Duluth First English


Church Beginnings

On March 11, 1888, thirteen believers expressed to the Minnesota Conference a desire to organize a church, known as the First English Seventh-day Adventist Church of Duluth. A record of that meeting is as follows:

A company of believers in "Present Truth" assembled themselves at the Mission rooms, 231 West Fourth Street, Duluth, March 11, 1888 for the purpose of organizing into church fellowship.

Eld. H. Grant being present presided over the meeting. It was moved and carried that Ida Fleming act as secretary pro tem. It was then voted that members of other churches (S.D.A.) participate in the deliberations of this meeting. The following covenant was circulated for those who wished to unite with this society, to sign.

"We the undersigned covenant ourselves together to keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, taking the name of Seventh-day Adventists: Myron Winchell, Gustav Berggren, Christina Berggren, Augusta Berggren, John M. Clarke, Annie B. Clarke, William Humphries, Fred Edberg, Edward Mulhearn, Carrie J. Tufte, Emma McMeekin, Grethe Berg, Ida Berg."

Eld. Grant gave some instructive and timely remarks in regard to duties of the different officers – Eld., Dea., Sec., Treas., etc., also some words of advice to all the church members. He recommended that Bro. Winchell be chosen as church elder. They then proceeded to vote for the officers by ballot. The vote was made unanimous for Bro. Myron Winchell, Elder; Bro. Gustav Berggren, Deacon; Ida Fleming, Clerk; Sr. Annie Clarke, Treasurer. It was then moved and carried that this company be known as Duluth Seventh-day Adventist Church Society. After remarks by Eld. Grant in regard to tithes, it was moved and carried that the tithes of this society be paid to the Minnesota Conference.

The ordinances of the Lord's house were celebrated after which the ordination of Elder and Deacon took place. The meeting then closed sine die without a motion.
Ida Fleming, Clerk, pro tem.

Church Buildings

Meetings were held for a time at the Mission Rooms, 231 West Fourth and 316 East Sixth, then 426 Lake Avenue North, and later an upstairs hall was rented at Seventeenth Avenue West on Superior Street.

In 1906 the building at Tenth Avenue East and Sixth Street was constructed. The property was deeded to the Association by Mr. and Mrs. Carl Rasmussen on November 1, 1906 for the price of $875.00. Much of the building was destroyed by fire December 27, 1915. Services were held at the Swedish church until the English church could be rebuilt. The church building with a new addition was completed in July, 1916, and rededicated on
September 10, 1916 with Brethren Thompson and Wells from the Union and Conference.

In May, 1944 a building committee was chosen to look for available lots for a new church and school. Those on the committee were: Elder Carl Sundin, Albert Jackson, Walter Mattson, and Homer Waterhouse, Sr..

On February 14, 1945 Walter Mattson made the motion that the property on Fourteenth Avenue East and Superior Street be purchased. Bro. Werneck seconded the motion. Elder Carl Sundin was authorized to purchase the property from Martha M. Peyton on May 10, 1945. Walter Dennis of the Minneapolis church was called as architect. C. W. Sorenson of Hutchinson was asked to assume work as the building contractor. Under the direction of Elder Wilton R. Archbold the school was built first, then the basement of the church. A quonset hut was put over the church basement and served the church for two years until 1948. The church services were then moved to the basement of the school while the church was being built.

Because of the difficulty in obtaining building materials during the war years, an old building in Gary was bought and dismantled. The church members cleaned the bricks to be used for the new church and school.

Planning to leave the old church building did not come easily. One of the greater regrets was to leave the beautiful stained glass windows, which had been donated by Carrie Tufte. Perhaps the most outstanding of the windows was the one over the pulpit, with the words "Prepare To Meet Thy God" in its design. Visitors often spoke of the impression they received as they came into the church and received this solemn message.

Over the years various changes were made in the church building. A pastor's study was made in the right side room off the rostrum. In 1970 the Primary Division Sabbath School room was divided to accommodate another division. In 1972 the Sabbath school rooms were carpeted, and re-carpeted in 1987. In 1978 the front of the rostrum was remodeled, with steps built all the way across, and the two side stairs removed. The sanctuary, back rooms, foyer, and balcony stairs were carpeted in "red," a dividing point among many church members who preferred "blue-green". At this same time, the three back windows were bricked to curb vandalism. In 1982 a new church sign was made by Alan Wilson with brick framework, a glassed-in sign-board, and lighting. In 1987 the outside double doors were refinished, and in the two outside back doors were replaced. New Formica-topped vanities and sinks were placed in the two basement restrooms. Small windows were placed in the two side foyer doors.

