The Lime Creek Evangelical Lutheran Church, which has often been referred to as the “Mother Church” of our dear Evangelical Lutheran Synod by many pastors and laymen, is located six miles north of Lake Mills or three miles southwest of Emmons, Minnesota, in Norway Township.
It is rather difficult to determine the exact date or even the year of the organization of our congregation. According to records, the first settlers of Norwegian descent came originally from Muskego, Wisconsin in 1856 or 1859.
The Rev. C. L. Clausen, was ordained by the German Lutheran Pastor L. F. Krause of the Buffalo Synod on October 18, 1843. In 1852, the Rev. Clausen, together with two friends from Rock Prairie, Wisconsin made an expedition west, crossing the Mississippi River and following the Iowa-Minnesota State Line until they reached the Cedar River. At this point, they turned to their left and came to the city of St. Ansgar. The fertile prairie, rivers, and timbers of this area appealed to them. The Rev. Clausen had seen many deer gathering at the banks of a stream, so he named it “Deer Creek”. The Rev. Clausen and his two friends returned to Rock Prairie; however, he returned later that year in order to make preparations for the new colony. This colony, which was organized with a caravan of 40 families, comprised of fifty wagons, which cost $48.00 each, arrived in the St. Ansgar area in the spring of 1853. They also brought with them about 300 head of cattle.
The first settlers in Silver Lake and Bristol Townships had their first Norwegian service at the home of Lars L. Loberg on July 20, 1858. The following pastors served this area: A. C. Preus, V. Koren, and C. L. Clausen. Services were held four times a year. The four congregations of Lime Creek, Shell Rock, Silver Lake, and Round Prairie were organized in 1859, but the exact date is not known. Each congregation had its own ecclesiastical corporation and therefore had full power to regulate its own affairs. Pastor Clausen wrote four articles stating the fundamental principles of the church.
The following year, 1860, the congregation in the west part of the district, namely Lime Creek, withdrew and organized as an individual congregation.
On May 18 and 19, 1865, a meeting was attended by Pastors H. A. Preus, J. A. Otteson, V. Koren, and C. L. Clausen, On the first day, a call was extended to Candidate of Theology T. A. Torgerson. He was installed as pastor of Lime Creek on August 21, 1865. Pastor Torgerson was involved in the slavery question of the day and was referred to as a pro-slavery man. But when the Rev. Torgerson discussed the slavery question in the light of God’s Word, he spoke “as the oracles of God.” 1 Peter 4, 11: “If any man speaks let him speak as the oracles of God.” He enlisted as a volunteer in the army of the North and fought for the emancipation of slaves. He continued to serve the congregation until his death, January 7, 1906. Lime Creek then severed its relations with Silver Lake and Concordia and joined with the Lake Mills congregation.
At a meeting on February 24, 1869, a motion was made by H. G. Emmons to withdraw from the Synod, thus causing the first division in the Lime Creek congregation.
[In 1887, the Rev. T. A. Torgerson advised those members who lived 6-7 miles southwest of Lime Creek in the Scarville, Iowa, area to begin meeting under his guidance in their homes. This group officially formed the Immanuel Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church in 1907.] In 1906 the Rev. A. J. Torgerson, son of T. A. Torgerson became the pastor after his father’s death. The Rev. O. Otteson was called and installed as pastor on August 4, 1907. On January 11, 1909, he resigned and preached his farewell sermon on August 8. On September 18, Prof. J. E. Thoen of Luther Academy in Albert Lea conducted the call meeting. A call was sent to the Rev. Henry Ingebritson, but due to illness in his family, he was not installed as pastor until the fall of 1911. Prof. Thoen served in the interim.
During the Rev. Ingebritson’s pastorate, the controversy of “Opgjør” occurred causing untold troubles in the congregation. It was settled by a division in the congregation on September 20, 1917. A motion to join the Norwegian Lutheran Church of America was defeated by a 38 to 19 vote. In the spring of 1918, a number of individuals also tendered their resignation. This left the congregation stripped of many members, but it also reestablished peace and unity of doctrine.
On June 17, 2018, Lime Creek celebrated its 100th Anniversary. To God Be The Glory.
Today, Lime Creek has retained enough members to become a part of the “Five Point Parish” with the congregations of First Shell Rock, Immanuel, Lake Mills, and Somber. Lime Creek remains a part of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod who identify themselves as “orthodox, confessional Lutherans.” In other words, the ELS continues to remain rooted in its doctrine and teaches that good works are necessary for sanctification but not justification. Nowadays, Pastor David Emmons serves all Five Point Parishes.
Lime Creek still mirrors the spirit of the congregation’s first members in that both are willing to separate and merge as long as they hold firm to doctrine.