Salem Lutheran Church in Roland will celebrate its 150th anniversary on Sunday, Nov. 11.
With a theme of “To God Be the Glory,” morning worship will be at 10:30 a.m. The day’s celebrations continue at 1:30 p.m. with a special praise and worship service.
Located at 102 S Main St., both services are open to the public and all are welcome.
Refreshments will be served in the fellowship hall following the afternoon program.
Family representatives from several former pastors will be in attendance, including the families of Pastors Sandven, Holen, Nelson and Krieg. A lunch will also be served, but reservations are required and tickets are already sold out.
Music is one of the key aspects of the Nov. 11 celebration, and there’s a reason for that.
“Music has been a very important feature of the worship services here at Salem,” said Pastor Dennis Sandmann, who has led Salem’s congregation since 2011. “We are gifted to have so many talented singers. We have many members who are involved in music and have been for a long time — like Martha Bakke, who’s directed the choir for 27 years.”
The afternoon festivities will include special music from Denny Posegate, Chris Morgan and the Salem Choir. Anyone willing can come forward for the alumni choir anthem.
The Joy Trio is temporarily coming out of retirement to perform.
And the feature performance of the day will be by Eric Hanson and the Hope Gospel Quartet. Hanson, now a well-known TV news reporter, was baptized and confirmed at Salem, and his childhood artwork decorates one of the panels of a quilt that will be auctioned on Nov. 11.
That Bible School quilt was created by the children in 1985 and was given to 30-year retired pastor Olaf Holen. It’s been donated to Salem by Pastor Holen’s granddaughter, Kristi (Holen) Truman, for the auction.
Fellowship is another important factor for the congregation at Salem Lutheran, with coffee and refreshments served to a basement full of people each Sunday after worship.
“We have a good time, and we also have a strong basis scripturally,” Sandmann said.
That fellowship involves the entire community, and not just the church membership itself. For example, Salem holds a joint vacation Bible school with Bergen Lutheran, alternating hosting the events. And the Thanksgiving Eve worship service includes other congregations and the community as a whole.
“We like to have the opportunity to get God’s message out to more people,” Sandmann said. “Non-members often attend that Thanksgiving Eve service.”
Salem also has a strong mission focus, the pastor said. Tim Tjernagel, for example, has been on a mission in Spain for the past 18 years. The church also supports mission work in Estonia and China.
“It’s important to us to extend the Kingdom,” Sandmann said.
Salem Lutheran Church got its start in 1868, when 19 families of Norwegian immigrants left St. Petri Lutheran in Story City to form their own church, with a less liturgical service. The simpler service and more opportunity for congregation participation was part of the Hauge tradition, which has held at Salem to current day.
Named for Hans Neilsen Hauge, the principle “was popular with common people, who promoted the departure from the formalistic doctrines of the Norwegian state church, in favor of simpler church services,” according to the Salem history book.
On Nov. 7, 1868, Salem was organized in School House No. 4 in Howard Township, one mile west of Roland and a short distance south.
The congregation was originally called “The Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession of Story and Hamilton Counties.” Five years later, the name was shortened and simplified to Salem Lutheran, meaning “peace.”
In 1874, the first Salem country church was built. In 1915, a new brick church was completed in Roland.
Sometime before 1920, a storm damaged the pointed tower tops on the original brick church. The decision was made to redesign them and remove the points, a look that continues today.
Additions and improvements were made to the current church, including the west-side addition in 1950 and a new narthex addition in 1985.