VOLGA – A beautiful baptismal font that once adorned the flourishing Lutheran Church in Oslo has been donated to the Brookings County Museum.
It will be on display at the museum when it opens for the summer months at 1 p.m. on Sunday, May 30.
Until Labor Day, the museum will be open from 1 pm to 4 pm seven days a week. Admission is free.
For nearly a decade, Oslo Lutheran was a quintessential rural church serving pioneer Scandinavian farmers who in the 1880s settled in the canton of Oslo south of the Volga and east of Sinai.
It was founded in 1888 by 11 families, including Tollef Hammerness, John Hjelle, Ole Westrum, Carl Dahle, Pete Pederson, Ole Stumley, Martin Sterud, John Magistad, Isak Tvedt, JE Lerum and John Larson.
N. Brandt served the congregation as the first pastor, meeting with members only once a month until June 1889. The church then hired Markus Svaren, who would travel to the area serving Oslo and six other congregations. of the region.
For several years, the founding families and others who joined later took turns organizing home services. They then met at a school turned into a small church on land near the HC Hellekson farm.
In 1891 Ole Westrum donated land for a church and the converted school was demolished and moved to Westrum land where it was rebuilt as a church.
About 20 years later, the Westrum brothers sell a plot adjoining the church which has become a cemetery.
Services first took place in the new building in 1893. The cost paid to Lake County contractor John Swenson for its reconstruction was $ 1,200.
In 1907 the carpentry skills of farmer / parishioners John Lund and Carl Pederson were called to service.
They built an altar and the baptismal font which will now be on display for the first time in the museum when it opens on May 30.
The font is 53 inches high. It is hexagonal in shape and its six sides fit together almost perfectly, indicating the skill and attention to detail that Lund and Pederson had for woodworking. Their fine work was long before the arrival of power tools.
The font basin, in which consecrated water was placed, is a simple, unadorned white enamel saucepan that in the early 1900s, when the font was made, could have been purchased as a sink in n ‘ any hardware store in the Volga or Sinai for less than a dollar.
The church and farms surrounding the church in Oslo flourished for nearly a century, thanks to the hard work and agricultural knowledge of those who worked the fertile fields. The remarkable and dramatic advances in agricultural equipment that began in the 1930s gradually replaced horse-drawn equipment.
Ironically, as was the case with so many rural churches, these technological advancements in agriculture allowed farming families to operate larger farms. Membership in the Church began to decline.
With declining membership, the Lutheran Church in Oslo was dissolved in 1982, with most members seeking solace at the Lutheran Church of Our Savior in Brookings. During its active use, the baptismal font has been the focal point of more than 250 ceremonies.
One of the baptized at the Oslo church was Blaine Hoff, a retired Volga banker who is now the volunteer caretaker of the Oslo cemetery. Hoff recently donated the police to the museum on behalf of all of Oslo’s former Lutheran parishioners.
He had been baptized in the fonts on a cold Christmas Eve in 1944.
This historic Oslo cast, now in its 115th year, is a simple yet beautiful example of one of the most important sacred icons of the Christian Church, and now becomes a permanent reminder of the history of the rural church of Brookings County.
The sturdy structure survived the tornado
Twenty years after the Oslo church closed in 1982, a tornado erupted in the area. Diving above the church building caused only slight damage by pushing the old building slightly out of its cement foundation.
However, the July 2002 storm knocked down many old trees on the church property and several gravestones in the adjacent cemetery were damaged.