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A Review of History of the Trinity Lutheran Evangelical Church, Trout Creek, Michigan


The first known meetings were held by Finnish Lutherans who moved to Trout Creek, following the timber industry. The Duluth, South Shore and Atlantic Railroad had been constructed from Nestoria toward Duluth through the virgin timberland.


On October 5, a congregation was organized in Agate under the pastoral leadership of the Rev. Kaarle Leonard Tolonen, who then served the Ishpeming church. A former missionary in S. W. Africa, he had arrived in America in 1888 and was the first pastor in Ishpeming and Negaunee.

Pastor Tolonen was elected the first chairman. Jacob Jacobson was the first secretary. The first collectors of dues were Erkki Erkkila and Jacob Jacobson. On the first church council served Herman Keranen, Eetu Hehkonen, Johan Johanson, Matti Saari, Matti Ojala, and Jacob Jacobson.

The minutes of the October 5 meeting list the following charter members:

Herman Keranen
Johan and Liisa Johanson (Metsala) and five children
Edvart and Edla Hehkonen and one child
Heikki and Eva Pesonen and children: Antti, Edward, Lauri, and Lyydia
Matti and Amalia Ojala, Sr.
Matti and Augustiina Saari and two children
John and Johanna Wuolle
Erkki Erkkila
Matti Anderson (Korpi)
Jaakko Jacobson (Hatala)
Heikki Mammi
Mr. and Mrs. John Niemi
Timo Leppanen
Alecx-Sanderi Mickelson
There were thirty-three charter members.

On October 13, the congregation was incorporated with the state of Michigan and on December 8 it was received into the Finnish Ev. Lutheran Church of America.

Worship services were held every other month at the Agate Cemetery Temperance Hall. Johan Johanson and Herman Keranen were the first delegates to the Church Convention.


The Sunday School was started with Herman Keranen and Johan ,Johanson composing the first teaching staff. For the next twenty years a goodly number of Finnish families moved into the area to farm in the rich cloverland.


The Paynesville folk separated from the church at Falls Siding to found their own congregation in Paynesville.


On January 23, the Ladies Aid was founded at the Nikolai Koski farm. The first officers were: Mrs. Ida Sjogren, chairman; Mrs. Erika Helm, secretary; and Mrs. Liisa Metsala, treasurer.

The Sunday School was reactivated by Herman Kantola after some years of inactivity. This was also the year that the Agate Community Hall was built.


Plans were begun for the construction of a church building. On June 14 a building committee was organized at the Nikolai Koski home, composed of Ragnar Helsius, chairman; Nestor Sjogren, secretary; and John Lakanen, Herman Kantola, Nikolai Koski, Nick Niemi, John Helin, Gusti Hattula, Mikko Tervo, Kalle Lahola, Liisa Metsala, Anni Lakanen, Tiina Ollila, Anni Niemi, Amalia Kaariainen, Fanny Kahkonen, Oskar Linruus, Eva Pesonen, and Antti Lakanen.

After much study and discussion and by votes of 12-3 and 9-1, land donated by John Ollila, Sr. was accepted for the site of the church.


Income for the year was $72.42 with expenses of $83.12. The income was the result of dues $41.95, coffee socials $25.35, May festival $3.30, and offerings at services $3.82.


Services were held on Sunday for the first time. Until now they had been during the week when it was possible for pastors to leave their own churches. Pastor Alpo Setala of Republic started to hold services which were held at the Agate Hall.


With $36613 in the building fund it was decided to begin the church. Konstu Kallio drew the plans for a 52 x 30 x 14' building. The basement costs were $590.40.


The first Vacation Church School was held, then known as "kesäkoulu," where also the Finnish language was taught.


The idea of a 5-point parish was introduced, promoted especially by Covington's Joel Moilanen.


The church interior was completed and the church was first used in December. Pastor Karlin from Wakefield began to hold services.

