By Kristen Miller
COKATO, MN - “Great is thy faithfulness” is the theme and reason for celebrating Elim Mission Church’s 100 year anniversary with activities planned for Saturday, July 25 and Sunday, July 26.
“We’re not celebrating a building, we’re celebrating God’s faithfulness in the last 100 years,” said anniversary committee member Dwight Nyquist, who has been attending his entire life.
The church was officially organized July 19, 1909, when Evangelical Covenant Church and Evangelical Free Church united under one congregation.
The new congregation was named Svenska Fristna Mission Formsmelling, or the Swedish Christian Mission Church, with 14 charter members.
The name later changed to Elim Mission Church. The meaning of the name was derived directly from scripture describing an oasis: “Then [the Israelites] came to Elim, where there were 12 springs and 70 palm trees, and they camped there near the water,” Ex. 15:27.
Today, the church’s mission states: “The ministry of Elim is to introduce people to Jesus, grow in Him, to serve Him through worship, discipleship, evangelism, fellowship, and ministry.”
Helping to support missions is a large part of the church’s own mission, including youth projects, short-term missions, and Bible camps.
Rev. Walter Glucklich has been the church’s pastor since 1994, and served in two California churches before serving at Elim Mission Church.
“Celebrating 100 years is a great milestone. It means that we are carrying out the vision and ministries of those who began this church,” Rev. Glucklich said.
“I am extremely grateful for the heart of ministry in the people of Elim. They are a people who work together with the local churches to bring the message of hope and salvation to the extended community,” he added.
The people are grateful for him, as well.
“Pastor Wally always has had a positive outlook and is encouraging, caring, and available for people,” said anniversary committee chairman Ralph Wessman.
Current membership is more than 150, with Sunday attendance more than 300.
Aside from a name change, the building itself has had several changes including the addition of the new sanctuary in 1979, which was recently part of a remodelling project along with the Sunday school rooms and bathrooms.
The public is invited to view the improvements during scheduled open houses Saturday from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. and again Sunday following the afternoon program at the Dassel-Cokato Performing Arts Center.
Because the church seats about 300 people and the event is anticipating about 500 people, Sunday’s worship, dinner, and programs will take place at the Performing Arts Center, beginning with coffee and registration at 8:30 a.m.
The morning worship will begin at 9:30 a.m.
Following the 11:30 a.m. dinner in the east gymnasium (prior reservations were required), there will be an afternoon program focusing on the past, present, and future of Elim Mission Church presented in the auditorium.
This program will include three former pastors, Rev. Sam Sawyer, Rev. Ben Larson, and Rev. David Van Wingerden.
Also sharing their stories during the program will be three pairs of missionaries from Elim including Don and Sharon (Lundeen) Barr, Todd and Sally Wessman, and Scott and Deb Sundblad.
Also as part of the program will be the passing on of the Elim Mission legacy to future generations.
Cookbooks for sale
For the first time ever, Elim Mission Church has compiled a cookbook for its centennial that will be for sale Sunday at the Performing Arts Center. The hardcover, three-ringed binder has more than 300 recipes. The cost is $10.
Schedule of events
There are two days of events to celebrate Elim Mission Church’s 100 years and God’s faithfulness the church has witnessed. The public is welcome to attend any and all of the events.
On Saturday, July 25, there will be family events including live entertainment and music starting at 6 p.m. in Peterson Park.
From 6 to 7 p.m., Slim the Clown will be entertaining children with a magic show.
A comedy show will follow with Myrtle Nerstrom.
Musical entertainment will be provided by The Keep, Zoo Animal, and more from 7 to 10 p.m.
Following, coffee and treats will be served in the fellowship hall of church.
The church will also host an open house from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.
On Sunday, the celebration will begin at the Performing Arts Center with registration and coffee at 8:30 a.m., morning worship at 9:30 a.m., dinner at 11:30 a.m. (prior reservations were required), and afternoon program from 1:30 to 4 p.m. with cake and coffee served in the PAC lobby. An open house will follow at the church.