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The history of the Finnish Baptist Church goes back to the fall of 1947, when Rev. and Mrs. Toivo Tervonen with their family settled in Chisholm and began their missionary work among the Finnish-speaking people on the Iron Range, as well as in a wide area of communities in this mid-west area. Through their untiring efforts by means of visitation, services and radio ministry many of the Finnish people heard the Gospel and made their decision to accept Christ as their personal Saviour.
The Bible teaching of believers' baptism was difficult for the Finnish people to accept, as all their earlier teaching had prejudiced their mind against it. However, as the Holy Spirit continued to work, three baptismal services were held prior to January 1, 1954. On this date the group of baptized believers met and organized the Finnish Baptist Church of Chisholm, Minn., with 12 charter members. Harry Jackson was elected vice-chairman, faithfully serving in this capacity until the Lord called him Home in June, 1959. Mrs. Hilja Waisanen was elected clerk and has very capably filled that position until the present time.
Realizing that the church would exist only as long as a ministry in the Finnish language was necessary, the use of the First Baptist Church building was requested. As a missionary Pastor Tervonen had held services in the church. The kindness and sisterly cooperation of the First Baptist Church has been an important factor in making the continuation of the work possible, also the fact that the pastor has served as a missionary-pastor, being supported mainly by the Baptist Mission Union. The Finnish people are deeply grateful to both organizations for their missionary vision and love for the Lord and the souls of our people.
Rev. Toivo Tervonen served as pastor of the church until the end of September, 1958, when he moved to Intola, Canada. Rev. T. Leonard Juntune and family were called to the work by the Mission Union, and he has been the pastor until the present. Since the illness of Rev. Tervonen necessitated the return of the family to Chisholm, Mrs. Tervonen has supplied in the pulpit the two Sundays of the month, when Pastor Juntune has been in Intola, Canada.
The regular services of the church have been held on Sunday afternoon, when the church building is available, excepting during the summer months, when outdoor services are held. A Mission Circle was organized immediately after the organization of the church and meets once a month. Bible study and prayer meetings are also held.
During Rev. Tervonen's pastorate, believers were added by baptism to the membership of the church each year. Two of the oldest and most faithful members, Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Simons, have passed on to be with the Lord, leaving a membership of 19 at present. We look forward to serving the Lord as a Finnish church as long as He needs this ministry in the community.-H. T.
Published in Sixty Years of Christian Stewardship 1901-1961. Prepared in commemoration of the Sixtieth anniversary of The Baptist Mission Union of America. 1961, p. 58-59.
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