The story of Moe Lutheran Parish is one of which its people are justifiably proud. Their story begins with immigrants who came from the Scandinavian countries, particularly Norway, at a time when those countries had too many people and too little to offer in terms of economic and social opportunity. It started with a dream, a dream of America, a place where land could be had in abundance and where one’s social status was limited only by ability and ambition, American, the land of the free. So they came by the thousands to America and in particular to the upper-Midwest to spread out and establish farming communities. They came to homestead in central Minnesota and establish a small township named Moe, named for a Province in Norway. It was a difficult life without the amenities we in our present day take for granted. In the early years of Moe township life was a constant struggle for survival with the Norwegians and Finns mostly to the south of Brandon and the German Catholic heritage settling more north.
Although life was difficult in the early years it was easier for the Norwegians to leave Norway than it was to get Norway out of the Norwegians. The early settlers experienced homesickness for the old country and found in themselves a spiritual hunger that all of the economic promise and opportunity could not satisfy. Because of this hunger they began to plot out land for churches and cemeteries. Their yearning was for a church where they could be spiritually fed in accordance with the customs of their ancestors. This became a reality with Our Savior’s Lutheran Congregation was founded on September 9, 1867. Our Savior’s Lutheran Congregation is the oldest congregation of Norwegian heritage in Douglas County. It met in the home of Andreas Urness, one of the charter members. The developing pastor was Rev. Thomas Johnson of Nicollet County, Minnesota. The charter members, 67 in number, were pioneer residents of Pope, Douglas, and Grant counties.
For the first several years the congregation met in homes and school houses. They were served on an occasional basis by pioneer pastors who passed through. In 1872 L.A. Carlson came from Norway to serve as the first resident pastor. This same year the name of the congregation was changed to Moe Congregation, as this was to honor the district in which many of the settlers had come from. The same year they were admitted into the Norwegian Synod, although they had from the very beginning associated themselves with the Norwegian Church of America.
WEST MOE ALTAR
Land had been purchased by the congregation the year before L.A. Carlson came. He was the first to live in the parsonage which was built the second year he was here. He had scarcely served the church a year before the synod called him to Australia to be a missionary pastor. Late in the fall of 1875, A.J. Stadstad came and Pastor Carlson left. Pastor Stadstad worked with the pioneers in the building of the church. They began the actual building in 1876. The following spring the church was available for use. The church could be used for meetings but was not finished enough to be used during the cold weather for a few more years. The church was dedicated June 1889, by Dr. Johannes Ylvisaker.
Pastor Stadstad left the congregation in 1886 and Pastor Carlson was called back from Australia to to take charge of the Moe Congregation.
Pastor Carlson came back and served the Moe Congregation for another two years. During this period in our history, 20 pioneer women, together with Rev. L. Carlson organized a ladies aid, which has been a vigorous organization ever since that May day in 1888.
The East Moe Lutheran Church was built in 1882 just west of Garfield on land donated by Hans Pederson. On September 3, 1882 , the first worship service was held in the new church. A meeting was held on May 28, 1886 for the purpose of organizing the church as Ostre Moe (East Moe) and for electing officers. At that time, there were 172 members of the congregation. Since East Moe Church was founded, 20 pastors have served the congregation.
WEST MOE PIPE ORGAN
1903 saw an addition built on to the church to be used for Sunday School (West Moe). In 1907, tin was placed on the walls and ceiling of the church. Rev. M.B. Juul, during his last year of service to this church helped this congregation to purchase a pipe organ. In 1983, a pipe organ repair fund was established. Wayne Becker, with the help of a number of church members, was successful in getting it into condition to be played. It is now being played several times per year and its beautiful tone pleases everyone!
East and West Moe churches have a rich history that includes many active and faithful people and children. They have celebrated their 100th and 125th anniversaries and continue to welcome people to worship. Although both congregations have since grown smaller they are still filled with faithful people who have a strong faith and desire to follow God. Each and every member is very proud of their history, heritage, and church…of who they are and where they have come from. There are many rich traditions that are still present in worship every Sunday morning and you are invited to come and worship with us!