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Morgan Charter Members
Organized: December 27, 1885 (Admitted: June 27, 1886)
Also Known As: Brookville, Redwood Falls
Current Location: Living Word Church (rented),
36209 US Highway 71, Redwood Falls, MN Map
Former Location: NE corner of 3rd Street and Fergus Avenue, Morgan, MN
Editor: Kathy Joy Parke
Contributors: Betty Larsen-Knudson, Viola Benson-Mosier, Esther Larsen-Read, Vernon Parker, Myrna Andersen-Parker, Lucille Battig-Burghart, Beverly Burghart-Peck
Betty Larsen-Knudson did such a fine job of recording the early history of the Morgan church for the 100th anniversary that I have left much of her information “as is”. I have then added further information that I have found in my research – taking special care to add “tidbits” that help identify family connections that I am aware of. I would also like to thank Betty’s cousin, Viola Benson-Mosier for providing Betty’s history to me. Betty was the daughter of Ernest Larsen and Viola the daughter of Amelia Larsen-Benson. Additional historical information was gleaned from the 50th Morgan Anniversary History, written by Esther Larsen-Read, long-time Press Secretary for the Morgan SDA Church. Esther was a sister to Ernest and Amelia and, therefore, an aunt to Betty and Viola. Thanks ladies!
Kathy Joy Parke, Editor
Several years ago, while researching family history in Redwood County, MN, I recall coming across a short statement in a local history book that read,
“The Danish Adventists began holding services at the house of James Sommer in the fall of 1872. The services were conducted by the Rev. J. F. Hansen.” – History of Redwood County, “Brookville Township,” published 1916, pgs. 356-357
Having grown up in the Morgan Seventh-day Adventist Church, I had not known that the church (formerly Brookville) had originated from such early beginnings nor had I realized that it was started by a Danish group. This piqued my interest, being half Danish myself, and so it was that I set upon a journey into exploring the roots of one of the oldest Seventh-day Adventist Churches in Minnesota. Come share this journey with me …
Kathy Joy Parke, Editor
Morgan SDA Church Beginnings
The story of the Morgan church starts in the earliest days of Seventh-day Adventism in Minnesota. A church had been established at Golden Gate (see history of Golden Gate Church) in Brown County and, originally the church was comprised of English-speaking folks. Over the years, however, as the Golden Gate Church grew, a Scandinavian (mostly Danish) segment of the membership arose who were from Brookville Township in Redwood County about twelve miles to the west of Golden Gate. In those days, a twenty-four mile round trip was quite a distance to have to travel by horse and buggy or sleigh. And so it was, that this group from Brookville determined that they would like to establish their own church home. On December 27th, 1885, 17 members of the Golden Gate church asked to be given the privilege of organizing a new church body nearer to where they were farming in Brookville Township. The next year, in 1886, as summer commenced, the Minnesota Conference met for it’s twenty-fifth annual session, traditionally held in conjunction with camp meeting – this year’s camp meeting being held at Lake Harriet, in the city limits of Minneapolis. During the conference proceedings held the evening of June 27, the Brookville Township (Morgan) church was admitted to the conference (Review and Herald, July 27, 1886). One can imagine what an exciting day that must have been for the little Scandinavian group to finally have a church group of their own!
Back in the late 1800’s, Adventist ministers were not always plentiful in Minnesota and so they would often travel about, visiting churches along the way, sometimes staying to conduct meetings for a few days or weeks – many of these meetings would be conducted in Scandinavian languages. In January of 1891, H. R. Johnson speaks of holding “a five days’ meeting, including evening services” in Brookville. A year later, F. B. Johnson tells of his visit to Brookville,
“I labored with brother Norderhus at Currie, also accompanied him to Brookville, where we joined brother Nielson of Wisconsin. As there are Danes in these two places, two meetings were held each day at the latter place, and one in the evening in English, especially for the young people, which resulted in forming a society to be called “Happy Workers” to labor this year for the Orphan’s Home. I also secured four annual members for the International Tract Society, one being a Baptist lady.” – Review and Herald, March 22, 1892
Betty Larsen-Knudson recalls her grandparents (Jens Christian Larsen and Paulina Jensen-Larsen) memories of those days when they did not have districts and district pastors – sometimes they would go for years at a time without a visit from a minister. Her father, Ernest Larsen’s, (son of Jens and Paulina) family remembered the minister getting off the train at Gilfillan, and walking three miles to their home to spend the night. Then Grandfather Jens Larsen would take him by horse and buggy to another Adventist’s home where the process would be repeated.
In those early years, the Brookville Adventist congregation worshipped in the church known as the Brookville Lutheran Church located about 7 miles south and 1.5 miles east of Morgan (this building was later moved to Evan and eventually the church dissolved membership in 1961). The church was built around 1899 by the Lutheran, Baptist and Adventist congregations and all three denominations shared it for several years. Around the early 1890’s, though, many of the Adventist believers again moved west and north and felt it was too far to drive the horses which had toiled in the fields all week – the round trip averaged about fifteen miles on Sabbath. So, for some time, services were conducted in the homes three Sabbaths and in the church the third Sabbath of the month.
Morgan SDA Church – The “Country Church”
Around the turn of the century in 1902, however, a new town to be called Wayburne was platted about 3 miles south and 1 mile west of Morgan along the railway (railroads being an important mode of transportation at that time) and the Adventists were given lots on which to build a church. The Adventists kept their end of the bargain and erected a church in 1902 at Wayburne. The record of this event is very brief, stating on March 29th a committee consisting of Elder Peter A. Hanson (a son of Danish immigrants and a native of the Morgan area), William Abraham Engelrup (a son of Danish immigrants who had moved to the Morgan area from Wisconsin around 1885), and H. P. Nelson was appointed to investigate the possibility of building a church and then, on June 30th, a business meeting was held in the church. No mention is made of the cost but the late Mr. Hans Mortenson stated that it cost about $300.00 to build the church. In the Morgan Messenger of June 5, 1902, it is noted that the church was dedicated June 8, 1902 with Elder Lewis Johnson of Lincoln, Nebraska, preaching the Danish and Elder J. F. Pogue, a minister from the Minnesota Conference, preaching in English. Church officers at the time of the building were Peter H. Christensen, Leader (a Danish immigrant, his daughter Emma married William Engelrup); Jens Christian Larsen, Deacon (a Dane who immigrated in 1885 and ancestor of all Larsen members of the Morgan church); Jens Johnson, Treasurer (a Danish immigrant also known as Jens Monko); Peter L. Gardner, Mission Secretary (son of Danish immigrants); and Mrs. J. H. Gardner, Clerk. Sabbath School officers were not recorded. What a joy it must have been for them to have their church nearer their homes!