The Luther League, or "Kristillinen nuorisoliitto," was organized by Ella Luoma-Noll. The group begun earlier by Aili Kangas and Bertha Laakso had become inactive. The new officers were: Eino Kantola, chairman; Kalle Juhola, vice-chairman; John Hattula, secretary; Nestor Sjogren, vice-secretary; Toivo Helsius, treasurer; and trustees, Lempi Kantola and Saima Helin.


August 16 was the festive day on which the church was dedicated, after four years in the making. Synod President, Alfred Haapanen, officiated with Pastors Hugo Hillila, K. Ekonen, and Alpo Setala also present. The church had cost $5,670; its valuation was $7,000 and there was but $260 of debt.

A church choir was begun that same year.


On January 9, the Trout Creek Parish was organized at Paynesville. First Parish Board members were Nestor Sjogren and John Helin. The proposed salary to call first resident pastor was $100 a month.

New church pews were purchased for $642.

Pastor Setala returned to Finland and Pastor K. V. Mykkanen of Republic began serving the church.


The Parish determined the site of the Parish parsonage on October 26 at Paynesville by closed ballot with the following results: Covington 19, Paynesville 32, and Trout Creek 44. On November 16, the home of Dr. McQuiston was purchased for $4,500. In December young Pastor F. W. Kaskinen moved in to become the first resident pastor.


On November 30, a Constitution and By-Laws for the congregation were adopted. On April 10 the parsonage was dedicated with Dr. Alfred Haapanen as guest speaker.

That year a Parsonage Circle (pappilantoimikunta) was formed for the liquidation of the parsonage debt. $2,072.50 was raised during the first year. There were three branch Sunday schools in operation: the church area, South Agate, and town with 78 pupils and 23 teachers.


The church's interior was redecorated and a new pulpit, altar, and communion railing were built with John Kaarto as carpenter. On that year's Building Committee were Rev. Kaskinen, John A. Koski, John Ollila, Jr., John Perttula, Jack Piirto, John Helin, Nestor Sjogren, Matt Kallio, Henry Kaare, Reino Lakanen, Carl Juhola, Werner Biekkola, and John Kaarto.

A new altar painting given by Prof. Elutes A. Forsberg and painted by Marianne von Poven of the Chicago Art Institute was erected at the altar.

Pastor Jacob Heikkinen replaced Pastor Kaskinen, who took a year's leave of absence.


In January, the Sharon Mission Guild was founded at the home of Saima Kaare-Poobus. The first officers were: Saima Kaare-Poobus, chairman; Ann Koski, vice-chairman; Eliisa Lakanen-King, secretary; Saima Johnson, vice-secretary; and Helen Heikkala, treasurer. Other charter members were Gertrude Ollila, Helen Juhola-Lantto, Ellen HelinTahtinen, and Susan Koski.

A native son, John E. Hattula, was ordained into the holy ministry of the Synod.


The Michigan Conference Convention was held at the church in May.


The Parsonage debt was paid in full and a mortgage burning service was held.

Pastor M. N. Joensuu arrived in October to serve as parish pastor. The arrangement of Finnish services per month was as follows: Trout Creek 2, Covington 2, Paynesville 2, Ewen 1, and North Bruce 1.


Parsonage garage was built. Huge "Help Finland" drives were held to alleviate suffering due to the Finnish-Russian war.


Rural population began to decline sharply due to World War II and war industry.


In January, Pastor Joensuu left to join the chaplaincy and Pastor Otto E. Maki was called as pastor.


Pastor Maki resigned in January and Pastor Arvo Korhonen arrived in May to serve as new Parish pastor.


Church school began to use English language in instruction. All worship services were only in the Finnish language.


On September 20 the Men's Brotherhood was organized at the John Koski home with the following charter members: John Koski, chairman; Arne Lehto, vice-chairman; George Kaare, secretary; John Kaare, assistant secretary; Wilho Perttula, treasurer; and Nick Maki, Arne Piirto, and Nels Tahtinen on the Executive Committee.


