Minnesota Architecture: Eksjo Lutheran Church

Today’s nomination comes from Lake Park, Minnesota, east of Moorhead.


Eksjo Lutheran Church

Image courtesy of Becky Mitchell

Here’s Becky Mitchell’s nomination for Eksjo Luthern Church:

As a young child growing up in Moorhead, MN I spent many weekends traveling to Detroit Lakes. My parents were both from DL and my grandparents lived there. That beautiful church on Highway 10 in the countryside between Hawley and Lake Park had so many meanings over the years. When I was real young it meant we were almost to grandma’s house! As a teenager I have memories of pulling into the lot with a broken down car waiting for help, wondering how many people could possibly go there or why one would travel “to the middle of nowhere” to attend church. After all it wasn’t in a big city like Moorhead where church was just a few blocks from your house.

Fast forward many years. I left the Fargo Moorhead area in the late 90’s and moved to Ohio. When my family decided to come home to Minnesota, for many reasons we settled in the lakes country. My lakes years were spent in the Cormorant area, we had family here and that is where we wanted to be. Walking into Eksjo Lutheran Church for the first time as an adult with a family, I quickly learned that this church was so much more than a beautiful church on the side of Highway 10 (and of course is very much not in the “middle of nowhere”). There is great pride taken in the Swedish heritage of the church and many spend countless hours working to keep it beautiful and prominent in our community. It is one large family where people gather to celebrate, to mourn, to worship, but most importantly to support each other. It is a place one can go to for friendship, fellowship and it doesn’t matter if you attend weekly or yearly, you always have a home at Eksjo.

The church’s website has this to add about its history:

On October 16, 1871 seven families, one young woman and ten young men met at the home of O.B. Anderson and adopted a constitution forming “The Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of Eksjo” (Oak Lake). …For the first five years families took turns hosting worship services in their homes. In 1878 the first church was built. It’s dimensions were 24 feet wide, 30 feet long and 12 feet high. At that time our congregation numbered 100 confirmed members and 150 children, and was being served by our first resident pastor, J.P. Mattson. In 1879 a decision was made to build a parsonage just west of the church. In 1884 the congregation voted to share a pastor with the newly-formed Strandvik congregation, and in 1885 the two congregations called P.P. Hedenstrom. At this time the church building was enlarged to accommodate the growing congregation. It’s length was extended by 10 feet, and 14-foot balcony was built. Currently, Eksjo Lutheran Church is a member of the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America) . It is a part of the Gloria Dei Parish made up of Houglum Lutheran Church, Strandvik Lutheran Church and Eksjo. More then 400 souls are buried in the Eksjo Lutheran Church cemetery.

Many thanks to Becky Mitchell for her nomination. Do you have a building in your community that you particularly admire? Send a photo, along with a paragraph or two explaining why, to mcombs@mpr.org.

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