Green Evangelical Lutheran Church, Carp Lake Township, Ontonagon County, Michigan

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A Brief History of the Green Evangelical Lutheran Church

The small unincorporated community of Green is located on the shores of Lake Superior in Ontonagon County, Michigan. The settlement’s origins go back to about 1903 when a few Finnish families located there to establish farms on land recently cut over by the Greenwood Lumber Company. While people of other backgrounds also settled in Green, most were Finns, and it remained a predominately Finnish community.Green Finnish Lutheran Church

The Green Evangelical Lutheran Church had its beginnings in the fall of 1904 when a group of these Finnish settlers met for worship services under a large maple tree at the home of Joonas Ruuttila. In 1905 the congregation was formally organized as Greenin Itsenäinen Evankelinen Lutherialainen Seurakunta. Those signing the original by-laws of the congregation were: Aro Savola, Sam Siljander, Henry Store, Antti Karttunen, Joonas Ruuttila, Nikolai Koistinen, and Ida Koistinen. On August 5, 1906, land was purchased on which to build a church; and, on September 30, Reverand Matias Ström, the congregation’s first pastor, consecrated the community’s new cemetery located on the same soil. In 1909 parish member Antti Kirjavainen was commissioned to develop plans and construct the new church. The building was completed that same year and was officially dedicated on June 15, 1913 by Pastors John Rankila and John Evert Liljeroos.

While the Green church remained independent of any larger synod or church organization, it was over the years closely aligned with two Lutheran churches in Mass City, Michigan - some 22 miles away. In the early years the pastors came from Massin Ev.-Lut. Kansallisseurakunta which was affiliated with the National Church. After the mid-twenties they were generally called from Massin Pyhän Paavalin Ev.-Lut. Seurakunta, which was associated with Suomi-Synod. These pastors usually travelled to Green once or twice per month to perform worship services. Often times Green children were even sent to Mass for their confirmation instruction. Many of the Green Church records are still held at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Mass City.

In 1963 (a time of much consolidation within the Lutheran churches) the congregation determined it was best to dissolve the Green Lutheran Church. While the membership levels remained nearly the same as they had been at the time of founding, the need for services to be held in Finnish was gone. In addition, it was becoming increasingly impractical to service so small a congregation from geographically distant Mass. Final services, and a 50 year celebration of the dedication of the Green Church, were held on August 25, 1963. Most of the membership at that time joined the Siloa Lutheran Church in Ontonagon.

The Green Church continued to serve as a place of worship for a few more years after title was transfered to the Redeemer Free Lutheran Church. However, that congregation soon moved to a larger church in Ontonagon, and the building came into disuse. By 1981 the old church was torn down. A memorial concrete replica of the Green church was erected on the site of the original church in 1982 by Kenneth Store, grandson of founder Henry Store.

For a time, the Green Cemetery continued to be managed by the Green Cemetery Association, made up of former members of the Green Church. It has since been turned over to Carp Lake Township, which now maintains the cemetery.

Pastors who served the Green Church included:

  • Matias Ström (1906-1907)

  • John Rankila (1908-1917)

  • Matti Wiskari (1918-1923)

  • Anton Korhonen (1924, 1925)

  • Rev. Halme (1924)

  • Antti Karlin (1926-1932)

  • Edward J. Isaac (1933-1940)

  • Alex Tamminen (1940-1944)

  • Eino Puotinen (1945-1947)

  • Arvo Niskanen (1948-1951)

  • Vaino Ylonen (1952-1955)

  • Arnold Perry (1955) [seminarian]

  • Reuben Ahlskog (1957-1960)

  • Arnold Perry (1961)

  • Antti Lepisto (1961-1963)

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