For the first time, liturgical English worship was held on Sundays. These were held by seminarians from Suomi Seminary and sponsored by the Sharon Mission Guild. The congregation voted to build a structure in town (Trout Creek), the item having been discussed for several years.

Under the leadership of Mrs. Arvo Korhonen a Junior Luther League was organized for youth of the 10-14 age group. In November, Pastor Korhonen moved from the Parish to Minnesota.


The pastorate was vacant for one and a half years. Seminarian Rudolph Kemppainen ministered to the parish during this time.


In August, Pastor Leslie Niemi moved into the Parish following his ordination. On November 28, two committees concerning building needs were chosen: a Building Planning Committee and a Building Finance Committee.


The Men's Brotherhood conducted a gross $1800 pulp project for the Building Fund.


The Every Member Visitation in Stewardship was adopted with good results. On April 3, the members voted 32-5 to build a new structure in town. On September 9, a Rybolt oil furnace was purchased for the parsonage for $750.


On September 15, a new Wurlitzer electric organ was purchased for the church which was valued at $1395. The Sharon Guild presented a new baptismal font as a 60th Anniversary gift. On October 13 the 60th Anniversary Festival was held with Pastor Alpo Setala and Drs. Raymond and John Wargelin as guest speakers.

For a more effective community ministry English services were regularly held every Sunday beginning in October.


The new Service Book and Hymnal was employed first on July 6; the use of the First Setting was begun on Advent Sunday, November 30.

On September 21, lots for the new church were purchased in town, across the street from the parsonage, by a vote of 60-1 for the price of $600. A committee of Arne Lehto, John Koski, and Tyyne Christen negotiated the purchase.

On December 28, at a congregational meeting, the membership 1) reaffirmed the plan to move the old church into town and remodel it extensively, 2) hired Davis, Kainlauri, and MacMullan of Ann Arbor for architects, and 3) approved a basic preliminary plan made by Eino Kainlauri.


The Building Committee, which met often because of need, was composed of Weikko Lakanen, John Koski, Arne Lehto, Wilho Perttula, David Helsius, John Kaare, Mrs. Nels Tahtinen, Mrs. Wilbert Perttula, and Pastor L. E. Niemi.

The architects' working drawings and specs arrived on May 19; bids closed on June 3, at 8 pm.

On June 21 at a congregational meeting the membership approved an immediate $24,000 building program and the architects' working drawings were accepted. Included in the program were the bids of Reino Sironen, general contractor ($18,862) ; Glenn Fleming, heating ($2,400) , and Elmer Hill, Wakefield, moving ($1,500) .

On June 21, the groundbreaking service was held on the new site with Robert Knivila, Weikko Lakanen, Arne Lehto, Edward Leinonen, and Pastor Menu wielding the spade.

Work on the new building commenced on July 6; excavation was completed on July 15; the basement walls were at full height by July 29 with a nine-man crew being employed.

Elmer Hill and Company of Wakefield, moved the old church into town on Tuesday, August 4. Construction resumed to finish the new basement, add a triangular front onto the old church aptly symbolizing the Trinity, and the addition of a new sacristy and choir loft. The floor space was increased by the additions to 7,852 sq. ft. from 3,054 sq. ft. at the old site. Much volunteer labor from members was given during the remainder of the year in interior finishing. By October 1, the entire building was enclosed from the weather under the general contractor's bid.


On January 23, at the Annual meeting, the membership chose a new name for the church: Trinity Lutheran Evangelical Church, cognizant of the symbolism of its new building. At the same meeting, a $11,146.02 budget was set for 1960, including the building program.

The Michigan Conference Convention was held at the church on May 6-8 which was preceded by a fast pace of volunteer work to get the church ready. The members deserve real recognition for their fine stewardship and harmony in building Christ's Kingdom.

