On the 2021 Norwegian Country Christmas Tour: Our Savior’s Church at Norse

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As the “Mother Church” of Lutheran congregations in Bosque County, Our Savior’s Lutheran Church at Norse stands close to what it looked like when it was first built. We caught up Marvin Dahl and Bill Metting about some church history.

“You could tell that the dress of the period changed drastically in a short period of time. 1898 was longer coats, top hats, Abraham Lincoln-type, and it was just like an older Western look. They have so many pictures here, they can only put out a small amount at the same time.”

Marvin Dahl, speaking on photographs and the collected church history Tweet

The original steeple had almost a Russian look to it, with the one that’s known today coming in 1898. Russian Orthodox type architecture seemed to be the inspiration. Looking across the photos, Marvin could tell for the most part who was who, simply by distinctive facial features. If not specifically, he knew which families they were kin to. He too bore the distinctive Dahl look.

“There was a picture that not anyone up here has seen, but…Uncle Helmer looked a bit older. He would join in on Cowboy Rendezvous, which happened up until 1819. That’s where all the cowboys that were still working in the county would all meet a designated place. It was always a different. What [my uncles] would do, is pack a Model A or Model T, to go and listen to these cowboys talk. They put beer in there and ice it down. At the end of the rendezvous, they’d collect money for next time. The photo had 60-70 cowboys, with their bedding, saddlebags, and everything they owned next to you.”

Dahl, talking of his family Tweet

The original steeple had almost a Russian look to it, with the one that’s known today coming in 1898. Russian Orthodox type architecture seemed to be the inspiration. Looking across the photos, Marvin could tell for the most part who was who, simply by distinctive facial features. If not specifically, he knew which families they were kin to. He too bore the distinctive Dahl look.

The cowboys were made up of different ethnic backgrounds and cultures. As a result, Dahl said, the clothing was widely diverse, with long and short-brimmed hats, with different clothes.

“It was a picture of what was happening here. Not like what Hollywood portrays. I can tell, this is Ole Bakke. This is my relative Henrick and Christine. Henrick traded a saddle and bridle for 320 acres of homestead when they first came over here. They had money they had borrowed in Norway. They bought about 7,000 acres from Cross Roads Grocery Store back to Neil’s Creek, all the way to the Bosque River. After the Civil War, he went back to Norway to pay back debts. On the way back, he caught pneumonia on the boat. He spent about five months with pneumonia before he succumbed.”

Dahl, speaking of the late 19th century Tweet

As a result, his grandmother was left with about eight boys. The church asked her to take his position on the church council. She was a Deacon, and she was able to use his name to vote with his property.

“She voted in his proxy for the rest of her life. Starting in 1880, she voted off his property that had the right to vote. My dad found some paperwork where she confirmed with a lawyer for legal matters, a person on land values, and another person she consulted for business matters. She was very shrewd. Because of that, the family prospered well in that time. The 7,000 acres was deeded down [over time]. We are living on the 320 acres that they originally bartered for.”

Dahl, on his grandmother and how she voted before the women's suffrage movement Tweet

On our coverage of the 2021 Norwegian Country Christmas Tour, we observed some tasty Norwegian treats and cookbooks on sale, and spoke with Pastor Bill Metting about the church’s history. All other Lutheran congregations in Bosque County began at this site. Other denomations followed in the decades that came after.

“Two years ago in 2019, Our Savior’s celebrated its 150th anniversary. This congregation is steeped in history, really going back to when Cleng Peerson got a group of people to come and settle in this country. He was really the one who was responsible for them settling in the area. It was as they settled in this area that they then started to meet for worship, and later built a church. That small church is still part of the actual sanctuary we still have. It’s been enlarged and expanded. At that point, we didn’t have the parish hall.”

Pastor Bill Metting, with the tale of Our Savior's Lutheran Church's formation Tweet

This church hosts the annual Smorgasbord, which always features a huge variety of Norwegian dishes and dining in close quarters. 

“Really, when they did Smorgasbord, they had tents and things like that. At that point and time, the congregation was very involved, as it is now, in outreach. One of things that they did was, during the war, outreach for servicemen. This congregation is the mother church of the other Lutheran Churches around. This is where it started. We have that rich heritage, we continue to thrive, and have a full ministry. The congregation’s ministry goes way beyond me. One of the joys I have is that I get to be their pastor, but I also get to get out of their way while they do ministry in the community. They see needs, and they respond to needs.”

Metting, describing the church's outreach over the last century and a half Tweet

The immigrants were the ones who formed the church, and really put it together. The original eight Norwegian families of Bosque County are buried in the graveyard which the church faces. This includes Cleng Peerson, often referred to as the Father of Norwegian Immigration in America. 

“They banded together, they had to band together. While they had their own individual lands, and they had that with whatever projects they had going, whenever there was a need in the community, they went out and helped. What they did as an outgrowth of that was to form a congregation. We have a rich tradition of caring for others. It’s been a part of my joy of being here, and serving as pastor.”

Metting, speaking on why he continues serving the congregation Tweet

As far as the Smorgasbord goes, the future is uncertain. Church leaders are concerned about the small spaces that the meal takes place within and COVID-19. Their first priority is protection and safety.

