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The Beginning of Republic
Iron ore was discovered at Negaunee in 1844. Before Republic (Iron City) was begun mining had been taking place in the Negaunee, Ishpeming, Humboldt and Champion area.
In the spring of 1869 Joseph St. Claire of Humboldt and En. Breitung of Marquette began exploring for iron ore west of Humboldt and along the Michigamme River. This led to the discovery of iron at Republic. An Indian campsite was located on what was later known at St. Claire Point.
In 1870 both above men formed their own mining companies, one of which became known as the Republic Iron Company, with David Morgan as the first president. Many mining companies were begun and closed, among them Kloman, St. Claire, Cambria Steel. Finally in 1914 Cleveland Cliffs Iron Co. bought up many others.
Among the first residents of Republic in 1870 were Peter Pascoe, James Dower, Matt Gibson and Gilbert Beamheup. Four years later there were 800 men working in and around Republic of which 600 were in mining. Clare Bere Gibson was the first white child to be born in Republic. By 1873 the first railroad to Republic was completed, the Marquette-Houghton-Ontonagon R. R.
The First Finnish People in Republic
French, Irish and Swedish people were in Republic before the first Finns arrived, with Swedes predominating. However, in 1872, Alex and Anton Larstrom arrived from Turku, Finland. Shortly after, Isaac Wickman, Peter Kerttu, Jacob Aho, Asarias Autio and Isaac and Johan Sammeli arrived in Republic. Around 1876 Matti and Heikki Lampela, Johan Kulvander, Johan Hiivala and others arrived. By 1880 several hundred Finns lived in Republic.
The first Finnish worship service in Republic was he1d during the summer of 1882 when the Rev. A. S. Backman of Hancock came to Republic. In 1883 and 1884 children's Bible school was held by Pekka Westerinen as teacher. He also directed a Finnish-Swedish Chorus in Republic and gave music lessons. In the spring of 1885 the Rev. J. K. Nikander held services in Republic.
Due to the tremendous alcohol problem of Finnish immigrants in Republic a Temperance Society was begun in the sumer of 1885. It became known as "onnen aika" (fortunate times). It founders were Matti Simonson, Erick Laitala, Jacob Hiimala, Karl Lahti, Kalle Kurtakko, Jacob Jacobson, Peter Lustig, T. H. Fosberg, S. D. Johnson, Joseph Kuivas, Abram Leijon, Johan Isaacson, Sakarias Jacobson, Oskar Bafner, Henrik Kangas, August Huhtam, Matti August Anderson, Jacob Pesonen and Isaac Sillberg.
In the fall of 1885 the Rev. J. J. Hoikka of Astoria, Oregon, arrived to shepherd the Swedish congregation in Republic. He began also to minister to the Finnish residents of Republic.
I. Founding of the Congregation and the New Church
As the spark of faith was kindled in this new land by the work of Pastor Hoikka the Finnish people organized a congregation on August 13, 1886 and named it the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church of Republic, Michigan.
The following men together with their families, if they had families, joined the congregation at its founding: Oskar Bafvor, Abram Leijon, Henry Kangas, Adolf Carlson, Matti Frosti, Karl Hendrickson, Henry Luusua, Jacob Hiivala, Erik Martti, August Haapakoski, Matti Lampela, Anton Larstrom, Kalle Mattila, Johan Johnson (Pandsu), Erick Kerkela, Erick Laitala, Pekka Rautio, Karl Lahti, J. H. Jasberg, Joseph Kuivas, E. Hammarstrom, Antti Pyttyla, Isaac Sillberg, Pekka Westerinen, Johan Kulvander, Johan Koskela, Erick Johnson, Leander Niskala, Erick Luukkonen, Peter Martinmikko, John Hulkkonen, Jacob Big, Kustaa Koskela, Peter Lustig, Peter Karkiainen, Abram Ammala, Olof Kivilahti, Matti Mikkola, Abram Kelloniemi, August Huhta, and Antti Peuravaara.
