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Boreal Community Media

Trinity Lutheran Church Renovations - A true labor of love

Feb 05, 2019 05:34AM ● By Editor
A Boreal Exclusive by Lisa Bauer - February 5, 2019

In January, I had the pleasure of driving to Hovland to meet with Pastor Kris at Trinity Lutheran Church to see the recently completed addition and renovations.   This church is on Highway 61, next door to the Hovland Town Hall.  Church members, Cook County visitors and area locals never grow tired of admiring the beauty of this lovingly tended and beautiful church set up on the hill surrounded by trees.  

Trinity Lutheran Church was formed in 1909.  The first church was built in 1913 on North Road but as that building got older and road-ways changed, people wanted to be closer to what was then the “new” Highway 61.   Land available right in Hovland allowed for a new building to begin—and Trinity Church leaders and members formed a collaboration with St. Olaf College professors and students.  For three summers, work-groups from St. Olaf came to assist on the Church building project as area residents found summers, with tourism, commercial fishing, and forestry, to be very busy times.  Many of the work-crew students still remark that their lives were changed because everyone was so welcoming, and because they learned so much working with members and friends of Trinity from a wide geographic area. This was the first church on Lake Superior’s North Shore to reflect God’s creation seen along Lake Superior’s North Shore. It was designed in the 1940s by the team of artist Arnold Flaten, architect Ed Sovik, and faithful Trinity leaders to truly fit in with the North Shore geography. The Dedication Day for the Church building was July 16, 1950.  

Today, the congregation has approximately 90 members, including associate members who live elsewhere but have cabins and homes in Cook County. Many in their community of faith come back “seasonally” or even once a year from around the U.S., Canada, and other countries. They often remark that the beauty of the place, the hospitality they feel, and the building whose Sacred space is filled with native wood and stone makes them eager to return. Pastor Kris, who has been here 12 years, stated that "We are blessed by God through all who give us tremendous support of Prayers, hands-at-work, offerings, and encouragement.”

Trinity Lutheran Church is primarily a worship space but also a community gathering space for the Hovland Arts Fest, Thanksgiving community pot luck, and Christmas Eve potluck held before Worship. They will be hosting a blood drive in May.  In the summer, they hold vacation bible school where local kids and children of visitors and grandparents attend.  In addition, they support local resources including the Hovland Volunteer Fire Department, Cook County Violence Prevention Center, Senior Center, and Food Shelf.

In 2015, a Restore, Renew, Rejoice Work Group began meeting to identify physical needs and develop a comprehensive plan for increasing ministry and updating the existing church.  With the work of many local contractors, church and local volunteers, work was soon underway.  First was replacing the cedar shake roof on the Sanctuary, thanks to a gift from the estate of Mildred Thoresen.  As the congregation saw more needs and possibilities, more ideas came into being. According to Pastor Kris, "It was a joyful labor to figure out how to add-on, yet enhance what is already here".  There was even a class North House Folk School to construct trusses for the addition to match the original building--24 people worked on them for 10 days! Throughout the project, the congregation and friends worked diligently, hard, and lovingly as they looked for God's vision on how they could serve and widen their welcome.  They did not want to have an addition that was dark, and so decided to lighten the area with many windows to make it more inviting.

Part of the fun with this building project was that many items from the original building (floor, church bell) were used in the church.  On the new deck, the benches are modeled after the church pews in the original sanctuary.   Trinity is planning a wild flower garden with native plants to provide habitat for butterflies, bees, and birds.  There will be trails to connect the new building and deck with the picnic area and walking trail behind Trinity.

Until recently, Trinity Lutheran Church never had the luxury of running water—now the congregation feels truly thankful to have indoor plumbing.  They had to drill 420 feet for the new well to supply running water.  Before the well was dug, water was hauled in 5 gallon jugs, then boiled to do dishes in the lower kitchen area.  Pastor Kris shared how one congregation member, when she learned the running water was working,  “we have been waiting more than 65 years for this!" One day they may have a dishwasher, but for now they are happy with what they have.

Before they even began building the first church on the North Road, Trinity provided a cemetery, still in use today. Those first church members the decision to allow non-members to be buried there so that families would have the consolation of a place for their loved ones remains.  That model of ministry has held at Trinity ever since. They accept and welcome beyond themselves.

Worship services at Trinity Lutheran Church in Hovland are on Sunday mornings at 9:00 a.m.  All are welcome!