But the joy provided by their new church was short-lived – wet years came and the site at Wayburne was often not accessible for long periods of time with water covering the floor several times. Conference news from Brookville reflects this condition – on October 19, 1909, the Northern Union Reaper noted,
“Brookville – Greetings from the Brookville church. We are very thankful to God that we are again permitted to assemble in our church, which for more than two years has been surrounded by water so that we could not use it. We are also thankful for the visit we had from Brother Sherrig. He spoke to us three times. God was with him and it was such a blessing to us. Brother Sherrig organized a mission band of twelve members while here. Two of our young people have just gone to the academy. We hope that they, too, may become workers for the Lord.”
During the times that water prevented their use of the church, they, again, started meeting at homes with the children sitting on the edge of a bed for Sabbath School classes. The town of Wayburne never did flourish and eventually met it’s demise – no doubt the wet terrain accelerating it’s failure!
Through the years the Brookville group had seemingly moved “from pillar to post” as they met in homes of the members, school houses, and different church buildings. All of this was about to change in 1916, however, when Hans Mortenson (a Danish immigrant) and his wife, Nellie, donated some land to the church that was located on the northeast corner of their family farm which was about 2.5 miles south of Morgan. The church building then in use at Wayburne was moved to this lot on the Mortenson farm – Brother W. A. Engelrup was the head of the committee to move the church. That must have been an awesome task to move the entire building down the road to the new location. But the new location proved to be a much wiser choice of location than Wayburne and that made it all worth the effort. From that time on the Morgan group had a permanent meeting place.
At that time it was also decided to change the name of the church from the Brookville Township Seventh-day Adventist Church to the Morgan Seventh Day Adventist Church for the convenience of the conference workers and visiting ministers. Somehow they couldn’t remember “the Brookville Church at Morgan” but, instead, called it the Morgan Church. Shortly prior to that another change had taken place. Most of the founders were Danish people and services had been conducted in the Danish language for many years but as they settled into the new century, they finally yielded to the English tongue, the last Danish clerk’s report being written in December of 1912.
Over the years, the little country church served it’s worshippers well and, as the congregation expanded, it was decided in 1948 to add a room at the back of the church for children’s Sabbath School activities. The addition of the room was accomplished for a cost of $1,050 for materials with the labor donated by the brethren of the church. The next year, it was decided that a general “sprucing up” needed to be done. On July 12, 1949, the Northern Union Outlook reported,
“ ‘Many hands make light work!’ The Morgan church members found this old saying to be true as a group of volunteers recently rolled up their sleeves to tidy up the church. The floor was scrubbed and varnished, the walls and ceiling painted and a new rug placed on the platform. For the tiny tots, new chairs were purchased. Then to complete the job, the church grounds received some attention. The Morgan church is also to be commended for the room which has been added to the church during the past year, in which the children’s Sabbath school is held. Venetian blinds in the church proper not only improve the windows but serve a useful purpose.”
Unfortunately, indoor plumbing was not one of the improvements included, leaving the role of the “outhouse” intact! Bev Burghart-Peck recalls the treks through the snow in the wintertime to reach the outhouse facility – it’s not one of her favorite memories of the Morgan “country” church!
Morgan SDA Church – The Church “In Town”
The lovely improvements of the little country church still left one problem unaddressed, however – that of sufficient space. The little group that started with 17 members in 1885, had grown quickly to a congregation that left the little country church nearly busting at the seams. This was due in part to the large farm families that swelled the number of the congregation as each generation was added – families including names such as Larsen, Burghart, Englerup, Read, and Benson quickly filled the pews.
Around 1956, an opportunity arose for the Morgan SDA Church to purchase the United Methodist Church in the town of Morgan. The structure was reported as being “in excellent condition, newly finished on the inside with Celotex planking and ceiling, good pews, covered with a life-time roof, and in good paint.” After some negotiation, a price of only $3,000 was agreed upon. With the acquisition of the new church, the Morgan SDA Church was able to provide a blessing to another church by selling the pews from the little country church to the Heron Lake SDA Church members who were opening their first church building. The little country church would also continue to provide further years of service for the Adventists as it became the district’s community services center.
On May 11, 1957, the Morgan Adventists, with J. A. Nordstrom as their pastor, had completed the purchase and for the first time they were able to meet in their new church building. Pastor E. F. Finck from the conference office joined them as the guest speaker that Sabbath. For a time, the Methodists also met in the building on Sundays while they were building their new church but, with time, the Adventists finally had complete use of the building. The Morgan church which began with only 17 members now had a membership of 53 – these along with their many children would make good use of the new sanctuary. They had worshipped in homes, they had shared a church in the country with the Lutherans, they had built a church only to be flooded out of the location, they had literally moved their country church, and now, at long last, they were finally able to settle into a lovely house of worship that would serve them well for many years to come. What a blessing to have this beautiful and spacious new home in which to worship God!
On October 11, 1958, the newly purchased Morgan Seventh-day Adventist Church and the accompanying “new” district community services center in the former country church were both ready for a dedicatory service. A report of the events of the day was given by Elder E. F. Finck in the Northern Union Outlook on November 4, 1958, and went as follows:
A High Day at Morgan – From far and near cars were arriving at the Morgan Seventh-day Adventist church Sabbath morning, October 11, for a very special day – doubly special – the dedication of their church building and the dedication of the Southwestern Dorcas Welfare Federation depot. To add to the beauty of the occasion the Lord dispelled the raw gloomy weather of the previous days and gave us one of those rare days of October, nature at her best.
Following the Sabbath school, highlighted by a mission story given by O. R. Rees and the lesson study by L. H. Netteburg, the main auditorium was filled to overflowing as departments of the Sabbath school were dismissed and all gathered for the dedication service. The church building, located in an excellent neighborhood, and purchased from a Methodist congregation, was neat and attractive, nicely decorated with beautiful floral arrangements. Mrs. Lawrence Read, one of the long-time members of the church, gave a most excellent history of the Morgan church, vividly portraying experiences of the pioneer days and of God’s leadings which finally culminated in the purchasing of the building in the town of Morgan. The dedicatory sermon was given by R. H. Nightingale. C. H. Lauda led out in the act of dedication and the dedicatory prayer. Following the thank offering, Elder and Mrs. C. H. Lauda sang “Bless This House.” Careful planning on the part of the ladies of the Morgan church made the lunch hour a most pleasant occasion for all participants of their warm hospitality.
A short but most interesting Dorcas Welfare Federation program was conducted in the church at 2:00 p.m. under the direction of E. F Finck. Mrs. Albin Thulin of Granite Falls, the Federation secretary, presented the statistical report of the Federation activities for the two previous quarters. Two of the vice presidents, Mrs. J. A. Nordstrom, and Mrs. L. L. Murphy gave interesting experiences of welfare activities in their districts. The history of the establishment of the first small welfare center of the Federation at Granite Falls which finally led to the purchasing from the Morgan congregation of their former house of worship two and one half miles south of Morgan for a suitable Federation storage depot was given by Mrs. Clifford Christensen of Pipestone, the Federation president. A stirring message by O. R. Rees presented a picture of the work and challenge of welfare activities. At 3:15 the meeting closed and all drove out to the welfare depot for the dedication service.
