Hauge Old Stone Church History


The Kenyon/Wanamingo area has such a lot of history surrounding it that I have decided to bring some of it to you, my readers. I hope you will enjoy some of the topics I choose to bring to light! One of my readers told me last week that she knows more about the people and businesses in Wanamingo than she ever knew in all her lifetime of living here since I began writing over a year ago, and that made me happy!

Today's story is the history of Hauge Old Stone Church, located just a few miles out of Kenyon on Monkey Valley Road. I bet there's a good story about how the road got that name, too!

My story begins with Hans Nielson Hauge (1771 to 1824), an itinerant Evangelist who travelled around Norway and brought about a revival in the country. He stressed a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and encouraged lay persons to be involved in the ministry of the gospel. This included giving sermons in the churches, and exhorting folks to live a Christian lifestyle. Because of the state run churches in Norway, Hauge was met with much resistance, and most of the revival meetings took place in the homes of the congregants. As the Norwegian immigrants arrived in America, many gravitated to this area, where they started churches with a Haugean influence. from different synods. If you look around this area, not only will you find Hauge in Kenyon, but other churches started around the same time. Immigrants also established Holden, Dale, Emmanuel, St. Rose, and others that have been around for a long time. So, let's go back in time.....

On March 20th, 1871, the members of Hauge church decided to purchase land and build a church to attend, instead of meeting in people's homes. Monies began being raised through collections from the offerings during the services, donations, and knowing Norwegians, they probably held bake sales as well, but that is my own conjecture. About 1875, they were ready to begin the task of building the church. There was a nearby limestone quarry that they were able to procure the stones from, and over the years, the church building was completed, but the steeple was never built, due to lack of funding. In 1888, the structure was completed, and services were held there. The decorative painting on the ceiling of the church was signed on October 30th, 1894. Services continued to be held in the Old Stone Church until 1902, when the congregants had a new church built in Kenyon, and discontinued use of the old church.

In 1947, the old church was shingled to protect it, and in the 1950's, Pastor Knudson wanted to keep the old building from being forgotten, and organized volunteers to begin restoring the building and the cemetery. Some families of those buried in the cemetery began mowing paths to the family member's graves. The church was cleaned up and restored for the 100th anniversary of the congregation. The foundation had to be repaired so small animals could no longer live under the building. The walls were stabilized, as well as the balcony, using cables that can still be seen today. The cemetery was restored, broken windows replaced, and once again, an annual service would be held at the church in the warmth of the summer months, since the old building had neither electricity nor a heat source. This special service was given in Norwegian.

In June of 1976 the Old Stone Church was dedicated as a historical landmark, and evergreens were planted around the cemetery. In 1978, summer services were held in English, but the Norwegian National Anthem was still sung in Norwegian!

In 1998, the roof was re-shingled. From 2004 to 2006 the entire exterior was re-grouted. In 2007, the interior was re-plastered. In 2009, the gravestones were re-set. In 2010, electricity was brought to the entrance, but not within the church. 2015 brought new shutters to all the windows, giving it a homey look. In 2022 a new roof was installed, which included rafters, sheathing and metal "cedar" shingles. 2023 brought about re-siding the entrance, and all the windows were replaced.

A lot of love and elbow grease was given to restoring the old building, and now funds for the maintenance are from the offerings during the summer services, memorials, donations, and the sales of cemetery lots. Members and friends of Hauge Lutheran Church clean it up before the summer services and perform the tasks needed to keep it in good shape. There is a 4 member committee responsible for coordinating the maintenance, managing the finances, and scheduling and approving the use of the church.

In the summer months, you will find Pastor Larry Grove leading the services on the 4th Sunday of each month, June through September, and weather permitting, maybe one service in October. After each service, a picnic lunch including grilled hot dogs and Pastor Larry's baked beans are served. All are welcome to stay and eat while they visit. I asked Pastor Larry what brought about serving a meal after church, and he replied, "My wife Joan's mother came up with the idea, because many of the parishioners were widows and widowers, and it was sad that after the church service, they would have to go home to eat alone, so why not all eat together?" I asked what Joan's title was in the church, and he laughed and said Social Coordinator!

I then wanted to know what brought Pastor Larry to the ministry. He said Pastor Eric Westlake from Our Saviour's church in Zumbrota once said " 'God equips those He calls'. I have trusted and learned that, so I may serve the congregation". So 2 ½ years ago, he went with his faith and took classes, and went before a board of about 12 clergy members to answer questions, and he qualified to be the pastor of Hauge Church. He now serves as Pastor with Pastor Loren Bauer as Assistant Pastor, and they write articles on faith in each issue of the Messenger. True to the work of Hans Hauge, they ask parishioners of the church to be involved in the service each Sunday by reading scripture lessons.

The Kenyon church has confirmation classes for 7th and 8th grade members on Wednesday evenings, and confirms the 8th graders upon completion of the course.

The members love the traditional services that have continued over the years, and are starting to incorporate more praise and worship into the traditional service with songs to lift the spirits of those present without compromising the word of God.

Pastor Larry wants to invite you all to join in their Sunday worship, whether it be in the Kenyon church, or on the special Sundays at the Old Stone Church. Hauge is alive and well! If you are unable to get to the service, he wants to say that the sermon itself will be broadcast on KDHL radio at 920 AM on your dial . Tune in for a 15 minute message at 6:45 every Sunday evening.

And now you know the history of the Old Stone Church!