FORSAMLING (Church)

This happened June 12, 1880 in Hans Johnson's home and the following eight persons were they who started the church (forsamlingen). They were the same number of people, who were saved by Noah's Ark. The following persons were present as charter members: John Rose, John Tournell, P.L. Anderson, John A. Johnson, Hans Johnson, Mrs. Hans Johnson, J. August Svenson and J.W. Svenson. Nels Johnson was also present although he did not join at that time. The following fall four women also joined. The "forsamling" or church, then consisted of 12 members at the end of the first year. This then was the Day of the Small Beginning. Of this mustard seed has grown a big tree. Surely those few could not believe that 25 years later such a jubilee could be celebrated. But the Lord can do great things. May He receive the honor and glory.

Now the church needed a building of its own and such a gathering place was rented in the form of a small room in American Presbyterian Church on Scribner Street. Here the young church had its meetings in the evenings and Sunday afternoons when the Presbyterians did not hold services during the years 1880-1883. Attendance varied but averaged approximately 40. The first preacher called was J. P. Lindell. He had visited Grand Rapids as early as 1875 and every year until 1880, when he was called to serve the churches in Grand Rapids, Whitehall, and Muskegon, who paid him $200 and Missions-Synod $300 per year. Pastor Lindell worked in this field 1880-1883 with zealousness, faithfulness and with great sacrifice. He also visited other places such as Sparta, Cadillac and other places. Pastor Lindell was also active in spreading Christian books and literature besides preaching. People still remember how he used to carry his heavy suitcases full of books, etc. It was a good sowing by those of our fighters gone before (forhampar) that surely reaped rich harvests. The book distribution is a mission that is neglected in our times, and that is very shameful. Lindell is a veteran among the missions preachers (predikanterna). And here in Michigan he is the pioneer. We are glad to see him here among us with this 25 year celebration to rejoice with us and to see how the seed has ripened or born fruit, and to see how the "Day of the Small Beginning" has brought glorious victories in this church on this field. We greet "Uncle" Lindell with a hearty welcome. Pastor Lindell is still active and preaches as his strength permits although he has retired from regular service. He now lives in Moingona, Iowa.


J. WM. SVENSON
J. WM. SVENSON


N. G. FRANZEN
N. G. FRANZEN

During this time also, two of the congregations members preached more or less, they were N.G. Franzen and J. Wm. Svenson. They traveled out to other places like Sparta, Spring Lake and Muskegon where they held meetings and preached. They worked in factories in the carpenter (snickeri) trades during the day and served willingly during the evenings with their gifts as preachers, also on Sundays. They were partly paid by the congregation. Franzen moved to Stockholm, Chicago (?) 1883, where he was preaching about two years. From there he moved to Randolph, Kansas, where he died in 1885 still quite young (at the age of 27 years).

J. Wm. Svenson is a name that is often heard in Grand Rapids as one of the early pioneers in the history of the congregation. He was along from the start. He started the Sunday School 1881 and he was its first leader. He was here the years 1880-1890. During the time Staberg was here he had a salary of $120 most of the years. Then the congregation paid salaries to two preachers, one of them partial salary. When the regular preacher was away, Svenson took over and also preached. Those brethren who faithfully served with their gifts, although not actually preachers, have done good work. And many here have sacred memories of their faithfulness. In 1880 Mr. Svenson moved to California.

American Presbyterian Church on Scribner Street

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