Church Dedication - 14th and Superior

The First Seventh-day Adventist Church of Duluth on Fourteenth Avenue East and Superior Street was dedicated on August 30 and 31, 1957 under the direction of Pastor Nevins M. Harlan. Francis D. Nichol, editor of the "Review and Herald," spoke on Friday evening and delivered the dedicatory sermon on Sabbath morning. Caris H. Lauda, President of the Minnesota Conference, read the Act of Dedication. Reuben H. Nightingale, President of the Northern Union Conference, offered the Dedicatory Prayer.

50th Anniversary Celebration

The Golden Jubilee was celebrated March 11 and 12, 1938 at the church on Tenth Avenue East and Sixth Street under the direction of Pastor George E. Hutches. K. L. Grant, Education Superintendent of the Northern Union, was the speaker at the Friday evening meeting. Assisting in the program were Caris H. Lauda of Saint Paul; Clement N. Harvey, church school teacher; and the Young People's Missionary Volunteer Girls' Chorus.

E. H. Oswald, President of the Northern Union Conference, spoke on "God's Program for the Remnant Church" for the Sabbath morning service. Others on the morning program were Elton Waterhouse, V. E. Peugh of Saint Paul, Caris H. Lauda of Saint Paul, Walter H. Mattson of Morgan Park, and B. C. Marshall of Saint Paul.

Mayor C. Rudolph Berghult addressed the assembly Saturday night. V. E. Peugh, President of the Minnesota Conference, gave a special anniversary sermon.

Fred Edberg, the only surviving charter member, was guest of honor. A souvenir booklet was published. Radio stations KDAL and WEBC broadcasted the program.

75th Anniversary Celebration

The Seventy-fifth Anniversary of the organization of the First Seventh-day Adventist Church of Duluth was celebrated March 29 and 30, 1963 under the direction of Pastor Jerry R. Coyle.

A Missionary Volunteer meeting was held Friday evening under the direction of Allen Karls, the MV leader. Elder G. D. Brass, Educational-MV Secretary of the Minnesota Conference, was the evening speaker. His message was entitled "Giants In Your Life."

For the Sabbath School program, Elder Nevins M. Harlan, former pastor, read the scripture and offered the opening prayer. The secretary's report was read by Mrs. Edward Bacon, and the superintendent's remarks were given by Albert Jackson. A Thirteenth-Sabbath program was presented by the children's divisions. Elder Caris H. Lauda, President of the Minnesota Conference, presented the lesson study and had the benediction.

For the Sabbath church service, Elder Nevins M. Harlan read the scripture, Elder Caris H. Lauda offered the morning prayer, and George D. Johnson, Mayor of Duluth, gave his greetings. The Maplewood Academy Choraliers presented special music, Elder S. G. Dittberner, President of the Northern Union Conference, delivered the sermon entitled "Come Thou With Us."

Sabbath afternoon a pastors' symposium was held in which letters from the former pastors August Anderson, George E. Hutches, Carl Sundin, Wilton R. Archbold, Paul Misenko, and Adrian C. Woods were read. Elder Nevins Harlan personally delivered his message. Jerry R. Coyle, the present pastor, delivered a message.

Church School

TIn harmony with God's original plan for the education of our youth, the church founded its first day school in 1913. For a few years the school was conducted in the basement of the church on the corner of Tenth Avenue East and Sixth Street. Then the church purchased a building from the Northwestern Holiness Association and moved it to a lot owned by the church located on the corner of Sixth Avenue East and Eighth Street.

Jeanetta Saline writes, "It was at this second place I started church school in the fourth grade with Esther Christenson, teacher. Classes were conducted in the usual manner – awards given for perfect attendance and points lost for misconduct. On one occasion, I was one of three girls who presented the Sabbath sermon in the church. It was a pleasure to be in a school where we learned the Bible and the Christian way of life. Lessons learned there were not forgotten. I missed the privilege of the eighth grade graduation as school closed that year. I did go back for ninth grade and have been ever grateful for a Christian mother who moved close to the school so I could attend a church school"

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Community Services

The Duluth Dorcas Society, now "Community Services," has been active since at least the time of Elder August Anderson's pastorate. The object of the Dorcas Society was always to help the needy, which is still the main objective. The first organized group was the Senior Dorcas, meeting in the afternoon in time to enjoy a noon meal prepared by two ladies each month. All were charged $1.00 each, which was used for society expenses. Extra money was earned by rummage sales and bake sales.

