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Humboldt United Methodist Church

Celebrates 100 years


Editor's Note: The following information was taken from the 75th Anniversary of the Humboldt United Methodist book

Our Church History

Back in the year 1881, a man of courage and short of stature came on mission into this area.

There was not a village of Humboldt at that time, just scattered settlers on the treeless prairie.

The man won easily the warm admiration of the pioneers and with quiet dignity he talked with the country folk, who were reverent with thankful hearts for the blessings that had been bestowed upon them.

The man, Rev. Goldie, inspired by the kindred strength and loyalty in his followers, rode on horseback from the village of Emerson, Manitoba, to commune with the early Christian-minded settlers.

The weekly fellowship brought forth prayer meetings, believed to have been the first church organization of its kind in this area.

Since there was not available a building in which the meetings could be held, the pioneers offered graciously the hospitality of their homes. It is remembered that the Charles Clow, William Jury, and Ambrose Clow homes were frequented most regularly.

With departure of Rev. Goldie in 1882, Rev. Hovis followed painstakingly in his footsteps.

The rise of the depot in the year 1883 gave birth to the village of Humboldt and the post office, named Fairview, which had its beginning just prior, changed its name to Humboldt to avoid further confusion.

The year 1884 gave birth to another historical event, for the first school house was built two miles north of the present school, on what was then known as the Duncan Cameron farm.

With the arrival of Rev. Trelawany in 1885, the prayer meetings grew in significance and the atmosphere in the newly built school house, pleasant and spiritual, cemented friendships and associations of long standing.

The Rev. Lomas in 1890, Rev. Hall in 1891, and Rev. Baker in 1892 found the newly organized field as challenging as did the predecessors.

Later in the year of 1893, the Rev. J. B. Moore, who had spent many years in Labrador as missionary to the Eskimos, entered the field confident that the little church so long wanted could at last become a reality.

It is believed that the pioneers did not go into debt for the newly anticipated church for there is not a record substantiating that. However, suppers, such as the one given by the Gillespies at the well known Reed farm in the year 1897, is believed to have strengthened the financial backing of its building.

The pioneers gave unsparingly of their time and anyone who could pound a straight nail carpentered on the site one and a half miles from the village on the corner where 59 now crosses the gravel going to the Ash farm.

As we continue to speak of the church origin, it seems only appropriate that we refer to the generosity of James Diamond who had made a gift of this site.

That same year, with the advent of the first Sunday School under the superintendency of George Matthew, with Sanford Balderston as treasurer and Victor Clow as secretary, the Rev. Moore set sail for a three month sojourn in the Holy Land.

It was Sunday, December 18, 1898, the day was cold and a brisk north wind made comfortable with woolen caps and scarfs. It was a memorable day for it marked the first dedication services for the early pioneering people in the little Methodist Church of Humboldt - about one and a half miles north of its present location.

The morning service at 10:30 o'clock officiated by Rev. J. G. Moore and Presiding Elder Klingel lent a serenity to the occasion memorable still, to those who were present. It was followed by an afternoon service at 2:30.

The acting stewards, Ambrose Clow, Mrs. James Walker, George Matthew, Mrs. Seneca Thomson, were all present as were the Board of Trustees, William Clow, William Jury, Sam Maxwell, Richard Sylvester, George Matthew and Ambrose Clow.

The congregation arrived in good time and were ushered reverently to their seats by ushers, William Easton and Charles Clow.

The Methodist choir of Pembina, which at that time included Frank King, Gus Short, his wife Mrs. Short, and Wilbur Short, rendered the special music of the day.

Later in the service, James Wardwell, who was then but fifteen years old, sang, as well as, Mrs. Everson, better known perhaps to many of the home folks as Alva Walker.

And now as you continue to reminisce you will hear the organist, Mrs. Easter, playing at interludes the old familiar hymn.

The dedicatory service by Reverends Klinger and Forbes followed the song.

As we proceed with the Church History, we find that prior to this time Humboldt had been a point on the Pembina charge of the North Dakota Conference. Geographically, however, it was felt it belonged to the Minnesota Conference. Sometime, a bit later, the laborious efforts of the Rev. Forbes, Presiding Elder of the Duluth District, bore fruit and it was transferred to the Northern Minnesota Conference at which place it is still established.

Immediately on the rise of the Conference in 1899 the new pastor, the Rev. George Swinnerton, a native of England hastened to this charge commencing duties on the second Sunday of October, 1899.

There was some consideration at this time, relative to the moving of the church. Currently the topic gave way to discussions. The village folk favored the change for there were many who did not have a conveyance in which to commute. At large the pioneers were eager to keep alive the already dedicated church. In cooperation, negotiations in the way of a restricted lease was drawn up by the church trustees and James Hill, then king of the railroad. The lease, in the hands of the church treasurer, expires in the year 1998.