Arthur DeVitalis

Arthur DeVitalis

Arthur DeVitalis was born in Toronto, Ontario, and grew up deep in the heart of Texas. His focus is sharing the stories of art, history, music, family, local government and law enforcement.

As the “Mother Church” of Lutheran congregations in Bosque County, Our Savior’s Lutheran Church at Norse stands close to what it looked like when it was first built. We caught up Marvin Dahl and Bill Metting about some church history.

“You could tell that the dress of the period changed drastically in a short period of time. 1898 was longer coats, top hats, Abraham Lincoln-type, and it was just like an older Western look. They have so many pictures here, they can only put out a small amount at the same time.”

Marvin Dahl, speaking on photographs and the collected church history Tweet

The original steeple had almost a Russian look to it, with the one that’s known today coming in 1898. Russian Orthodox type architecture seemed to be the inspiration. Looking across the photos, Marvin could tell for the most part who was who, simply by distinctive facial features. If not specifically, he knew which families they were kin to. He too bore the distinctive Dahl look.

“There was a picture that not anyone up here has seen, but…Uncle Helmer looked a bit older. He would join in on Cowboy Rendezvous, which happened up until 1819. That’s where all the cowboys that were still working in the county would all meet a designated place. It was always a different. What [my uncles] would do, is pack a Model A or Model T, to go and listen to these cowboys talk. They put beer in there and ice it down. At the end of the rendezvous, they’d collect money for next time. The photo had 60-70 cowboys, with their bedding, saddlebags, and everything they owned next to you.”

Dahl, talking of his family Tweet

The original steeple had almost a Russian look to it, with the one that’s known today coming in 1898. Russian Orthodox type architecture seemed to be the inspiration. Looking across the photos, Marvin could tell for the most part who was who, simply by distinctive facial features. If not specifically, he knew which families they were kin to. He too bore the distinctive Dahl look.

The cowboys were made up of different ethnic backgrounds and cultures. As a result, Dahl said, the clothing was widely diverse, with long and short-brimmed hats, with different clothes.

“It was a picture of what was happening here. Not like what Hollywood portrays. I can tell, this is Ole Bakke. This is my relative Henrick and Christine. Henrick traded a saddle and bridle for 320 acres of homestead when they first came over here. They had money they had borrowed in Norway. They bought about 7,000 acres from Cross Roads Grocery Store back to Neil’s Creek, all the way to the Bosque River. After the Civil War, he went back to Norway to pay back debts. On the way back, he caught pneumonia on the boat. He spent about five months with pneumonia before he succumbed.”

Dahl, speaking of the late 19th century Tweet

As a result, his grandmother was left with about eight boys. The church asked her to take his position on the church council. She was a Deacon, and she was able to use his name to vote with his property.

“She voted in his proxy for the rest of her life. Starting in 1880, she voted off his property that had the right to vote. My dad found some paperwork where she confirmed with a lawyer for legal matters, a person on land values, and another person she consulted for business matters. She was very shrewd. Because of that, the family prospered well in that time. The 7,000 acres was deeded down [over time]. We are living on the 320 acres that they originally bartered for.”

Dahl, on his grandmother and how she voted before the women's suffrage movement Tweet

On our coverage of the 2021 Norwegian Country Christmas Tour, we observed some tasty Norwegian treats and cookbooks on sale, and spoke with Pastor Bill Metting about the church’s history. All other Lutheran congregations in Bosque County began at this site. Other denomations followed in the decades that came after.

“Two years ago in 2019, Our Savior’s celebrated its 150th anniversary. This congregation is steeped in history, really going back to when Cleng Peerson got a group of people to come and settle in this country. He was really the one who was responsible for them settling in the area. It was as they settled in this area that they then started to meet for worship, and later built a church. That small church is still part of the actual sanctuary we still have. It’s been enlarged and expanded. At that point, we didn’t have the parish hall.”

Pastor Bill Metting, with the tale of Our Savior's Lutheran Church's formation Tweet

This church hosts the annual Smorgasbord, which always features a huge variety of Norwegian dishes and dining in close quarters. 

“Really, when they did Smorgasbord, they had tents and things like that. At that point and time, the congregation was very involved, as it is now, in outreach. One of things that they did was, during the war, outreach for servicemen. This congregation is the mother church of the other Lutheran Churches around. This is where it started. We have that rich heritage, we continue to thrive, and have a full ministry. The congregation’s ministry goes way beyond me. One of the joys I have is that I get to be their pastor, but I also get to get out of their way while they do ministry in the community. They see needs, and they respond to needs.”

Metting, describing the church's outreach over the last century and a half Tweet

The immigrants were the ones who formed the church, and really put it together. The original eight Norwegian families of Bosque County are buried in the graveyard which the church faces. This includes Cleng Peerson, often referred to as the Father of Norwegian Immigration in America. 

“They banded together, they had to band together. While they had their own individual lands, and they had that with whatever projects they had going, whenever there was a need in the community, they went out and helped. What they did as an outgrowth of that was to form a congregation. We have a rich tradition of caring for others. It’s been a part of my joy of being here, and serving as pastor.”

Metting, speaking on why he continues serving the congregation Tweet

As far as the Smorgasbord goes, the future is uncertain. Church leaders are concerned about the small spaces that the meal takes place within and COVID-19. Their first priority is protection and safety.

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