Matti Anderson, Karl Kurtakko, Peter Husa, Frank Johnson, Henry Mattonen, Viktor Sandell, John Peterson, Matti Kerkela, Kustaa Mickelson, Matti Koskela, Matti Hill, Matti Johnson, Henry Pyynonen, Matti Hermanson, J. Matinnikko, Peter Peterson, V. Moilanen and Peter Koski.
Pastor Hoikka was called to be the first pastor of the congregation. Services were held at the school in South Republic. On January 16, 1887 the constitution and by-laws were officially accepted. On September 19, 1886 Pastor Hoikka confirmed seven youth. Three wero from Republic, namely, August Westerinen, J. A. Byttyla and Kaisa Ahola. Early trustees were Kuivas, Bafver, Trasti, Henrickson, Mikkola and Hermanson.
The First Church Was Built
A meeting of the new congregation was held on March 13, 1887 at which it was decided to build a new church with the stipulation that the Temperance Society could also use the building. On September 4 it was decided that this church be located at St. Claire Point. Construction was directed by Johan Erkkila. It was in use by October 30, 1887 having cost $1,623.00. In 1898 an additional room was added. Later also a balcony, altar and altar rail was added.
Pastor Hoikka served the church until Nomember 1888 at which time the Rev. K. L. Tolonen, who had just arrived from Finland, became the pastor.
The Sunday School had been started in 1885 with six children initially. The teachers were Isaac Sillberg, Joseph Kuivas and Eerik Marttila.
Charter Congregation in Suomi Synod
On March 9, 1890 the congregation decided to join the new Synod to be formed. On March 25 at Calumet the Suomi Synod was organized, the Republic congregation being one of the eight charter congregations. Isaac Sillberg represented the membership at this meeting. In 1890 Pastor Hoikka went to Sweden to serve as pastor for three years.
Suomi College was opened in 1896 in which class Republic was represented by Lydia Kangas. Isaac Sillberg was elected to the College board the same year, to serve on it for seventeen years.
In 1898 the congregation's hall was modified for more churchly use. A dedication was held in April. Pastor Tolonen became president of synod. Jafet Lukkarila was elected to the College board.
The Ladies Aid was formed on August 12, 1897 at the Johan Palo home. The charter members were Elizabeth Sillberg (Chrmn-Treas.), Maria Watson (Secy), Johanna Palo, Sofia Joki, Karoliina Alatalo, Kreeta Kivilahti, Maria Mattson and Kaisa Kivilahti. Later joined Kuusa Pekkala, Katariina Jarvela, Anna Lustig.
The first Church Convention to be held in Republic was held in 1899. Summer school was held for the first time in 1899 by Lydia Kangas and John Wargelin.
In January of 1901 Pastor Tolonen resigned the parish. A year later he died in Ishpeming. In 1901 the congregation had 205 members, of which 98 were confirmed members.
Pastor J. J. Hoikka became the pastor of the congregation in 1903, residing in Crystal Falls.
II. The building of a new church
At the annual meeting on January 7, 1906, and as the congregation had grown to 435 members, of which 242 were confirmed members, the matter of construction of a new church was introduced. The Finnish population had grown rapidly. The old church was very small. The town had grown in a direction in which it was difficult for many to go to St. Claire Point to church.
A committee to find a suitable lot in town was appointed on which were Pastor Hoikka, Isaac Sillberg, Peter Lustig, Matti Saari and Heikki Arola. By a vote of 15-5 it was decided on June 10 to purchase a lot from the Republic Iron Company for $200 with the agreement that another adjacent lot would be given free.
On June 22 a fourteen-man building committee was chosen composed of: Matti Saari, Isaac Sillberg, Heikki Arola, Peter Lustig, Johan Seppala, Isaac Maki, Johan Tuominiemi, Heikki Wuolle, Mikko Joki, Nikolai Laakso, Johan Hill, Mikko Alli, Matti Vierela and August Jarvela. This committee was to present plans of a new church. The plans of Emmanuel Isaacson were accepted. Under the direction of Mr. Isaacson construction was begun in the spring of 1907. A great deal of the building materials were purchased from the Republic Iron Co. at great savings. At this time August Jarvela was the financial secretary and Peter Lustig was the treasurer.
