OUR FIRST HUNDRED YEARS
Compiled by June M. Ramstad, Historian
1892 – One hundred years ago in the month of May, fifteen men and women of Norwegian heritage met together in Everett to establish this Lutheran church. For two years they were under the guiding hand of the Reverend L.C. Foss. Rev. Foss had been organizing many churches in the Puget Sound area since the 1800’s. Churches had been begun in Seattle, Tacoma, Stanwood and Bellingham before Everett.
The pastor of our First Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Church was the Reverend J.K. Moss who served two years. Life was hard in this early town, and by 1900 three other pastors had stayed a few years each. They were C.B.S. Hoel, I. Blaekan and Ove Hagoes. The building was begun in 1901 and then L.C. Foss became our full-time pastor.
1903 – Our first church building was begun on 25th Street and Harrison. The city soon grew toward the west, so the partially built frame was moved to lots on 2900 Lombard and completed there by 1903 for a total of $5,500. This location was closer to the center of the fast-rising city of Everett. By 1908 the church had secured property south of their new church and managed to build for $3,100 a very large parsonage which could also accommodate Sunday School classes for the children of our rapidly increasing church population. Both of these buildings stood for many years and were used by many other church groups until the late 1960’s.
1912 – After his great labors for our congregation, Reverend L.C. Foss left Everett to become the full-time President of the Pacific District of Norwegian Churches. Rev. and Mrs. Foss had raised a large family here. One of their daughters was a cousin of Stanley Score’s mother, both longtime members of our congregation. Much of the credit for the past influence of Our Savior’s must be given to the many pastors who have faithfully served the Lord here. To replace Foss, the church called Reverend Carl H. Norgaard from Spokane. He accepted our call and arrived with his wife and daughter on October 23, 1912. During his forty-year term the church prospered. His vigorous leadership helped us to contribute greatly to the local Christian community.
1914 – The Ladies Aid was organized with assistance from Mrs. Norgaaard. Their activities were an exceptional source of much needed money as the church brew with the enlarging town. Their first fund raising effort brought $200 to begin an Extension Fund.
1917 – There were three national groups, or synods, of Scandinavians who merged into one organization. The Hauge Synod, which had no representation in Everett; the United Lutheran Church, to which Ebenezer United Norwegian Lutheran Congregation (Central Lutheran) belonged; and the Norwegian Synod to which we belonged. The merger encouraged meetings with our people and the Ebenezer folks with the hope of merging in Everett. A committee of six from both churches was formed to investigate the need of an English-speaking church and to coordinate other issues. When the committee met with both churches and a vote was taken, it resulted in a near-tie. A unanimous motion decided that any who wished could withdraw from the merger. Many of those who had built Ebenezer retained their building on the southwest corner of Rockefeller and Everett Avenue. They later chose to be renamed Central Evangelical Lutheran Church. Our congregation, plus some others, returned to the smaller church on Lombard, retaining the name Our Savior’s Lutheran Church. Reverend Norgaard stayed on as our pastor and services continued in Norwegian and English, alternating between the morning and evening services.
1918 – For several summers the city’s Lutheran churches joined in a parochial school for the children for one week. This was held in the Lincoln Elementary School on 24th and Colby. The building was later replaced with the Civic Auditorium. The First World War dominated the news and many offerings were taken for war-torn Europe. The Ladies Aid gave $450 and gathered to knit for the overseas need.
1921 – In November our church adopted a new Constitution and By-Laws. A Board of Deacons was formed and elected by the congregation. The Deacons were M. Fuhr, William Berg, Nels Oien, Salve Nielsen and Al Ronken, whose son, Leonard, was a long-time member of our church family.
The membership was fast outgrowing the little Lombard church, and in 1913 four lots were purchased on 24th and Hoyt, across the street from Everett High School. We secured a noted Northwest architect, Andrew Willatsen, a Scandinavian who had studied under Frank Lloyd Wright. The builder of that church was Charles Solie, father of Edna Lamb in our congregation.
1924 – On September 21 the cornerstone of the Hoyt church was laid with much ceremony and many visitors. At the dedication the congregation was admonished to remain faithful to the great commission, “Go ye therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.”
The congregation worked hard and gave much to complete that church which we used for forty-three wonderful years. The building is now on the campus of Everett High School and used as a theater. It is now listed on the State Historical Registry. The adjoining manse was torn down but the brick was reused for the outdoor podium and a handicap ramp into the theater.
1923 – On January 10 an English-speaking Women’s Guild was organized as part of the Ladies Aid. In order to keep up with finances needed through these years, the women of the church gave dinners in the church and about town to raise funds. The ladies paid for furnishings and also windows. Between 1924 and 1942 the Aid, Guild and Dorcas Society contributed much of their treasury toward the building, furnishings, and upkeep.
1926 – On April 21 the women’s groups combined their efforts to start a two-night Smorgasbord for our own folks as well as the whole town in the church basement. With Norwegian specialities of Flotegret, salmon, lutefisk, etc., many came. These very elaborate affairs were continued for many years and were renowned in the greater Everett area.
1927 – A large parsonage was built of matching design and material facing 24th Street. Many of its rooms were much needed for Sunday education classes. The pastor’s family finally had their own kitchen. They had used parts of the extension which was between the new parsonage and the church, as well as the church kitchen.
1931 – Until then, the morning and evening services had used English and Norwegian alternately. In February of that year the congregation decided to use English for both services. The people’s native tongue would be used only for special festivals. Until 1967 the Second Day of Christmas was in Norwegian and many visitors enjoyed that.