All gathered on the lawn in front of the welfare depot for the act of dedication. The town clerk extended a warm welcome and the Redwood County Executive Secretary of Welfare expressed deep appreciation for the most helpful activities of the Dorcas in the community. Following an address by O. R. Rees and the dedicatory prayer by R. H. Nightingale, C. H. Lauda cut the ribbon and welcomed all to inspect the well-stocked bins and filled racks of the building. This building is to be a storehouse from which can pour clothing and bedding in times of emergency and disaster, the first Federation depot in the conference. All came under the influence of the Dorcas touch as they went through the back of the building and were given a luscious cup of punch and a tasty homemade cooky.
Music for the various services of the day was rendered by the Morgan choir, young ladies of the church, J. A. Nordstrom with his violin, a group of boys from Hutchinson, and the Clifford Christensen family band. Present from the Northern Union Conference office were R. H. Nightingale, L. H. Netteburg, and O. R. Rees. C. H. Lauda, T. Irville Rush, and E. F. Finck attended from the Minnesota Conference.
Through the years, improvements were made to the Morgan SDA Church that provided additional benefits to the members. For some time, Morgan baptisms were held at various other locations such as campmeetings and at other SDA churches such as the Granite Falls and Mankato churches. Eventually, though, a baptistery was added to the Morgan church enabling them to have baptisms in their own church home. Other improvements included separate restrooms for men and ladies and exterior improvements – this work often being done by a group of members. Mrs. Lawrence Read (Esther Larsen-Read) reported one such cooperative effort in the July 9, 1963 Northern Union Outlook:
“This spring Truman Young gave $50.00 to be used in improving the church property. A work program was begun May 28, with Marvin Burghart in charge. The weather was rainy so the farmers turned out the first two days. The old bell tower was removed and it proved to be in very bad condition. New cement front steps and walk were made and also a new cement walk around the east side of the building. Memorial Day became painting day at Morgan with potluck dinner. The Elmer Larsens were hosts at their home for the Tuesday and Wednesday dinners. Because of excessive rain, sod for completing the job could not be cut. This will now have to wait until fall.”
Betty Larsen-Knudson also noted as she was reviewing 1979 church minutes that the basement was later remodeled and the church was made more energy efficient. Certainly the Morgan group took a great deal of pride in their church home and ensured that God’s “house” would always be ready for His service!
Morgan SDA Church In Service
Through the years, Morgan members earnestly served God, whether it be a home meeting, a country church service, or a worship in the lovely new sanctuary they purchased in the town of Morgan. Such services often included beautiful music – a blessing that the Morgan church always seemed to enjoy. The church had many talented musicians through the years – the Burghart family was very musically talented, David especially played the piano well and later became a music teacher in SDA schools. Viola Benson-Mosier was also an accomplished pianist and provided music for the Morgan group for many decades – in fact, the last time this editor (Kathy Parker-Parke) visited the Morgan church in the early 2000’s (before it was relocated to Redwood Falls), upon arrival at church Sabbath morning, there sat Viola at the piano, still providing sweet music after all these years! This editor remembers that she made her own debut at the Morgan church when she played her first piano solo for a Morgan worship service. She also recalls her mother, Myrna Andersen-Parker, an excellent vocalist, singing for many services and funerals in the Morgan church.
In addition to the lovely music provided through the years, Morgan also had a number of able pastors and laymen who provided meaningful messages for the parishioners and for evangelistic efforts held throughout the years. In the early years, such evangelistic efforts were often conducted by a traveling minister. As time went by, however, pastors were established in the district and parishioners became more involved in these efforts. On September 29, 1967, the Northern Union Outlook shared a report by Mrs. Merlin (Dorothy Kallemeyn-Burghart) of one such venture.
“Hour of Prophecy Meetings – A series of evangelistic meetings were held in the Morgan Seventh-day Adventist Church July 1 through August 6 by Norman Ostrander, pastor of the Southwest District, with David Johnson, leader of the Mankato District, having charge of the music. The meetings were supported wholeheartedly by all church members. David Burghart and his sister played the organ and piano, and Larry Read was usher. The ladies of the church furnished flowers which added much to beautify the church. The meetings were well attended by church members and non-Adventists alike. The Morgan Church has been in existence for many years but the interest of the local area was not apparent until these meetings were held. On Sunday nights the church was filled. Those attending ten meetings received a Bible at the end of the series. Two people took their stand for Christ on the last night of the series. The interest aroused resulted in twenty-five Bible studies being conducted every week at present which should mean that a number more will be accepting the message. Pray that the work of God may go forward in the Southwest District and that a rich harvest of souls may be garnered for His kingdom.”
Such endeavors often resulted in baptisms and the addition of new members to the church. Many individuals and families were added to the church over the years, which brought additional workers to God’s cause – these families included names such as Wally, Rudy, and Reinhold Kirschstein; and Frederick and Helga (Anderson) Parker with their son, Vernon – these joining in the ranks beside long-time SDA members such as the Burghart and Larsen families. While many baptisms were held at Minnesota’s annual camp meetings in the early years, baptisms were also held at the river on the Burghart farm or at other nearby SDA churches. Later, after a baptistery was installed in the church, most baptisms were conducted at the church.
No doubt, one of the most memorable baptisms, however, was the occasion when Lewis Anderson, who had grown up in the Morgan church and later went to the seminary to study ministry, came “home” to minister to his own church. The event was reported in the January 14, 1966 Northern Union Outlook.
“Baptism at Morgan – Surely the immortal angels sang a song of triumph and of praise to our Master on Sabbath the eighteenth of December, 1965. Because on that day five people were baptized into the kingdom of Christ, dedicating their lives to Him forever. Joining the Morgan Church were three fine young ladies, Joan Mosier, Lois Burghart, and Julie Larsen, all from Adventist homes. Joining the Heron Lake Church were Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Ferguson. Not only will the Fergusons bring youth and consecration to the Heron Lake Church, but also they have two lovely young children to brighten the Sabbath services. It is worth noting that the first contact Mr. and Mrs. Ferguson had with the Seventh-day Adventist Message was when Miss Lila Hensel, a student Literature Evangelist, visited them in the course of her summer’s ministry, and enrolled them in a Bible Correspondence Course. The members of the Morgan and Heron Lake Churches, with representatives from the Lamberton Church, gathered at the Morgan Church for this happy occasion. Lewis Anderson, Conference Stewardship Secretary, conducted the baptism at the close of his message during the morning worship hour. This was his first baptism conducted at the church of his boyhood.”
