On a hot, humid May morning, members of St. Michael Lutheran Church, Philadelphia, gathered to thank God for 275 years of ministry. Two weeks later, with prairie winds gusting, the people of First Lutheran Church, Tioga, N.D., celebrated 100 years of ministry. These congregations remind us that the ELCA is heir to rich and varied experiences of being Lutheran.
St. Michael's early history included regular preaching by Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, a role in founding the Ministerium of Pennsylvania and German as the primary language. Johann Friedrich Schmidt, who served St. Michael during the American Revolution, was an outspoken patriot. During the Battle of Germantown, the British occupied the church and used it for a stable.
In Tioga, six pioneer women planted the seeds of First when they met at the farm of C.H. Borstad in 1903 to discuss their concerns for the religious life of their families and community. A year later, after worship at the Henry Baker farmhouse, the Tioga Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran congregation organized.
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