A Brief History of Our Savior’s Evangelical Lutheran Church
The early history of Our Savior’s begins with a small group of faithful lay people whose hope, determination, and commitment to the gospel confronted uncertainty, difficulty, and challenge on the Iron Range in Hibbing, Minnesota. This small group gathered to worship and receive the sacraments beginning in 1896, and eventually formed a tiny congregation in 1903. For the next seventeen years, this group met in homes, so that by 1920, the congregation owned only two vacant lots.
The congregation originally took the name “Tabor”, the name of a mountain 7 miles from Nazareth, mentioned in the Bible a number of times, and the traditional site of Jesus’ Transfiguration. The name “Tabor” lasted only a year. The congregation chose the name “Our Savior’s Evangelical Lutheran Church” in 1904.
Most of the congregants at Our Savior’s were of Norwegian descent, and worship services and confirmation instruction were in Norwegian. Because the congregation was growing very slowly, the recommendation was to dissolve it in 1922. However, with faith and courage, this small congregation decided to persevere. In the 1920s the congregation began to thrive. The dedication of the people brought about the move of a church building to Third Avenue West and a parsonage, and the congregation began to thrive. Through gifts from congregational members, particularly H.C. Hansen, a Bible Camp was built on a lake north of Hibbing.
From the very beginning the women of Our Savior’s have been one of the real strengths of the congregation. The hopes, prayers, and work of women in the congregation have made OSLC strong and vibrant. Through church suppers, pasty bakes, bazaars, and the White Elephant sale, to name just a few efforts, the women have worked hard to support the mission of Our Savior’s.
The post-war years, the 1950s, brought about significant changes at OSLC. Land was purchased across the street from the Hibbing Memorial Building, and a new building was erected in 1952. Membership increased dramatically and a new educational wing was added in the late 1950s. The men and women of the congregation provided outstanding leadership during this time of growth.
The challenges and opportunities of the 1970s and 80s resulted in new forms of worship with the introduction of the Lutheran Book of Worship. As worship took on new forms, the congregation changed. Cultural changes, too, brought new ideas and vision for the congregation. However, in the 1980s OSLC endured the loss of about 25% of its members due to economic downturns in the mining industry. As economic conditions improved over a couple of decades, OSLC has held its membership at about 1600 baptized.
Our Savior’s, through its dedicated and generous members, has reached out passed its walls. Through the committees the people have emphasized global outreach, worship, education, justice and hunger issues, youth ministry, property issues, stewardship and congregational care and life. None of this could be done without faithful servants in the congregation.