History of Our Church

"Where there is no vision, the people perish." - Proverbs 29:18

Our congregation can trace its roots back to a meeting held on October 4, 1850 when 113 pioneer settlers gathered to form the “Norwegian Lutheran Congregation of Manitowoc” under the leadership of Rev. H. A. Stub. From that original body, six churches grew in the area in and around Manitowoc County. In 1963, three of those churches merged to form Faith Lutheran Church.


  Gjerpen Evangelical Lutheran Church was organized four miles east of Valders in 1850. The Rev. Jacob Ottesen of Norway was the first called pastor. He served the Manitowoc, Gjerpen, and Valders churches. In the call to Rev. Ottesen, the Norwegians pledged to provide a suitable dwelling for the minister. The church, graveyard, and parsonage were to be located on 40 acres of land, purchased at a cost of $64.00.


In 1859, the Rev. Ottesen accepted a call to serve in Koshkonong, but did not deliver his farewell sermon until July of 1861 because the new minister from Norway was slow in coming. the Rev. L.M. Biorn delivered his first sermon on October 6, 1861.In 1871, the congregations were divided and Manitowoc called the Rev. Biorn. Gjerpen and Valders remained together and called the Rev. A.O. Alfsen. Construction of a new church building began at Gjerpen in 1875. the Rev. A.O. Alfsen resigned from the pastorate in the spring of 1917, after serving the congregations for 44 years.


The Rev. A.O. White began his call on September 16, 1917. At this time the transition from the Norwegian language to English was progressing and by the early 1930s there was very little Norwegian being spoken. in October of 1930, Rev. White left to accept a call to Calumet, Michigan.


In 1913 a new basement and stone foundation were put under the Gjerpen church. Completion of this allowed the women of the congregation to serve chicken dinners, strawberry shortcake socials, oyster suppers and other events as fund raisers. Sunday school was also held in the church basement.


The Rev. E.A. Fretheim accepted a call and was installed as pastor on June 14, 1931.  He accepted a call to Iowa and the Rev. Martin Trygstad was installed on October 20, 1940. He left in January of 1945. During this time, Gjerpen and Valders began discussing joining with Our Savior's in Valders. On January 13, 1946, the Rev. N.A. Bernston accepted a call to hold servies at the three churches. He served for six years. 


The Rev. A.B. Holland accepted a call to the three churches and was installed on September 7, 1952. He served until 1957, when the Rev. Jerry Moe was called. He served for two years.

On November 6, 1960, the Rev. Robert Onkka was installed as pastor of the parish. 


 Valders (West) Evangelical Lutheran Church, which was also organized in 1850, sat on top of the hill just west of Valders. 




















        Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, established in the Village of Valders in 1898.


On Sunday, January 1, 1961 the Rev. Robert Onkka presided over the “Ceremony of Joining Hands” which symbolized the union of three of those congregations County to form Faith Lutheran Church. The merger came about as the result of the common need for a pastor and the desire to serve the growing educational needs in the community. The wisdom that has made this merger work was the agreement by each of the predecessor congregations to raze their buildings upon the completion of their new structure in 1964. A closing service was held at each of the three churches on August 23, 1964. Faith Lutheran Church dedicated its building, located right on Highway 151, on August 30, 1964. The Faith Lutheran Cemetery Association manages the three cemeteries which bear the names of the historic churches.


Through the years, education has always been important to the Faith Lutheran congregation. In addition to active Sunday School and Vacation Bible School programs for children, adults have participated in the Bethel, Search, and Crossways! Bible studies. Faith Lutheran has helped establish the Stephen Ministry program in several neighboring congregations since 1997 and presently hosts a Wednesday Night Contemporary Service which averages around 100 worshipers.


We could write volume upon volume of all the stories of God's faithfulness to his people in this area – but we won’t. We know those stories have common themes. People had the good news of Jesus Christ shared with them by people who cared for them.  These people suffered many trials throughout life, but remained faithful because God was always faithful in providing all the love and forgiveness needed. Those same people sacrificed and worked hard so that many others came to know our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Now, this great calling is ours, and we’d love to share it with you!


Read more about our Lutheran tradition at Who We Are

You can also learn more about us by going to: What We Believe

April 09, 2020

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Evangelical Lutheran

Church in America




9:00 am Worship with ELW

and Holy Communion


6:15 pm with the praise band
and Holy Communion

Lenten Worship

Wednesdays at

4:00 and 6:15 p.m.


All are welcome

Televised Worship:

Mondays @ 6:00 pm

Spectrum Channel 4



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