On June 12, the new structure will be dedicated to the glory of God with Dr. Raymond Wargelin, Synod President, as officiant and Conference President, the Rev. Ahti Karjala, also present.

There will yet be much work to completely finish the church, but we move forward in faith and dedication to become greater instruments for the cause of Christ in Trout Creek. We thank the Lord for past blessings and look to Him for continued guidance and direction in our gospel witness in our community.

Abiding Memorials

Colored Glass Window - In memory of Henry Lakanen and Charles A. Kariainen.
Given by Mr. and Mrs. Weikko Lakanen.

Brass Altar Vases - In memory of Theodore R. Helsius.
Given by Hilia Helsius and sons.

Brass Missal Stand - In memory of Johanna Harju.
Given by Mr. Toivo Harju, Mr. and Mrs. Arno Suojanen, Mr. and Mrs. Viljo Harju, Mr. Arvo Harju, Miss Martha Harju, and Pastor and Mrs. George Hautala and Naomi.

Brass Offering Plates - In memory of Antti and Kreeta Hietala.
Given by the Hietala children.

The Exterior Steel Cross - In memory of Marianna Pentti.
Given by the Pentti children.

Brass Candlesticks - In memory of Hilda E. Besonen
Given by Mr. and Mrs. William Christen, John Besonen, Mr. and Mrs. Leslie Hirvonen, Waino Besonen, Arne Besonen, and Mr. and Mrs. Robert Madden.

Lectern - In memory of Henry Jacob Kaare.
Given by the Kaare children.

Gifts to Abiding Memorial Fund

In memory of William and Maria Nousiainen
Given by Mrs. Nyma Lane, Middletown, Pa.

In memory of Hilma Hattula
Given by Mrs. Susan Minnett, Swartz Creek, Michigan

Abiding Gifts

Choir Loft Closet - Given by Mr. and Mrs. George Kaare
Altar Paraments - Given by the Sharon Mission Guild
Steel Chairs - Given by the Church school
Lawn Planter - Given by Mr. and Mrs. Martin Keranen
Recreation Room Tables - Given by Mr. and Mrs. Weikko Lakanen
Recreation Room Clock - Given by the Senior Luther League
Tableware - Given by the Junior Luther League
Refrigerator - Given by Mr. and Mrs. Harold Helsius
Paint - Given by Mr. and Mrs. Toivo Hautamaki, Mr. and Mrs. Martin Keranen, Mr. and Mrs. John Ollila, Mr. and Mrs. George Kaare, Mr. and Mrs. Marvin Leaf, Mr. and Mrs. Harold Anderson, and Mrs. William Christen Landscaping - Given by Mr. Toivo Gustafson, Mr. Ralph Gustafson, and Mrs. George Pelkola
Organ Light - Given by Mr. and Mrs. Willard Strangle

Dedication Booklet Committee

Pastor Leslie Niemi
Mrs. Walter Johnson
Mrs. Roy Bessen
Mr. and Mrs. Ensio Suhonen
Mr. Arne Lehto
Mrs. Arthur Olgren

In Grateful Appreciation ...

To our many friends for their prayers and contributions; to our men and women for their many hours of voluntary labor; to our entire membership for their Faith, Prayers, and Sacrifices; and to all those whose names have been inadvertently omitted from any acknowledgments.

