Christian Education in Little Cedar

In pioneer days, parochial schools were held during the summer months in the homes of the farmers, which in most cases were small log dwellings. The first parochial school was conducted by Knut O. Wold, Austin, Minnesota, in the Rasmus Rasmussen Vignes house in Section 4 of Adams Township. The first teacher hired by the congregation was a Dane, Marius Walden.

The early parochial school system was a four to six weeks period of "Norske Skole", held in public school buildings. At that time there were five school districts represented in the membership of Little Cedar congregation. Through the summer vacation, while grammar school was in recess, a trustee in each district solicited funds from the members of Little Cedar Church in that public school district and, if enough money to pay a teacher was collected, one was hired for as long as the money would last. If one district had only a few pupils and so couldn't afford a teacher, the parents paid into an adjoining district and their children attended school there.

In 1915, when Lars S. Kildahl was superintendent of the village district, he, with Pastor C. B. Runsvold, promoted the consolidation of the five public school districts in the Adams vicinity in order to bring a high school to the area. The fall of 1915 brought about a vote to consolidate:

  McKinley, Dist. 105 - Section 34, Marshall Twp.
Roosevelt, Dist. 65 - Section 25, Marshall Twp.
Washington, Dist. 83 - Section 32 or 29 Clayton Twp.
Adams School Dist. - Dist. 8 Adams Village
District 7 - Section 9, Adams Twp.

The Adams Consolidated School was built and was dedicated in October, 1917.

During the pastorate of Rev. C. B. Runsvold, he suggested that the congregation establish a parochial school close to the public school for a brief period each day for religious instruction. It was voted to try this new form of parochial school and at a meeting of the congregation on October 16, 1916, the members authorized its trustees to buy one of the former school houses (the one in the best condition) and move it to a site acquired near the public school. Superintendent Kildahl assisted Rev. Runsvold in making arrangements with the State of Minnesota to allow Adams School District to receive released time from school periods for religious instruction. The expenses for the operation of this school were assumed by the membership of the congregation through the local budget.

The school building from District 7 was purchased at auction; a stove, desk and chair, seats and maps were included in the transaction. November 22, 1916, the Adams Ladies Aid voted to pay for it - the sum of $181.00. The Little Cedar Young People's Society purchased the land on which the school house was placed. During the Fall of 1916, after the fields and creeks were frozen, this small school building was moved to its location in town. Logs were cut from trees on the Engebret Gordon farm for skids on which to move the building. Twelve horses pulled it over the frozen fields and creek. The horses were required to be shod because the load would be heavy and the footing uncertain. The building was placed on the little foundation on the lot west of the public school and then repaired and made ready for use. The following men helped with the moving: John J. Fardahl and son Alfred, Engebret Gordon, Iver Tiegen and son Earl, Martin Severson, Edwin Bergene and Anfin Amble.

Thus, the Adams Little Cedar Religious Release-time School (the weekday system as we know it) was started in 1916, with Rev. Runsvold as teacher. The school was not ready for use in September, so the pastor held the opening sessions in the old sacristy of Little Cedar Church, which was heated with two small kerosene stoves. 

In January, 1917, the school house was ready for use and Ivar Morsund started teaching there. This school house was also shared by the public school for their home economic sewing classes and housed their sewing machines.

The first years that the school was in use, it was heated with a coal stove, the teacher being responsible for janitorial work. Only grade children received release time at first, but, in the late twenties high school students were included.

Lars EllingsonFrom 1916 to 1922, the expenses were borne through the general budget. In 1923, Lars Ellingson, a bachelor and member of the congregation died and left a bequest of $10,000, the interest on which was to be used for parochial school expenses. Although he had no children of his own, he was interested in our weekday school and was perhaps, more than anyone else, instrumental in getting our present system on a good financial footing. 

The story of how his interest came about is interesting. During the time when the congregation adopted the new parochial school system, Ellingson was not overly enthusiastic because he felt the expenses of it would be burdensome to the congregation. Pastor Runswold, in a letter written in 1956, describes how Eliingson came to have a change of mind.

"It was while teaching in the small white school house that I met Lars Ellingson at the post office one morning and asked him to come over and visit school. He came right along with me and sat there until noon. After the lunch hour, he came back to visit the other classes. Mr. Ellingson had been opposing the idea of the school from the start and, he, being the chairman of the Board of Trustees, wielded a heavy influence. After that day of observation, he was fully convinced that he had been wrong and became a firm supporter of the school project. Later, he asked me to come to the bank and help him make out his Will. l have always looked upon this incident as one of the happiest experiences in my ministry."

