Pastor C. A. Bjork, now president for the Svenska Missionsforbundet in America (Swedish Covenant Church in America) visited Grand Rapids quite early. I have not been able to find out for sure which year it was, but it was in the latter part of the 70s. Mr. and Mrs. Rose (also Wadels) were known to him from Chicago and through them came Pastor Bjork. They complained to him that the work progressed so slowly. When Pastor Bjork came here he had the congregation arrange a mission meeting (missionsmote) at the time he arrived here. A few got saved. The first mission meeting was possibly 1889 and after this they had those meetings ever so often with some souls being saved at every meeting. One can say, that those meetings speeded up the Lord's work. Bjork was here several times at those meetings. Always when he came he cheered the members and it became "jubilation and feast" among the believers. Pastor Bjork himself wrote about his visits here: "Grand Rapids was one of the first places that I visited in West Michigan. My first visit there was caused by knowing brother John Rose. In his and his brother-in-law Anderson's home, had I and other preachers our favorite resort. We then had our meetings in private homes or rented places. God's Word proved its power even in that time. I have seen souls awakened from their sins and receive peace with God in Grand Rapids. I have always felt at home in this church and gladly made my visits there. God shall, in the future, crown His work with success in this church."
Even A. P. Johnson (Tustin, Michigan), well-known over this field through his many visits, often traveled to Grand Rapids. (He is now gone home with the Lord).
In this way the work progressed slowly. A few believers moved here from Sweden. In the year 1882 the church joined the Mission-Synod and contributed to its mission. The same year the church was incorporated. Now the work had progressed to the point that they felt strong enough to build their own assembly house called "missionshuset". A lot was bought, the same one on which the present church now stands, and November 2, 1883 the church was dedicated.
At that time the church building was called "Missionshuset". The size of the building was 60 x 36 feet and seated about 300 persons. Money for the building was collected by subscription and many Americans contributed by giving $50, 25, 20 dollars. The members did the best they could. During that period of time all were poor, almost nobody owned their own home. But they were united and all were helping. Therefore, it was successful. The church property was worth $3,000. At the time of dedication, there was a mortgage of only $727. The membership at that time was 40. The building was very simple without all kinds of decorations like most of the mission churches that were built at that time. But it served its purpose. And there was great enjoyment among the members and friends at the time of dedication. A great victory was won for this brave little congregation. She now had her own home. And now for the first time can we expect progress and growth in our work.
At the church dedication festivities the following pastors were present: Bjork, John Petterson and Hultman.
John Peterson related to me a little episode and others remember it as well. For some reason the smoke did not go out the chimney but the smoke came into the sanctuary so it was almost impossible to keep the eyes open and to speak was harder still. Peterson had a great difficulty preaching so he coughed, worked and had a lot of trouble. The trouble was finally overcome. It is worse if it smokes in the temple of our hearts of jealousy, lovelessness, selfishness, faultfinding, etc. Anyway, in spite of this episode, it was a good meeting. Many people had congregated so that the church was packed. Pastor Hultman played and sang mightily: "Oh come and sing to the Lord and highly praise His name."
* * *
<- FORSAMLING (church) | FRANK AUGUST STABERG ->