The modern church, having long been a dream, was now a 40 x 80 foot reality with a beautiful steeple. It had a spacious balcony, two sacristies and a narthex. The total cost of construction was $5,611.28. It was dedicated on Easter Sunday, April 19, 1908 at which occasion Dr. J. K. Nikander was present.
Later an altar painting of Christ on the cross and a bell for the steeple were acquired. After completion of the new church, the old building at St. Claire Point was used for a general meeting place.
The First "Resident" Pastor: 1909
Until 1909 the pastor who served this congregation had always basically served another (at least one) church and traveled.from either the local Swedish Lutheran congregation, Crystal Falls or Ishpeming. At the annual meeting of January 31, 1909 the congregation made the important decision of calling its own full time pastor. This was done in spite of the fact that the group was now deeply in debt because of the new church. A call was sent to Pastor John Wargelin of Eveleth, Minnesota. He accepted and moved to Republic in September of 1909 with his family. This terminated the services of Pastor Hoikka, and severed the congregation from the Crystal Falls Parish.
The New Parsonage Was Built
Until 1910 there was no parsonage. Travelling pastors frequented the home of Isaac Sillberg for their lodging and meals. However, at the annual meeting on January 9, 1910 approval was given to build a parsonage on the empty lot next to the church. A contract was given to Julius Heikkila of Ishpeming for $1,200. This original parsonage consisted of eight rooms - five downstairs and three upstairs. Later a furnace and veranda were added.
The membership in 1910 was 539 baptised members, of which 317 were adults. In the previous nine years the membership had grown about 300 persons.
Young peoples work was accelerated greatly during Pastor Wargelin's ministry. In 1911 a young peoples sewing circle was started. The young people were largely to receive credit for financing the parsonage debt, as well as the church debt.
Pastor Wargelin during his ministry also cared for the following congregations: Champion, Covington, Foster City, Humboldt, Kaleva, East Tawas, Alabaster, Jennings, Kipling, and in Canada: Copper Cliff, Cobalt, Victoria Mine, Creighton Mine, Carson Mine, Green Hill. To those places he travelled from Republic.
In 1912 the Michigan Conference was organized at a convention in Republic.
The year 1913 brought a severe loss to the congregation as Isaac Sillberg, a pillar since 1886, died. He had, among many other services, served as financial secretary and treasurer throughout these years. Frans Lahtinen succeeded him. Mrs. Sillberg died a year later.
Pastor Wargelin accepted a call and moved to DeKalb, Illinois in 1915. The membership by 1915 had grown to 657 baptised of whom 301 were adults.
Pastor Alpo Setala Becomes Pastor
Pastor Alpo Setala was called to be the pastor. He accepted. The debt which had initially begun in 1907 when the church was built, was paid in full. This event was celebrated in July 23, 1916. After nine years the group was debt-free. Pastor Setala's welcoming festival was observed also in conjunction with this.
The Temperance Society library was given to the congregation.
Pastor Setala served also Foster City, Pequaming, Paynesville, Trout Creek, and Ewen. In the winter of 1918 the congregation was saddened by the passing of Mrs. Aili Setala in California, where she had gone for her health. She died of influenza.
Pastor Setala worked diligently with the young people of the church, particularly in music. Choirs functioned. There was an orchestra and guitar choir which used the St. Claire Point building for practice. In July of 1920 a very large Michigan Conference Young Peoples' convention was held here. A Luther League was begun for fellowship and fund-raising. Co-director was Hilia Jarvela, Aili Tuominiemi (secy), Laila Kaleva (secy-treas.), Sofia Karkiainen (treas.).
