|The Oregon Statesman newspaper
of April 7, 1927, Carried an article which included the following:
"A survey made sometime ago revealed the fact that there
were almost a thousand persons in Salem of Germanic and Scandinavian
parentage who would be favorably disposed to the organization
of a Lutheran Church in the American Language."
The old Presbyterian Church was for sale. Victor Schneider,
prominent realtor and one of the organizing forces of the
establishment of a new "American " Lutheran Church,
began negotiations for its purchase, finally securing it for
The first service of the new " American Lutheran Church"
was be held on Sunday afternoon, April 10, 1927 at 4 o'clock
in the Presbyterian church. Rev. Luther B. Deck, President
of the Southern Conference, conducted the service.
During the summer 1927, the name American Lutheran Church
was adopted because church members wanted a name that favored
no bi-lingual name - that indicated the American language
In October, an organizing meeting was called for the purpose
of selecting the council and calling a pastor. The first council
of eight: R.A. Horn, R.C. Arpke, J.A. Sholseth, Joseph Finden,
George Quesseth, A.F. Homyer, John Dyrland and Victor Schneider.
Pastor P.W. Ericksen of Seattle was called to be the first
pastor of the American Lutheran Church.
April 17,1928 the church received from the Corporation Department
of Oregon the Certificate of Articles of Incorporation of
the American Lutheran Church of Salem.
1931: Mr. Gehlar, the Sunday School superintendent was
a leader and through his efforts the Sunday School became
one of the most active and well attended in the city. December
31 The church celebrated its fourth anniversary and President
D.D. Kistler of the Pacific Synod came to deliver the address.
Total membership exceeded 350.
1932: "The choir under the leadership of William
McGilchrist has served the church well and the church is duly
proud. A Voluntary choir is an asset to any church "
In June, the Pacific Synod held its convention at the young
Salem church. End of the year church membership was 399.
1933: March 5, the Pacific Lutheran College Choir
presented a concert in our church to a capacity audience.
Christ Lutheran Church sponsored the concert jointly with
St. Mark's. The congregation grew to 411 by the end of the
1934: September, the church began broadcasting its
entire church service over KSLM radio
Note: Due to the absence of much of the church records
for the years 1935, 1936, 1937 and 1938 the history is extremely
1935: Ruth Dedford replaced Gladys Edgar as organist.
December 13, a special Christmas concert was presented by
the choir, the Men's Chorus and the Salem Madrigal Club under
the direction of Professor E.H. Hobeson.
1936: January 5 was a memorable day for the congregation
when it burned its bank note of $927.00
1938: At the beginning of the year R.H. Poff replaced
Dr. A.S. Jenson, Dean of Education at Monmouth, as Sunday
School Superintendent. Professor E.W.
Hobson was director of music and Ruth Bedford, organist. The
Tri-L-Club (Little Lutheran Ladies) was organized for teenage
girls. Lorraine Guthrie served as the first president. December
2 The Ladies Guild put on what is called a Lutefisk Dinner.
Total church membership: was 791.
1939: September, the purchase price of the church
had been reduced by
$10,000.00. Oscar Liudahl accepted the Sunday School Superintend
1940: January, a cabinet form of government for the
church was adopted for one year: Personnel, Property, Auditing,
Radio, Publicity, Finance, Fellowship,
Choir, Congregational Singing, Men's Activities, Young People's
Confirmation, Welfare and Goodwill.
1941: September 7 The church still functioned as a
mission church. Pastor Ericksen tendered his resignation and
announced his acceptance of a call to El Paso, Texas, thus
bringing to a close the opening chapter of the Salem American
Lutheran Church and a nearly fourteen year pastorate. September
28, Pastor Ericksen preached his final sermon. September 29
Under the leadership of Ralph Skopil, vice-chairman of the
congregation, and Dr. Sawyer, president of the Synod, a call
was extended to the Reverend Mark A. Getzendaner of Davenport,
Iowa .October 31 Pastor Getzendaner accepted the call. Due
to the illness of Mrs. Getzendaner, their arrival in Salem
was delayed until January of 1942. November Pastor Beistal
of Eugene agreed to serve as temporary pastor-spending three
days per week in Salem. The Thomas Allports, strong workers
in the church, left for Midland College to prepare fro his
entrance into the ministry. December PEARL HARBOR changed
everything. Alfred Quesseth and Verdie Sederstrom gave their
lives for their country there.
1942: January 18, the first service conducted by Dr.
February 8 Dr. M.A. Gertzendaner installed by Dr. Sawyer,
Pacific Synod president, as the second pastor of the American
Lutheran Church of Salem.
October Ladies of the church sewed for the Red Cross.