1933 – Three Women’s Circles were formed under the Aid and Guild. The women of Our Savior’s carried a very busy schedule for many years. At the end of each year the total treasury was used for many charities: Seaman’s Mission in Seattle, Pacific Lutheran University, both Josephine and Bethany senior homes, and overseas missions as well as local causes. Every year they contributed food and labor to the Parkland Children’s Home, a Lutheran orphanage that evolved into The Luther Child Center.
1938 – With heavy uses of Sunday School classes as well as the pastor’s family, the parsonage had to be renovated. Of course, the women’s groups were of great assistance here.
The old church had many accomplished members. For many years the large choir was often directed by one of its own members. Some of those who served as director included Tom Borglund, Florence Tennyson, Walt Ylvisaker, Emil Enger, Anita Berentson Mitchell, Dick Leuth, and Martha Solie Muckey. A concert was given by Ellen Repp (Reep), a nationally recognized vocal soloist of the Reep family. The organist for fourteen years, Clara Lee, left us to marry and become a missionary in Africa. The organ she played was pumped by her father, John Lee, from the back.
1942 – Through the Second World War, help was given to the Red Cross and whatever else could be done to aid the war effort. Norway had been invaded and many in our fellowship had relatives there so it was a dear cause. Pastor Norgaard reported that the Aid, Guild and Dorcas Society had contributed $2,000 toward the buildings and furnishings from 1924-1942. He emphasized that he had the “best women’s society” possible. The church gave a party to honor Reverend and Mrs. Norgaard for thirty years of dedicated leadership.
The church was saddened to hear of the death of Reverend L.C. Foss, who had served Our Savior’s for more than eleven years many years ago.
1943 – It was good news that we had paid in full the church mortgage. A mortgage-burning ceremony was staged and well-attended.
1945 – A drive was started to replace the old organ with a new model. Those in charge estimated the cost would be $1,171. The organ was badly out-of-date. Many fine musicians had led the service with it, including Wilma Grefsrud, Russell Cohn, Gladys Strom, and Helen Stiles. A modern, new organ was installed in 1948.
1946 – The congregation was blessed with the Christensen sisters, who worked in many areas of parish work. Olive had been a missionary in China, and with the end of the war was able to return to her preferred service. Clara kept their home here and taught school. Most of her other time was spent helping in the work of the church.
1947 – For some time the church felt an intern would be of help with our younger members. Stanley Knutsen came as the first intern. He was such a help we called on Jack Olson for 1948. The Ladies Aid assisted with their salaries. Interns were students at seminary who returned to their schools after several months working in the field. Dwight Boe came in 1949 and was very helpful with the youth. He led the choir and organized church athletic teams. We became involved in Everett Church Athletics, and with the help of Chet Solie have several medals to prove Our Savior’s athletic prowess.
1949 – An “Open House” was held at the parsonage celebrating the 40th wedding anniversary of Reverend and Mrs. Norgaard. The congregation and their many friends joined in congratulations and every good wish for their future. With the new organ, a daughter of early parishioners, Milfred Krivik Sherwood, was organist for several years.
1950 – Because of the spread of Communism in China, Olive Christensen was again returned home. She and Clara opened their home for a Lenten Tea. The offering made it possible for the Guild to furnish a room in the new addition at Josephine Sunset Home in Stanwood. At the tea Olive was the speaker and she related many interesting experiences and displayed beautiful Chinese hand crafts. The Smorgasbord this year charged $1.50 a person, served 477 people and cleared $544.00 for the work of the church.
1951 – In January the notice was received by the church of Reverend Carl H. Norgaard’s retirement. He had served the church for forty years. His long service was before any retirement funds had been planned for pastors. A grateful congregation accumulated a sizeable purse toward his future years. The altar in our present building was given to commemorate his name. The ladies groups, for whom he had nothing but praise, were busy serving outside dinners to make money. They purchased new stoves for the kitchen which would make the cooking more efficient. In May the groups organized and did their usual cleaning of the whole church.
1952 – The Smorgasbord profit was $300 and half was used for redecoration of the parsonage.
1953 – The church had called Pastor Milton Nesse from Aberdeen. In response to the call, he and his wife, Katherine, arrived in Everett in January. A joyful “Open House” was held in their honor. One of the new things which this fresh breeze brought was the beginning of a monthly mailing to all members. It was called the “Glad Tidings” and carried a message from the pastor and all news and announcements regarding events past and coming. Katie Nesse sang beautifully and led the choir most of her years with us.
1955 – Remodeling of the church nave was planned by a local architect. A new pulpit, railing and chairs were built by Arthur Hauglie, using parts hand-carved by Nels Nelsskog, both of the parish. These furnishings were all given to Central Lutheran Church when the building was sold to the Everett School District. The remodeling resulted in changing the space the choir occupied into a pastor’s study. The choir was moved to the back balcony of the sanctuary.
1956 – An electric bulletin board was installed in front of the church. It listed all times, dates, and regular or special services. Church attendance had increased greatly and the need for another intern was seen. The position was filled by Albert Olson and, as before, many more tasks could be accomplished with the help. When she was elected to the Financial Secretary’s position this year, Alice Hauglie found herself also acting as secretary. Formerly the care of offertory and other tasks had been done by Elaine Eide. “Glad Tidings” were published by Lou Ylvisaker for many years. Alice and Lou celebrated over fifty years with Our Savior’s in 1992. Arthur Hauglie served the church as custodian for many of his retirement years.
A large committee was busy preparing to settle two European refugee families. The Wenskus family with Gerda Wingerning came first. The Wenskus family moved later to be with friends in the midwest. Gerda stayed here and waited for her whole family to arrive. They did within the year and were all very thankful and thrilled with the comfortable preparations awaiting them. Gerda Braaten, now, and her sisters formed a vocal and guitar group which performed for the church for more than 40 years.