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St. Olaf Lutheran Church turning 175

February 20, 2019

ASHIPPUN -- After being founded by families from the Gjerpen and Silan areas of Telemark, Norway in December of 1844, St. Olaf Lutheran Church is celebrating its 175 anniversary this year.

The first church was built between 1847 and 1848 on the land across the street from where the current church is at W653 Roosevelt Road, Ashippun, according to a press release.

Early worship was held in the home for the families who sailed from Norway, with the first minister being the Rev. Gustav Unonius, who was ordained as an Episcopalian priest at the Nashotah Mission.

The Rev. Nils Brandt was the first Norwegian Lutheran pastor in 1854. He served St. Olaf, St. John’s Lutheran Church in Stone Bank and St. Luke’s near Ashippun, which is no longer in operation. St. Olaf and St. John’s shared a pastor for 115 years until 1959 when they decided to have their own pastors.

Services were conducted in Norwegian until 1934, the release states.

The second church building, which is still in use today, was constructed in 1873. The altar and pulpit were delivered by horse and wagon; in 1923 stained glass windows that currently decorate the sanctuary were installed. The windows were donated by members in memory of their loved ones, some of whom were children. The A-flat bell was installed in the steeple in 1883.

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