As in all newly organized projects there were many things to consider and the Rev. Swinnerton found that a growing need for a parsonage was fast evident. In the early spring of 1900 and under the supervision of the Rev. Swinnerton, a new parsonage was built at St. Vincent for the entire charge. The nominal cost was $600.

About this time we have an account of the first Ladies Aid Society which was organized in the home of the then Great Northern agent, Mrs. Baken, whose living quarters were in the depot. Mrs. Chidlaw was elected president. Shortly afterwards, however, the Chidlaws moved and Mrs. J. D. Irving became acting successor.

The new pastor, Rev. Charles Flesher, in May 1901 brought about the event of the first recorded baptismal and wedding ceremony. The baptismal service on April 29, 1901 records Wallace, Florance, Edward, Carrie, John, Sadie, and Margaret, children of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Cameron of St. Vincent.

It was not until the year 1923 that we have a record of the first church wedding, Merle Williams of Humboldt and Peter Anderson of North Star community.

During the course of the five ensuing years, the Pastors Johnson, Manly, Smith, Harrington, and Chappels served respectively.

The years 1910 and 1911 brought Rev. Mason into this field.

In the year 1912, the Rev. George Fenscke came to this pastorate.

Rev. Fenscke was removed October 10, 1913 by order of conference and the Rev. George Powell was sent to minister in this pastorate. Rev. Powell delivered his first sermon in the Humboldt Church on Sunday, December 28, 1913.

The Women's Foreign Missionary and a Junior Missionary were organized by Rev. Powell.

Following Rev. Robertson, a Presbyterian minister came to this pastorate. Rev. Robertson encouraged the buildiing of the present parsonage here in Humboldt. Before it was completely finished, the Nelson Finney family, whose home had been entirely destroyed by fire, moved tentatively into the newly built structure. The interior of the building was improved at intervals. However, it was not until the arrival of Rev. Ingram that the parsonage gave home to a minister and family. Sometime later the parsonage at St. Vincent was sold, making the parsonage here the permanent home of the pastors for the St. Vincent and Humboldt Church.

Conference the next year 1922 made possible the Rev. A. R. Henry of New York, who preached his first sermon on October 18, 1922. Rev. Henry established an Athletic Club and Play Day and made active the Epworth League.

The years 1925 and 1926 brought forth the Rev. Hart.

He married a local girl, Irene Jenkins.

The Rev. H. H. Gilbert in the year 1927 and Rev. Bartholomew in 1928 were both of Canadian descent. Commuting from Winnipeg, as they did, they would arrive by train Saturday evening and remain until sometime in mid-week when, through the hospitality of some one local, they would take the early morning train from Noyes home again.

Rev. Ingram, who preached his farewell sermon September 23, 1930, was moved after two years of service to Villard and the Rev. D. Stanley McGuire coming to this conference from the Pacific Northwest was appointed to this charge. During this ministry a bell was placed in the tower and an electric cross was installed in the rear of the chancel. An upright piano was purchased by the Epworth League for $100.

New hymnals were placed in the church, 40 new members were enrolled and 26 baptisms were recorded.

The Rev. Wagner and Engelgretson were appointed to the Humboldt and St. Vincent charge arriving October 11, 1934.

During the summer of the year 1940, the church received a gift of $500 from Mrs. Congdon of Duluth. The fund completed the Church Hall.

With the help of the women in the community, the hall was made ready for its first Community Thanks Service which later instituted the annual Harvest Festival, an all day Sunday meeting held in November. The Christmas party and the birthday party in February were also instituted during Rev. Wagner and Engelbretson's ministry here.

In 1945, the mortage on the Humboldt parsonage which had been in effect since 1926, was entirely cleared.. $1,677.85 was collected from members and from friends and the remaining $1,200 was given as a gift from the Board of Home Missions.

Mrs. John Easter served as the church organist for 35 years.

Rev. Pilgrim left in June 1962 and the charge was put in the hands of Rev. Ralph Kallweit. He remained until June 1968 when he was transferred to New Rockford. The Rev. Edwin H. Werner arrived in June 1968. Mrs. Werner organized the choirs from all three churches into a joint group to put on an annual Christmas Cantata. The first one was presented in 1970 and are thoroughly enjoyed by the participants and all who hear them.


Compiled by Lorna Hemmes

1973: January 15, a service of dedication and recognition to recognize painting of church ceiling and dedicate 50 new chairs. Paster Werner was pastor. At this time there were 110 on the full membership roll, 25 on the preparatory member rolls, 135 on the constituency roll and six on the associate roll. It was the 75th anniversary. The total expenses for the church were $5,867.34. Cash received was $8,501.91.

1974: The Pension Funding Crusade was approved at the annual conference on June 11, 1974, the church moved to help as we could.