Mr. Ellingson did supervise, in part, the moving and fixing up of our little white Parochial School House. He was also active in other activities our our congregation. He donated the bell for the 1909 church building, in memory of his parents.

The Mission Circles of Little Cedar did their part each year by cleaning up the school house. They would paint, paper, and make curtains during the summer vacation so all was fresh and clean when school opened in the fall.

Pastor Runsvold would help with teaching whenever necessary. After the parochial school system was established, twenty-two teachers taught in the little white school house.

The teaching material has been varied and has been changed often, but throughout the history of the school, the purpose has always been to bring the children to a better knowledge of Jesus Christ.

On July 24, 1952, it was voted to build a new Educational Unit. it took years to make a decision on the style of the building.

Pastor Mohn was called on May 26, 1957 and, in his call, he was asked to promote the building of this unit.

On March 18, 1958 a committee from our membership was chosen to study the needs of the Weekday School and a center for activities.

On April 15, 1959, a Loyalty Dinner was held to inform the members of Little Cedar Lutheran of the details of the new project and thus inspire enthusiasm for this new venture. In May 1959, pledges were made towards the building fund.

The choice of the building was made November 19, 1962, after eight congregational meetings. The contract was let to Wagner Construction Company of Austin, Minnesota on March 11, 1963.

The ground-breaking was held on Easter Sunday, April 14, 1963 with Dr. R. L. Bolton, chairman of the Building Committee, lifting the first shovelful of sod. Other members of the Building Committee were: Arthur Osmundson, Sr., N. V. Torgerson, Wallace Johnson, O. T. Anderson, and Nomer Larson. The site of the new building was across the parking lot from the church to the east.

The building was completed on January 17, 1964, some months later than was expected. All of the Weekday School materials were moved and settled in the new Education Building on Saturday, January 18, 1964 and on the next Monday, January 20, 1964, Miss Garnette Granby and her pupils began classes in the new building.

The building measured 109 feet by 82 feet. It had two classrooms -- one equipped for younger students, grades one through four, and the other for pupils of grades five through twelve. There was an office for the pastor, a secretary's office, and a workroom. It had a comfortable library which was nicely furnished.

The Fellowship Hall is a spacious room, constructed so that it can be divided into six Sunday School classrooms.

A well-equipped kitchen provides facitilies for serving either small or large groups, as the need arises.

After 48 years, the Weekday School of Religion continued with the children being released from the public school for a given number of hours each week so that, along with the three "R's", there might be the most important "R" -- Religion. The congregation is aware that it is from the Weekday School and Sunday School that the congregation of tomorrow will come. This building was our attempt to lay a foundation well to withstand the onslaught of time.

"Other foundations can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 3:11)

The Education Building was dedicated on Sunday, April 5, 1964. The service included Rev. Alfred Brevik, Rev. M. L. Witte, and Rev. Luther Berven, all ministers who had served the congregation in the past. Also participating were Rev. Orin Thompson, Rev. Evans Knutson, and Rev. Frederick Bolton, all sons of the congregation who had entered the ministry after having received part of their early religious training in the Little Cedar Weekday School program. Rev. E. O. Kunz of Elkton, Minnesota, pastor of St. John's Lutheran Church read Hebrews 10:19-25.

Pastor Wayne Quibell, who was the minister serving the congregation dedicated the Education Building. Prior to the completion of his theological studies, Rev. Quibell had served as a Weekday School teacher in the little white school. Below is the message he gave to congregation on the occasion of the dedication of the Education Building.

A fine Building has been constructed.

It has been tested and found to be good. The snow has leaned upon its roof, the wind has rushed its walls, the cold has probed its seams; and it has stood.

Our eyes have savored the soft colors of the bricks and deep richness of the wood. Our hands have felt the roughness of the block, the solid snap of the latches, the weight of the furniture. Our ears have sought a voice from a far corner and found it without strain.

We have taught in this building; we have learned, we have preached, we have listened, we have sung, we have studied, we have read, we have eaten, we have played, we have prayed.....

We have tested our Building through using it and have found it to be good. We are happy that it stands. We are happy that we could help raise it up. We are happy that we had the opportunity to have a part in creating this Parish Educaion Building.

