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First Baptist Church, Chisholm, Minn.

The history of the church goes back to the pioneer days, before mining was the chief industry, and when lumbering was the mainstay of the working man. In 1902 Mrs. John Strong arrived from Jacobstad, Finland, where she was a member of a Baptist church. She organized a Sunday School with ten pupils during the summer of 1903. Two years later H. W. Johnson became the Sunday School superintendent, and since that time the school has enjoyed constant service. For many years a mission Sunday School was conducted at the Pool Location, about five miles from town, but in 1950 it was arranged to transport these folks to the church. In June 1949 a bus was purchased to help with the transportation of children, and a year later it was traded in for a larger and more modern bus. The present enrollment is 189, with all available space being used.

The organization of the Ladies' Aid also preceded that of the church, its first meeting being recorded July 6, 1906. The society has continued through the years, sharing the responsibilities of the church and also carrying on both home and foreign missionary enterprises.

Rev. Ellis Ecklof

There was also a baptismal service before the organization service. During the summer of 1905 four persons were baptized in Longyear Lake by missionary John Lindgren. November 25, 1906, a council of pastors and laymen met and preceded with organization. The charter members totalling 12 were as follows: John J. Bakk, Hanna (Mrs. John J.) Bakk, Isak Lundberg, Erik Alfred Johnson, Andrew Rank, John Nylund, Brita Nylund, H. W. Johnson, Nels Rank, Sofia Strong, Emanuel Erickson, Felix Esselstrom. The only active charter member residing in Chisholm at present is Emanuel Erickson.

During the first years most of the preaching was done by laymen and visiting pastors, and students were engaged during the vacation from Bethel Seminary. Pastors from the Ebenezer Baptist Church, Duluth, shared their time with the Chisholm church for many years. The following pastors have served the church during the years: John J. Bakk, Anders Blomquist, N. A. Fridlund, John Fors, Albert Esselstrom, John Berg, A. J. Stormans, Alfred Ohman, John Hugo, Emil Nylund, J. A. Kallman, Lucas Cook, Harold R. Bradley, David E. Anderson, Fred T. Miller.

In the beginning all the services were held in homes, and later in rented halls. In February 1914 it was decided to build a church. One lot was purchased and one was donated by the Chisholm Improvement Co. The work on the building was begun in May, with Felix Esselstrom in charge. Members and friends worked freely, and the new building was dedicated August 16th of the same year. Many changes have taken place to improve the property since then. On January 6, 1949, a parsonage was purchased next to the church, which has recently been remodeled and redecorated.

The Young People's Society was organized September 1915, after a number of young folk were saved during the summer ministry of John Berg, a student from Bethel.

On October 30, 1947, a Men's Brotherhood was organized. In addition to their monthly meeting, weekly prayer meetings are held.

Young married couples met and organized on December 21, 1950. So far about 15 couples have been contacted for membership. They hope to reach many more young folks and win the lost for the Lord.

How shall we record in words the years that have come and gone? They were full of joys and sorrows, prayer and praise, yearnings for the souls of men, sacrifices for the spreading of the Gospel. We are reminded of Paul's words, "For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people."

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. 42-44.

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