The Junior Dorcas Society was started in 1944 by Mrs. Carl Sundin to involve working mothers and mothers with small children who could not meet with the Senior Dorcas. For a time there was a "Dorcasette Society" for the very young girls who had their own projects. Later, there came a time when the Junior and Senior Dorcas Societies merged into one group, meeting in the evenings.

Esther Mattson was the first leader of the Senior Dorcas. Jeanette Saline has been an active member since the beginning, either as leader or head of the sewing projects. Many activities were promoted. One auction in 1948 was snowed out and profited only $3.50. But the next year a Dorcas Fair took in $44.49. Through enjoyable musical programs $67.00 was raised one year.

During World War II food and clothing boxes were sent to three German families, and others to Winnepeg. Boxes of food and clothing, as well as Memory Verse Picture Rolls and Sabbath School supplies were sent to the Ervin Sorensen family while they were in India. The Norman Doss family in Africa also received boxes from the Duluth Dorcas Society.

A room in the basement of the church was dedicated for the purpose of helping people through the Community Services. The Community Services is registered with various departments in the city such as the Social Services, Thunderbird House, Wren House, Indian Affairs, and Battered Women.

Presently the Community Services meets each Tuesday, reserving the last Tuesday of each month for people to come in and get clothing. The organization also distributes Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets and gifts, donates food to the City Food Shelf, and sponsors two to three children to Junior Camp.

"We try to show people Jesus loves them. We are thankful for the Lord's help and guidance, and pray we may continue this needy work until Jesus comes."

This section written in 1988 by Jeanetta Saline

The Couple's Club

Early in the 1960's, a group of couples in the Duluth Church decided to form a club which would meet once a month for a social event. Purpose: to have fun and to get to know each other better than we could in the formal atmosphere of a church service. The "couples club" was eventually redefined to include all adult church members. Jerry Schillinger, Larry Bromme, Bob and JoAnn Anderson, Boots and Susy Carlson, and Dave and Alice Sundquist were some of the early planners and club officers. Everyone who attended will remember inner-tubing at Enger Golf Course one beautiful winter evening. During the evening sleet began to fall. When everyone tried to drive to Bromme's for refreshments, steering proved impossible. Roger Engseth's car was the unlucky victim of that evening. A hobo party at the home of Skip and Mary Linda Waterhouse – hobo soup, made by dumping a can of anything guests brought and cooked over an outdoor fire, was surprisingly good! A Western party at Dave and Verley Pederson's – complete with bales of hay to sit on. A scavenger hunt planned by the Carlson's – a night to remember. At least, no one got a speeding ticket or had an accident! We had wonderful time and made a lot of good memories.

This section written in 1988 by Judy Burghart-Bromm

The Missionary Volunteer Society

In 1907 the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists organized the Missionary Volunteer Department for the benefit of the young people, to guide them in their activities and to encourage various lines of missionary work.

The Duluth Missionary Volunteer Society met every Friday evening at the church. The society chose a leader each year, and each member took a turn planning and conducting the programs.

We sang, played musical instruments, shared experiences, listened, talked, prayed – the enthusiasm was contagious. We looked forward all week to our special hour and very special friends. But it didn't stop there. Almost every Saturday evening we went ice skating in the winter, had lawn parties and played games in the summer, and we frequently had parties in many homes. On Sundays we picnicked, went swimming, had long hikes, and practiced our music and dialogs for the next Sabbath evening meeting.

Sabbath afternoons found groups doing various missionary activities, such as programs at hospitals and homes for the elderly; mailing literature and "Signs of the Times"; visiting the sick; studying church history; reading and discussing the Spirit of Prophecy books.

My first memories of the M. V. meetings were while in the church school as we had weekly meetings. As a teen-ager at 17, I took over the leadership of the regular M. V. program in the old church on Friday evenings. We had a full program to follow, including the promotion of the Bible year reading, The Morning Watch, Reading Course, Various Bands, and League of Evangelism.

The bands within the society gave the members a chance to do missionary work. Sunshine Bands gave regular meetings at many nursing homes, which is followed at the present time.

Harvest Ingathering was the biggest project to help reach the church goal. One year the M. V. Band reached a sum of $100.00 so was the leading band and were honored guests at a Victory Banquet. We kept up this work from early fall until Christmas eve – which was very cold at times. The school teacher, Helen Smith, played her horn and when the valves froze, we would blow on them to keep going, to say nothing of the numb fingers of the accordion player, Carl Anderson.