Morgan SDA Church Students of the Bible
From the very earliest days of the church, as members were baptized and entered into service for their Lord, they recognized the importance of Bible study and prayer in their lives – not only in their personal life, but also in their corporate experience. With time, as travel became easier, in addition to the regular weekly church services, the Morgan SDA Church had additional group meetings where members and/or their children could share their spiritual walk with each other. In the April 3, 1945 Northern Union Outlook, Pastor G. M. Lien reported one such meeting in the little Morgan country church,
“Meetings were held each evening during the Missionary Volunteer Week of Prayer in the Morgan church, and they were well attended. At the close of each service, the group separated into prayer bands. It was an inspiration to see the whole church, from the youngest children to the oldest members, united in seeking power from the Lord. The wiring of the Morgan church was completed just before the Week of Prayer, which made possible the use of pictures with the services. On Wednesday evening, a completely illustrated sermon was given. A consecration call and testimony service brought the week to a close. Victories for Christ were won, and all felt impressed of the need for a richer Christian life as we looked for the soon-coming Saviour.”
Such efforts continued through the years through various programs. Mrs. Lawrence Read reported in an October 30, 1962 Northern Union Outlook,
“The Morgan Church is continuing to work on the Bible Chain program started last winter. The leader in number of booklets handed out and received back is our third oldest member, Carrie Avery, 76 years of age. She has handed out 35 and received 10 completed booklets.” Later, the May 15, 1964 Northern Union Outlook reported, “One – fourth of the adult members of the Morgan church read their Bibles through during 1963. Oscar Benson read the entire Bible aloud to his mother, Mrs. Amelia Benson, who passed her 77th birthday on April 17. She has been confined to her home and bedridden many years because of arthritis and is unable to hold her Bible.”
With the older members setting an exemplary pattern, it was only natural that efforts would be put forth to also engage the children and younger members in Bible study. One of the surprising facts of Morgan’s history, is that, despite having large numbers of children over the years, at no time did the Morgan church ever have a church school. However, efforts were taken to address this need through a modified program of instruction as reported in the July 30, 1962 Northern Union Outlook by Mrs. Lawrence Read.
“Morgan and Lamberton Conduct Bible Classes – The congregation at Morgan is in its 78th year but has never operated a church school. The problem has been discussed for many years. Last fall Mrs. Joe Hale, mother of five with four in school, suggested that we somehow carry on a program either in the individual homes or collectively, using the Bible textbook comparable to the child’s grade in school. This seemed possible and would at least give the children some Bible education. It was voted by the church to purchase the texts and then the parents be encouraged to get the workbooks for their children. The Lamberton Church also accepted the plan, their children meeting with the Morgan pupils in the basement of the Morgan church. It was planned to meet twice a month. Mrs. Orville Burghart and Mrs. Darrel Anderson acted as co-directors with four mothers assisting. The children were picked up as soon as they came from the public schools on Thursday afternoons. Lunch had been packed so they had supper together and the classes closed about 8:00 p.m. Some nature study was included. At the end of the year, which was marked with a picnic on May 19, all but two had completed their workbooks. The teachers felt the material was good and even have suggested that the church members read the eighth grade textbook. There were 20 students, including six from Lamberton. Four were doing the 7th and 8th grade work: 6-4th, 5th, and 6th; 5- 3rd and 4th; and 5-1st and 2nd.”
The editor (Kathy Parker-Parke) recalls that, as a young grade school child, these meetings were a sweet time of fellowship and a welcome addition to the instruction of the public school system. The Bible stories were interesting and were accompanied by enjoyable activity workbooks. It is a testament to the faithfulness of these parents that many of their children became diligent workers in the church in later years.
Morgan SDA Church Vacation Bible School
In their efforts to train their children to serve the Lord, the Morgan members also engaged in another endeavor which many Seventh-day Adventist churches had found to be a success in training their own children while witnessing to children in the surrounding community – that endeavor was Vacation Bible School. In 1958, shortly after the Morgan group had moved into their new church home, they decided to hold their very first VBS (Vacation Bible School). The Minnesota Conference sent Evelyn Jepson to head up the undertaking. The pastor assisted with story telling and music while some members helped as teachers and others assisted by babysitting for the teachers. The school ran for all-day sessions held over the course of four weeks. Students attended from Morgan, Lamberton, Sanborn, and some from as far as a 55 mile one way distance. The school, with a theme of “God’s Great Letter, The Bible”, was a grand success and closed on Sabbath, June 28, with a presentation at the 11:00 church service that included students reciting Bible lessons they had learned. After 1958, VBS was a regular summer feature for the Morgan SDA Church.
In 1959, the Morgan church was ready to try a VBS with one of their own members as leader. Mrs. Ernest Larsen (Esther Kallemeyn-Larsen) led the school with an average attendance of 28. Children traveled from Springfield, Lamberton, Milroy, Fairfax, Hutchinson, and one was even from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. On Sunday evening, August 2, a graduation program was held with the children giving a brief review of what they had learned. After a few remarks from Pastor Jerry Coyle, the diplomas were awarded to the children as they marched to the platform. Everyone was invited to the church basement where a display of the various crafts and work books was shown and refreshments were served to over 80 guests.
July 18-22, 1960, found Mrs. Orville Burghart (Lucille Battig-Burghart) of Morgan and Mrs. Darrell Anderson (Elaine Shellum-Anderson) of Lamberton directing Morgan’s VBS and these two talented ladies also directed again the next year for the June 26-30, 1961 school. This fourth VBS for Morgan in 1961 was reported as having 30 children attending, some of them from non-Adventist homes. Instructors included Mrs. Elmer Larsen teaching the juniors assisted by David Burghart (son of Orville and Lucille) leading junior crafts, Mrs. Joe Hale (Myrtle Larsen-Hale) taught the primary class while the bluebirds (the advanced kindergarten group) were taught by Mrs. Julius Larsen (Delores Kopischke-Larsen). The kindergarten class was taught by the pastor’s wife, Mrs. J. R. Coyle and Mrs. Richard Moots (Lullabelle Barker-Moots).
Once again in 1962, Mrs. Orville Burghart and Mrs. Darrell Anderson led out in Morgan’s VBS, this being the fifth year for the annual event. June 25-29 were busy days as 39 children, 13 of them from non-Adventist homes, enjoyed the activities planned for them by their leaders and teachers. Perhaps part of the reason this was such a successful VBS was because, the weekend before, the Morgan SDA Church had enjoyed the spotlight in the town’s annual Beard and Bustle Celebration with a float designed to highlight our nation’s privilege to enjoy freedom of worship. A pilgrim theme was followed for the float with a fully bearded Oscar Benson as the father pilgrim, Jane Larsen as the mother, and Barry Mosier and Coletta Hale as the pilgrim children. This was the only float entered by a church and it was very well received in the community. During VBS, as the teachers made business calls on the merchants they received favorable comments about the float and the Morgan SDA Church- comments such as, “The smallest church in our town has to set us thinking.”
