Black Hills Knowledge Netowork

Bethel Lutheran Church in Lead, 1960.
Bethel Lutheran Church in Lead, 1960.
January 17, 2017

IN HISTORY: Scandinavian Lutheran Church of Lead is Created

On January 15, 1895, a “large and enthusiastic meeting” was held by the Scandinavian residents of Lead for the purpose of creating the “Scandinavian Free Lutheran Church," according to The Lead Daily Call. Though the church has seen over 120 years of change, this congregation survives in Lead today as the Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church.

Lead’s early years saw an influx of fortune seekers from many different ethnic backgrounds and cultures and became known as a “truly a cosmopolitan city.” Due to this immigration, between 1880 and 1910 Lead saw its population spike from 1,440 to over 10,000. Families traveled from different nations around the world to create a new beginning for themselves in Lead. Residents with common nationalities, languages and religions banded together to create churches, social groups, and even entire neighborhoods. The Scandinavian population was one of the largest groups in Lead to do so.

Though the Scandinavian Lutheran Church was attended by both Norwegians and Swedes, all services were held in Norwegian; including sermons, hymns, and confirmation. Before the congregation had a building of their own, services were held in the First Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church until they purchased property from the Episcopal Church on the corner of Wall and Addie Streets in Lead. It was decided in 1918 that the name of the church would be officially changed to the Bethel Lutheran Church. The Church survived for another seventy-four years until the First Lutheran Church (formerly the First Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church) combined with the Bethel Lutheran Church and created what is now the Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in 1992.

To read more about the civic life and history of Lead, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive. Visit the BHKN Digital Archives to view more historical photos of Lead

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