Celebrating 120 years
Photos and coverage of Faith Lutheran's 120th anniversary celebration

on August 18, 2002


Picture of Faith Lutheran Church in Hazard, Nebraska

Photo of Pastor Dean Hanson
Pastor Hanson

The birth of Faith Lutheran traces back to 1882 where area Danes and Norwegians organized worship services in sod homes. Construction of a sod church on corner of the Toby Nelson farm was completed in 1893. In 1903 a frame church replaced the sod. Rev. Knedson, who served from 1928 to 1938, prompted members to move the church structure to town. In 1940 the church was relocated to its present home in Hazard, and has seen expansion throughout the century. Today, descendants of these early families continue to enjoy worship services here. Among its members was the late Lenore King, --one of the most charitable and prominent community leaders in the history of Hazard. Faith Lutheran has been a member of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod since 1995. Pastor Dean Hanson has served the church since 1993.

The History of Faith Lutheran Church in Hazard, Nebraska
Compiled and edited by Lenore King
Originally published in Hazard's Wheels of Time centennial book, Ola Criffield, editor

Faith Lutheran Church was organized under the name of Sweetwater Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Congregation by a group of Danes and Norwegians. Attending the organizational meeting on May 23, 1882 were Jens Spangsberg, Jacob Benson, M. Thorgrimson, E.A. Rosvald, E. Nervig, and Admund Olson. Rev. P.T. Hilmen, pastor of the congregation at Newman Grove, occasionally served this congregation until the Sweetwater congregation called Rev. P.A. Widvey. Pastor Widvey served from October 4, 1884 until July 31, 1895. Pastor Widvey lived in a sod house in Round Valley where he also served the larger congregation there.

In 1888, two brothers, Tobias Nelson and Nils Nilson, sailed from Norway with their wives to America. Nils also brought his daughter, his wife's mother, and his grandpa Reinertson. These families joined the congregation on September 19, 1888. The Ludvig Larson and Abraham Reinertson families moved from White Hall, Michigan in the fall of 1893 and joined the congregation on April 15, 1894.

Until 1893, services were held in the sod homes of the members. A sod church was built on the northwest corner of the Toby Nelson farm and the first worship and Sunday School was held there on the February 26, 1893. Services were held every Sunday and Holy Day whether the minister was there or not. In the pastors absence, Nils Nilson would read a sermon from a collection of sermons approved by the leaders of the synod. From the latter part of 1888 and for many years therefore, Nils Nilson was the Sunday Teacher and Deacon.

Rev. P.A. Widvey left the following record of his official duties while he served from November 3, 1884 to July 31, 1895:
162 services; 27 children baptized; 2 children confirmed - Josephine Olson and Alfred Reinertson; 1 marriage - Rosvald and Josephine Olson; 11 interred; and 122 guests at the Lord's Table (a steady growth from 5 in 1885 to 21 in 1894).

Rev. Thoen served the congregation from 1895 to 1897. Rev. N.C.A. Garness preached at his own installation service in February of 1998. Pastor Garness lived in Broken Bow. The membership of the congregation increased dramatically with the joining of C.P. Freman, and the families of Julian Johnson, Evan Evenson, and Edwart Olson. Martin Lund joined the congregation in 1901.

In 1903 a frame church was built on two acres of land donated by Fred Rasmussen. The church cost $1,000. The congregation subscribed $600 and they borrowed $400 at no interest. There were now 63 members and 12 voting members. The cornerstone laid in 1903 contained the following:
Confessions of the Synod; Kirketitende; Luther's Small Catechism; New Testament; County Newspaper; and Congregation's History.

Rev. H.A. Gundmundson served the congregation for one year in 1904. George Hendricksen then served from 1905 to 1907. He lived in Broken Bow and served Hazard, Round Valley, and St. John's at Hemingford. He drove a team of horses and buggy to serve his parishes.

Rev. Gundmunsen was then called back to the congregation at Sweetwater. At this time he stayed from 1907 to 1915. He was the first pastor to live in the new parsonage built in 1907. Traveling by train, he also served Round Valley and St. Libory. Using his two-seated buggy and horses, he took some of the children to a thirty day parochial school each June at the church in the country. The children would prepare a program for presentation at the 4th of July picnic held in the Lund pasture. Later, the congregation was able to obtain the services of parochial teachers Remine Reinertson, Mrs. Langseth, and Sigrid Berg, all of whom had attended church colleges.

Rev. Langseth was called and served the Sweetwater Lutheran Church from 1915 to 1925. He encouraged the congregation at Round Valley to build a new church. Traveling by train at reduced clergyman fares, he also served St. John's at Hemingford and St. Libory. Both Pastor Langseth and his wife died there and were laid to rest in the Sweetwater Lutheran Cemetery.

Rev. J.M. Erickson served from 1925 to 1928. He started a Bible School for the children around the Sweetwater area. Rev. Knedson served from 1928 to 1938. He urged the congregation to move the church structure to Hazard which was not done until 1940. Pastor N.J. Holm served from 1938 to 1943. At his suggestion, the envelope system for the collecting was started. O.J. Lundly was pastor from 1943 to 1949.

Pastor S. Tverberg and his wife had done thirty years of missionary work in Madagascar prior to accepting the call to Hazard. He served only from 1949 to 1950 but persuaded many familiews into joining the congregation. Pastor E.C. Eid was one of the same missionary spirit. His service from 1950 to 1957 added still more families to the congregation.

Pastor Vernon Anderson served the Hazard Lutheran Church and the Basin Church (12mi. south of Mason City) from 1957 to 1961. S.F. Iverson served the congregation during his internship year in 1961. E.M. Mueller served in 1962. After S.F. Iverson finished his work at the seminary and was ordained, he was called to serve his intern parish at Hazard from 1963 to 1966. Under his guidance the congregation decided to remodel and enlarge the church structure. On April 25, 1965 the Dedication service was held and the church was renamed Faith Lutheran. Claude Constable was pastor from 1973 to 1979. Jerry Jeffries was was pastor from 1979 to 1983. Pastor Steve Siebel served from 1983 to 1984. Vicar John Hanson served from 1985 to 1986. From August 1986 to May 1988, the congregation was served by supply pastors. Rev. Ray Parrish served from May 1988 to September 1990. Supply pastors were again used until August 1993, when Pastor Dean Hanson of Grace Lutheran in Pleasanton responded to the call to serve the church as well. In 1995 Faith Lutheran and Grace Lutheran entered into a partnership where Pastor Hanson has been serving both churches to the present.

120th Anniversary
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