The sixth Vacation Bible School at Morgan was held June 17-21, 1963, with Mrs. Joe Hale as leader and Mrs. Orville Burghart as assistant leader. The total enrollment was 39, representing six denominations, and including five sisters who were Sioux Indians. Three children, Mark Burghart, Ramona Burghart and Ralph Hale, had completed the entire course of study provided in the VBS series. Once again, the event was closed out with a lovely program attended by almost all participants.
As VBS continued through the years, no doubt many children made fine Christian friends and were inspired to draw closer to their Savior. This editor (Kathy Parker-Parke) recalls her many good memories of the Morgan VBS … memories of Kool-aid and juice for mid-morning breaks, sandwich lunches shared with friends on the back steps of the church, and outdoor games enjoyed by all. Yes, these activities were “fun”, but most of all she remembers singing the joyous songs of praise to our creator and listening to the leaders share the lessons of Jesus’ love in an interesting and creative style. Certainly, the memories of the Morgan Vacation Bible Schools were an inspiration as Kathy later became leader of the Northome, MN Vacation Bible School, a position she maintained from 1973 when she was only 17 years old until 1989 when she relocated to Buchanan, MI where she again led out in VBS for a few years. We can always be assured that Jesus will attend our efforts for his little lambs and the work we do will often reach beyond our own communities, perhaps to other areas of the country or even to other areas of the world!
Morgan SDA Church Community Services
Of course, through the years, Morgan’s efforts to reach out to the community have not been limited to Vacation Bible School! Community outreach has resulted in a variety of activities including five day plans to stop smoking, blood pressure screenings at the Redwood County Fair, several evangelistic crusades, literature distribution, and many other worthwhile projects. But there is no doubt that one of the most memorable community outreaches by the church has been the work done by the Community Services group or, as it was affectionately called in the earlier days, the “Dorcas” Society, modeled after the example of Dorcas in New Testament times. This group, organized by Mrs. Mildred Stanbeck about 1932 and usually comprised of the ladies of the church, has worked tirelessly to share clothing, food, and other necessities with those in the community in need of assistance.
One of the activities that the Dorcas society undertook, was to engage in bake sales whereby they could earn funds to further assist those in need. Mrs. Lawrence Read told of the first Morgan SDA Church bake sale in the January 23, 1951 Northern Union Outlook.
“The Morgan Dorcas had their first sale in December. The Fenske Implement, of Morgan, very generously gave the use of the fore part of their store. The weather was not so obliging but a little over $70 was realized.”
That same Outlook also reported additional ministry by the church,
“A group from the Missionary Volunteer Society gave a program on December 23 at the rest home. We brought a picture of Christ and a box of cookies along for the folks at the home. Our visit was much appreciated by the guests and those in charge. We have an invitation to return as soon as we can. Twelve boxes for shut-in families were prepared by our Dorcas for distribution by the county welfare office. Two other family boxes and five boxes for shut-ins were delivered by the church members. The welfare office wrote a very nice thank you for our help.”
The Dorcas societies around the state were grouped into districts and these groups met several times a year to share experiences and encourage one another in ministry to their local communities. Morgan was often the meeting site for the Southwestern Dorcas Federation. In 1957, when the Morgan church purchased the building in town to use as their house of worship, it was decided that the old “country” Morgan church would make an excellent site for a district center for Dorcas activities. And thus it was that the Southwestern Dorcas Federation Depot, was created – or, as it was sometimes called, the Southwestern District Health and Welfare Service Center. This was the first federation depot to be established in the Minnesota Conference. The Federation executive committee met in the building, May 21, 1957, to plan for the necessary bins, shelves, and racks to be built to meet the needs, and to organize for operating the depot. They were soon prepared to effectively serve when emergencies and disasters came.
An article in the June 27, 1961 Northern Union Outlook highlighted the work of this district center,
“Morgan is a community of 979 situated in a rich farm area. The city has many new imposing churches of all faiths which indicates an area of difficult work since it is obvious that most of the people must already belong to a strong church. However, the members at Morgan are working just as did Christ – first helping the people physically and then spiritually. Just outside of the city of Morgan is the largest and most completely stocked welfare center we have in Minnesota. Through this the Morgan area has become aware of our work and mission on earth.”
This center served the needs of the community for many years. It was usually open to the public one day a month to provide for their needs. Of course, when disasters struck families or communities, the center worked many additional hours to help provide for needs in times of disaster. While there were several leaders through the years, some names that have been noted include Mrs. Julius Larsen (Dolores Kopischke-Larsen) and Mrs. Bud (Merlin) Burghart (Dorothy Kallemeyn-Burghart). Over the years, leaders such as these, managed a very active and prosperous group giving of their time and talents to help others.
The editor (Kathy Parker-Parke) recalls the Dorcas meetings held in the little country church after it had been converted to a district community services building. In addition to their efforts to sort, stock, and share food and clothing, the Dorcas ladies also spent many sociable hours together making quilts. Various ladies would sew together the quilt tops and then, working as a group, they would set up the quilt frames in the back room of the country church and there they would “tie” the quilts as they conversed amongst themselves. Kathy recalls,
“As the ladies worked, the children, of which I was one, would romp about, carefree, poking about into clothing bins, trying on a hat or some other garment of special interest. I especially recall the fun in playing the old pump organ that sat in the back room against the wall shared by the main sanctuary of the church. What fun it was to pump the pedals while the music rolled out. As I reflect back, I wonder if it was as much “fun” for some poor tireless soul that had to actually pump that organ for church services in years gone by! And all this “fun” while others were being helped!”
All in all, the Dorcas society was probably one of the most noted ministries to the Morgan community by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. A great many individuals were helped through this ministry and only in heaven will we truly know what a great blessing this group was for so many in a time of need!
Morgan SDA Church Ingathering
In addition to the ministry that the Morgan SDA Church conducted through local programs such as Dorcas, the church group also supported world-wide missions through endeavors such as the yearly Ingathering campaign. This annual campaign solicited funds from local communities for use in world-wide Adventist humanitarian work and through the years, the Morgan church members were noted as being high achievers in the efforts. This editor (Kathy Parker-Parke) recalls the excitement of the annual campaign and she still has her award ribbons she received as a young girl – award ribbons being given to members when they had achieved goals in amounts solicited. Ingathering included solicitation of local businesses and residential door-to-door efforts that often were accompanied by caroling during the holiday season. This Ingathering work continued despite challenges from time to time such as Pastor J. A. Nordstrom’s Morgan report noted in the Northern Union Outlook on April 22, 1958,
“We are also very happy that the district went ‘over the top’ in the Ingathering in spite of a temporary disablement of the district leader. The members just went to work and raised the Ingathering goal. It was not so very easy to do this as the southwestern part of Minnesota was declared a disaster area because of the floods here last summer and the weather was very contrary at the time of the harvest. The members had to use every opportunity that was favorable to bring in their crop, so it was quite difficult for some of them to find time to go Ingathering. But the Lord blessed the faithful efforts of the members. We are thankful to God for the loyal, faithful membership of the Southwestern Minnesota district and wish them the Lord’s richest blessings during this year of 1958 as they take hold of the Lord’s work to bring it to a finish.”
