1900-1950

After Pastor Dan left, the congregation was without a pastor for some time. S. D. Rodholm came as a student in June to teach Danish Vacation School and also preached on Sundays. At a congregational meeting in August, 1900, it was decided to call Rodholm as pastor as soon as he was ordained. He returned to teach Vacation School again in 1901, and was ordained at Synod Convention in Clinton, Iowa, on June 16, 1901.

1901 Confirmation Class
Christian Nielsen (Row 1 – L), Jens Peter Petersen, Julius Albert Petersen, Carl Marius Henningsen, Peter Miller,
Soren Hansen Kyhl, Jens Jessen Thuesen, Emma Nielsen (Row 2- 3rd girl from L), Emilie Petersen (Row 2 – 4th girl from L),
Juliane Marie Hansen, Anna Bathilda Christensen, Methine Boysen, Dagmar Slifsgaard, Ellen Kirstine Korg, Rev. S. D. Rodholm.

On January 30, 1901, 6 women met at the home of Mrs. Rasmus Larsen to organize the Fredsville Ladies Aid. This new group met with a fine response from the very beginning. A Young Peoples’ Society was also organized in 1901 by combining the “Girls’ Society” and the “Harmony Boys”, a social club, but Pastor Rodholm notes that this group “had difficulty to keep going”; and in 1902, seemed to be standing still.

District Convention was held at Fredsville in 1902, with good attendance and a number of fine speakers. In 1903, the Vacation School program was expanded with classes begin held at 5 different locations with a total attendance of 101.

That same year (1903), the congregation decided to build a meeting hall across the road from the church. This was built at a cost of $2500, and contributions from the Ladies Aid and the Young Peoples Society helped greatly in meeting the cost. The Young Peoples Society had grown appreciably with good attendance at the meetings. Pastor Rodholm’s parents came to Fredsville in 1903; and his father, Peter, found employment as sexton and janitor, a position he held for 22 years.

1903 Confirmation Class
Top to bottom, left to right: Marius Hansen, Edward Oleson, George Thuesen, Peter Refshauge, Emma Christensen,
Anna Henningsen, Anna Moller, Mabel Krumlinde, Edith Krumlinde, Anna Nielsen, Stella Kyhl, Katerine Rasmussen,
Christian Eriksen, Edward Nielsen, Christine Lund, Rev. S. D. Rodholm, Johannes Lund, Anna Dockwell, Martin Jakobsen,
Peter Petersen, Peter Dahl, Harry Larsen, Jeppe Sliefsgard, Hanse Schmidt, Andreas Andreasen.
Photos by Niels A. Nielsen Photography, Dike, Iowa.

1904 Confirmation Class
Top row, L to R: Harry Eriksen, Karen Marie Krog, Pastor S. D. Rodholm, Mette Marie Schultz, Laurits L. Henningsen
Middle row: Edward S. Holm, Line Kirstine Nielsen, Karen Marie Jensen, Ole J. Jensen
Bottom row: Martin Andersen Ulff, Harry Adolphsen
Picture made by Niels A. Nelson, Dike, Iowa

1905 Confirmation Class
Row 1: Hans Slifsgaard, Minnie Jakobsen, Kristine Jensen, Kathrine Christensen, Inger Krog, Soren Christensen
Row 2: Jens Nielsen, Marie Miller, Pastor S. D. Rodhom, Anna Hansen, Hans Lehman
Row 3: Julius Ostergard, Harry Petersen, Hans Aagaard, Anna Christiansen
Row 4: Hans Henningsen, Otto Refshauge, Johannes Kyhl, Arthur Larsen
Photos by Niels A. Nielsen, Dike, IA

Pastor Rodholm was only 24 when he came to Fredsville. In a biographical sketch, Enok Mortensen notes it had required special action at Synod convention to approve Rodholm’s ordination, since the required age was 25. Mortensen described him as more a scholar than a pastor, and his youthful zeal did not always find response from the congregation. Especially when he dared take exception to old customs. “At the annual Harvest Festival, it was traditional to sell beer. Pastor Rodholm objected and threatened to leave unless the custom was abandoned. He was well liked enough to win the battle.” On March 17, 1905, Pastor Rodholm resigned effective in 6 months; and in September, he went to Denmark to attend the University of Copenhagen.