1975: Rev. Farr arrived. Trustees decided to build an addition to the entry way.

1977: Pastor Farr left and Rev. Kenrad Peterson came. The new doors were purchased for the church July 13, 1977. The motion was made for the altar rail to be removed and a new altar rail be built. It was also decided to carpet the church. It was later found that the lumber was not available to build a new rail.

1978: October - a bid was accepted from Harvey Diamond for the purchase of the church parsonage.

1979: Church was painted and decided to put a railing up by the front door. Marvin Hallberg was contracted to do the painting. 40 new Bibles were purchased.

1980: A reorganized schedule was proposed for Sunday church times. Humboldt 8:30; Joliette 10:00; Pembina 11:15. The Administrative Council plan of organization was officially adopted as the form of local church government instead of an administrative board.

1981: The proposed budget for the year was $12,074.

1982: A mother-daughter banquet was held April 3 at noon. Rev. Kenrad Peterson left and Rev. Ashok Suryawanski came.

1983: Jim Perkins came as minister. Expenses for 1983 were $13,890.38.

1984: The MYF performed their rendition of "Jesus Christ Superstar" for the Easter Sunrise Service. Pastor Alton Wagner is our new minister. Fans and stained glass windows were installed.

1985: Our membership roll is 81.

1986: Pastor Carl (Chip) Nielson came. The church purchased a new organ. A new copier was purchased for the parsonage.

1987: Pictures were taken and a parish directory for the three churches was made. The memorial committee purchased a TV, VCR, and cart. Lori Nelson finished her internment in our charge.

1988: Pastors Chip and Lori Nielson left and Michael Lauier came in June. Lay pastor Leonard Wilds came later to replace Rev. Lauier. Memorial committee decided to buy a plaque which lists memorials. Three youth went to New York / Washington.

1989: Church got new hymnals. Roger Grafenstein is our new minister. UMW purchased new offering plates.

1990: The church was painted. Three youth went to New York / Washington on MYF trip.

1991: Dan Daughty came to visit with us to share concerns and set some goals. Membership was 77 members. October 24 was the first meeting of the UMM group.

1992: A mission statement was developed by the PPR for our charge, being "We believe all followers of Christ are called to actively nurture and touch the lives and faith of others in our community with Jesus as our role model." Methodists were featured in the "Saturday Evening Post." Total expenses, $17,226.28.

1993: Frank McKeehan arrived as our new pastor. Pictures were taken and a new church directory was made.

1994: Lofbergs donated a new altar table and chalice to the church. Also, a new communion set in memory of Vera Bockwitz and planters in memory of William and Vera Ash.

1995: Pastor McKeehan was officially ordained.

1996: We began serving a "Shrove Tuesday" pancake supper in Pembina with the other two churches. We voted and decided to change from the Minnesota Conference to the Dakota conference. Pastor Frank left and Pastor Mark Bateson arrived. 49 members of the church remain.

1997: Pastor Linda Baldock arrived and is still here! Expenses for the year was $23,244. The flood of the century arrived. The church stayed dry! We had a big dike in front of the church and all around town. For those who "missed" the flood - it was really something to see! We began celebrating our centennial December 18 with Christmas program / birthday party.

1998: We have been busy with our centennial events and planning our celebration. Our church has been repainted.

Throughout the last 25 years our church has been busy with the different organizations - UMW, UMM, Sunday School, Bible School (which has been held jointly with Pembina and Joliette), Heavenly Disciples and UMYF.

The church will celebrate their 100th anniversary with festivities.

A video tape is being prepared of the year's activities and will be available in January, 1999.

Senior choir members are needed and can contact Audrey Ash, St. VIncent.

All UMYF'ers and former UMYF'ers are needed to review old favorites. Practice will be held Saturday, July 18, 11 a.m. Gary Johnson is the contact person.

The anniversary hymn and Centennial church projects and goals will be dedicated during the weekend.

Schedule of events include:

Saturday, July 18: 2:30 p.m. registration; 4:30 p.m. John Wesley evening service by UMYF; 5:30 p.m. Anniversary communion; 6:30 p.m. Congregational open house.

Sunday, July 19: 10 a.m. Morning worship; 12:30 p.m. BBQ dinner (reservations are needed by July 6, call Verna Lofberg 218-825-6820 or Lorna Hemmes 218-379-3205 for information); 2:30 p.m. Memories of 100 years; 4 p.m. Birthday dake and fellowship.

Other upcoming activities of the church include: August 12 Old Fashioned Ice Cream Social; September 13 Youth Sunday; October 28 All Saint's Celebration; November 1 Harvest Festival; December 18 Humboldt UMC Birthday (actual date); December 20 Christmas celebration.


Kittson County Enterprise

July 15, 1998