Salem Online History This site is provided by Salem Public Library (Salem, Oregon).
space space
Brief History
Natural History
Timeline Search
St. Mark Lutheran Church
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 $16,000.00.

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 only.

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.

Church Timeline
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 year.

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 sketchy.

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 position.

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 work,
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. M.A. Getzendaner.
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 over thirty-five
years of age. This was the first year for a Junior Choir at St. Mark's.

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 candlelight services.

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 the building
committee. Serving with him were Mrs. E.W. Hillstrom, secretary, Pastor John
Cauble, Deryl Currie, Mrs. Arnold Olson, Alvin Randal and Lionel Trommlitz.
Vice-Presidents who served as Building Committee members during their
terms of office include: 1954, O.K. Nielsen, 1955 Paul Riensche, 1956 C.E.
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 upon.

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 years.)

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 new church.

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 Joan Lepley.

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 Pastor.

1974: March 20, Mr. Jack Elshire joined staff as Business Administrator.
June 26, Chapel renovation dedicated to memory of Elizabeth Ferrin. September, Valerie McIntosh engaged as Director of Music

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


St. Mark Lutheran Church, shortly after dedication.
St. Mark Lutheran Church, shortly after dedication.
[ View Image ]
Salem's First American Lutheran Church.
Old Presbyterian Church which became the first Salem's First American Lutheran Church.
[ View Image ]
Easter in the old church.
Easter in the old church.
[ View Image ]
Home | About | History Resources | SiteMap | Historic Photographs | Salem Public Library
Brief History Commerce © 2005-2006 Salem Public Library (Salem, OR) Culture Education Maps Natural History People Places Timeline Search Transportation