By Joann M. Ringelstetter
In the fall of 2011, on the third day of a three-day trip to the southwest corner of Minnesota, Ruth and I had covered a lot of ground by 9:00 a.m., but we still hadn’t taken the time to eat breakfast. Usually, we look for a peaceful place to enjoy our first meal of the day, which is always eaten out of the back of the car. So Ruth navigated us towards the Wilmington Lutheran Church, which is set in the countryside.
As we traveled down a gravel road toward the church, we crossed an intersection on a hill and the church came into view at the bottom of the hill. I stopped the car just past the intersection to take in the view and to capture some images of the church and the autumn color.
Then we drove down the hill, turned into the cemetery, took a few more photos of the church, and ate our breakfast. When we had finished eating, we pulled up in front of the church and parked the car.
The church is a red brick building with a beautiful steeple. I walked around to the front of the church and tried the door, as I always do, but it was locked. I then walked down the sidewalk leading towards the road and descended the set of steps near the road. As I was setting up my tripod to capture the many steps leading to the church, I was thinking, “I wish someone would come and open the door so I could see the inside of the church.”
No sooner had I thought this when a truck came roaring down the gravel road and pulled up next to our car. A man got out, walked over to me, and said, “Would you like to see the inside?” All I could think of at that moment was, “Ask and you shall receive!”
The church was absolutely beautiful on the inside, with what appeared to be the original sanctuary and pews made out of gorgeous wood.
The man who so kindly let me inside went about some “church business,” leaving me to take whatever photographs I wanted to take. So I climbed the stairs to the choir loft to capture the view from up there.
I now wish I had asked him more questions because I came up empty-handed when I searched online for the history of the church. Note that, after posting this story, one of our readers, Lori Campbell, directed us to a book published in 1882 and entitled, "History of Houston County," which contained a small paragraph about the "Norwegian Lutheran Church."
According to this book, the Norwegians in this area were devout Christians and were members of this congregation, which met in the 1850s at various houses. After the completion of a schoolhouse, service was held occasionally in the schoolhouse. In 1868, the church was erected near the schoolhouse.
I finished taking my interior shots as quickly as possible because I knew this kind gentleman had come to work on the church grounds. I am convinced, however, that the timing of his arrival was orchestrated by the heavens.