All missionary work was reported to the Conference, who at the end of each 3 month period awarded a banner to the highest society. The Duluth Society held first honor banner for 12 months under Elder Lauda, State Secretary."

This section written in 1988 by Malena Richardson-Waterhouse

The Pathfinder Club

The Duluth Pathfinder club was organized in the fall of 1971 by Cindy Surdal. In the spring of 1974, Jean Miller became the club director. In 1980, Bill Gatewood assumed the leadership until 1982. Since 1982, Pastor Robert Brauer has directed the club. The club has been very active with meetings, outings, and missionary activities. They received "Top Honor Club Award" and "Outstanding Club of the Year" awards, among other awards for their achievements through the years.

In May of 1977, the club leased for $1.00 a year, approximately ten acres of land at Island Lake, from the Minnesota Power and Light Company for camping purposes. A dining hall and sleeping facilities as well as a smaller cabin were already on the land.

The club has enjoyed outings at the Island Lake camp, as well as camporees yearly at St. Croix State Park near Hinckley. In August 1985, eighteen club members and four adult leaders attended the first National Pathfinder Camporee at Camp Hale near Leadville, Colorado. In August 1987, ten club members and two adults attended the Mid-America Union Camporee at Broken Arrow Ranch near Manhatten, Kansas. The club has given its members experiences that will be remembered throughout their lives.

Camp Shirlee

The church members have enjoyed the Pathfinder Camp at Island Lake so much that, in the summer of 1984, a cabin was built for use by church members as well as the Pathfinders. The cabin contains a fully-equipped kitchen, dining area, living area, two bedrooms, a loft, and a bathroom with tub and shower. There is a glassed-in fireplace in the center of the cabin to provide its only source of heat. In 1985, running water was added by digging a well christened "Sam's Pure Water Well" in memory of Sam Hanson, a former church member. In 1987, a hot water heater and shower were added for those who don't like to "rough it".

Upon entering the camp, one will notice a "smiley" face sign with the words "Welcome, Have a Good Day. Smile, It's Catching." A sign near the well designates the name of the camp "SDA Church and Pathfinder Camp, Camp Shirlee" in memory of Shirlee Schillinger, wife of Alvin Schillinger.

Much of the work was done by Alvin Schillinger, with various church members helping where they could. The camp has benefited from many benefactors with furniture, a large dock, two pontoon boats, two paddle boats, and two canoes.

Each year improvements are made to the grounds to make it a camp everyone can enjoy. In the spring of 1987, Alan Wilson bulldozed the cattails out to provide fifty more feet of swimming area. In May of 1988, Stewart Hunter and Dick LaFavor hauled sand from a high sand bar near the camp's water inlet to the swimming area to provide a sandy bottom.

Prison Ministries

Prison Ministries was begun in Duluth in 1984. The purpose of the program is to minister to the inmates of the Duluth Federal Prison Camp. The prison is primarily a white-collar institution with bankers, business owners, attorneys, governors, etc.

The program usually begins with a song service accompanied by Ken Klick, followed with Scripture and prayer. Bible Studies are then conducted with one study in Spanish by Bea Jimpson. A nature talk is presented followed by a sermon.

Those involved in Prision Ministries over the past few years have been: Lee Ellen Emanoff, Judy Hunter, Stewart Hunter, Bea Jimpson, Ken Klick, Steve Martin, Vickie Martin, Barb Olson, Jonathan Tyman, Bob White, and Alan Wilson.

Vacation Bible School

Vacation Bible School has been held by the Duluth church for a number of years. Since 1985, however, it has been held at the Zenith Terrace Trailer Court in the Community Building at Proctor. Average attendance at this location has been fifty children, three fourths of which are non-church members. Conducting the VBS at the trailer court has been an outreach project proving to be a blessing to the children involved, as well as to the VBS personnel.

Those who have been involved are Judy Bachovchin, Pastor Robert Brauer, Leslie Brauer, Linda Jones, Ervin Kuutti, Barbara Olson, Esther Pfeifer, and Joyce Schillinger. Young people who helped were Heidi Bachovchin, Jenny Bachovchin, Julienne Brauer, Marguerite Erickson, Rhonda Erickson, Bernadette Fuqua, Monique Fuqua, Sally Olson, and Angela Sundquist.

New Building and Continuing Ministry

Editor's Note: In more recent years, the Duluth SDA Church has built a new church building. If you have information concerning that project, the editor would welcome any information that could be shared on this website.

Note: Obituaries can be found for many old SDA pioneers at our Obituaries link on this website's Families page.

Lessons of the past
Hope for the future