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Rev. C. I. Wessman
In this brief history of the Ebenezer Baptist Church a few remarks should be made in regard to the first nucleus of missionary minded brethren, who as early as 1893 helped support I. E. Berglund, through the American Baptist Mission Union. The leading figure in this undertaking was Mr. John Mattson from Larsmo, Finland, who throughout his life sought means to bring about a concentrated effort to meet the spiritual need of the ever increasing flow of immigrants from our homeland. Therefore, among a group of believers, a Ladies' Aid Society was organized in 1901. Later in the same year a Local Mission Union was organized in connection with The Finnish Baptist Mission Union of America. As this work progressed it became evident that in order to do a more effective work a church should be organized. This took place in November 1904 with Rev. E. Flemming as moderator.
Ebenezer Baptist Church
The following constituted the charter members: Mr. and Mrs. John Strom, Mr. and Mrs. John Mattson, Mr. and Mrs. Gust Nyman, Mr. and Mrs. Gust Mattson, Mr. and Mrs. Victor Sjoblom, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Esselstrom, John Fagerstrom, William Forsman, John Hanson, August Wick, Mrs. Chas. Anton, Miss Lina Hendrickson, Misses Tekla and Anna Lindgren and Miss Edla Anderson.
The following are still living and active in their respective churches: John Fagerstrom, Tekla Lindgren, now Mrs. Sundquist, John Hanson, August Wick, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Esselstram, Gust Mattson, Edla Anderson, now Mrs. Bergstrom, and Mr. and Mrs. Victor Sjoblom.
Since the organization of the church, the following have served as pastors: John J. Fors, from January 1905 to October 1907; M. Esselstrom, September 1910 to November 1911; O. Ohman, November 1911 to August 1912; Albert Esselstrom, December 1912 to February 1914; Herman M. Myhrman, July 1914 to February 1918; Anders M. Myhrman, February 1918 to October 1919; J. E. Kasen, January 1921 to May 1923; A. J. Stormans, April 1924 to October 1935, S. Bruce Flemming, October 1938 to July 1942; student pastor Paul Morton, summer of 1942; Ray Appelquist, 1942 to February 1943; Emil Nylund, February 1943 to August 1949 and C. L. Wessman July 1950.
From 1904 the meetings were held in a hall at 52nd Avenue West and Ramsey Street until in 1914, during the ministry of Herman M. Myhrman, whose initiative, courage and faith led the church to take steps to move from its present location to 40th Avenue West and 4th Street, where they immediately began with a building program and the erection of the church. The lower auditorium was completed in January 1915, and meetings were held there until in June 1916, when the upper structure was finished, and dedicated in conjuction with the Mission Union's Annual Convention in Duluth.
With the desire for a permanent church building fulfilled, a new epoch in our church history began. The joy of having been led thus far by the Lord had its effect on all of us. Our activities became more solidified and stable, and progress was made for which we praise and honor the Lord.
Three mission workers have been called by the Lord to foreign fields. These are: Margaret Henrickson, now Mrs. Whitaker; Miss Ida Erickson, now on her second term in Belgian Congo; and Miss Jenny. Strom, now Mrs. Erickson.
In 1939 the church debt was liquidated, which was an occasion of much joy and praise. The need of a parsonage had long been felt, but not until November 1942, when a six-room house was purchased, did this materialize.
The Fortieth Anniversary was celebrated in 1944 with much joy and happiness with local Baptist churches participating. Two churches, with a number of our members participating, have been organized, one in Chisholm, Minnesota and the other in Wentworth, Wisconsin.
During these years 315 have been members of the church and the present membership is 100. The Sunday School organized in 1904 with 24 pupils, has now an enrollment of 135. A Young People's Society has been a constant encouragement and help in our activities. One hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars has been received for various religious enterprises, both home and abroad. The Lord has been good and His blessings cannot be enumerated.
The ministers that have served have all left a mark on the field, and for the many blessings that have come to the church through their ministry we heartily and joyfully praise the Lord.
Published in Fifty Years of Christian Stewardship 1901-1951. Prepared in commemoration of the Fiftieth anniversary of The Baptist Mission Union of America. 1951, p. 34-36.
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