Participants of all ages were involved as was noted by Morgan’s long-time P. R. Secretary, Mrs. Lawrence Read (Esther Larsen-Read), in the October 30, 1962, Northern Union Outlook,
“In the Ingathering our oldest members, Mr. and Mrs. Truman Young, 86 years and 84 years respectively, led the way with first money turned in and each with his and her individual goal. Mrs. Young has now been laid to rest, but Mr. Young continues with his attendance and interest in all church work. In the Morgan Church the senior members are setting a good example for the others.”
Each fall of the year the Northern Union Outlook would post the names of churches that had achieved their Ingathering goal and Morgan was often one of the first church names to be posted to the list. Certainly much humanitarian aid was made possible by the faithful Ingathering efforts of the Morgan congregation!
Morgan SDA Church Investment Projects
In addition to the annual Ingathering campaign, another project that was embarked upon each year was the Investment program. In this program, members would “invest” an amount of money or other assets in a project that was expected to result in a multiplied yield. The resulting proceeds were then donated to the church for world-wide missions. Morgan took up the work of Investment with an earnest zeal and, as a result, many important missions where supported with the resulting proceeds. It is interesting to read the reports of these Investment projects through the years. Projects included endeavors such as setting apart a percentage of produce from gardens, fruit trees, etc. and members were astonished at how much God would bless these plans with an abundance of produce – trees that had formerly produced rather sparingly now gave an abundance of fruit. In other projects, livestock such as geese, cattle, or lambs were raised for Investment with additional stories of great success. Following are a few reports of their success:
“In 1954 we had the largest participation in the Investment program we have ever had in Morgan. As a result a total of $315 was raised, a record for our church. One member made the remark, “It is easier when nearly all take part.” The best results were reaped by Mr. and Mrs. Marvin Burghart with an acre of soy beans which brought $75. This is the first crop produced on that land in three years due to flooding of the Minnesota river. Mrs. Benson and her son, Oscar also had an acre of beans. Due to hail damage theirs only brought $46, still a good investment. The projects were varied. Connie Larsen, ten years of age, raised pumpkins for her first investment project and received $8.32. Judy and Beverly Burghart caught mice in their father’s henhouse at a penny per mouse and made $2.50. Even though Loah Moe had intruders among her chicks she still had $5.00 profit and her sister, Myrna, started to save buffalo nickels, but not getting enough, she gave $5.00 of her camp meeting earnings. The Larsen sisters, whose parents are not members of the church, set aside the last two rows of tomatoes. These yielded better than the other rows. Their father, who bought the tomatoes, thought maybe they should have made all investment rows. Every other year they have bought many bushels of tomatoes from outside gardeners. Their offering was $14. Larry Read, who had raised corn as a 4H project, gave ten bushels of corn. Barbara Larsen had squash which brought $2.40. Other projects were ducks, cottage cheese, horse hair, bushels of various kinds of grain raised, roosters, labels, garden percentage of earnings and ten bushels of corn for every thousand harvested. The Morgan members are convinced that the Sabbath School Investment plan works only as you work it.”
Mrs. Ernest Larsen, Press Secretary – Northern Union Outlook, March 1, 1955
“Investment is a regular part of the Sabbath school plans for the Morgan church and as in years past it was a success again, $276.06 being the total for the year. For the past two years soy beans have been the top yielder for Investment. Mr. and Mrs. Marvin Burghart received $60 from one acre. Mrs. Amelia Benson and son. Oscar, realized $41 from their acre. The most unusual was the fifty cents per head for each horse purchased by Elmer Larsen which brought $50.00. Mrs. Bessie Burghart says she does not have success with her garden unless she is sharing it with the Investment plan. She and her Daughter, Eileen, had $45 from produce sold. The younger members had funds from tomatoes, pumpkins, squash, corn, chickens and catching mice. The only one who had bad luck was six-year-old Mark Burghart. His lamb died. Somehow the lamb didn’t know he should not eat plums. Each fall on Investment day those who planned usually have a nice offering to bring and many others resolve that next year they will also have a part. “
Mrs. Lawrence Read, Press Secretary – Northern Union Outlook, March 6, 1956
Morgan SDA Church Social Life
In addition to the many excellent mission projects that the Morgan SDA Church supported, they also found time for fellowship and recreation together. Betty Larsen-Knudson reports that the first mention she could read of a church picnic in the church minutes from 1912 on was the picnic of July 4, 1917. Betty remembers as a child looking forward to this special day of fellowship with church family and friends. The annual church picnic was a practice followed for decades with the picnics usually being held around the 4th of July holiday. This editor (Kathy Parker-Parke) remembers attending the church picnics held at the Orville Burghart farm – she recalls the hayrides, the tire swing, watching the men play horseshoes, and the delicious creamy ice cream perched atop a crispy cone.
Mrs. Lawrence Read, long-time Press Secretary for the Morgan church, reported in the August 13, 1963 Northern Union Outlook one such picnic for the Morgan church group.
“Church Picnic at Morgan – The Morgan Church picnic this year was held at the Orville Burghart farm on July 7 with potluck dinner at 12 o’clock. Horseshoe pitching, volley ball and soft ball furnished opportunity to take part in sports. Large tractor tires had been filled with fresh river sand, and what a joy this proved to be for the youngest members of the crowd. Four swings had been put up, and they were kept busy. The older members were quite happy to rest in the chairs on the shady lawn, visiting together and watching those who enjoyed greater activity. Former members and friends from Hutchinson, Minneapolis and Austin, Minnesota; and Council Bluffs, Iowa; were present. Mrs. Amelia Benson, Mrs. Luella Larsen and Ernest Larsen, reared in the Morgan Church with memberships dating back to 1903, ’10, and ’12, were missed at the church picnic this year. The weather was just cool enough for comfort with sufficient breeze to keep the bugs away. This was quite a contrast to last year’s day when it poured rain all day and an indoor picnic had to be held. No one present could remember the time when Morgan did not hold an annual church picnic.”
Other social activities for the Morgan church included music-talent programs in the church basement, holiday parties, and yummy potlucks hosted by the ladies of the church – usually in the church basement or in the park in Redwood Falls – most families being farm families with large gardens, the potlucks never lacked for an abundance of food! Sometimes an organized group such as the Dorcas or MV society would host a special event such as a banquet. Mrs. Lawrence Read reported one such event in the August 13, 1963 Northern Union Outlook.
