Luther Valley Church


Newark Township, Rock County, Wisconsin

Courtesy of Carol

There are no records of the first meetings of the Luther Valley Church, but the
Reverend C. L. CLAUSEN, from Racine county, preached at the house of Hellik BREKKE on the 8th day of February, 1844, and that some kind of an organization was effected we infer from the fact that a call was made to Norway for a minister, stipulating his salary, etc.
Meanwhile Rev. J. C. W. DIETRICKSEN had sailed for America and Luther
Valley Church was referred to him. But he located at Koshkonong and the congregation was but sparingly served by him and CLAUSEN until July 31, 1846, when the last named arrived as resident minister, accepting a call that was tendered him on the 29th day of December, 1845. Since then the Luther Valley Church has had a settled pastor.
Rev. CLAUSEN served until 1851, when he resigned and Rev. G.
DIETRICKSEN was called. He had charge of the congregation until 1859, when he returned to Norway and his place was occupied by Rev. C. F. MAGELSEN. Rev. MAGELSEN continued the work until 1869, when he resigned and the congregation was again temporarily served by its first pastor, the Rev. C. L. CLAUSEN, then of St. Ansgar, Ia. On his recommendation, the church sent a call to Rev. I. M. EGGEN, who accepted and had charge of the congregation until 1882, when he moved to Lyle, Minn., and the present pastor, Rev. J. A. BERGH, began his work.
Until about 1865 southern Wisconsin formed the center of the Norse population in
America, and several important conventions were held in the Luther Valley Church - among them may be mentioned that the organization of the Norwegian Synod was begun here in January, 1851, and completed at a meeting in October, 1853.
Of this ecclesiastical body the Luther Valley Church was a charter member, but
believing that slavery was a sinful institution, the congregation withdrew from the synod in 1868. This brought the resignation of Rev. MAGELSEN, and although he was very popular among the people, the resignation was adopted by a vote of 126 to 47. Those that sympathized with the synod, built a church of their own in Orfordville, and were served by Rev. MAGELSEN.
At first the Luther Valley people of course had to worship in private houses, but a
church was built in 1847. It was of lime stone and rather small, but served until 1871, when it was torn down and a new and larger one built on its site. At the same time another church was built in the western part of the congregation.
On the first Sunday in Advent,1846, the Luther Valley Church consisted of sixty-five
families, 171 communicants and 250 members; in April, 1882, when Rev. BERGH took charge, it had 111 families, 330 communicants and 571 members, and on August 2nd, 1896, fifty years after the first settled pastor began his work, we find 179 families, 548 communicants and 1,090 members. At the present writing (1907) the church numbers 220 families, about 600 communicants and 1.200 members. Among members baptized, children of parents belonging to the church are counted.
The Luther Valley congregation has two churches, and a parsonage consisting of [a]
house and thirty-five acres of land. The parsonage is located in Plymouth [township], the East church in Newark [township], and the West church in Spring Valley township, Rock county, Wisconsin.
[Source: Rock County, Wisconsin: A new history of it's cities, villages, etc., Vol. I, by William Fiske Brown (editor-in-chief); ©1908 C. F. Cooper, Chicago, IL; pp. 280-281]

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