Delano Evangelical Free Church hosted a golden jubilee event June 4.
DELANO, MN – It’s been 50 years since members broke ground for the Delano Evangelical Free Church building at 730 Elm Ave. E. in Delano.
The church is celebrating its golden jubilee, which included a June 4 event.
“Basically, jubilee is the Bible world from the Old Testament for a celebration every 50 years to celebrate God’s goodness,” the Rev. Peter Johannsen said.
Elder Scott Hemmesch added that it is a celebration of the past, present, and future.
Johannsen remembers some of those early days, as he was attending the church as a 13-year-old when it was built.
“The church itself was built pretty much by the men and women of the church,” Johannsen said. “They didn’t contract hardly anything out. The first pastor, Merv Seashore, was a contractor, so he actually worked with all the guys and women of the church, and they built it together.”
Long before then, the church was forming.
In the 1940s, Anders Herje, of Buffalo, conducted meetings in Delano.
In 1950, he conducted evangelistic services in a large tent in Delano.
His daughter, Gladys Seashore, was asked by two Delano ladies to start a ladies Bible study in 1960. Merv Seashore began a couples Bible study in 1964.
Delano Evangelical Free Church incorporated with the Evangelical Free Church of America in 1965, initially meeting in the elementary school with Merv Seashore as its first pastor before building the new church in 1967.
Lynn Hammerlund said a lot has happened in 50 years.
“This church has been through some rough times,” Hammerlund said. “Fifty years ago, I heard Gladys Seashore say, ‘We’re going to build this church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.’ God has been faithful. Here the church stands today doing better than ever.”
Hammerlund wrote a poem titled “In the Beginning” for the golden jubilee service.
Her and her husband’s attendance at the church was the beginning of positive change for them.
“Before this church was upstairs, my husband got saved,” Hammerlund said, referencing the two years when services were hosted in the basement of the building. “We were separated. We were getting a divorce. We had five kids. I look back at it with great wonder . . . After he was saved, I spent several months observing the changes. There’s one thing you can’t argue with, and that’s a changed life.”
Hemmesch had a similar experience.
“My wife and I had gotten a divorce,” Hemmesch said. “We had three kids. We were divorced for three years. We’ve gotten back together, remarried, and have two more kids. A big part of that has been our church family allowing us to grow more in our faith and relationship with God and our church family.”
Johannsen also spoke of the church as a family.
“Because we’re a smaller church, around 200 people, it’s a family,” Johannsen said. “I like that. I honestly believe because we’re smaller we know each other. We share joys together, we share tears together. That is really powerful in a small church.”
Johannsen said he has also enjoyed watching babies that he has dedicated become baptized as teenagers and grow up physically and spiritually.
For more see the June 16 edition of the Delano Herald Journal.