The spiritual life of the church thrived during these years. A deaconesses group was organized in 1919. The same year a home-coming festival was held for 22 returning servicemen. Two were killed in World War I. Also, the congregation was divided into twelve zones for devotional and financial purposes. Pastor Setala left for Wakefield in 1920. By that year the membership had grown to 742 members, of which 371 were confirmed.
Pastor Emi1 Paananen Becomes Pastor
In July of 1921 Pastor Emil Paananen arrived to serve as pastor of the parish. Pastor Paananen also travelled to serve Keewenaw Bay, Pequaming and Iron Mountain congregations.
The fine work begun earlier continued with fervor during these years, particularly with the deaconesses, young people, music department and children's work (Summer school and Sunday school). Mrs. Emil Paananen organized a girls' group, which later became a guild of the church.
A number of families (seven) from the Black River region (Jerusalem) joined the congregation in 1923. Several more families joined later. Worship services were held there once each month.
Church Basement Finished
The foundation walls of the church began to give way in the summer of 1924. There was no choice but to begin repair and construction under the church. At a meeting which was held on September 14, 1924 it was decided to build a basement under the church.
A committee was formed of the following to carry forth this goal: Isaac Maki, August Jarvela, Amanda Kulpakko, Otto Karjalainen, Heikki Arola, Heikki Wuolle, Lauri Perttunen, Kaarlo Laurila, Johan Paananen, Johan Seppala, Abram Patana, Victor Laine, Pastor Paananen, Johan Kaleva, Emil Suomi, and Henry Aho. The project was left entirely in the hands of this committee.
Wilho Hedman was asked to make an estimate on the work and to do the work on a contract basis. The work was finished rapidly so that the celebration concerning it was held on the fourth Sunday in Advent. Completion of the basement, footings, steps, floor and concrete walks cost a total of $4,000. Also, two furnaces were purchased for the church, as well as a cook stove and 202 basement chairs.
The Young People's Christian Ass'n financed the electric lights for the new basement, as wall as the lights for the sanctuary and parsonage. Furthermore a garage and woodshed were also added at this time to the parsonage, making the total expense for construction for the years 1924-25 $4,097.76.
The Y.P.C.A., being extremely active throughout these years, also purchased a piano for the church and operated a fairly large loan library from which anyone could borrow Christian books. In 1925 alone this group also made payments on church loans amounting to 550 dollars plus interest. There were over 200 young people in this organization.
On December 19, 1925 one of the very active men of the church died, namely, Peter Lustig.
It is interesting from time to time to note who served on the church council throughout the years. For example, the councilmen in 1926 were as follows: August Jarvela, Heikki Wuolle, Isaac Maki, Amanda Kulbakko, Anna Karjalainen, Johan Kaleva, Kustaa Suominen, Emil Suomi, Heikki Arola, William Aho, Wilho Hedman, Victori Laine and, of course, Pastor Emil Paananen.
At that time the council was divided into two groups, deacons and trustees, meeting jointly to discuss the business of both groups.
In January of 1926 the membership of the congregation was 557 members, of which 275 were confirmed.
By Nov. 1926 the total debt on the recent building program had been reduced to $2,000. It was also in this same month that Pastor Emil Paananen moved to Detroit to be pastor of St. John's Lutheran Church there.
(Much of the historical data mentioned heretofore has been translated from the May 17 '26 Paimen Sanomia.)
Pastor K. V. Mykkanen Becomes Pastor
The congregation called Rev. K. V. Mykkanen of Lead, South Dakota, to become pastor following Pastor Paananen's departure. He accepted. On January 30, 1927 a welcome party was given in honor of Pastor Mykkanen and his family.
By 1928 the financial debt had been reduced to $1,070 by the 632 members. Earlier, on July 25, 1926 it was decided to sell the old St. Claire hall (church building) to Fred Vierela for the sum of $200.
From 1927 to 1931 Pastor Mykkanen also pastored the Trout Creek Parish (Trout Creek, Covington, and Ewen) until this parish's first resident pastor arrived, namely, Pastor K. W. Kaskinen. Pastor Mykkanen also took care of Iron Mountain (Kingsford), Champion, Michigamme, L'Anse, Pequaming, Aura and Herman.