1943: January A constitutional change in council tenure
provided upon expiration of a councilman's term, there would
be no re-election of said councilman until a period of one
year had elapsed. First time the question was raised concerning
change in the name of the church because the present name
conflicted with that of the American Lutheran Synod. First
time two years was required for catechetical instruction.
June 21 A special meeting of the Church Council was held to
consider purchase of three lots at the southeast corner of
North Cottage and Chemeketa Streets for future building purposes.
October Professor Maurice Brennen was obtained as choir director.
Later he took over as organist.
The Years 1944, 1945 and 1946: Many men from the congregation
served in the war. Camp Adair servicemen were welcomed into
congregation homes for Sunday dinner. As Sunday School rooms
were needed the men "just dug another hole in the ground
in that terrible old basement" Volunteers regularly chopped
wood for the old furnace and Mrs. Majella Barnes was one of
the most faithful at " throwing the wood into the basement"
October 1945 And - sometime between April and August of 1945,
the American Lutheran Church of Salem voted to become Saint
Mark Lutheran Church.
1948: First time an associate pastor served in the
church. Much effort in the late Forties was devoted to keeping
up and repairing the church building.
1949: Sunday School enrollment was at 230, the question
of space became
more critical. The Boosters Club was funded for any and all
years of age. This was the first year for a Junior Choir at
1950: June, David Getzendaner ordained. July 1 Miss
Helen Corwin joined the staff as St. Marks first Parish Worker.
During the summer, a two-week Vacation Bible school was held.
1951: Mid-Year Pastor Getzendaner resigned. October
Pastor John L.Cauble arrived from Longview, Washington, with
his wife, Jenny and their three sons, to become the third
pastor of St. Mark Lutheran Church. During Christmas with
fire extinguishers under the pews, men stationed themselves
about the church proper in readiness to snuff out any fire
that might burst forth in that a tinder box during the festival
1952: Twenty-fifth anniversary of St. Marks Lutheran
Church.January19 Midland College Choir presented a concert
at St. Mark's with Vic Palmason was the choir director. The
Dorcas, Priscilla and Vesper Circles were the first circles
to be organized within the Guild. October, all former pastors
joined in the special anniversary festivities and banquet
at St. Mark.
1953: January 11, the church voted "to establish
our future church on the present church site... and to proceed
with a building program at the earliest possible date".
By December, the Church Council recommended that no further
plans should be made for the property at Winter and D Streets.
1954: January, Dr. Bertram Trelstad was appointed
chairman of the Special Building Site Committee. Because the
property adjacent to the church was sold to the bank, St.
Mark was forced to change its plans and look elsewhere for
a site on which to build its new church. April 4, at a special
congregational meeting, the church members voted the Council
authority to sell the present church and site and purchase
the property at Marion and Winter Streets.
September Dr. Bertram Trelstad was appointed chairman of
committee. Serving with him were Mrs. E.W. Hillstrom, secretary,
Cauble, Deryl Currie, Mrs. Arnold Olson, Alvin Randal and
Vice-Presidents who served as Building Committee members during
terms of office include: 1954, O.K. Nielsen, 1955 Paul Riensche,
Jaqua, 1957, Alvin Randall, 1958, Dr. Allan Ferrin. In October
7, St. Mark Lutheran sells North Church street property to
the Commercial Bank for $80,000.00".
1955: The Baptized membership had now reached 1,064,
the confirmed 686, the Sunday School enrollment, 407. Mr.
Harold E. Wagoner of Philadelphia, eminent church architect,
met with the Building Committee and the church Council to
begin work on the church plans. May 29 three St. Mark young
men entered the service of the church through ordination rites:
Howard Baumgart, Melvin Langeland and Edward Meyer.
1956: THE LUTHERAN magazine in the home of every member
of St. Marks. July and August First time two services were
held on Sunday mornings. November the church began offering
two morning services permanently. December 2, plans were accepted
for the new half-million dollar structure designed by Architect
Harold Wagoner and assisted by William I. Williams of Salem.
1957: St. Mark began building its new church home.
January 20 The Congregation approved the building plans March
10, First Sunday in Lent, St. Mark held its Blessing of the
Church Site and Ground Breaking Rites. September 27, the Cornerstone
Laying service was conducted. April 3 First concrete footings
were poured. July 12 After volunteers from the church unloaded
all the Colorado limestone, the first stone was laid by Jack
Holt, Foreman. September The church property at Winter and
D Streets was sold to the State of Oregon. December. Pews
from the old church were given to Faith Lutheran at Keizer
and Trinity Lutheran at McMinnville.
