Some of the earliest residents of the new settlement opened among the rocks and pines of Northern Minnesota by Frank Hibbing were hardy Swedish pioneers, many of them recent immigrants to this country. With them they brought the traditions of the Lutheran Church of their homeland. In the 1890s, services were held in private homes and, in later year, in the council room of the town hall.
In 1896, a lot was purchased on 2nd Avenue and Central Street in North Hibbing. Construction of a frame church was begun the following year, and November 30, 1900, the Svenska Evangeliska Lutherska Immanuel Church had its first congregational meeting. Swedish was the dominant language of the congregation and all services were held in Swedish until 1908.
In 1919, the church structure was sold to the Oliver Mining Company for $28,000 and plans for a new church in South Hibbing were started. The congregation authorized the borrowing of $25,000 to defray the cost of the new structure as an addition to the sum received from the sale of the old building.
The cornerstone-laying ceremony for the present church, located at 2201 3rd Avenue East, was conducted on October 10, 1920, and construction was completed the following year. In 1935 the name was changed to First Lutheran Church.
The present parsonage was purchased in 1941 for the sum of $9,000. Many from the First Lutheran congregation (156) were called into the armed service during World War II. The year also saw the pay-off of the church mortgage and the mortgage-burning ceremony.
In the 1950s, First Lutheran Church, along with other range Lutheran churches, acquired Camp Hiawatha, located on Deer Lake. The youth camp opportunities were expanded in 1990 when Camp Hiawatha and Camp Vermilion merged.
A three-story building addition for youth activities and offices was completed in 1955. In 1979, a new complex, which included a dining room, lounge, nursery, kitchen, library, and education rooms, was added.
In the 1990s, First Lutheran saw the addition of new sanctuary lights, television and radio broadcasts, refurbishing of the parsonage, organ repair and relocation, rearranging of the sanctuary balcony, restructuring and landscaping of the former front entrance, and carpeting and painting in the sanctuary.
May we strive to serve our God, our community, and ourselves with the same faith, dedication, and enthusiasm as those Swedish pioneers who, 100 years ago, established First Lutheran Church.
Click here to see a list of the pastors of First Lutheran Church.