Manson church celebrates 150 years
MANSON — It started with a small group of Swedish farmers on May 5, 1871, and now Augustana Lutheran Church, 810 Seventh Ave. in Manson, is celebrating 150 years of serving the community.
Prior to building the first church building on what would be known as Swede Hill in Manson, families would meet in different members’ homes in rural Calhoun County west of Manson, said church member Jim Huss, who serves as the church’s treasurer and has been a member since March 1970.
Augustana will celebrate the church’s sesquicentennial on Sunday.
The celebration will begin at 9 a.m. with a worship service in the sanctuary led by the Rev. Peter Rosenkvist. Following the service, there will be a group picture taken on the church lawn. Coffee fellowship and trolley tours will be from 10:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. The afternoon program outside and kids games will start at 1:30 p.m. and cake will be served at 2 p.m.
The church welcomes the community to the celebration.
At its founding, Augustana was known as the “Swedish church,” with many Swedish settler families in the congregation. When the first church building and parsonage was complete in 1884 on the corner of 12th Avenue and Sixth Street, the area became known as “Swede Hill,” Huss said.
Local lore is that the original location is a result of a fundraising “contest” between rural members and members who lived in town, Huss said. About 40 acres of land were already purchased out in the county for the site, but the members in the town raised the most money and the church was built in Manson. Later, 39 acres of the land in the county were sold, with one being kept for a cemetery.
The church was originally called Manson Lutheran Church. It became known as Augustana Lutheran Church at a later date. The current church building was dedicated in 1971.
Huss said he and his wife, Cheryl Huss, were married in the original church building in 1970. Cheryl Huss has been a lifelong member of the church and in fact, her great-great grandfather’s brother was one of the congregation’s founding fathers.
Over the years, the church has held many Swedish traditions, including holding a 5 a.m. worship service on Christmas Day, called Julotta and hosting many potlucks full of Swedish delicacies.
“Regrettably, we’ve lost a lot of the older (members) who were used to making a lot of those dishes,” Jim Huss said.
The church also has a group of women who call themselves the Patchwork Pals, who spend time together making quilts to donate to local shelters. Last year, Jim Huss said, when COVID-19 prevented the group from donating quilts to the shelters, they then decided to donate a quilt to each graduate of Manson Northwest Webster High School.
Currently, the church has around 130 active members, Jim Huss said.
“It really has become an older generation because a lot of times anymore, the younger ones don’t stay around small town Iowa,” he said.
The Augustana congregation is like one big family, the Husses said. A family that hopes to be in the Manson community for another 150 years.