Rev. P. Gotke came to Fredsville in October 1905, and served as pastor until April 1907. During this time, the Young Peoples Society continued to grow and improvements were made in the church. A new altar was acquired and a crucifix was given by Mr. and Mrs. Hans Boysen to replace the old altar pictures. The Ladies Aid gave a new baptismal font to the church. In 1906, District Convention was again held at Fredsville. During that year, the old barn by the parsonage burned and was replaced by a new one.

1906 Confirmation Class
Top row: Jens Peter Albert Nielsen, Christian Anthon Andreasen, __________, Wilbert Petersen
Second row: __________, Hans Edward Knudsen, Clarence Christian Frederiksen, Rev. P. Gotke,
Harvey August Krumlinde, Mette Marie Kirstine Hoffman (Schmidt), Theodor Johannes Thuesen
Third row: __________, Metha Marie Catherine Caroline Refshauge, Herman Bonde Henningsen, __________

After Pastor Gotke resigned, the congregation again called Pastor Rodholm, who was now serving a congregation in Boston, Massachusetts. He returned to Fredsville on June 17, 1907.

In 1908, a fund drive was conducted to pay off the remaining $1,000 debt on the auditorium. The congregation also extended an invitation to the Synod to hold the annual convention here in 1909. On August 30, 1908, Pastor Rodholm’s brother, J. A. M. Rodholm and Hans Juhl were ordained in the Fredsville Church.

At the annual meeting in 1909, it was decided that improvements should be made in preparation for the Synod Convention. A balcony was added in the church, the Ladies Aid purchased 24 new pews and the Young Peoples Society purchased a new organ. Two new flags (American and Danish) were given to be placed in the chancel. The convention was held June 2 through 6, with 107 voting delegates and about 200 other guests in attendance. It was a busy time at Fredsville, but the hospitality of the congregation added greatly to the success of the convention. That same year, new lightning rods were added to all the buildings; and a furnace was installed in the church to replace the old stove. In 1910, Pastor Rodholm resigned to accept a position as a teacher at Grand View College in Des Moines, leaving Fredsville in September.

Rev. Rasmus Jensen was installed as pastor November 6, 1910. One of his first tasks was to write a history of the congregation to be published for the 40th anniversary of the church, which was celebrated March 12 and 13, 1911. A choir of 20 members sang hymns and memorial songs written for the occasion.

1910 Confirmation Class
Row 1: Alma Johanne Syndergaard, Anna Marie Refshauge, Mine Martine Rasmussen.
Row 2: Rev. Rasmus Jensen, Eddie Wilhem Larsen, Ludvig (Louie) Holberg Olsen, John Peter Andersen Ulff.

Pastor Dan, Gotke, and Rodholm, as well as Pastor Jensen participated in the special anniversary services. Pastor Jensen remained at Fredsville until August, 1916.

Rev. Jen Holst was installed as pastor at Fredsville on November 12, 1916. In 1917, the United States was drawn into World War I, and a number of young men from the congregation were called into service.

District Convention was again held at Fredsville in August of that year. In late summer, a new Sunday School program was begun with classes held at the same time as church services. Vacation School had continued each summer — this year with 62 in attendance. Also, during that summer, the young people excavated under the auditorium so a furnace could be installed.

In May of 1918, Governor Harding of Iowa, issued a proclamation banning the use of foreign languages in churches and schools. This created problems at Fredsville as in many other places. Some English was used in the services, but was soon discontinued. A letter of protest was sent to the Governor, and this along with other protests from across the state caused the order to be withdrawn.

At the annual meeting in January, 1919, it was decided to raise the pastor’s salary to $1,200. Pastor Holst reported that the Sunday School that year had not met with good response. With an enrollment of 65, the average attendance was only 30. Vacation School was held in 3 locations during the summer. That year, also, T. Slifsgaard gave the congregation a deed to the plot of land on which the parsonage and auditorium are located on condition that the congregation donate $200 to the Old Peoples’ Home in Des Moines. District Meeting was held at Fredsville in September, 1919.

