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History of Fron Lutheran Church, Starbuck, Minnesota

Fron Lutheran Church - Original Frame Church
(located where the current Parish Hall now stands)
Fron Lutheran Church had its formal beginning on September 27, 1880. At a meeting in Blue Mounds Township on that date, a decision was made to organize a congregation with the name “Fron Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Congregation.” Three trustees, a secretary and a treasurer were elected. A call was extended to the Reverend Ulrick C.S. Hjermstad to serve as pastor.

After Pastor Hjermstad left in 1884, the Reverend M.G.R. Skaar was called as pastor of several area congregations, including Fron. However, he found it hard to travel between the congregations. At that point, Fron was temporarily served by the Reverend Magnus Koefod, who was also pastor of Indherred, Immanuel and St. John’s congregations of rural Starbuck. Services were conducted in the old school house at Starbuck on Sunday afternoons when Reverend Koefod returned from meetings at Immanuel Church. This arrangement did not prove to be satisfactory, as congregation members in and near Starbuck wished to have more frequent services. In 1887, the Reverend H.O. Koefod was called to serve Fron congregation, and his first service was on September 9, 1888.

The congregation had felt the need for a worship center for some time, and on March 31, 1889 a decision was made to erect a church building. The structure was 56 feet long and 32 feet wide (using 16 foot posts), plus an attached chancel and sacristy. The church building was completed in the fall of 1889 but it was not formally dedicated until August 1, 1897. This structure was also known as the frame church. After the turn of the century, some of the members expressed the need for expansion of the facility. Different possibilities were discussed, including adding a basement under the frame building. None of the ideas were acted upon at this time, but several improvements (including a heating system, electric lighting, and a new organ) were made to the existing structure.

Reverend H.O. Koefod resided in Glenwood, and was the pastor at several other churches along with Fron from 1888 to the fall of 1922, when he submitted his resignation due to ill health. He conducted his last regular service in Fron Church on November 19, 1922. Because the congregation had grown to 120 families there was need to have a resident pastor for the Fron congregation alone. Pastor M. Casper Johnshoy was then called to Fron, and was installed on December 17, 1922.

In 1923, the congregation voted to repair the interior of the church building. Insulation was placed on the ceiling and the entire interior was redecorated. Also, the property on the west side of the church to the corner of the block was acquired. Meeting space for auxiliary groups and other functions was a growing need for the congregation.

During the winter of 1924 the members of the Ladies Aid and of the Starbuck Thimble Bee were working enthusiastically for the construction of church parlors (basement). East Fron, West Fron and Starbuck Fron, and the Thimble Bee, had quite a sum of money on hand for this purpose. At a meeting held on March 22, 1924, the congregation voted to accept the offer of these women’s societies to build the church parlors and pay the cost of construction. The new Fron Church parlors were built in 1924, on the corner property west of the current church building that was purchased in 1923. The dedication service for the parlors was held on November 16, 1924. On March 22, 1927 the debt for the parlors was paid up and the mortgage was burned.

During the 1930s many congregation members were dreaming of the day they could build a new church building on top of the church parlors. In 1940, several members asked O. Emil Larson, local contractor and member of Fron, to prepare preliminary sketches for a future building program. On February 26, 1941, the congregation authorized a committee to carry out fundraising. A gift of $10,000 from Hulda Siverson gave a tremendous impetus to the building program. On April 9, 1941 the congregation officially elected a Building Fund Committee and a Church Building Committee.

The congregation voted unanimously to proceed with the building of a new church sanctuary, and to dispose of the old frame church as well. The cornerstone for the new building was laid on August 3, 1941. Dedication services for the completed church building were held on February 12, 1942. The total amount of all the contracts for the new church was about $41,000.


Fron Lutheran Church - Present Day
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