Rock Creek Lutheran Church
Records show that the history of our congregation dates back to the year 1870. Briefly stated is the fact that the Spring Brook Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Church was founded on August 20th of that year, and officially organized on November 19th. The Rev. Amon Johnson, who resided in Eau Claire was the first pastor. The congregation was a member of the Norwegian-Danish Conference.
The first annual meeting was held October 29th at the Martinus Olson home. The Olsons’ then lived on what is now the J. P. Fossum farm. It was voted to take a collection at one of the services to purchase bread and wine for communion. A decision was also made to have services on alternate Sundays, rotating the place of services at the school house, Martinus Olson, and Peter Jevne homes. A collection was taken for the minister’s salary. Members were widely scattered, living in the towns of Spring Brook, Rock Creek, and Peru.
The next meeting was held November 25, 1872. Subscriptions were taken for Parochial School and pastor’s salary. It was decided that each family contribute twenty-five cents for communion bread and wine; and the sum of five dollars was agreed upon as the necessary contribution each family was to make to the treasury.
On December 7, 1873 a meeting was held in the town of Rock Creek at which time a decision was reached to combine the Spring Brook congregation with the Menomonie parish.
In 1874 the first church was built. It was located on the Meridean Island in section 6 of the town of Rock Creek. It was struck by lightning on the night of October 23, 1886 and burned. Less than a month later (November 15, 1886) a meeting was held to lay plans for building a new church. It was erected the following year a short distance from the first site. When there was no church building, members worshipped at homes and schoolhouses.
From 1876-1893 Rev. Lars Lund, then serving the Menomonie parish was the pastor. He often traveled on skis from his home in Menomonie to his outlying churches. In 1878 two Ladies’ Aid societies were organized-one on the north side of the Chippewa River and one on the south side.
Sunday School was first organized in 1879. No history of the congregation would be complete without recognition of the work done by O. J. Fossum. The thirty-eight years he taught its Parochial schools. When the Sunday School was organized he was its leader. He was Precentor from 1874-1916 and a deacon from 1880-1918. Besides this he was treasurer of the congregation from 1885-1900. Having been a teacher of religion in the public schools of Norway before coming to the United States in 1873 he came well prepared to help a pioneer congregation carry on its work.
The Chippewa River was a constant barrier to effective work in the congregation. In 1893 the congregation had a ferry built (for many years known as the Old Meridean Ferry) to enable the people of Spring Brook to more easily attend services at the church. Prior to this time boats were used. At this period in history, Menomonie, Spring Brook, Little Elk Creek, Downsville, Porters Mill, and Drammen were all served by the same pastor.
At a meeting held on February 10, 1893 it was decided that the congregation purchase what was then known as the ‘Garland house’ for the sum of eight hundred dollars. This was to be used as the parsonage, as by this time the congregation desired a resident pastor. Rev. D. A. Skcre was called in 1893 and was the first to occupy it. He served until 1898 but due to ill health, Pastors Grotheim and Vik served as his substitutes from 1895-1898.
In 1898 Rev. M. C. Waldahl was called and served until 1909. At a meeting held at the parsonage on February 1, 1899 the “Meridean Scandinavian Young Peoples’ Society” was organized.
Rev. E. A. Norson became pastor in 1910 remaining until 1917. He was very active in all parish work and an especially good friend of the young people. In 1910 the Young Peoples Society was reorganized to form two separate organizations-one for those on the north side of the river and one for those on the south side. Never in the history of the congregation has there been a more active and lasting choir than the one Rev. Norson organized and conducted.
In 1917 the congregation decided to divide and form two separate congregations but remain in the same parish. Shortly after this each congregation built a church. The Rock Creek Meridean congregation purchased the old church on the Meridean Island and lumber from it was used in the construction of the present church edifice. Dedication services for the Rock Creek and Meridean church were held November 19-21, 1920.
In 1930 Rev. U. A. Turmo came to serve Rock Creek, Spring Brook, and Cranberry Creek (now called Meridean) Lutheran churches which had united to form the Caryville parish. His confirmands testify to the thoroughness with which he taught his classes, the Sunday School teachers recall the interest he had in the Sunday Schools and how he tried to improve them. In 1932 he confirmed the first adult class in the congregation. The wholehearted interest he had in the work of the church was shown in many ways, not least when he offered to cut his own salary, small though it was to help the congregation meet its obligations. There were the depression years. The change from the Norwegian to the English language had come by this time. Electric lights were put in the church in 1938.
