History of Saude, Jerico, & Redeemer

Saude

In the early 1850s, a small group of Norwegian immigrant families from the area of Sauderad in Telemark, Norway, settled in the northern part of Chickasaw County, Iowa. Pastor C. L. Clausen was the first pastor to visit these families in June of 1854, but a congregation was not established there until the arrival of Pastor Ulrik Vilhelm Koren. Koren provided pastoral care at nineteen settlements in southern Minnesota and northeast Iowa. His busy schedule allowed him to visit each settlement about four to six times a year.

As more immigrants came to the area, the pioneer settlers in 1857 decided to form a congregation. It was originally called the Dale Norwegian Congregation, was later renamed the Little Turkey Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Congregation, and finally took its current name: Saude Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Jerico

Soon more immigrants from the Jostedal Valley in Norway settled in the county. Pastor Koren began visiting them in 1864 and helped them organize a congregation in 1867. The congregation was first called the Crowe Creek congregation and was then renamed the Crane Creek Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Congregation. Pastor Koren served these congregations until 1869, when four area congregations including Saude and Crane Creek called their own pastor. These congregations were member churches of the Norwegian Synod which was established in 1853.

In the 1880s, a controversy erupted in the Norwegian Synod on the doctrine of election. The question was whether sinful man could in any way contribute toward his own salvation. This controversy created such turmoil, that minority groups from the Saude and Crane Creek congregations left the Norwegian Synod and joined the “Anti-Missourian Brotherhood,” later called the United Lutheran Church (now the ELCA). The majority at Saude retained the church building, while the majority at Crane Creek sold the church building to the minority and built a new church in the nearby town of Jerico. This group eventually took the name: Jerico Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Controversy & Christian Education

In the early years of the 1900s, the election controversy started up again when the major Norwegian Lutheran bodies in America began to discuss a merger. The Saude and Jerico congregations believed that such a union would compromise the Bible’s teaching and did not go along with the merger. In 1923, they officially joined the reorganized Norwegian Synod, now known as the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS). Pastor H. M. Tjernagel started serving the parish at this time. In 1926, he began to publish a church newsletter called “The Assistant Pastor,” which was widely circulated in the area (see below).

Pastor Tjernagel was also dedicated to the Christian education of the youth. After his wife died in childbirth, he built a log cabin in her memory and determined that the new building would work well for a school. He named it the “Strandebarm” after his wife’s childhood home in Norway (more info. below). A school operated there from 1928-1936, and the building still stands. When his son Neelak succeeded him as pastor, the younger Tjernagel helped the Saude congregation open a school in 1943 which operated until 1979. Recognizing the need for its own school, the Jerico congregation operated one from 1947 to 1982.

Redeemer

Besides opening their own schools in the 1940s, the Jerico and Saude congregations also embarked on a mission effort to establish another congregation in the town of New Hampton. A group consisting of mainly Jerico members began meeting in town for services in 1940. This group adopted a constitution in 1941 and officially formed Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church. In 1953, the congregation purchased a church building and moved it to its present location on W. Court Street.

The Redeemer congregation shared a pastor with Trinity Lutheran Church in Calmar from 1966-2018 before forming a three-point parish with the Saude and Jerico congregations. The three congregations remain committed to the historic Christian faith drawn from the Holy Scriptures.

It has been many years since Pastor Koren carried out his mission work among the Norwegian settlers, but his work to spread the Gospel of salvation in this area is still bearing fruit by the grace of God.

The Assistant Pastor, 1926-1940

“The Assistant Pastor” newsletter was published by Pastor H. M. Tjernagel from 1926 until his death in 1940. Typically issues were not printed in the summertime, and the Great Depression accounts for the break from 1931-1935.

Pastor Tjernagel stated the purpose for the newsletter in the first issue:

I take great pleasure in introducing to you my Assistant. He will visit every home in the congregations once a month. He is young and inexperienced but is very anxious to serve efficiently in furthering the Kingdom of God at home and abroad. As such we beg all to receive him kindly.

He will bring you special messages from the regular pastor. He will also carry a scrap book wherein are filed clippings that have in some special way appealed to your pastor during his reading of current publications. He will remind you of various duties as church members. He will bring you a record of current events in the congregations, not so much on account of their value as news items as their value as historical data for posterity.

An annual “salary” of 50 cents was requested from those who wished to contribute.

The Assistant Pastor, 1940-1945

After Pastor Tjernagel’s death, his son Neelak Tjernagel was called to the parish. He made known his intention to continue the newsletter:

For over ten years [the Rev. H. M. Tjernagel] had edited the Assistant Pastor. With this issue his successor desires to resume the month by month history of the congregation which had been an important part of the service rendered by the Assistant Pastor previously.

Pastor Neelak Tjernagel served the parish until 1945. These were wartime years when a number of men from Saude and Jerico went overseas to fight.

Christian Education

The Christian education of children has always been a strong emphasis in our congregations. In 1889, the ambitious goal of 151 days of instruction was set for the year. The most concentrated time of instruction was Norwegian School, which ran the entire month of June. This ended with a special meal and program in the church. In the early part of the twentieth century, plans were made to emphasize Christian education even more.

Strandebarm School

In memory of his wife Anna who died in childbirth, the Rev. H. M. Tjernagel built a log cabin. He named it the “Strandebarm” after Anna’s childhood home in Norway. After its completion, Pastor Tjernagel made this announcement:

It is five years since their mother left them. The cabin is a memorial to her and a play house for her little girls. It is their father’s ambition that they may follow after her in the paths of righteousness, and by the grace of God through Jesus Christ, be reunited with her at the right hand of God. A Christian day-school is therefore conducted for her girls, and others who wish to come, in the memorial cabin.

The school operated from 1928-1936. It still stands next to the parsonage.

Strandebarm Lutheran School Teachers:

1928-29 — Olivia Tjernagel
1929-30 — Jeanette Jordahl
1930-31 — Morris Dale, Nora Leverson
1931-32 — C.O. Kirkpatrick
1933-34 — Bjarne Teigen
1934-35 — Torald Teigen
1935-36 — Wilbur Dorn, Reinhold Dorhmann

In 1943 the Saude congregation opened a school in another location. The Jerico congregation opened its own school in 1947.

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