“The MV Society of Morgan was host at a banquet for the married MV’s and the rest of the church members as a fathers’ and mothers’ treat June 2 at 8:00 p.m. in the church dining hall. Since there are only four single senior members, they appreciated Barbara Larsen, a native of Morgan who was home on vacation, helping Christine Larsen with the cooking. Two juniors, Ramona and Mark Burghart, had charge of the table setting and favors. David Burghart, home for the summer, planned the room decorations and acted as MC. With farm work so rushed at this time, due to a wet delayed spring, Charles Anderson and Larry Read were glad to make it in time to help the cooks serve. Their guests, Cathy Anderson and Jean Smith, also helped with the serving. Julie Larsen, a junior, furnished recorded music while the folks were gathering, and Ralph Hale greeted them. Each child in the church had a part on the prepared program and the cleanup job. Three years ago when the same type of program was held the young folks found that they were short of food for themselves. This time everybody had plenty. The MV’s seemed to enjoy doing this for their parents and friends. Officers who planned the affair were Larry Read, Christine Larsen, Ramona and Mark Burghart.”
Certainly, many can recall a good many pleasurable memories of social times spent together with friends and family of the Morgan SDA Church and we can look forward to the day when we can be reunited on the heavenly shores to once again enjoy relaxing moments together!
Morgan SDA Church District Meetings
Periodically, social and spiritual events at the Morgan church would take in a larger group of their Adventist friends. Morgan was oftentimes the site of district meetings – meetings that would include all the churches served by their pastor. Churches involved would often include Lamberton, Heron Lake, and Pipestone – and, at times, other churches would be added to the list too. In the fall of 1944 it was reported that such a meeting was held for the young people. Again in June of 1949 it was reported that a district meeting was held with a Sabbath dinner in a grove and then, in the evening, at the Morgan City Hall, all gathered to watch a “sound” film – no doubt a novelty at that time!
Pastor O. M. Fillman gave a detailed account in the January 3, 1950 Northern Union Outlook of one such district gathering,
“The Morgan church acted as host to all of the Southwest District on Sabbath, November 26, as an Investment rally was held. Pleasant weather made a good attendance possible. It was an unusual privilege to have representatives present from both the General and Union Conferences. Elders J. A. Buckwalter and C. E. Guenther were with us for the entire day. Their timely messages were very much appreciated. Orville Burghart, the Morgan Sabbath school superintendent, arranged the program in such a way that one half hour could be used for an Investment program and reports from the other superintendents, who are as follows: Lamberton, Mrs. Howard Mace; Heron Lake, Mrs. Grant Schmidt; and Pipestone, Mrs. Clifford Christensen. These reports of Investment projects proved interesting and helpful as ideas were exchanged. All of the Investment money is not in as yet, but the total for the district now stands well over $600. Some members are already looking forward to Investment next year with a determination to accomplish even more. When we think of Christ’s investment for us, our best for Him is none too much. Elder Buckwalter drew a graphic picture of our day in the light of Bible prophecy as he spoke during the regular eleven o’clock hour. In this connection brief mention was made of intoxicating drink, as an introduction to his evening topic. Tables and a hot drink were provided by the members of the Morgan Dorcas society for all visitors. Following lunch the children and youth of Morgan presented an excellent program of songs and recitations under the leadership of Mrs Lawrence Read. It was then time for the children to listen as our visiting ministers told several stories. At 7:45 p.m. we met once more in the Morgan city hall for a temperance program. This meeting had been advertised in the newspapers and we were happy to have some of our non-member friends with us. The program was divided into two parts. A challenging lecture was delivered by Elder Buckwalter, followed by a sound motion picture film on temperance. As this meeting was dismissed by prayer, we were all ready to enter wholeheartedly into the recreation and fun provided by the Morgan M. V. society, under the direction of Mrs. Read. We want to thank all members who made this rally a success by their presence and contributions. Special thanks is extended to the Morgan church members for their excellent provisions as host.” Wow! Such an action-packed day must have left all attendees ready for a good night’s sleep!!!
Other district meetings centered around welcoming new members into the church. District meetings often included several baptisms such as the meeting recorded on December 11, 1964 in the Northern Union Outlook.
“Church members and visiting friends of the Southwest District met at the Morgan Seventh-day Adventist Church on November 11, 1964, for baptism, Ingathering and fellowship. R. G. Mote, treasurer of the Minnesota Conference, conducted the morning services and during the afternoon baptized four youth in the basement baptistery just recently built by the laymen of the church. Following the baptism, four films were shown by Elder Mote telling of the great needs of the world missions and how we may do our work intelligently and effectively. Baptized were: Miss Robin Moots, whose parents reside in Windom and attend the Lamberton SDA church; David Minnick from Marshall, whose parents are members of the Pipestone Seventh-day Adventist Church; Bruce and Linda Christensen from Pipestone. The last two names are fifth-generation Seventh-day Adventists. This is a wonderful record to hold. How wonderful it will be in the kingdom, when the names are made up and families gathered together, for some persons fortunate enough to have relatives from many generations back. We rejoice with these new church members as they are added to the rank and file of God’s children.”
Morgan SDA Church Anniversaries
As the years rolled by and the Morgan church grew, they never forgot their roots and the story of how their ancestors had embarked upon a journey to establish a church that would primarily serve a small group of Danish immigrants. They remembered the struggles to erect a church building of their own, only to be met with the challenge of a water-logged location. They recalled moving the church to a new location, later meeting the challenge of outgrowing the building by relocating to the beautiful facility in town. They knew that God had been leading each step of the way. So it was only natural that members would reflect periodically on God’s leading of the Morgan through the years.
On November 15, 1952, Morgan celebrated 50 years in their country church – the church that was built in 1902 and later relocated to the Mortenson farm. Elder and Mrs. E. R. Osmunson and the Maplewood Symphonette with their director, Milo Hill, added much to the program of the day. James Mershon, pastor of the church, and his family were also present and he offered a re-dedicatory prayer. The membership of the church in 1952 was forty-four. Twenty-one of the young people from the church had attended SDA schools with seventeen graduating, two were attending Maplewood and one was at Union at that time. Six from the church had served in conference work. A history of the church was given by a daughter of one of the charter members, Christian Burgeson (father of Vernon K. Burgeson, a well-known SDA pastor in Minnesota), who was then residing in Redfield, South Dakota, and was the only remaining charter member of the group when it was organized in 1885.
Not long after this, the village of Morgan was celebrating its 75th anniversary on Sunday, July 27, 1953. Since the Morgan SDA church had just observed its 50th anniversary, after some consultation with the Minnesota SDA Conference office, it was determined that this would be an excellent opportunity to highlight the work of the Morgan SDA Church in the community by entering a float in the parade on Sunday. The weather was perfect and a very large crowd gathered – estimates ranging from 12,000 to 20,000 people gathering to celebrate. The SDA church chose to picture a home seventy-five years ago, showing the family gathered in the evening with the mother playing hymns on an old organ. The floats were announced over the loud speaker and one of the church members heard someone say, “Seventh-day Adventists, who are they?” A local man standing near by informed them. The next day one of the local Adventist businessmen was surprised to receive in his mail a check for $10 with the notation “fourth prize.” All the other floats winning had quite elaborate trimmings and must have cost a lot to decorate whereas the SDA church had spent only $2.30 for materials – but the theme of the float had struck everyone as unique and in keeping with the theme of the anniversary. Literature had been prepared by J. M. Mershon bringing forth the difference in homes of today and seventy-five years ago and this was circulated following the celebration. The Adventists had used a celebration of history as a unique tool to witness to their community.
