Gethsemane Lutheran Church – Our History

Church was an important part of the life of the Swedish immigrants who settled in the Wallace area. In 1883, nine families and four single men gathered, organized and adopted the constitution of the Augustana Synod and formed the Swedish Lutheran Church Congregation in Wallace, Michigan.

In the beginning, services were held only when visiting pastors came to the area and the services were held in the Wallace Schoolhouse.

On January 7, 1887, it was decided to build a church on a lot that was obtained from George Smith. The first pastor was shared with a congregation in Peshtigo, Wisconsin. The church was built and the siding was put on two years later. The ground was leveled, a wire fence was built around the church property and left-over lumber was used to build an outhouse and a woodshed. For many years the services were conducted in the Swedish language. But as the children of the pioneers grew up and the pioneers themselves passed away, it was evident that the English language and the American ways would be adopted and the services would be spoken in English.

In April of 1931 tragedy struck the Wallace community. A fire destroyed all but three structures in the community…the church was reduced to ashes. There were fifty-one members and twenty-nine children at the time of the fire. Under the direction of Pastor Olson and with insurance money of $3,000 and donations of $1,000 the members of the congregation decided to put their “shoulders to the wheel” and began to build a new church. By October 1931, a church building was erected.

As the congregation of Gethsemane grew, the church could no longer meet our needs. On April 5, 1998 the groundbreaking for a new building was held after worship. On August 1, 1999 the first worship service was held in the new building. Dedication of the new church was held on Sunday, January 16, 2000.

Pastors Who Have Served At Gethsemane

1883-1887 Visting Pastors
1887-1888 J.P. Olander
1888-1891 Rev. P.O. Hanson
1891-1903 Rev. A.E. Hiller
1903-1905 Vacancy
1905-1907 Rev. William Eldien
1907-1909 Vacancy
1910–1911 Rev. A. J. Elmer
1911-1912 Vacancy
1912-1924 Rev. P.O. Dahlberg
1925-1935 Rev. Fred G. Olson
1936-1941 Rev Carl F. Johnson
1941-1942 Rev. Alvin Larson
1942-1952 Rev. J. Melvin Hedin
1952-1960 Rev. Leslie J. Larson
1960-1961 Vacancy
1961-1969 Rev. Ralph Backman
1969-1979 Rev. Donald Wandersee
1979-1982 Rev R. Dean Smith
1982-1983 Vacancy
1983-1986 Rev. Roland Lindeman
1986-1990 Rev. Mark Schwartz
1990-2000 Rev. Thomas Lindblad
2000-2001 Vacancy
2001-2005 Rev. Erik Swanson
2005-2006 Vacancy
2006-2010 Rev. David Christenson
2010-2011 – Vacancy – Rev Jonathan Schmidt, Interim Pastor
2011-2017 Rev Corinne Johnson
2017 – Vacancy – Rev Gene Wickman, Interim Pastor