In 1919, Mr. and Mrs. Jorgan Thuesen established the Pioneer Memorial Fund in memory of their children. After 10 years, earnings were to be used to further the work of the congregation.

In 1920, Pastor Holst noted that in a material sense, much had been accomplished over the past year. A debt of $1,206 had been paid with a surplus of $200. He also noted that although church attendance had been good, “in proportion to the size of the congregation, it must be said that on the average, we have direct connection with only about half of its members.” Several visiting pastors were guests during the year and on August 8, a Mission Meeting was held at which Pastor V. S. Jensen and Dagmar Miller, missionary to the Santals in India, were the speakers.

The 50th Anniversary of the congregation was celebrated on March 12, 1921, with Pastor A. C. Kildegaard as guest speaker. On May 22nd, Pastor Holst resigned to accept a call from Alden, Minnesota. He preached his farewell sermon on August 28, 1921.

Rev. and Mrs. P. C. Stockholm and family arrived in Dike by rail in the spring of 1922. The Stockholms recalled that they had come to Fredsville somewhat in awe of their new responsibilities. In awe, because they had not served a large parish in which there were regular services and a real salary. The family came to the rural Cedar Falls area from a small congregation in Michigan. Stockholm remembered that his first impression of the parsonage was that of a “palace” compared to what they were used to. In the beginning, it was still the “horse and buggy days” as very few had automobiles. Nevertheless, Pastor Stockholm traveled to Dike two Sunday afternoons each month and to Voorhies once a month to conduct services. Later he got a car which made traveling easier, except when the roads were muddy.

The Sunday School thrived during this period with an excellent teaching staff and nearly 100 pupils enrolled. Pastor Stockholm especially refers to the young people in his writings. The Young People’s Society was an important function of the church. The group consisted of a large number of mature youth among the teenagers. There was also good cooperation between the young people and the older groups in the church. In 1928, the Cemetery Committee was established to supervise the care of the cemetery and to manage the Perpetual Care Fund.

Pastor Stockholm resigned and left Fredsville in the spring of 1933, having served for 11 years — the longest pastorate in the history of the church.

At the Annual Meeting in January, 1933, it was decided to send a call to Rev. Holger Nielsen, offering him an annual salary of $1,000. The call was accepted, and Pastor and Mrs. Nielsen arrived in early autumn of 1933. This was his second call and third year in the ministry, and he notes that he “neither abounded in material goods nor experience.”

Writing for the 75th Anniversary book, Pastor Nielsen noted:
“The economic depression went hand in hand with the drought. Those were days that tried the stout hearts of many a midwest farmer. Both rain clouds and banks closed their portals. Dust storms were a weekly occurrence. Methodists in a nearby community held mass prayer meetings for rain while the Lutheran pastor and his young wife prepared to irrigate their first Iowa garden. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s calm melodious voice spoke words of courage to the people over the radio. It was a much needed voice to a puzzled and bewildered, if not too prayerful, people. However, it’s an ill wind that blows no good, as the saying goes. The young people of the community went neither to the cities for jobs nor marched off to wars. They were all at home and the church became, in a real sense, the community center.”

It should be noted that the minutes of the annual meeting in January, 1936, were the first to be written in English. It was not until 1941, however, that English was adopted as the official language to be used at meetings.

During this time, the congregation’s constitution and by-laws were revised and translated and the church property improved. The “Kinke-Pung” was abandoned and collection plates put to use. A new pressure water system added much to the conveniences of both the parsonage and the parish hall.

September 4, 5, and 6, 1936, the Fredsville congregation was host for the District Meeting. Pastor Nielsen resigned in June, 1937, and left in August of that year to accept a call to Junction City, Oregon.

At a congregation meeting August 19, 1937, the congregation voted to send a letter of call to Rev. Svend Kjaer. The call was accepted, and the Kjaers arrived at Fredsville on November 15, 1937. He preached his first sermon November 21. The church had acquired a debt of about $800 during the depression years. This was soon taken care of by a special fund drive. In 1940, the decision was made to construct a basement under the auditorium building. The auditorium had been built back in 1903 at a cost of $2,500. The new basement with a dining room and kitchen facilities cost the same amount as the original structure had cost 40 years earlier. The added space served as a gathering place for special events, such as wedding receptions and youth gatherings, as well as providing much needed Sunday School space. The new basement was put to good use in 1941, as the congregation celebrated its 70th anniversary. Former members and friends as well as 2 former pastors, S. D. Rodholm and Jens Holst, joined in the celebration.