Rev. John Ritland was the pastor from 1942-1949. At this period many young men left to join the armed forces of World War II. Many needed improvements were made at both the parsonage and the church. The parsonage was modernized, redecorated, and painted, and the garage was rebuilt. The interior of the church was redecorated, and an oil burning furnace installed in 1946. The following year a Hammond electric organ was purchased. The congregation had reached a high point in giving to missions and other benevolences in the year 1948 when it contributed $1,954.
Since Pastor Ritland left in the fall of 1949 the Caryville parish had had no pastor of its own. The Rev. S. M. Moe of Eau Claire conducts services in Rock Creek every two weeks and assists in every other way his time permits. In 1951, Rev. Ritland offered to come back and he served for five years. In 1951 stained glass windows were installed in the sanctuary. A special highlight was the ordination of Clifford Ritland in 1952, (son of Rev. John Ritland). The congregation then numbered 280 souls.
Rev. Karl Anderson came to serve the parish in 1957. Sunday School enrollment was growing and classes were conducted in very crowded quarters. Therefore, the decision was made to construct and educational unit to meet the needs of the growing number of children, to furnish more seating room for services, a kitchenette, an office, and a library lounge area. Ground breaking ceremonies were held in August 1959. The new addition to the church was completed in 1960.
In 1960 Rev, Raymond O. Overgaard came to serve the parish which still consisted of three congregations. Rev. Overgaard served until 1964. Because of the difficulty in securing a pastor for a three-point parish, discussions were begun on a solution to the problem. Meridean Lutheran congregation was invited to join with Rock Creek Lutheran, but declined. Spring Brook and Rock Creek Lutheran voted to become a two-point parish at this time.
On April 21, 1969 Pastor Clarence Solberg, Executive Assistant to our District President met with the Congregation as a special meeting to discuss the advisability of realignment of congregations in the Rock Falls and Elk Mound area. Upon subsequent meetings it was determined by the Spring Brook Congregation that they amalgamate with the Elk Mound Congregation.
On May 12, 1969 Rock Creek Lutheran Church agreed to become self-sustaining as a one point parish and reaffirmed the letter of Call to Pastor Langholz.
In preparation for our Centennial, it was resolved to renovate the Chancel and purchase a new altar, pulpit, and communion rail. The Centennial was celebrated on July 11-12, 1970. It was a time of great joy and thanksgiving.
A new parsonage was built in 1972. Much volunteer labor was donated which kept the cost down. There were dedication services on October 22, 1972. A new front entry and narthex were completed at the church in 1975.
David Broberg, son of Stanley and Doris Broberg was ordained at our church on July 6, 1980.
It was decided to make our church handicap accessible. The rest rooms were completed in 1990. A lift was installed in 1992.
On June 24, 1995 we rejoiced with Kathryn Larson on her ordination. The 125th Anniversary Celebration of Rock Creek was also held on that day. Former pastors and members of the congregation were re-united with each other once again.
Due to the financial status of Rock Creek Lutheran Church and the abundance of seminary students needing to find places for their internships in the mid 1990’s, Rock Creek Lutheran Church and Faith Lutheran Church in Durand found a way for each congregation to continue their ministries but yet to share a pastor and an intern for the next few years.
As we look back over our past, we see the hand of God reaching out and blessing our congregation. We see an active Sunday School, young people, men and women, willing workers in our church family. We thank God for these blessings. May “A Seed That Grew” continue its growth as we look forward to God’s blessings and guidance in the future.
Pastors who have served Rock Creek Lutheran Church:
Amon Johnson - 1870-1874
Gjermund Hayme - 1874-1876
Lars Lund - 1876-1893
D. A. Skcre - 1893-1898
M. C. Waldahl - 1898-1909
E. A. Norson - 1910-1917
Kronelius Sumstad - 1918-1929
U. A. Turmo - 1930-1941
John Ritland - 1942-1949, 1951-1956
Karl Anderson - 1957-1959
Raymond O. Overgaard - 1960-1964
W. O. Langholz - 1964-1972
James F. Moore - 1972-1977
Richard Sorenson - 1977 to 1983
Keith Anderson - 1983 to 1989
Etlar Johnson - 1989 to 1996
Karl Speiker - 1996 to 1999
Charles Plaster - 1999 to 2005
Dale Horner, Jr. - 2006 to 2012
Michelle Nickodemus - 2013-2017
Paul Oppedahl - 2018-2019
Student Interns at Rock Creek:
Gail Riina - 1996-1997
Eldon Simonsen - 1997-1998
Jennifer Dorr - 1998-1999