Esther and Ruth Norgaard remained life-long members of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church and choir. Ruth taught grade school in the Everett School District for 40 years before passing away in November 2004. Esther was a senior surgical nurse at Swedish Hospital.
1914- Ladies Aid Formed
In 1914 the Ladies Aid was organized with help from Mrs. Norgaard. Their group became a source of much needed funding as the young church grew. The Ladies Aid also provided important service and support to families in need or in grief during Our Savior’s first half century.
1917- A Failed Merger with United Norwegian Lutheran Church
In 1917 three national Scandinavian Lutheran synods merged into one organization. Ebenezer United Norwegian Lutheran Congregation and First Scandinavian belonged to different synods but were now encouraged to merge into one Everett congregation.
A joint committee of six members from each church formed to consider both a merger and the need for an English-speaking church. However congregational votes on the issue in each church resulted in a near-tie. The committee eventually passed a motion permitting any who wished to withdraw from the merger to do so.
Many folks who had established Ebenezer United Norwegian Lutheran Congregation wanted to remain in their building on Rockefeller and Everett Avenue and did. In December 1919, they changed the church’s name to Ebenezer English Lutheran Church and seven years later, changed it to Central Lutheran Church, finishing their present sanctuary in October of 1926.
A New Name: Our Savior’s Lutheran Church
First Scandinavian’s congregation, swelled with new members from Ebenezer Church, remained in their building on Lombard and took on the name Our Savior’s Evangelical Lutheran Church. Pastor Norgaard remained and services were held in both Norwegian and English.
1921-23- Our Savior’s Lutheran Adopts a New Constitution and Plans a New Home
In November 1921 the church adopted a new Constitution and By-Laws. Since the congregation had outgrown the little church on Lombard, four lots were purchased in 1923 for a new location on 24th and Hoyt, just across 24th from Everett High School.
Northwest architect Andrew Willatsen, who had studied for several years under Frank Lloyd Wright, was hired to design the new church. He was a German, originally named Andrew Christian Peter Willatzen, who changed his name to the more Scandinavian-sounding Willatsen in 1918 due to World War I anti-German sentiment. Construction of the new Our Savior’s Lutheran Church on Hoyt Avenue was handled by Charles Solie and built for $40,000.
1923 – Women’s Guild Formed
In January of 1923 an English-speaking Women’s Guild was organized as part of the Ladies Aid and the women of the church gave dinners to raise funds. Between 1924 and 1942 the Ladies Aid, the Guild and Dorcas Society contributed much of their treasury toward the new building.
1924 – Our Savior’s Lutheran Moves to 24th and Hoyt
The cornerstone for the new building was laid at 2331 Hoyt Avenue on September 21, 1924 with much ceremony and many visitors. A year later on Sunday, September 20, 1925 the building opened with a dedication by Dr. J. A. Aasgaard, president of the Lutheran Church of America. After 32 years on Lombard, Our Savior’s moved into its new home for the next 43 years.
1926- The Birth of the OSLC Smorgasbord
On April 21, 1926 the women’s groups combined efforts to hold a two-night Smorgasbord in the church basement for congregants and the entire town. Many came to enjoy Norwegian specialties of flotegret, salmon, and lutefisk. These elaborate affairs remained famous for many years throughout the greater Everett area.
1927- A Parsonage Is Added to the New Church
In 1927 a brick parsonage for the pastor’s residence was built next door at 1509 24th Street just east of the church building. As before several of its rooms were used for Sunday school classes.
1931- English Adopted for All Sunday Services
Since 1917 Sunday morning and evening services had used English and Norwegian alternately, but in February of 1931 the congregation voted to use English exclusively, reserving Norwegian for special festivals. Until 1967 the Second Day of Christmas service was held in Norwegian.
1933- Women’s Circles Formed
In 1933 three Women’s Circles were formed under the Aid and Guild. At the end of each year their total treasury was given to charities such as the Seaman’s Mission in Seattle, Pacific Lutheran College, Josephine and Bethany senior homes, and overseas missions. They also contributed food and labor to the Parkland Children’s Home, a Lutheran orphanage that grew into Luther Child Center.
1942- Aid Given to Norway During World War II
During the Second World War, OSLC gave aid to the Red Cross and the European war effort, particularly in Norway since its German invasion endangered Our Savior’s members’ extended families there.
Pastor Norgaard also reported that the Ladies Aid, Guild and Dorcas Society contributed $2,000 toward the buildings between 1924 and 1942, declaring that OSLC had the “best women’s society” possible. The church honored Pastor and Mrs. Norgaard’s thirty years of dedicated leadership with a party.
1943- Mortgage for the New Church Paid in Full!
The church mortgage was paid in full in 1943 and was burned at a well-attended mortgage-burning ceremony.
