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East Bergen Church

(Information from Diamond Jubilee Anniversary Book covering 1874 - 1949) 

East Bergen was located 1 mile west of McCallsburg and approximately 2 1/2 miles north on 650th Ave. The cemetery located behind the church is a reminder of where East Bergen was located as well as a native rock used as a monument with a brass plaque attached to its face. A dedication service for this was held on July 8, 1962 at the site, conducted by Rev. H.M. Lybeck immediately following church service in Roland. 


The history of the birth and development of the East-Bergen Church deserves a story of its own. In 1882 the members of the NE district petitioned for services every fourth Sunday. These services were held in the schoolhouses. By agreement with the Bergen congregation in Roland, a called meeting of the members of the North-East District, that is, those living in the vicinity of Garden City and McCallsburg, was held on December 29, 1893. It is not clear from the record, but it appears that Rev. C.B. Jacobsen was present and acted as the chairman. Mr. B.K. Johnson was elected as secretary. The minutes reveal that the following resolutions were adopted:

1) That Pastor Jacobsen be requested to have confirmation every other year here, and that this arrangement begin in January of 1894.

2) By rising vote it was unanimously decided to build a church on the South-West corner of Marten T. Waula's farm, and that a committee be appointed to take up subscriptions for this purpose. Mr. John Gittelson and Mr. B.K. Johnson were elected to this committee. Before the meeting adjourned, $350 was pledged by those in attendance.

3) The meeting adjourned to meet again at home of M.T. Waula on January 12, 1894 at 1:00 pm. It should be stated that Mr. Waula had previously made it known that he was ready to donate the land necessary for the location of the church. Disputes arose about the locating of the cemetery, but it was finally decided to buy one-half acre from Mr. Waula for the sum of $25,000. This action was taken at the annual meeting of 1895. At the meeting, January 12, 1894, M.T. Waula, Halvor Musland and B.K. Johnson, were elected as the building committee. Pastor Jacobson was instructed to convey thanks to the people in Roland for their kindness and understanding.

Work was begun on the church on the 12th of April, 1894. By the 29th it was almost under roof. On the same day a cyclone laid it in ruins. Bowed in humility by this visitation of God, the congregation decided to go ahead with the building plans. By July 25th it was finished, painted by September 5th, decorated inside by October 15. On October 3rd the people received word that their beloved pastor, Rev. C.B. Jacobsen had died in Bergen Norway, on September 19th. The church bell was tolled for the first time in his honor.

The church was dedicated on Sunday October 21, 1894 by Rev. H.J. Strand of Albert Lea, Minnesota, assisted by Pastors Gremstad and Sherven. The first congregational meeting was held in the new church on Sunday, December 27, 1894. Pastor G. Smedal conducted his first service, Sunday, March 17, 1895. It became the custom to hold services every fourth Sunday as well as second day of Church Festivals, and New Year's Day. The congregation, though, met every Sunday for reading services, Bible study, and instruction of the children. Mr. B.K. Johnson, and Mr. John Egenes are named as first Directors of the Sunday meetings. The first officers were: President, Rev. C.B. Jacobsen, Secretary-Treasurer, Mr. B.J. Johnson, Klokker, Mr. P.O. Ferkin, Sexton, Mr. M.T. Waula. The first delegates elected to a Synod meeting were Mr. S.H. Twedt and Mr. P.O. Ferkin for the year 1905. John Prestbo was the first song leader.

It is not stated exactly when the first Ladies Aid was organized, but the minutes reveal that by 1900 the congregation was commending them for their work for Missions. The Ladies Aid used to have a sale and supper in the Fall of the year, thus getting in large sums for Mission. Miss Bertha Nelson is the president of the East Bergen Aid for 1949.

Summer religion school was held every year, both in the North District and the South. Mr. Henry Tjernagel taught the North school in 1896 with an enrollment of 27, and Mr. P.O. Ferkin taught the South school, having 31 enrolled.

The minutes are quite complete up to the year 1922. Little by little, people moving away, joining other churches, the work became more and more centered in Roland. No doubt, the improvement of the roads, the building of the new church in Roland were the chief contributing factors. Around 1928 morning services were discontinued, but afternoon services have been held irregularly to the present time. During the Summer months, early services at 9:00 a.m. are now held. The Norwegian language has been in almost exclusive use in the East Bergen Church.

(Information documented from the Centennial Book - 1874 - 1974)
(Begining history is the same as the Diamond Jubilee as noted above)


As time went on discussions on the location of the cemetery were taking place and disputes arose. It was finally decided to buy one-half acre of land from Mr. Waula for the sum of $25.00. This action was taken at the annual meeting in 1895.

The church was dedicated on Sunday, October 21, 1894, by Rev. H.J. Strand of Albert Lea, Minn., assisted by Pastors Gremstad and Sherven. The first congregational meeting was held in the new church on Sunday, December 27, 1894. Pastor G. Smedal conducted his first service on Sunday, March 17, 1895.

It became the customer to hold services every fourth Sunday, as well as second day of Church Festivals and New Year's Day. The congregation, though, met every Sunday for reading services, Bible study, and instruction of the children. Mr. B.K. Johnson and Mr. John Egenes were named as the first directors of the Sunday meetings.

The first officers were: President, Rev. C.B. Jacobsen; Secretary-Treasurer, Mr. B.J. Johnson; Klokker, Mr. P.O. Ferkin; Sexton, Mr. M.T. Waula.

The first delegates elected to a Synod meeting were Mr. S.H. Twedt and Mr. P.O. Ferkin for the year 1905. John Prestbo was the first song leader.

It is not clear when the first Ladies Aid was organized but the minutes reveal that by 1900, the congregation was commending them for their work for Missions. The Ladies Aid used to have a sale and supper in the fall of the year, thus getting large sums for Missions.

Summer religion school was held every year, both in the North District and the South District. Mr. Henry Tjernagel taught the North school in 1896 with an enrollment of 27, and Mr. P.O. Ferkin taught the South school with an enrollment of 31.

Records were pretty well kept up until 1922 and then little by little the work became more and more centered in Roland. No doubt the improvement of the roads and the building of the new church in Roland were the chief contributing factors. Around 1928, morning services were discontinued but afternoon services were held and the Norwegian language was used almost exclusively. Only in the last few years, were the services held in the English language. The last service was conducted by Rev. Allen E. Nelson.

At the annual meeting of the Bergen Lutheran Congregation held in January 1957, it was decided to sell the church building at a public auction. This sale was held in February 1957. 

Most of the proceeds were allocated to installing an art glass picture window in the Sunday School Assembly in the Bergen Lutheran Church in Roland, Iowa in tribute to the Pioneer Builders and as an inspiration for the children of the present and the future. This window was dedicated at the Sunday School Assembly November 9, 1958. 


Native Rock Monument:
A decision was made to have a monument and plaque placed on the SW corner of the lot on which the church had once stood and a committee was appointed for that purpose. A suitable native rock was chosen and a brass plaque was attached to its face. A dedication service was held on July 8, 1962, at the site, and it was conducted by Rev. H.M. Lybeck immediately following the morning church service at Roland.

Inscription reads:
With deepest gratitude and devotion, this monument is dedicated the men and women who erected the East Bergen Lutheran Church on this site in 1894, and where they faithfully served almighty God until 1957. These hardy pioneers from Norway brought with them a firm trust in God and a determination to rear their children in the Christian faith.

"To God the Father Glory Be,
and to His only Son,
and to the Spirit, one and Three
while endless ages run. Amen" 


Cemetary at East Bergen - photo taken September 2010 
 
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