Jubilee Album - The Fridhem Church
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ImageDWARD EKSTROM, a theological student from Augustana College, had charge of the congregation until a new pastor could be called. On March 31, 1910, Rev. Julius Nordling of Savonburg, Kansas, was elected and called, but he declined. Then Rev. O. G. Berg of Knoxville, Illinois, was given the call. This time the congregation was successful. Berg's salary at first was fixed at $800, with free use of the parsonage. He was also given permission to visit and have charge of the Emanuel congregation in Harlan county, if he should so choose. He came on October 11, 1910, establishing himself with his family in a house that A. A. Gustafson, C. W. Gustafson and Louis Hanson had bought for the purpose, as the parsonage was not yet habitable after the moving. The 16th of October he preached his first sermon as pastor of the congregation. On Thanksgiving Day the new corner stone was placed in position in the foundation under the church. During the festal occasion, Rev. F. N. Swanberg, who was president of the Nebraska Conference, presided. Rev. K. G. Wm. Dahl and Rev. C. A. Lonnquist delivered inspiring sermons on the occasion. A cornet band also served to heigthen (sic) the festivities with music.

    This year saw other important changes. John Bergman left the congregation and another Sunday-school superintendent was elected. The choice fell on Adolf Akerson, and the success in this branch of the church work has shown that it was a wise choice. Akerson has from time to time been reelected and is at the present time (1919) still in office. The Luther League bought and installed a pipe organ, and at its dedication, March 17, 1911, Professor A. Peterson of Wahoo played it for the first time.

    As soon as Rev. Berg arrived, he began laboring for the good of the



congregation and the community. He was a man of great initiative and force. He organized and arranged the work in such manner as to obtain the greatest possible direct results. His aides became enthusiasts, and he was able to obtain the pent up power of the last ounce of energy available for the enterprise in hand. During the first year two confirmands were privately instructed. Two Bible classes were established
in the Sunday-school: one for the older and one for the young people. An English department was also started and given in charge of Fred Brown. English services were held every Sunday evening and a number of English-speaking people joined the church. Berg's services were all well attended and sometimes the church seemed too small to accommodate the people.

    The matter of money seems to be a peculiar matter. We are continually getting ourselves into debt and as continually making efforts to get out of it. With the church it is the same way. There had now again accumulated a substantial amount, and on November 26, 1914, we find the congregation assembled in business meeting for the purpose



of devising means for paying off the debt which lay as a burden on their shoulders. $2,065 were raised at the meeting and the balance, was raised afterwards by means of an assessment of $5 per communicant, and as a result the congregation was out of debt at the beginning of the year.

    In 1914 the great World War, the greatest secular event in the history of the world, began. This raged for three years before the flames reached us. When they did, and our country was drawn into the conflict, the young men of the congregation began being called to the colors. A service flag was hung in the church and a star affixed, or added, for each boy who went from this community. There are thirty-six stars on this flag and twenty of these represent boys who are members of the Fridhem church.

    In March, 1915, the Nebraska Conference met in Fridhem, and although the roads were not very good and the weather part of the time threatening, there was a good attendance.

    This year was remarkable as a year of excessive rainfall. More than fifty inches of rain fell -- twice the normal amount. But it transformed the country into a garden: every pond became an aquarium, every field a flower bed. The blooming cornfields presented a most beautiful appearance. The tops of corn plants were as a carpet of blooms, sometimes hundreds of acres in extent, purple, orange and yellow. The blooming papyrus of the Nile only could compare with it in beauty, and the flowering forests of the tierra caliente of Mexico and South America exceed it. The "daisies" or anemones in the pastures were so plentiful that the areas covered by them seemed patches of snow.

    Up to this time the young men had taken turns in pumping the bellows of the pipe organ during service. To relieve them of this task, the Luther League bought an electric blower, and this mechanism, which was without ears and without a soul, did the work of the boys who wished to hear the service and join in the singing.

    The Emanuel congregation now had called a pastor of their own and no longer received visits from neighboring pastors. Rev. Berg, therefore, could spend his entire time at his charge in Fridhem. His salary, as a consequence, was voted to be $1,100.

    The months of September, October and November, 1916, Berg spent in Omaha doing missionary work. While there, he organized the Bethel congregation with 63 members. This congregation soon afterwards



Picturebuilt a church for $4,600. While Rev. Berg was away, Carl Almén of Axtell had charge of the congregation.

    The subscription list had again become busy. About $700 had been subscribed for the Bethphage Mission, and besides this there had been raised about $1,800 for improvements on the church property. In the summer of 1917 new pews were bought for part of this money, and a sanitary drinking fountain installed in the vestibule of the church. Another innovation was a card system for the collection of the communicant fees. This did away with the special collectors and seems to have met with the approval of the entire congregation.

    That Rev. Berg was not idle when he was at home, we may be sure. He had a confirmation class for grown persons in the winter and these were confirmed on the 29th of April, 1917, after two of them had first been baptized. After the death of Rev. Dahl, the superintendent of the Bethphage Mission, Berg, who was president of the association, took charge temporarily. Meanwhile, Almén again assumed Berg's duties in Fridhem.

    At the annual meeting in the beginning of 1918, Rev. Berg resigned, saying he had received a call from Genoa, Nebraska, where a small congregation was struggling against extinction, not because there was lack of means -- the people were well off -- but from lack of care. There had been no minister for a long time, and he said he believed it to be God's will that he accept this call.

    Rev. Berg was a man of unusual initiative and while he was in Frid-



hem he was supported by a willing congregation. He was able to obtain the application of every iota of power in the congregation to the different projects, as they came up, and the results shall remain as evidence for a long time to come. The membership grew more during his time than during any time before. It is not readily understood why he should resign when he did. There had always been cordiality between the pastor and his flock. The compensation, $1,200, was satisfactory to both. The minister's wife also had taken active part in the church work and had many friends. It was with many regrets the congregation saw them leave.

   Shortly after Rev. Berg's resignation, Rev. C. G. Bloomquist of Omaha was called, but he declined. Then Rev. G. W. Henry of Everett, Wash., was called, and he accepted the charge, promising to come as son (sic) as Berg should be settled at his new place.


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