1945-8 Organ Replacement Drive
In these years OSLC had many accomplished members. The large choir was often directed by one of its members including Tom Borglund, Florence Tennyson, Walt Ylvisaker, Emil Enger, Anita Berentson Mitchell, Dick Leuth, and Martha Solie Muckey. Ellen Reep, a nationally recognized vocal soloist of the Reep family gave a concert at OSLC. For fourteen years the organist was Clara Lee who played on an old organ pumped by her father, John Lee. Clara later married and became a missionary in Africa.
In 1945 the church began a drive to replace the old organ. The cost was estimated at $1,171. Many fine musicians had led the service with it, including Wilma Grefsrud, Russell Cohn, Gladys Strom, and Helen Stiles.
In 1948 the new organ was finally purchased and installed with great ceremony. Mildred Krivik Sherwood, a daughter of early parishioners became Our Savior’s organist for several years.
The congregation was also blessed with the Christensen sisters, who worked in many areas of parish work. Olive had been a missionary in China, who with the end of the war returned to her service, while Clara remained, taught school and devoted her spare time to church work. By 1950 Communism’s spread in China forced Olive Christensen to return home. She and Clara opened their home for a Lenten tea, the offering from which made it possible for the Guild to furnish a room in the new addition at Josephine Sunset Home in Stanwood.
In 1947 church members felt an intern would help younger members. The interns were seminary students who returned to their schools after several months working in the field. The Ladies Aid assisted with their salaries.
Stanley Knutsen was the first intern, and Jack Olson came in 1948. Dwight Boe came in 1949 and was very successful with the youth, organizing church athletic teams. OSLC became involved in Everett Church Athletics, and with the help of Chet Solie, earned several medals.
1951- Pastor Norgaard Retires
In January 1951 the church Reverend Carl H. Norgaard gave notice of his retirement after serving the church for forty years. Since his long service predated retirement planning for pastors, a grateful congregation gave a sizeable financial gift for their retirement years. The altar was also given in Pastor Norgaard’s name.
1952- Pastor Milton Nesse Joins Our Savior’s
In 1952 the church called Pastor Milton Nesse from Aberdeen. He and his wife, Katherine, arrived in January, and a joyful open house was held in their honor. One new item that Pastor Nesse brought to Our Savior’s was a monthly mailing to all members called the “Glad Tidings.” Each month it included a message from the pastor and news and announcements regarding church events. His wife, Katie Nesse sang and led the choir during most of her years at Our Savior’s.
1954- New Church Constitution Adopted
In 1954 a new church constitution was adopted, establishing self-governance via church council.
1955- 24th and Hoyt Church Remodeled
In 1955 a local architect remodeled the church nave. This remodel turned the space for the choir into a pastor’s study, so the choir moved to the back balcony of the sanctuary. Arthur Hauglie built the new pulpit, railing and chairs using parts hand-carved by Nels Nelsskog.
1956- Our Savior’s Gets Its First Electronic Bulletin Board
An electric bulletin board was installed in front of the church in 1956 listing the dates and times of regular or special services.
Church attendance had increased greatly again and the need for another intern was filled by Albert Olson.
Alice Hauglie was elected as Financial Secretary in 1956 but found herself also acting as church secretary. Arthur Hauglie served the church as custodian for many of his retirement years. Lou Ylvisaker published “Glad Tidings” for many years, and in 1992 Alice and Lou celebrated over fifty years with Our Savior’s.
1957- Our Savior’s Resettles European Refugees
In 1957 a large committee was organized to resettle two European refugee families. The Wenskus family came first accompanied by Gerda Wingerning. They later moved to be with friends in the Midwest, but Gerda remained in Everett and waited for her family to arrive. They did within the year and were very thankful for the comfortable situation awaiting them. Gerda Wenskus, later Braaten, and her sisters formed a vocal and guitar group that performed for the church for more than 40 years.
1959- Pastor Nesse Leaves
In 1959 Pastor Nesse resigned to accept a call from a church in Bremerton, Washington.
1960- Pastor Lowell Knutson Begins 10-Year ministry at Our Savior’s
Pastor Lowell Knutson began his ministry at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in 1960. The church also called Oscar Jacobson as assistant pastor, but in 1962 Assistant Pastor Jacobson resigned and was replaced by Pastor John Christenson.
1965- Planning Committee Examines the Need for a New Building
A planning committee, (including Ralph Quaas) was formed in 1965 to study the church’s ministry at 24th and Hoyt. They determined that Everett’s population growth had moved south and west of OSLC’s location on Hoyt. Since no other Lutheran church served the growing area while several competed in downtown Everett, the committee recommended that Our Savior’s buy nine acres of land at the corner of Mukilteo and Olympic Boulevards and move again.
1965- OSLC Congregation Votes to Move to Mukilteo Boulevard
The recommendation of the planning committee was approved by a congregational vote. The land on Mukilteo Boulevard was purchased, and an architect was hired to design the new building as both a worship center and a gathering place for community groups.
After 43 years at 24th and Hoyt, OSLC moved even further west to a new location. The Hoyt building was sold to the Everett School District who converted it into a performance venue and little theater for the adjacent Everett High School.
During construction of the new church the congregation worshipped in the gymnasium of View Ridge School.
