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"The Swedish Lutheran Church."
Being the acting pastor of the Swedish Lutheran church in this borough and having seen a couple of articles in the democrat about the new church that is to be erected by the Free Christian, I would like to give some information to those whom it may concern.
The Free Christian church was not incorporated in 1889, as Mr. Lilgendahl has in formed the Democrat, but in 1891. Two families have, since I came to this place last summer, went over from our church to the Free Christians and are now the leading members of that congregation. They could not have everythhing to their own will and, therefore, they would not stay in our Lutheran church. The Free Christians have been trying all the time since I came here to get members from our church, that is, to make them accept their doctine, which differs in many points.
Our Lutheran congregation has from forty to fifty active members, and
besides many of the young people attend our services. How manyy Free
Christians are there? Is the new church for the benefit of the Swedish
people when there are onlu a few?
We are sorry to see our people go away from our dear old mother church and from the faith for which oue ancestors sacrificed their lives."
A.G. Anderson 1894.
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The Ansgarius Evangelical Lutheran Church of Smethport
was organized October 1, 1891, by a group of Swedish Lutherans residing
in Smethport and vicinity. The church took its original name from
Saint Ansgarius, a Swedish Saint who brought the Gospel to
As early as 1884, services had been held in private homes and in the Methodist Church but no definite organization had existed. Present at the organizational meeting were the Rev. E. S. Ternberg, and the Rev. M. A. Nordstrom. Deacons and trustees elected were Otto Anderson, John Hector, Pete Johnson, C. W. Lilgendahl, Charles Johnson, John Ottoson, and John Swanson.
The first regular congregation meeting was held January 2, 1892 at the Ottoson home and on June 15 of that year a special meeting was called to consider the purchase of a home of worship. The congregation purchased the church used by the Episcopalians who were moving into the brand new stone church on Main Street. The St. Lukeís Episcopal Fulton Street Church was purchased in 1892 for $500 down and $100 yearly payments.
The first class of catechumens was confirmed in July 1892. Pastors serving the church through the years included the Rev. H. E. Isaacson, the Rev. A. G. Anderson, the Rev. F. E. Sard, the Rev. P. S. Miller, and the Rev. P. E. Norgrove.
During these early years, a weekday school was conducted during the summer with Charles Johnson, the first elected superintendent. After the Rev. Nordgren left the church, the congregation was united with Bethany Lutheran Church of Olean. During this time, the last of the church debt was wiped off the books. The Rev. C. J. Beckman of Olean served as vice pastor of the church until his untimely death in June 1907. During the ensuing three years the pulpit was filled by several pastors and students. The altar and the pulpit were purchased in 1911 win the altar and hangings presented by the Young Ladies Society. During the pastorate of C. Russell Lundgren, many new organizations were promoted including the Lutheran Brotherhood, the Womenís Missionary Society and the Lutheran League. In 1935 the Brotherhood received permission to sponsor the building of a basement under the church. This improvement was soon followed by a new heating system, furnishings for the dining room and kitchen, the purchase of a Hammond organ and the installation of a baptismal font. During this spring of 1953, the sanctuary was redecorated; a new altar cross-installed and a new lighting system was approved and installed.
Services were held in the mother tongue of Swedish until 1944. This change was made by many immigrant churches to show solidarity for the American cause in WW II. German-speaking Lutheran churches did the same. In the late 1950s, the church name was changed to Trinity.
Trinityís sanctuary tells a theological story. It has a classic structure including a narthex, knave, sanctuary, and a pew area with a cathedral ceiling. The structure as a whole resembles an overture boat, symbolizing the Church as refuge against the stormy sea of life. The center isle and bisecting aisle symbolize the cross. The elevated altar is set upon the fifth step upward, symbolizing the five wounds of Christ. The three paneled wooden screen reredos symbolize the Holy Trinity. An elevated pulpit is a classic German medieval design, symbolizing the importance of the lifting up of Godís word.
As of 2003, the Church has been a yoked parish with Gethsemane Lutheran in Port Allegheny. Trinity is in the Northwest Pennsylvania Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. The churchís Bishop is Ralph E. Jones, and head of the denomination, called the Presiding Bishop, Mark Hanson. The main headquarters of the ELCA is located in Chicago. Pastor Diana L. Britton is the churchís new Pastor beginning her call August 1 and was ordained August 11, 2002. Every congregation consists of dedicated people. In Trinityís sacristy, where the vestment for the altar and elements are kept for communion, you will find a picture of Emma Miller. She is Trinityís own ìSaint Emma.î She was a pivotal person in the churchís history, whose dedication influenced the church for many years.
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2001: Trinity Lutheran Church of Smethport
photo credit: James Freer
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