As a Congregation, we express our gratitude to those who led us during the years of consideration and planning. we are thankful to all who have prayed, and given, and followed, and worked that this day might come. Especially we are grateful to Pastor Mohn for his leadershp; and to Dr. R. L. Bolton, Art Osmundson, Wallace Johnson, N. V. Torgerson, O. T. Anderson and Nomer Larson, members of the Building Committee for their hard work.

But we dare not rest here; we dare not relax in the joy of a job well done. For this Building is more than our creation, it is our testimony. It is our creed acted out in brick and steel.

It is our testimony to the living God. Let all who see these walls know that we believe in god; the God who spoke and all things came into being, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God who raised his Son from death in the Resurrection.

This is the god in who we trust and this is the God we serve. This god has never been content to dwell in a Building of brick and wood. He is satisfied only when He abides in the hearts of men. 
Thus, on this Day of Dedication, April 5, 1964, we dedicate our Building to the Living God. But may we do more; may we dedicate our hearts as eternal temples to this Living God. And may we pledge that our lives, as well as this Building, will be dedicated solely to the service of the Almighty God and the Heavenly Father who has made this day possible.
In 1965, there was an auction of the "little white schoolhouse" and its contents. The building sold for $75 and the contents for $105.25. The land on which it stood was sold to the Adams Independent School District No. 491 for $125. Later, a contractor bought the building and moved it to 207 N. 4th Street, converting it into a triple garage.

In 1971, the consolidation of the Adams, Elkton, and Rose Creek School Districts took place. For two years, the students from those districts continued to attend school in their same school buildings. In the 1973-74 school year, the attendance sites where realigned with kindergarten through fifth grade attending school in Rose Creek, sixth through eighth grade attending classes in Elkton, and ninth through twelfth grades attending school in Adams. 

This new arrangement meant that the Weekday Release Program also had to be rearranged, with some classes no longer being housed in the Education Building. The basement of Congregational Church in Rose Creek was rented for several years and classes were held there twice a week. In 1979, it was possible to rent the Rose Creek City Hall and this site was used until the spring of 2001. In the fall of 2001, the elementary school release time will begin holding classes in a newly furnished room in the basement of the Farmers State Bank of Adams, Rose Creek branch building. Each class in grades one through five attend Weekday School for 50 minutes, twice a week.

The middle school classes in Elkton were held for several years in an apartment building in space rented by the church. A new Community Building was built in 1978 and space was rented in the new building for weekday release classes. This is where the classes were housed until 1996 when the Southland 500 School District closed the Elkton School and moved the middle school students to Adams. They are now housed in the same building with the high school students. 

The high school students have always attended Weekday School in the Little Cedar Parish Education Building. The middle school students also make the walk across the street from the public school to the Parish Education Building for their release time. Grades six through eight attend Weekday School 50 minutes, once a week. Grades nine through twelve meet once a week for an hour.

Grades one through eight are taught by the Weekday School teacher, while grades nine through twelve are taught by the pastor. During the 1983-84 school year, Pastor Ormsby of Dexter Methodist Church and Pastor Bredfeldt of St. John's Lutheran Church, Elkton were invited to teach along with our own two ministers so that all of the students could come at one time and each grade level would have their own teacher. 

When Nancy Wigdahl first came to Little Cedar, she had finished her theological training, but had not been ordained. After serving as Weekday School teacher for one year, it was agreed that she would be ordained as the associate pastor of the congregation. Rev. Wigdahl continued to teach Weekday School, but also took on several of the ministerial responsibilities in the congregation.

When she left in 1987, the congregation decided to call another pastor to serve as Weekday School teacher and Associate Pastor for Youth. Rev. Donna Joseph was called and served in that capacity until August 1999.

In 2001, the decision was made to consolidate all of the programs for youth under the leadership of a youth director. Pam Bamrick was hired to fill the position and continues to this time. A talented musician and teacher, Pam shares her faith with the youth of the congregation through classes, music, and service projects, providing them with a strong Christian role model.

From the days of meeting in the homes of members and the little country schoolhouses of the community, through the years in the little white school building in town, and the construction of the Parish Education Building and the realignment due to public school consolidation, the Weekday School has seen many changes, but its goal has always remained the same -- teaching the young people of the congregation about Jesus Christ.