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The Lydia Ladies Aid Society was first organized in May 1887, at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Gunnar Halvorson at Jerico. Mrs. Halvorson was the first president, and Mrs. George Otteson the first secretary and treasurer. There was no resident pastor at the time. The aims of the society were to work for the home church and also for home and foreign missions. Records were kept for all the meetings, but this book was lost. The history that we have is credited to Mrs. Jeanette Nelson, who so faithfully gathered and organized the facts and data from what older members were able to tell her. She wrote this first history in 1936. To her, the church women are indeed grateful.
The Charter Members were: Mrs. Gunnar Halvorson, Mrs. George Otteson, Mrs. Halvor Nelson, Mrs. Jens Attleson, Mrs. Tollef Ellestad, Mrs. Peter Ellestad, Mrs. John Gordon, Mrs. Thom Thompson. This Society continued active for a few years, but, for some reason, it discontinued until October 1901.
The society reorganized during the pastorate of Dr. L. W. Boe (the late President of St. Olaf College).
Mrs. George Otteson was elected president and Mrs. Peter Ellestad, secretary and treasurer, at this meeting. Several new names were added to the list at later meetings. These were the first twelve members: Mrs. George Otteson Mrs. Peter Ellestad, Mrs. Tollef Ellestad, Mrs. Albert Herman, Mrs. Martin Nelson, Mrs. Torkel Attleson, Mrs. Jens Attleson, Mrs. Otto O. Otteson, Mrs. John Gordon, Mrs. Anna H. Peterson, Mrs. James Johnson, Mrs. Fred Christensen.
The Ladies Society met in the homes until the Parish Hall was built in 1913. It was not always easy for the women to get to the meetings, but they managed somehow. They often walked, even several miles, or drove horses. The men would sometimes bring a buggy or wagon load of women to the meetings.
Crane Creek Ladies' Aid at the home of Martin Nelson, October 14, 1903
A full meal was served at these first meetings, and it was with much opposition by some, that this way of entertaining was discontinued. Instead a lunch was served, and we have continued this practice since. The women brought their knitting and sewing, making items to be sold at a fall auction or bazaar.
The first Ladies' Aid Bazaar or auction was at the Peter Ellestad Johnson home. Following the noon meal, Andrew Thompson auctioned off the articles brought for sale. Bazaars are still sponsored by the church women, but we now call them Country Fairs. Most of the proceeds are given to Missions at our Fall Mission Festival.
Until the time of World War I, the Norwegian language was used at the Aid meetings. It was then decided to use the English language, and also the minutes were written in English. It was not until 1955 that the Constitution was translated into English by three of the Aid women: Mrs. Jeanette Nelson, Mrs. Nettie Johnson, and Mrs. Clara Njus.
The programs have always been of a devotional nature with hymn singing, Scripture reading, prayer and Bible Study. In 1917, the Lydia Ladies' Aid became a member of the Women's Missionary Federation. Each Aid member paid ten cents a year to the W.M.F. headquarters. Thus, we shared the W.M.F. literature, learned better leadership and attended the W.M.F. Conventions. The pastor always presided at the Aid meetings. In November 1929, Pastor Finstad announced that the president should preside. The president at that time, Mrs. Bessie Haugen, started the practice, and it has been continued since.
Mission boxes were first mentioned in the records as early as 1906, but no further mention of them was recorded until 1921. We now call them Treasure Chests. Each month, part of our A.L.C.W. offerings goes toward World and American Missions, charities, education, and other causes. It is through this thank offering that we make our greatest concentrated thrust toward reaching the goal of the American Lutheran Church Women.
On Sunday, June 21, 1942, during the pastorate of the Rev. T. O. Torgeson, our congregation celebrated its 75th anniversary. Former pastors and friends returned to our midst for this event.
The only ordination in the history of Crane Creek took place June 21, 1959, when Irving Njus was ordained into the Holy Ministry by Dr. V. T. Jordahl.
The congregations of the parish helped Pastor and Mrs. J. H. Preus celebrate the 40th anniversary of his ordination into the ministry on July 3, 1960. The most recent installation of pastors was of our present pastor, Rev. David Stewart. He was installed by the Assistant to the Iowa District President, Rev. I. B. Sorenson on September 6, 1964. The women of the church have had the honor of serving the noon meals and the coffee hour at these and many other festivities.
Throughout the years, regular visits have been made to the Aase Haugen Homes, bringing joy to the residents with a program, an offering and the food for the coffee hour.
