Church member Diane Strickler said the congregation of the First Evangelical Lutheran Church has been working over a year getting ready for the church’s 125th anniversary. There will be a two-day celebration this weekend, Oct. 21-22, with the whole community invited to the services.

“The Swedish smorgasbord we held in the spring was part of our fund raising for the anniversary,” said Strickler.

“We have invited 10 former ministers back, many former members and also neighboring churches. There is a committee that is working on updating the church’s history. The church was started by a group of Swedish immigrants. Tom Johnson and Bill Heusinkveld are working on a booklet about the Swedish history of the church and it will be given to everyone who attends the services this weekend.”

A quilt and a black and white afghan are on display at Home Collection. They will be raffled Oct. 21 along with an old buffet. Tickets will be drawn for all three prizes.

There will be a Saturday night dinner provided by the church with the Appanoose County Cattlemen Association doing the cooking. Freewill offerings will be accepted.

During the afternoon services on Saturday, Rev. Don Rothriler will come dressed as Martin Luther.

Church member Linda Stephens contributed some historical facts about the church’s history.

“It was in 1870 that the Swedes first settled in Centerville. They came for the Rock Island Railroad. It was opening up in this territory and there were jobs available. They met in each others’ homes and a Pastor Benzon would come from Jefferson County to preach the sermon,” said Stephens.

“This congregation organized as the ‘Swedish Lutheran Congregation’ on May 30, 1881, had a meeting and petitioned the Augustana Synod for membership in the church. There is a notation that they bought several books at the time for $2.75.

“There are lots of stories. Pastors traveled to the Moravia area and one pastor rode a horse and buggy there because there was no road and another rode the Interurban.”

The first church was built at 19th and Terry and was used the first time on New Year’s Day in 1882.

“There were 22 charter members in that first church,” Stephens added.

The schedule for this weekend’s anniversary observance includes, on Saturday: An alumni choir practice will be held at noon with a welcome and registration at 1:30 p.m. Historical reflections will be at 2 p.m. and at 4:15 p.m. there will be a Hymn Sing. An evening vesper service will be held at 5 p.m. with a dinner and program following at 6.

On Sunday: A mass choir practice will be held a 8 a.m., followed by fellowship, rolls and coffee. An adult forum and Sunday school is at 9 a.m. with worship service at 10:30 a.m. A soup luncheon and “Visioning Our Future” will be at noon, which will end the celebration.

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