On December 4, 1927 Pastor Mykkanen called a meeting of the congregation to resolve dissension which had divided the congregation for a number of years, as would befit a Christian congregation. The church secretary wrote concerning the matter: "Thus, therefore ended as had been planned the long-lingering dispute and dissension and reconciliation and peace was finally attained within the congregation."
In the year 1932 a "summer kitchen" with storage space was built behind the parsonage. Vilho Herman received the contract for this work for the sum of $1,300. (This is the building recently dismantled in 1960.) Two parsonage bedrooms were also added with this contract.
On February 28, 1932 the church was completely destroyed by fire. Nothing remained. This church had been built in 1907 and the basement had been added in 1924. Insurance amounted to $7,000.
III. The Bbuilding of the Third Church
Following the initial shock of the church being destroyed the congregation wasted no time in making plans for the future. During this time, the gracious members of the Methodist Church allowed us to use their church for worship and meetings.
On March 20, 1932 a meeting of the congregation was held at the Methodist Church at which the following building committee was chosen: William Aho, Emanuel Isaacson, George Olander, Victor Suomi, Waino Ikola and Pastor Mykkanen.
It was also decided that an official architect be hired (Mr. Anderson of Ironwood was to become the architect) and that the church be built on a daily wage basis instead of a contract basis.
At an April 3rd meeting it was decided by a 4l-5 vote that the exterior of the new church be brick. Waino Ikola was chosen building fund treasurer and K. V. Mykkanen became the financial secretary.
On April 17 Emil Tikkanen of Houghton was chosen supervisor of construction. Thirty-seven applicants were under consideration. It was also decided to use the best brick for the church.
On May 5 Emil Tikkanen arrived to begin the work with the group of local men. On May 22 the membership decided to purchase from Marquette a new Holland wood-coal furnace. Cost (total), $795.
The Cornerstone Festival for the new church was held on Mid-summer Day (Juhannus), June 24, 1932.
It was decided by a 25-0 vote to purchase a Wangerin Pipe Organ for the new church. The cost was $3,000.
It was decided that inasmuch as painter Otto Rundman was present that the parsonage should also be painted.
The new church was dedicated on October l6, 1932 at which Dr. Alfred Haapanen, Synod President, was present. Prof. Martti Nisonen, outstanding Synod musician, performed at the new organ. Festivities were held for an entire week. The remarkable feature concerning God's providence is that this beautiful new ediface was dedicated 231 days (seven and a half months) after the former church was destroyed by fire. Comparably remarkable was the fact that it was equipped with a pipe organ, stain glass windows and architecturally unique church furniture. All this speaks loudly the fact that God's people wanted only the best for God's house of worship. How we regard our church reveals clearly how we regard God.
The church furniture had been purchased from the Manitowoc Church Furniture Company for a cost of $800. Its value in 1932 was $1,300. An interesting feature concerning the furniture was that at the time the initial payment was made for it the local bank experienced bankruptcy causing the church's check to be worthless. Some of the church's funds were restored by the bank later.
The total indebtedness for the new church was only $23,000. This included the pipe organ. This may have appeared as an insurmountable figure at the height of the depression. But where people are faithful to God, God does not forget or leave His people.
Loans were procured from the following sources. (These were the initial loans):
$7,000 Fire Insurance Company
2,000 Mrs. Elsa Krummi, Humboldt
5,500 Mr. and Mrs. John Pikkarainen, Houghton
1,500 Mrs. Ida Viinikainen
7,000 Lutheran Brotherhood Life Insurance Co.
The congregation was enthusiastic about their stewardship program in order to now reduce the building debt of approximately $23,000. Some of the ways in which funds were raised were:
1) Direct giving by the membership.
2) Pasty sales. Here we must give much recognition to the women of the church who labored hard propagating pasties over a wide area, leaving Republic early with the exhortation, "Don't return until all the pasties are sold."
3) The "mile of dimes" project.
