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Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Abigail Church - East Tawas, Michigan

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An organizational meeting took place June 20, 1886 with 22 charter members: John W. Applin, Edla S. Applin, Ingar Applin, Gustaf Brunell, Edla Brunell, John Erikson, Lovisa Erikson, Maria Hagstrom, Matts Hagstrom, Anders Harstrom, Helena Harstrom, Anders Jakobson, Anthony Johnson, Maria Johnson, Leander Nordstrom, Nellie Nordstrom, Nels Pehrson, Mathilda Pehrson, Alfred Quick, Sophia Quick, Lars Swanson, Maria Swanson.

The church was built at a cost of $1000, to be finished in 1888. Pastor J. J. Hoikka was called to be the first pastor in 1887. Annual dues were set at $4 for a man and $2 for a woman, to be paid quarterly. Anyone not belonging to the church could be buried from it for $1. Children of parents not belonging to the church could not attend Sunday School. Non-members, if qualified, must pay for the privilege of attending communion. Finns could use the church on Sunday afternoon if they did not lock the doors during the services. The annual church budget in 1895 was $190.

The church was dedicated during a 3-day observance in May 1896. The congregation numbered 70 adults and 69 children. Before the church had a resident pastor, the congregation was visited once a month by a traveling minister from Bay City, MI who made the trip by train. Christian teaching was conducted in the Lutheran households during the absence of a regular minister. A book published in Sweden in 1889, "Den Helosamma Laran" was used in the home services. It included Scripture readings and a sermon for each Sunday in the year, all printed in Swedish.

In the olden days, a stable was located at the rear of the church where farmers could keep their horses during the services. As late as 1960, money was budgeted each year to maintain the stable. The stable was repaired in 1900. The steeple had to be repaired in 1898. In 1898 dues to the Synod were 25 cents annually. In 1901 annual dues per couple were $6 payable in two installments. Income for the year 1905: $107.80.

Pastor Roikka served the congregation until 1900. In 1909 Pastor A.P. Sater was called to serve as Vice Pastor and he served until 1918. A new roof was put on the church in 1911. In 1916 a new steeple was built and the interior of the church was redecorated.

Pastor Engdahl served as Vice Pastor from 1919-1922. Pastor Wahlstrom was called in 1933 and resigned in 1937. The pastor's salary in 1936: $250. Student Glen Pierson served the congregation from June 1, 1938 through September 1939. In 1939 they voted to incorporate and the name was changed to Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church. Pastor Martin Gustafson served from 1940 to 1944. A special meeting was held on November 4, 1941 to decide whether to move to a more convenient location; it failed to pass.

Pastor Carl Leitzke was called in 1946 and left in 1948. Pastor E. H. Peterson was chosen to serve as Vice Pastor until 1951. In 1950 the congregation voted to purchase property owned by Harry Goldsmith, one block east of the Methodist Church for $3800. The closing service for the old church was held November 14, 1950 and the opening service for the new church was held in the basement on Jan. 21, 1951. Pastor Robert E. Nelson served from 1951-1958.

The old church was sold to Horace Laderach for $1500 in 1954. A parsonage was purchased from Ray Williams in 1954 for $7350. A pipe organ was given and installed in the new church in 1960. The new church was dedicated May 22, 1956. Pastor William C. Lindholm began serving in July 1958.

The 75th anniversary of the congregation was observed September 23-24, 1961. Five former pastors attended the celebration. Pastor Martin Gustafson conducted a special service in the Swedish language on September 24.

From the 75th Anniversary Program, 1961

June Pelo


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