by Lloyd Nielson

Lincoln County Icelandic Lutheran Church

In November of 1879, the Icelandic Settlers organized a congregation. Thirty-two charter members signed the Constitution with annual dues of 50 cents to be paid in two installments. In 1881, the services of Rev. Halldor Briem (a pastor from Iceland) were obtained.

In May of 1884 a building site for a church was decided by the flip of a coin. A structure 30' x 18' x 12' was completed by Kristjan Schrain on July 1, 1884. At the first meeting in the new "Meeting House" plans were made to have debates, speeches and discussions on various subjects.

On May 8,1886, official approval was made with Johann Jonsson to pay one year's taxes on his 160-acre farm in return for a two-acre building site on his farm in Section 20 of Limestone Township. The tax amounted to $13.60. Twelve years later the plot sold for $60.00 and the building for $155.00.

On November 6, 1886, the organization, now called the "Progressive Society", made plans to landscape the grounds and members pledged to donate 170 trees to plant around the Meeting House. Plans also were made to hold a raffle to raise money for chairs. One hundred chairs were purchased for $44.00, plus $2.00 for hauling from Minneota.

In December, 1888 the organization was again renamed the "Reading Society". $30.00 was spent for books, three-fourths to be Icelandic and one-fourth English or Danish. Also in December, 1888 a separate organization was formed which called Rev. N. Steingrimur Thorlaksson. He served until 1895 when he was replaced by Rev. B.B. Jonsson.

In the summer of 1899 a church was built. Rev. Jonsson served as pastor until 1914. During the next four years, the congregation had several pastors; among them were Rev. Fridrik Fredrickson of Iceland and Rev. Runolfur Fjeldstad. In 1918 a call was accepted by Rev. Guttormur Guttormsson, who served until his death in 1956 at which time he was president of the Icelandic Synod.

In the fall of 1922, the church building was struck by lightning and burned to the ground. Many church records were also destroyed in the fire. A new structure was built on the same site and dedicated in June, 1925.

Other pastors after Rev. Guttormsson were Rev. Wallace Bergman, Rev. Donald R. Johnson, and Rev. L. Jerome Anderson. When Rev. Anderson left in 1966, due to few members, it was voted to disband and merge with other churches in the area.

Church organizations included a Luther League in the early 1900's. It was replaced by a "Young People's Society" in the early 1920's. The Ladies' Aid was organized on Dec. 17, 1899 with thirteen charter members. They were faithful to the work of the church whenever and wherever needed until the disbanding of the church.