Church: Withee – Nazareth Lutheran (80th Anniversary – 1973)


Surnames: Knudsen, Mikelsen, Sullivan, Leager, Pedersen, Bundgaard, Hansen, Gwin, Nielsen, Mailand, Frost, Sorensen, Andersen, Feldman

---------Source: OWEN ENTERPRISE (Owen, Clark County, Wis.) 11 Oct 1973

Nazareth Lutheran Church of Withee (Clark Co., Wis.) celebrated its 80th anniversary on Sunday, October 7, 1973. Over 200 members and guests attended a special Communion Service in the morning, and the Anniversary dinner at noon. An afternoon program at the church featured Danish music and messages from former pastors.

The Celebration of Holy Communion at 10:30 a.m. followed the old Danish service, although in the English language. The Rev. Dr. Johannes Knudsen, a leader in the former Danish Lutheran Church, gave the sermon. He was president of Grand View College in Des Moines, Iowa during the 1940's, then dean of Grand View Seminary. Before his retirement two years ago, he was Professor of Church History and Dean of the graduate school at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. He is editor of "Kirke og Folk", a Danish periodical.

Two former pastors of the congregation attended the service. The Rev. Beryl Knudsen, pastor from 1959 to 1966, came from Des Moines, Iowa, where he is now admissions counselor at Grand View College. The Rev. Michael Mikelsen, pastor from 1930 to 1937, came from Minneapolis, where he is now living in retirement. The present pastor, Robert Sullivan, celebrated the Communion.

Other special guests of the day were Mrs. Emelia Leager of Brush, Colorado, the wife of the former pastor, P.H. Pedersen. Now deceased, he was pastor at Withee from 1925 to 1930. Mrs. Anna Bundgaard, who lives in Withee, is the wife of Pastor L.C. Bundgaard, who served here from 1942 until 1949.

At the afternoon program, the Rev. Beryl Knudsen was the main speaker. He recalled the circumstances under which the congregation was formed in 1893, and stressed the importance of strong lay leadership in the past and for the future of the church.

Special music of of the Danish tradition was offered by the Nazareth choir, with solos by Mrs. V.A. Hansen, Mrs. Beryl Knudsen, and Mrs. Hugh Gwin. Organist and Choir Director, Miss Louis Hansen, arranged the music for the day.

Nazareth Lutheran Church was founded in 1893 by Pastor A.S. Nielsen and three families from Chicago, who moved to Withee and settled here. Pastor Nielsen retired as president of the Danish Synod in order to come to Withee. The one person still living who can remember that time, Mrs. Helvine Mailand of Des Moines, was unable to attend due to ill health, but sent a greeting to read Sunday. She was the daughter of Peter Frsot, one of the original founders.

Those who attended the Anniversary celebration enjoyed many old pictures assembled and displayed for the occasion, as well as a special booklet prepared for the occasion, which included translated notes from the old Danish records of the congregation. A coffee hour was sponsored by the Nazareth youth Group in the afternoon.

The 80th anniversary was planned by a committee chaired by Mrs. Esther Sorensen. Members of the committee were: Sig Sorensen, Mr. and Mrs. Emil H. Hansen, Helga Andersen, Mr. and Mrs. Art Feldman, Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Frost.




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