Vacation School was held for 3 weeks each summer in these years, and the pastor reported an average attendance of 35. He also speaks of the large group of young people that gathered for meetings and attended the worship services, many of them singing in the choir. A District Young People’s Convention was held at Fredsville i n August, 1941.

It was during Pastor Kjaer’s time that the congregation decided to use individual communion cups instead of the common cup. Pastor Kjaer resigned October 5, 1943, and preached his farewell sermon on Christmas Day, leaving shortly thereafter for Salinas and Watsonville, California.

Although several calls were extended, Fredsville was without a pastor for just over a year. At the Annual Meeting of the congregation in January 1944, it was decided that there should be one Danish Service per month with the other three services to be in English; and when a fifth Sunday occurred, the council was to decide which language should be used.

During the years 1941-46, our country was again at war with 54 young men and 6 young women from Fredsville in military service. Of these, 2 young men were among the casualties.

During the pastoral vacancy, the congregation was served by district pastors and by seminary students from Grand View Seminary in Des Moines. Pastor Holger Nielsen from Cedar Falls taught the confirmation class. On August 8, 1944, the congregation voted to extend a call to Marvin Nygaard, then a senior student at Grand View Seminary. Salary offered was $1,400 plus 3 special offerings. Pastor Nygaard accepted and came after he was ordained.

In January, 1945, a group of young women met at the Fredsville auditorium to organize a new women’s group. This was called the “Junior Ladies Aid” with women 40 years of age and under eligible for membership.

In preparation for the new pastor, some remodeling was done inside the parsonage and asbestos siding installed on the outside. Pastor and Mrs. Nygaard arrived in February, 1945. In the fall, a new furnace was installed in the church.

At the Annual Meeting in January, 1946, the new Articles of Incorporation were approved. The congregation had incorporated in 1890, but these articles had expired in 1940, so it was necessary to re-incorporate. At this same meeting, plans got under way for the celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the church. Pastor Nygaard noted that the church choir consisting of 26 members, presented the Cantata, “The Easter Triumph,” on Easter Sunday, 1946.

The 75th Anniversary was held on Saturday, May 4, and Sunday, May 5, 1946. Former pastors who participated were H. O. Nielsen, P. C. Stockholm, Jens Holst, S. D. Rodholm, plus Synod President, Rev. Alfred Jensen and District President, Rev. Harold Ibsen. District Meeting was held at Fredsville that year, September 19-22, with both Ladies Aid Societies serving the meals for the occasion.

At the organizational meeting of the Church Council in January, 1947, a committee was appointed to “investigate the size, capacity and estimated price needed for a new church.” The committee consisted of Council President, Sophus Hermansen, Jens Thuesen, Louie Oleson, and Jim Jacobsen. A special meeting of the congregation was held March 5, 1947, to discuss whether or not a new church should be built. The plan presented called for enlarging the present building 8 feet in width and 36 feet in length and adding a full basement. The cost was estimated at between $50,000 and $60,000. After much discussion, including the possibility of a new church across the road, a vote was taken with 51 ballots cast. The result was — 27 no — 17 yes — 7 blank. The proposal was defeated. At the Annual Meeting in January, 1948, the congregation voted to establish a building fund for a new church and that preliminary plans be drawn up, indicating that the desire for a new building was till very much alive.

Painting and redecorating in the church and auditorium were done with the help of both the Senior and Junior Ladies Aid Societies. An organ fund had been established earlier, and the decision made to purchase a new organ, but it was not until the spring of 1948 that an instrument was available and could be installed in the church. The organ was dedicated on May 23 with an afternoon recital. In September of 1949, Pastor Nygaard resigned to accept a call to Dwight, Illinois, and left Fredsville in January, 1950.

Go to 1950-present

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