4) Raffling of a new Buick (1940 model) and a piano. (The former was won by Frank Perry of Michigamme and the latter by Matt Kivi of Paynesville.)
5) Thanksgiving Festivals
6) House to house "dollar days".
The church membership in 1935 was 463 members, of which 264 were confirmed. The council was composed of Evald Kesanen, Waino Ikola, John Aho, Karoliina Erickson, Henry Wuolle, Victor Suomi (secy), Sam Oja, Henry Kauppila, Solomon Koski, Impi Mykkanen, Sara Laakso, Kristina Kesanen and Oscar Laava.
The fiftieth anniversary of the congregation was hold in 1936. The Synod model constitution and by-laws were adopted by the congregation in 1938.
For the second time the Synod Church Convention was held in Republic in 1939. Total income from hosting the convention was $1,251.08. The congregation in 1940 was incorporated as a legal entity. Whereas, heretofore all liturgical Sunday worship services have been held in Finnish, in 1941 Pastor Mykkanen began conducting one service per month in the English language.
Although Sarepta Rest Home has not been directly connected with the congregation, yet throughout the years close indirect ties have been maintained. Sarepta was begun on June 28, 1934 when Mrs. Rosa Laine sold her home to Pastor K. V. Mykkanen so that such a home for the aged might be had. This home is today known as the "boarding home". The first patients at Sarepta were Rosa Laine, Miina and John Erickson. Later, in the 1940s the larger Sarepta building was acquired.
In January 1941 there was only $8,458.35 balance remaining on the church debt.
In 1942 Pastor K. V. Mykkanen resigned as pastor of the local church, having served for 16 years.
Pastor John F. Saarinen Accepts Pastorate
The Rev. John Saarinen of Brainerd, Minnesota, was called to become pastor. He accepted and on September 7, 1942 he preached his first sermon (tulosaarna).
In October a group of women banded together under the name "Willing Workers", particularly to propagate church work in the English language, but also to be concerned about any phasos of the local program which needed attention.
In January of 1943 the building debt was $7318.
In 1945 the council members were as follows: Kristiina Kesanen, Aili Toivonen, Tekla Saarinen, William Aho, Solomon Koski, Jacob Korpi, Kalle Poylio, Louie Perttunen, Emil Hangas, Victor Suomi, William Oja and Arne Wuolle. In January of 1946 the membership was 732 members, of which 474 were confirmed members.
By 1946 the transition of the Sunday School from Finnish to English in language was to the point where only two classes used Finnish any longer. This long transition had begun about twenty years earlier. Miss Lorraine Leaf was already a veteran Sunday School leader. There were about 175 children enrolled and 52 more in the Cradle Roll.
During these years there had been four choirs actively singing - Church choir, Youth choir, Junior choir (led by Lorraine Leaf) and the Sunday School teachers' chorus. A Boy Scout troop had functioned for four years as had a Junior Luther League. In 1946 (June 25) the Willing Workers group became the Lutheran Women's Guild.
These had been war years. Many of the congregations young men and women left their home church, some never to return. Those confirmed through our church who made the supreme sacrifice were: Erwin Antilla, Everett L. Isaacson, W. C. Arthur Isaacson, George Ritola and Paul Saarinen. (The latter was not confirmed here, yet however, a member.)
The congregation celebrated its sixtieth anniversary on July 28, 1946. At the same time it was able to rejoice that by this festival occasion it was debt-free. Under the leadership of Pastor Saarinen the remaining debt of almost $8,000 had been removed in but four years. Thus the beautiful church built fourteen years earlier was now completely paid. This was truly a reason for rejoicing at the sixtieth anniversary. It had been a seeming long hard road, but the grace of God had been abundant at every turn and in every situation.
Rev. John Saarinen, who had resigned the parish in April, left the congregation for South Dakota on July 29, 1946 with his family, having served as pastor for almost four years.