A couple decades later, on Sabbath, December 31, 1960, the Morgan congregation celebrated the 75th anniversary of their organization. Membership had grown to 52 and the congregation was being shepherded by Pastor Jerry R. Coyle. The attendance for the 75th anniversary was more than double the usual attendance. Services began Sabbath morning at 10:00 with Mrs. Orville Burghart (Lucille Battig-Burghart) as the Sabbath School Superintendent. O. R. Rees, of the Northern Union, was the visiting speaker at the worship service. Following lunch, the special commemorative service was held. Several of the older hymns were sung and then the names of the 17 charter members were read. Mrs. Lawrence Read (Esther Larsen-Read), whose mother, Mrs. Jens Christian Larsen (Pauline Jensen-Larsen), was one of the 17, presented a history of the church which she gleaned from old church records, personal interviews with others, and recollections of childhood experiences in her mother’s home. Special mention was made of Mrs. J. C. Larsen because she was the youngest member when the group was organized and she was the only charter member to spend her entire life span in the Morgan church. At the 75th commemoration, those with the longest memberships in the church were noted as being Amelia Larsen-Benson who was baptized in 1903, Luella Mortensen-Larsen (daughter-in-law of Amelia), Ernest Larsen, Elmer Larsen, and Esther Larsen-Read (the last three being children of Amelia). Elder Rees closed the service with a challenging message. Certainly the congregation must have felt blessed after reflecting upon the Lord’s leading of the Morgan church through the years!
Another 25 years had elapsed, when current and former members and pastors again gathered to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Morgan SDA Church on September 21, 1985. Church started at 9:00 a.m., followed by Sabbath School at 10:00 a.m., and a potluck at noon. In the afternoon a program was conducted, again highlighting the story of the church and the way that God had led the congregation through the years. Betty Larsen-Knudson had compiled a history of the church which she shared during the service, noting that through the years the congregation had stood fast and the members still looked forward to that same joy and blessed hope of the charter members back in 1885. Betty shared that her grandmother, Pauline Jensen-Larsen was one of the 17 charter members and she was a lifetime member of the church for sixty years. At the time of the 100th anniversary, the only members left who were direct descendants of the charter members where Julius Larsen, Larry Reed, and Viola Benson-Mosier, all being grandchildren of Pauline Jensen-Larsen. Once again, the congregation had been reminded that God watches over his flock and leads them through whatever challenges time brings.
Morgan SDA Church Ministers to the World
This editor would be remiss if she did not bring to mention the many from the Morgan church who have gone forth to minister in a special way for the Seventh-day Adventist Church world-wide. And yet, it is with some trepidation that such a record is made for, no doubt, some will be missed in citing such a list. Nevertheless, such should be recognized and the editor would be more than pleased to add more names to this list upon notification. The editor is aware of the following who were either members or had close ties to the Morgan SDA Church and who have worked for the church as pastors, teachers, missionaries, and in various other capacities:
- Carrie Andersen-Robbins, M. D. (sister of Lewis Anderson, Sr. and sister-in-law to Alice Benson-Anderson) was a missionary to Pakistan who returned to Morgan several times, sharing her experiences from the mission field
- Elder P. A. Hansen, pastor in Minnesota, Oregon, and President of Upper Columbia Conference and Wisconsin Conference
- Mary Mortensen-Tripp-Armitage (daughter of Jens and Karen Mortensen and aunt to Luella Mortensen-Larsen) was a missionary to South Africa; also cared for Ellen White’s grandchildren (Willie’s children) for several years after the death of their mother)
- Charles E. Mortensen, teacher at Lodi Academy in California
- Ervin Sorensen served as a pastor for many years and as a missionary to Southern India (nephew to Fred and Helga Parker and cousin to Vernon Parker, Ervin worked with the Morgan church on various occasions)
- Vilona Burghart-Cummings (aunt of Orville Burghart) was a Bible worker in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area
- Ida Burghart-Cummings (aunt of Orville Burghart) was a Bible worker in Minnesota
- Esther Larsen-Read, teacher at Hutchinson Theological Seminary, worked for Minnesota Conference of SDA and for the Iowa Sanitarium and Hospital
- Lewis Anderson, Jr. (son of Lewis Anderson, Sr. and Alice Benson-Anderson) has served as pastor in Minnesota and various other areas
- David Burghart (son of Orville and Lucille) was a music teacher in SDA schools, the Director of Development for Andrews University, Vice President of Advancement for Southern Adventist University, and President of the Foundation at Glendale Adventist Medical Center
- Lois Burghart-Bowers (daughter of Orville and Lucille) and her husband, Marshall Bowers have labored in SDA educational work including time spent at Maplewood Academy where Marshall was the Principal
- Myrna Moe-Earles served as a pastor’s wife and worked in various capacities of SDA conference work
- Barry Mosier and Mary Beth Burghart-Mosier and their family who have been missionaries to Africa
In addition to the members who have served the church through various capacities, many grandchildren and great-grandchildren of members have also blessed the church with their service – Vernon K. Burgeson (son of Christian Emil Burgeson, one of the charter members) was a beloved pastor in Minnesota for many years; grandchildren of Jens and Karen Mortensen (the “original” Mortensen family at Morgan) have taught and worked in various SDA Church capacities; Wesley Anderson (son of Lewis Anderson, Sr. and Alice Benson-Anderson) has three children, Clinton, Kim Wooster, and Curtis, who are teachers in SDA schools and he has three grandchildren, Melissa, Heidi, and Greg Anderson who have a lovely music ministry and some who have worked in SDA schools; Carol Jourdan worked as Girl’s Dean at Maplewood Academy (Carol is the great-granddaughter of William Englerup and great-great granddaughter of Peter Christensen, the Head Elder when the “country church” was built) as well as Carol’s daughters, Mandi Jourdan-Kutschara who has served in SDA schools including Maplewood Academy and Chelsy Jourdan-Schauer who has ministered with GYC, Wisconsin Academy and Maplewood Academy; Richard Parke (grandson of Vernon Parker) has led in various ministries at Andrews University including the Easter Passion Play and currently is the Director of Media Ministries at Pioneer Memorial Church in Berrien Springs, MI … the list could go on and on, no doubt! Suffice it to say, that the faith and service of those early members lives on years and decades after they have passed to their rest.
Most certainly, when we meet on the heavenly shores beside the crystal sea, those early Morgan members will greatly rejoice when they see the fruits of their steadfast faith. When they realize that their little group of 17 Scandinavian members who organized in 1885, has reached around the globe and touched lives in countries all over the world, surely they will be led to exclaim, “The Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!” Psalm 118 : 23-24