The history of the Highland Lutheran Church in Clayton County, Iowa begins at the close of the 19th and the dawn of the 20th Centuries, at that time a small group of earnest, resolute Christian men determined to build a church in their community. The first meeting was held in the Little Schoolhouse District No. 2 in Highland Township. This was also the site of the Highland Lutheran Sunday School which was begun a few years prior to the building of the church.
Rev. Jacob Tanner, then Pastor of the Clermont-Norway-Marion Parish, was elected chairman of the meeting with Mr. Guttorin Gunderson serving as secretary. A committee on finance was elected and eight hundred dollars ($800.00) was then and there pledged. The question of location was of primary importance. An offer of land for both church and cemetery was given by Mr. Peder Larson and was gratefully accepted. Although the site was some distance from the public highway, it was the center of the community to be served, numbering a total of fifty (50) members at its inception. The obstacle of the distance from a highway was overcome by a decision to bring the Highway to the church.
As early as 1900 the ladies of the church organized a Kvinde Forening or ladies group to raise money to be kept separate from the first funds. It was for the purpose of purchasing a bell-which was not to exceed eight hundred and fifty (850) pounds- an organ, carpet and a number of other church fixtures.
It was time to build. The contract for stone work for the foundation and the basement was let on January 24th, 1900 to Mr. S.O. Thompson. On November 4th, 1900 the very first service was held, the occasion being the laying of the cornerstone. Pastor Jakob Tanner, called as the first Pastor of the church, conducted the service since a copy of the constitution was not available, the cornerstone was not laid until later, on December 12th, 1900.
On November 17th, 1900 the Highland Lutheran Congregation was officially organized, a constitution and bylaws adopted, and officers elected. A resolution was adopted that the congregation should become effective December 11th, 1901. It was on September 1, 1901 that the Highland Lutheran Church was dedicated. Over eight hundred (800) people attended this impressive ceremony. The work was done, the church they had talked about, dreamed about, toiled and sacrificed to build stood complete, a monument to t he honor of its founders and to the glory of God. Numerous gifts had been contributed, and with these included, the total outlay for the church was $3,276.50.
At the time of the founding of the church at Highland, the congregations at Clermont, Marion, and Norway formed one parish. Highland was then added to this Parrish, all served by Pastor Tanner. It became evident that it was more than one minister could care for alone, and that other arrangements would be necessary. Thus at a special meeting of all the congregations held at Marion Lutheran, Gunder on March 4th, 1903 a resolution was adopted providing for a division of the Parrish into two. Eventually with much concern evidenced, Marion joined with Norway and Clermont with Highland. The Clermont-Highland Parsonage was located in Clermont, and that of the Marion-Norway at St. Olaf. Following are the names of the Pastors who have served Highland Lutheran Church. Rev. Jakob Tanner (1900-1903), Rev. Peter Dreyer (1903-1906), Rev. J. Theo. Bursett (1906-1914), Rev. C. H. Hjortholm (1914-1921), Rev. Gustav Gunsten (1921-1937), Rev. E.E. Ramsey (1937-1942), Rev. A.O. Nesset (1943-1952), Rev. S.B. Knudsen (1952-1954), Rev. Vance R. Knudsen (1954-1957), Rev. Dennis Stutrud (1957-19610, Rev. Casper Fjelstul (1962-1966), Rev. Denny J. Brake (1966-1971), Rev. Duane A. Berg (1972-)
- Highland Lutheran Church Seventy-Fifth Anniversary Commerative Booklet
- transcribed by Sharon Stendel Pratt
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