Pastor Alpo Setala Returns from Finland to Republic
After the parish was without a pastor for eight months, Pastor Alpo Setala arrived in April of 1947 from Turku, Finland, to shepherd the congregation for the second time. He had served the church from 1916 to 1920, arriving then at the age of 26. Now he was a veteran pastor at the age of 57.
The music phase of the church functioned very well as Pastor Setala directed a fine youth choir and Hilia Jarvela and Pastor Setala worked with a 40 voice church choir.
The interior of the church was painted throughout by Rundman Company in 1949 on a contract of $850.
The congregation decided to adopt a "unified budget" system concerning Synod benevolence causes in which members will be mindful of the various needs without special collections and that these monies be sent to the Synod regularly. This was adopted in 1952. That same year the exterior church bulletin board was also purchased in memory of Mrs. Wiinikainen. In June of 1953 Waino Niemi who was confirmed here, was ordained into the ministry.
On Jan. 11, 1953 the membership unanimously voted to adopt the name: Bethany Lutheran Church.
On January 11, 1953 at the annual meeting, Pastor Setala suggested and it was decided to conduct two English Sunday morning services per month, instead of Sunday evening as had been the practice before. Earlier, in 1947 it was decided to hold one English service per month on Sunday evenings. (This was originally begun in 1940 but had fallen into disuse along the way.) Then later, this one English service had been placed for Sunday morning.
A new oil furnace was purchased for the church in 1954 for a cost of $1,244.00. Also that same year a public address system was erected in the church so that services might be heard at both Sarepta Homes by the patients.
The 1955 Church council had the following persons: Emil Hangas, William Oja, Mary Piirto, Aura Ritola, Ruth Mykkanen, Oliver Hill, Arvid Olander, Eino Jarvi, Axel Carlson, Solomon Koski, Henry Aho, and Kalle Poylio. The membership was 680 members, of which 488 were confirmed members.
The congregation decided to purchase the house adjacent to the parsonage for $2,800, formerly belonging to Arthur Bice. Decided by 30-0 vote on August 19, 1956. Also in 1956 a new oil furnace was purchased for the parsonage and the Martha Circle acquired a new stove for the church kitchen.
In November of 1959 it was decided to have English services every Sunday, as well as Finnish each Sunday. It was also decided to use Sunday bulletins at worship services which Mrs. Ben Mykkanen would print.
In 1960 a new parsonage garage was built and the old garage and summer kitchen was torn down behind the parsonage. A new roof was placed on the church at a cost of $700.
The men's Brotherhood was organized in 1957 (October). This group is a very fine service organization which often performs such service to the church which only men can do. The charter officers were: Emil Hangas - chairman, William Oja - vice chairman, Richard 0ja - secretary, and, Ben Maki - treasurer. Fine fellowship is also created at their meetings.
The Martha Circle was organized in the year 1950 basically to be of service to the local congregation and to be aware of plant needs. Unlike the Mission Guild, it has not been Synod-connected as far as women's work is concerned. The first officers were: Esther Keskitalo - chairman, Judy Rankinen - secretary, and, Della Monett - treasurer, June Cary - V. P. Since organization this auxiliary has provided for the needs of the church kitchen, purchased the tables for the church parlors, acquired a set of chancel parments, and, in 1960 (Spring) beautified the church sanctuary by the purchase of a new carpet which cost $1,300.
A new English Lutheran liturgy came into use (with the rest of American Lutheranism) in the year 1958. This was a huge unifying factor for all Lutherans in America. The choir of the church introduced this measure. The new Hymnal was also introduced.
A new roof for the church was provided in the summer of 1960 at a cost of $896 (approx.).
Pastor Alpo Setala, who had served Bethany Church for 18 years, resigned from the congregation also in 1960. Pastor Setala has gone into retirement, having experienced health problems during his latter years as pastor. Many are the memories of his steadfast work at Bethany during his 18 years.
Pastor Leslie Niemi Accepts Call
In October of 1960, Pastor Leslie Niemi of Trout Creek accepted Bethany's call to become pastor, to arrive in April of 1961.
