Our Story

How it all started...

As a Local Congregation
(adapted from Helmar’s 150th anniversary booklet)

The spiritual work in the North Prairie community began almost as soon as the settlers came there in the 1840’s and early 1850’s. Elling Eielson took the lead in the spiritual needs of the people in 1839 and became the first ordained Norwegian Lutheran pastor in America. He served the Lisbon area and many other places. During these early years, services were often held in homes.

Helmar’s first pastor was P. A. Rasmussem. He was born in Stavanger , Norway in 1829. He converted to Christianity during the Haugean Awakening Revival, and the Bible became his precious companion. In 1850, Rasmussen left Norway for America, met Elling Eielson, and began working with him. He was later called to serve the Lisbon congregation. He accepted and, after a time of study and preparation, was ordained in 1854. He served there for 54 years. In 1859, the people of North Prairie built a church in their locality, which is now Helmar; however, 1847 is still considered to be the year that the Helmar congregation began.

As a Member of the AFLC – www.aflc.org
(adapted from the “Standing Fast in Freedom” book)

Helmar as a member of the AFLC takes its history back to the 1800’s in Norway. There a farmer’s son, a layman named Hans Nielson Hauge, began traveling the countryside preaching a message of repentance and personal salvation. The government and the state church saw Hauge as a troublemaker and sent him to prison for over 10 years.

Hauge’s ministry and message became part of Lutheran Pietism, a movement of awakening that began in the 17th century among the German Lutherans. The pietistic emphasis on personal faith, godly living, and study of Scripture caught fire among the common people, igniting a spiritual and social revolution whose influence is still evident today.

Carl Olof Rosenius, Paavo Ruotsalainen, and Wilhelm Beck were prominent men in Sweden , Finland , and Denmark who shaped the convictions of those who would found many of the churches in the United States .

The AFLC owes much to two men, Georg Sverdrup and Sven Oftedal, who went to Augsburg College in Minneapolis in the 1870’s. These two men had seen much of the strife and opposition to revival in the state churches in Norway and focused on the local congregation. They wanted to have free and living congregations. In 1897, they founded the Lutheran Free Church.

In 1962, representatives of nearly 70 Lutheran Free Church congregations met in Thief River Falls, MN to form what became the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations, which is founded on the Fundamental Principles of the Lutheran Free Church.
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