Special Gifts to Building Fund from Former Members Who Are Now Non-Residents

The Rev. and Mrs. John Hattula, Chisholm, Minn.
Mr. and Mrs. Manuel Lantto, Hancock, Michigan
Mrs. Helen Kettunen, Eastlake, Ohio
Mr. and Mrs. Robert Taeger, Norwood, Mass.
Mr. and Mrs. Arvo Kaare, Dearborn, Michigan
Mr. and Mrs. Clifford Taeger, Chicago, Ill.
Mr. and Mrs. John Bessen, Ontonagon, Michigan
Mr. and Mrs. Waino Aho, Hancock, Michigan
Mr. Wallace Laurila, Detroit, Michigan
Mr. Hugo Suominen, Elmhurst, Illinois
Mrs. Elena Krym, Detroit, Michigan
Mr. Toivo Jarvi, Detroit, Michigan
Mr. and Mrs. Wesley Aho, Holly, Michigan
Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Bessen, Ontonagon, Michigan
Mrs. Kenneth Johnson, LaHabra, California
The Rev. and Mrs. Otto E. Maki, New Castle, Pa.
Mr. Raymond Anderson, Crystal Falls, Michigan
Mr. and Mrs. Ed Crabb, Elmhurst, Illinois
Mr. and Mrs. Jesse A. Newton, Villa Park, Illinois
Mr. Rudy Heikkala, Marquette, Michigan
Mrs. Ralph Sandri, Wildwood, Illinois
Mrs. Leslie Salminen, Detroit, Michigan
Mrs. Tony Yankovich, Livonia, Michigan
Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Hietala, Detroit, Michigan
Mr. and Mrs. Warren Swanson, Belpre, Ohio
Mrs. N. Reinertson, Chicago, Illinois
Mr. Raymond Helsius, North Liberty, Indiana
Mr. and Mrs. Albert Helsius, Painesville, Ohio
Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Hendrickson, Wakefield, Mich.
Mrs. May Lock, Detroit, Michigan
Mrs. Helen Piatt Mowery, Newville, Pa.
Mr. and Mrs. Frank Aho, Trimountain, Michigan
Mr, and Mrs. Jack Nordine, Bergland, Michigan
Mr. and Mrs. Nick Corilla, Troy, Michigan
Mrs. Charles Cappelman, Chicago, Illinois
Mr. and Mrs. Carl Tianen. Detroit, Michigan
Mrs. Susan Minnett, Swartz Creek, Michigan
Mr. and Mrs. Chester Koski, Van Nuys, California
Mr. and Mrs. Harold Helsius, Muskegan, Michigan

Special Gifts from Friends and Businesses

Mr. and Mrs. Edward Sundberg, Kenton
Mrs. Lina Anderson, Trout Creek
Mr. Robert Godell, Watton
Mr. Walter Dickman, Land O' Lakes, Wisconsin
Miss Patricia McGinty, Trout Creek
Mr. L. E. Chabot, Credit Bureau, Ontonagon
Mr. and Mrs. Eino Heinonen, Kenton
Ewen Insurance Agency, Carl Wallen, Ewen
Mr. and Mrs. Vernon Hautamaki, Bruce Crossing
Mr. and Mrs. Carl Tuominen, Bruce Crossing
Mr. and Mrs. Reino Lindberg, Paynesville
Mrs. Hilma Lindberg, Paynesville
Mrs. Helmi Seppi, Trout Creek
Mr. and Mrs. Reuben Barney, Trout Creek
Mr. Herman Manty, Paynesville
Mr. and Mrs. Yalmer Manty, Paynesville
Mr. and Mrs. Matt Raatikka, Bruce Crossing
Mr. and Mrs. David Koskela, Kenton
Mr .and Mrs. Albert Johnson, Trout Creek
Mr. Frank Kaarto, Mass, Michigan
Mr. and Mrs. Martin Keranen, Trout Creek
Mr. Uno Heikkala, Trout Creek
Mr. Urho Heikkala, Trout Creek
Sironen and Sons, Builders, Ewen
Ewen Building Supply, Ewen
Nordine Lumber Company, Trout Creek
Standard Oil, Trout Creek
Mr. William Karjala, Paynesville
Ontonagon County Road Commission
Michigan State University Extension Service
Mr. Bryce Christen, Trout Greek

Published in Dedication. Trinity Lutheran Evangelical Church. Trout Creek, Michigan. June 12, 1960.

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