Pioneer Lutheran Church was established in 1884 by 32 Danish people. Danish was spoken for many years. Today we have 103 baptized members and a mix of nationalities represented. In the beginning, services were held in the homes and in the Petersen School, Argo Twp., Brookings County, South Dakota. Danish missionaries would also hold services from time to time. They called the church the Argo Danish Evangelical Lutheran Congregation.
A constitution was adopted in 1886 (which stood until 1966) when the Synod Constitution was adopted – – along with hymns sung in English instead of Danish. The name of the church was changed to Pioneer Lutheran in the 1940s to remove the “old Danish church” image “because of the younger generation.” Church records were recorded in English starting in 1946. A few years ago our motto became, “Then and Always – – Pioneers for Christ.”
In 1899, Jens and Sine Nelson transferred three acres of land to the congregation to build a church and start a cemetery. It took several years to complete the church, with members providing the labor and funds. The first regular pastor was Rev. N. Henningson in 1902. There have been numberous pastors serving Pioneer Lutheran over the years, including interns. All contributed greatly to the faith and knowledge of the congregation. The first woman pastor was Diane Bloemker who served in the 1990′s.
The church bell was donated in 1908 by Holger Hortness. The altar was acquired in 1917 from Milwaukee, WI, and arrived by railroad. Electric lights were installed in 1951. The Sunday School and fellowship hall were also added that year. The steeple was removed for safety reasons, however. An electric organ was installed in 1959 as a gift by some of the members. A central furnace was installed in 1967 funded by private donations. In 1966 Pioneer Lutheran adopted the constitution of the Red River Valley Synod of the Lutheran Church in America (LCA). In 1987 we became part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) when the merger occurred. After the ELCA had for several years drifted from its Lutheran and evangelical roots, Pioneer ended its relationship with that organization in 2009, and is now a member church of the association Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ.
In 1978 the new green Lutheran hymnals were obtained. Carpet was laid in 1973. A loudspeaker, new pews,and a new front door were also installed. An indoor restroom was added in 1974. In 1983 the archway over the entrance to the church yard was remodeled and put on new pillars with time capsules in each. In 1982 we hooked up to rural water. In 1983, the kitchen was remodeled and modern restrooms built. This was a great improvement due to the fact that church members had had to haul and boil water whenever we had to serve food. A new front entrance was built in preparation for the Centennial and the steeple was replaced.
The Centennial was celebrated Sunday, July 22, 1984. There have been adventures, hardships, and new opportunities through the years. God has richly blessed us with faith, hope, and love. We can attain all things through Him who strengthens us. We have several young families in the congregation today, and are always working to develop new ways to bear witness to our Lord Jesus Christ.
At around 2:00 am on April 19th, 2009, a fire started in the church kitchen which burned the church building to the ground. The fire inaugurated a time of mourning in the congregation over the loss of our place of worship. While much was lost, however, the people of Pioneer Lutheran are the true church, which is the body of the risen Christ, and the faith we have been given in a Savior who overcame sin and death itself cannot be stifled by even such a loss as this and in October, 2010, Pioneer Lutheran officially dedicated its new building. As a congregation, we continue today to reach out into our community and the world with the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Then and always, Pioneers for Christ.