Much work was done on the parsonage during the winter of 1960-61 in remodeling and equipment. Total cost of materials amounted to $810. In February of 1961 Bethany Church took its referendum vote concerning merger of the Suomi Synod with three other church bodies to form the Lutheran Church in America. The vote at Bethany was: Yes 85, No 10.
The membership of Bethany Church at the close of 1960 was 595 members, of whom 408 were confirmed. Functioning organizations presently are: Brotherhood, Mission Guild, Martha Circle, Luther League, Church school, Church Choir, Deaconesses and Altar Guild. The Ladies Aid became inactive in 1960. The present chairman of the above groups are, respectively, Emil Hangas, Ellen Johnson, Pat Kaleva, Corrinne Skogman, Lorraine Leaf, Ruth Mykkanen, Saima Latvala, and Ruth Koski.
Functioning committees are: Suomi College, Home and Foreign Mission, Lutheran World Action, and the Parsonage Committee.
Present members of the council are: William Oja (vice chrmn), Vieno Laxo (secy), Stuart Koski (treas), Arvid Olander (financial secy), Eino Jarvi, Axel Carlson, Warren Granlund, Ben Mykkanen, Ben Maki, Dorothy Heinonen, Lorraine Leaf and Mary Piirto.
Our Organists, Through the Years
The music department is important to the Lutheran Church. Our organists from the very beginning have been as follows: Pekka Westerinen, K. L. Tolonen, Lydia Kangas, Matti Arola, Lydia Saari, Maria Wargelin, Impi Jarvela, Hilia Jarvela, Alli Setala, Bertha Laakso, Tyyne Paananen, Impi Mykkanen, Tekla Saarinen, Hilia Jarvela, (again) and Ruth Mykkanen. These faithful deserve recognition.
Our Officers, Through the Years
Chairman - The pastor has always been the chairman of the congregation.
Vice-Chairman - Isaac Sillberg, Isaac Maki, Matti Makinen, Oskar Huhtanen, Johan Kaleva, Kustaa Suominen and Victor Laine. (A great number of years it was impossible to determine who had served as vice chairman from the minutes.) William Oja.
Secretary - Jafet Lukkarila, Johan Jarvela, Oskar Frisken, Anton Watson, Matti Saari, August Jarvela, Isaac Maki, John Makela, Emmanuel Isaacson, Victor Laine, Viljo Niemi, John Kaleva, Victor Suomi, Waino Lahti, Sanna Laakso, Saima Latvala, Kalle Poylio (1944-56), Aili Toivonen and Vieno Laxo.
Treasurer - Matt Sillberg, Matt Saari, Johan Makela, August Jarvela, Emil Paananen, Victor Laine, Impi Mykkanen (1927-41), Emil Hangas (1942-58), Stuart Koski.
Financial Secretary - Frans Lahtinen, Lilja Elsola, Amanda Kulpakko, Victor Laine, Waino Ikola, Evald Kesanen, Victor Suomi, Arne Wuolle, Saima Latvala and Arvid Olander.
Church Custodians - Jafet Lukkarila, Johan Erkkila, Peter Lustig, Isaac Ojala, T. Kotomaki, John Seppala (1902-26), Heikki Kangas, Heikki Arola, Henry Wuolle, Arne Olander, Ben Mykkanen, Arne Wuolle, Jacob Korpi, Victor Niemi, Martti Setala, Alvar Hill, Paul Kaarre, Arvid Olander, Sam Piirto and Wilbert Laaninen.
1876-1888 J. J. Hoikka
1888-1901 K. L. Tolonen
1903-1909 J. J. Hoikka
1909-1915 John Wargelin
1916-1920 Alpo Setala
1921-1926 Emil Paananen
1927-1942 K. V. Mykkanen
1942-1946 John F. Saarinen
1947-1960 Alpo Setala
1961- Leslie E. Niemi
- - -
August 11, 1961.
Published in 75th Anniversary. August 13, 1886-1961. Bethany Lutheran Church. Republic, Michigan. 1961.
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