December 30-31 After thirty years of service and membership
growth from 55 to 1224, the move was made from the old church
location ot the new church basement. Chairs generously loaned
from Willamette University gave St. Markers something to sit
1958: May 4, Dedication of the new St. Mark's Lutheran
Church. March, the parsonage at 945 Summer Street was sold
for $9,500. May 19-22 Salem and St. Mark hosted the Fifty-Eighth
Annual Convention of the Pacific Synod. July 17, was the first
meeting held to consider the establishment of a Mid-Valley
Lutheran home for the aged. December 25 The Sunday School
provided Chemawa Indian School with "several hundred
Christmas gifts". (This they repeated for many subsequent
1959: Dr. Steinhoff retired as Synod president. A
Men's Wednesday morning devotional breakfast was instituted
under Dr. Allan Ferrin's leadership. Nona Osko joined the
staff as parish worker. October The decade of the 1950's closes
with the St. Mark congrgation-1,488 strong-at home in its
1960: Marvin Langeland was ordained .Pastor Cauble
could not carry the growing congregation's leadership needs
alone, so during this period with student interns assisted,
including David Augersbach, Richard Lyons and Jon Hellstedt.
1961: Paul Rienshe and David Augersbach were ordained.
Willamette Lutheran Home construction began. Miriam Circle
began publication of the TELL-U-SCOPE newsletter.
1962: March 1, fire in the new church began in the
library and burned out the entire youth room. Damages exceeded
$26,000.00. Pastor and Mrs. Cauble were given three months'
leave and a trip around the world. The marble figure of Christ
was ordered from Antonio Biondi in Rome.
1963: The Reverend Glen Sachs was called to serve
as the first associate pastor in the new church.
1964: June, the property owned by Parent was purchased
and used for Sunday School purposes. July Harold Wagoner,
architect, was again employed to design the Educational Wing.
October The Lutheran Church Women continued year after year
their regular good works at the State Hospital, at Fairview,
at the Deaf School and at other institutions..
1966: The Social ministry spearheaded assistance to
the Valley Migrant League through a child care program. Pastor
Leonard Nelson arrived as the new Associate Pastor. The three
houses on the church property were razed in preparation for
the Sunday School wing construction. November The congregation
accepted the plans for the education wing estimated to cost
283,000.00, and the bids were let.
1967: Fortieth (40th) anniversary of the congregation.
A new education building wing was dedicated. May 14 On Pentecost
Sunday, three bells rang from the church tower for the first
time. This gift to the church came from the estate of the
Reverend Peter W. and Elvena Ericksen-he the first pastor
of the of the church. The ST. MARKER-a monthly congregational
newsletter came into being.
1968: June Pastor Nelson resigned and Pastor Dennis
Marttala began his ministry as associate pastor for St. Mark.
July 23 The Reverend John L. Cauble died at the age of sixty-three.
September Dr. Larry Steinhoff was called to serve as interim
pastor of the church.
1969: St. Mark changed its constitution to permit
a layman to serve in the capacity of president of the congregation
and the council. January Dr. Larry Steinhoff was installed
as St. Mark's fourth minister. February The church sponsored
the St. Olaf Choir Concert. May Dr. Horace McGee became Chairman
of the new committee-the Lutheran Fine Arts Committee, as
it came to be known. Funded anonymously, this gift would provide
an annual grant to promote the religious fine arts in the
areas of music, drama and the visual arts. Mrs. W.W. (Irene)
Hillstrom became office administrator and co-coordinator of
all activities. September The kindergarten project became
a reality with Libby Brennen as supervisor. October 19 First
Lutheran Fine Arts Festival presented.
1970: April George Quesseth, first secretary of the
congregation, presented to
the church a history of St. Mark from its formation through
1944. June 21 Lynn Ertsgaard was ordained. September 21 The
first woman intern arrived at St. Mark in the person of Miss
1972: June 25 The stained glass windows of the east
were dedicated to the memory of the Reverend John Cauble.
June 30. Dr. Larry Steinhoff who so graciously left retirement
to help St. Mark through a most difficult period, now stepped
down. Pastor Marttala resigned.
1973: January 7 The Reverend Christian J. Thearle
was installed at the fifth pastor of St. Mark Lutheran Church.
October 7 The Reverend Randall C.. Olson installed as Assistant
1974: March 20, Mr. Jack Elshire joined staff as Business
June 26, Chapel renovation dedicated to memory of Elizabeth
Ferrin. September, Valerie McIntosh engaged as Director of
1975: April 30, Larry Brown became new church organist.
August, Pastor James Bornzin arrived to assist pastor Olson.
1976: September, Parish-wide coffees instituted to
close relationship gap.
1977: Fiftieth anniversary year begins!
2002: St. Mark Lutheran Church's 75th anniversary!
Compiled and written by members of the St. Mark Lutheran
Church from the church website, April, 2002