The first babies to be enrolled in the Cradle Roll was in 1937. Later the Ladies' Aid decided to make individual baptismal towels to present to the baby following baptism, and this practice has been continued.
The Life Membership pins were first presented to the older women in 1950, and this presentation continued for ten years. Life Membership pins were presented to the following: Mrs. M. I. Nius, Mrs. Andrew Nystel, Mrs. Ole I. Thompson, Mrs. Leo Bjorlie, Mrs. John Northness, Mrs. Tom T. Johnson, Mrs. Chris Sieverts, Mrs. Carl Munson, Mrs. Adolph Munson, Mrs. Grover Johnson, Mrs. O. A. Johnson, Mrs. Thomas L. Johnson, Mrs. Halvor Nelson, Mrs. Halvor Christenson. Mrs. Hans Nius, Mrs. Knut Ronnei, Mrs. Halvor Flatiord, Mrs. Ed. P. Johnson, Mrs. Iver Nystel, Pastor Lyle Inglebret, Mrs. Edward Gordon, Mrs. Emil Wolwage, Mrs. Nels Halvorson, Mrs. Henry Halvorson, Mrs. Severt Johnson.
There have been many contributions given for benevolent purposes and worthwhile causes. When a church member dies, a memorial is given in their memory by the Ladies' Aid, and they also serve the lunch following the funeral services.
The men in the armed forces, as well as the sick and shut-ins are remembered by the church women.
For the past few years, the A.L.C.W. has paid half of the registration expenses at the E.W.A.L.U. Bible Camp to make it easier for teenagers to attend camp.
The women have helped finance many remodeling and redecorating projects of church property. The Bethany Hall had extensive remodeling in 1953 and again in 1966. The A.L.C.W. spent $900 for improvements on the sacristy and the Hall this past year. There have been many hours of donated labor by the pastors, the men and the women of the church.
The first Father-Son Banquet was sponsored by the Ladies' Aid in 1949, and the first Mother-Daughter Banquet was sponsored by the Brotherhood in 1950. Our main speaker at the first banquet was Mrs. L. O. Bjorlie, who spoke on "Prayer." Her talk was based on the hymn, "Prayer is the 'Soul's Sincere Desire." These banquets have been held on alternate years since.
When our E.L.C. merged with three other church bodies in 1961, the women of the church became known as the American Lutheran Church Women. The program and constitution remained much the same. The membership of our Ladies' Aid had already been updated in 1945, whereby all confirmed women, who belong to the Crane Creek Congregation, were members of the A.L.C.W.
This same year, Mrs. J. H. Preus, our pastor's wife was influential in organizing the first circle, commonly called "The Evening Circle." Later, it was named the Mary Circle. The purpose of this circle was to enable the young mothers and women to attend meetings and to be inspired by Bible Study and prayer.
Later, in 1962, during the pastorate of Rev. Norris Hanson, the membership of the A.L.C.W. was divided into six circles, namely, Mary, Sarah, Ruth, Lydia, Esther, and Martha Circles. These have met regularly each month, besides the A.L.C.W. Auxiliary meetings. The pastors have held regular Bible Study leader's sessions to guide the Circle Bible leader with the lesson found in the Scope each month.
The first issue of "The Messenger," edited by Pastor Stewart came into the parish homes in February 1965. The purposes of this paper are: first, to get the news and information into every home; and secondly, to knit together the members in closer Christian fellowship. "If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it." I Corinthians 26:27. News items about the A.L.C.W. are found regularly in "The Messenger."
The history of the Ladies' Aid shows that the church women have faithfully and conscientiously done the intended duties of the Aid. The many appointed committees for various church activities have been diligently performed. The officers and delegates have dutifully attended local board meetings and also the conference, state and national conventions. Money has been raised in various ways to carry on the work of the church and for benevolent purposes. There have been dinners, smorgasbords, food sales, country fairs, and other fund-raising projects. The incumbent officers of the A.L.C.W. are:
President: Louise Kjarvik
Vice President: Mrs. Raymond Flatjord
Secretary: Mrs. George Jerdee
Treasurer: Mrs. Walter Dreckman
Education Secretary: Mrs. Alfred Jacobson
Stewardship Secretary: Mrs. Charles Orvis
Today, as our church celebrates its centennial, we, the A.L.C.W. are grateful to God for all the opportunities afforded us to serve Him. We have been richly blessed by faithful leaders and workers, by the regular attendance and contributions of our members and, above all, we are grateful for the guidance and leadership of our pastors and pastors' wives. May we remain steadfast in the work of God's Kingdom.
Contributed by James H. Johnson, 2007
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