1968- Worship Begins at Mukilteo Boulevard Location
Worship in Our Savior’s new sanctuary began on August 11, 1968. Following the completion of the sanctuary an adjoining fellowship hall was dedicated on October 22, 1972, given to the church by Mr. and Mrs. Hans Solie.
1973 Pastor Knutson Leaves
On May 6, 1973 Pastor Lowell Knutson accepted a call from First Lutheran Church of West Seattle and left Our Savior’s after 13 years of service.
1973-1977 Pastor Tellefson Serves Our Savior’s
Pastor Ronald Tellefson began his ministry with Our Savior’s on August 19, 1973 and continued until receiving a call to become campus pastor at Pacific Lutheran University in January of 1977. During his ministry, Pastor Tellefson helped to establish the folk service as a new addition to worship life.
In August of 1976 the congregation again sponsored the relocation and settlement of a refugee family, this time from Vietnam.
1975 to 1982- Pastors Olson, Taylor and Shouse
Beginning in September 1975 Pastor Emeritus Roy Olson served as Assistant Pastor and later as Acting Interim Pastor after Pastor Tellefson’s 1977 departure until September of 1978 when Pastor Donald Taylor accepted a call to Our Savior’s. He had been campus pastor at Pacific Lutheran University and had been skipper/chaplain aboard the M.V. Christian for several years. On several occasions Pastor Taylor took Our Savior’s parishioners sailing on the M.V. Christian. In 1982 he returned to Lutheran Outdoor Ministries.
May 1983- Pastor Joseph Aalbue Comes to Our Savior’s
Pastor Paul Anderson served as our Interim Pastor during the year after Pastor Taylor’s departure until Pastor Joseph Aalbue accepted a call as Lead Pastor in May of 1983.
Pastor Richard Shouse joined Our Savior’s as Associate Pastor in January of 1979, serving for five years until accepting a call as Lead Pastor at Everett’s Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in the fall of 1984. With Pastor Shouse’s departure, Pastor Roland Wuest became Interim Associate Pastor.
1984- OSLC Preschool Opens
Congregation members had long recognized the need for a church sponsored preschool in the neighborhood of Our Savior’s and planning began as early as 1983. In 1984 Our Savior’s Lutheran Preschool was approved, and opened its doors to the community that fall under the direction of Mary Miller.
1988- Pastor David Parks Joins OSLC
Pastor David Parks accepted a call as Associate Pastor to Our Savior’s in September of 1988. With the church fully staffed and the mortgage for the new church building recently retired, plans began to add an educational wing to the church.
1990-1991- Pastor Winkel Replaces Pastor Aalbue and the Learning Center Opens
In late 1990 Pastor Aalbue resigned his position with Our Saviors Lutheran Church. Pastor Robert Winkel accepted a call to Our Savior’s in January of 1991. On October 13, 1991 the new learning center opened with the addition of a youth room (The Fireplace Room) on the ground floor. The additional space allowed for the expansion of Sunday school and the weekday OSLC Preschool.
1991- Pastor Winkel Retires, Pastor Parks Becomes Lead
In 1999 Pastor Robert Winkel chose to retire, and Pastor David Parks stepped into the position of Lead Pastor in 2000. Between 2003 and 2005 Pastor Paul Shoup and Reverend Ed Coon served as part-time interim associate pastors.
In 2008 Mark Samuelson was called as a part-time associate pastor and served for six years until his resignation in 2014. As of mid-2017, Our Savior’s has not chosen to call an associate pastor.
2014-2017 “The Commons” Project Begins
As early as 2013 church members began discussing an addition and remodel to the existing church on Mukilteo Boulevard. The addition would enclose much of the entry plaza between the sanctuary, office area and fellowship hall under a unifying addition called “The Commons.”
At the January 2014 general membership meeting the congregation voted to enter into a capital campaign to raise funds for the commons. Work began on locating an architect, builder and a mortgage for an anticipated $2 million addition.
OSLC member Dale Woodard’s company, Olympic General Contractors, was awarded the bid. Demolition of the breezeway and existing plaza began in spring 2016 and new construction followed through the summer and autumn of 2016. The church formally dedicated the new space in October of 2016.
January 2017- Our Savior’s Votes to Become an R.I.C. Congregation
After more than six months of discussion, study and preparation, Our Savior’s congregation adopted a welcome statement at its January 29, 2017 general meeting that expressed our commitment to “extending this welcome to EveryOne without regard to gender identity, sexual orientation, race, age, socio-economic status, disability, political association, marital status, education or ethnic origin.” The congregation also approved the idea of making Our Savior’s an officially Reconciling in Christ Church on the RIC roster of welcoming communities.
In April 2017 Our Savior’ Lutheran will celebrate its 125th anniversary serving the Everett community. This milepost is happily achieved in the same year that the entire Lutheran Church celebrates its 500th year of service and ongoing reformation.
History – 1892 to 2017 – Compiled by June Ramstad, and updated by Timothy Knopf, 125th Celebration Committee Member