This column is part of a series leading up to Viking, Minnesota’s Centennial celebration.
I’d like to go on writing about Viking, Minnesota but the stories
about my hometown will end with this week-end’s Centennial celebration. It would be easy to indulge in Viking’s
history some more but I’ll take my cue from it’s disciplined, stoic founders and absorb only what I need.
Viking’s Centennial is paralleled by a one hundred year birthday
for Zion Lutheran Church. Zion is where I was baptized and confirmed so part of it’s history is part of me. Zion Lutheran
Church was organized in a meeting at the Styrlund Brother’s store on December 12th, 1905. Reverend A.J. Krogstad
of Crookston, Minnesota acted as chairman and Zion’s Norsk Luthersk Menighed held it’s first annual meeting in
in the new church December 12th, 2006. The sanctuary was lit by kerosene at first then in 1921 switched to electrical
power provided by a plant owned by Hans Olson, a Viking resident. Zion has a beautiful altar which was built by a cabinet
maker from Mondovi, Wisconsin. The altar, it’s rail and pulpit were dedicated November 28th, 1948. I screamed
my way into my own small place in Zion’s history during my baptism shortly after my birth in 1965. I have leaned on
what I learned in confirmation classes many times. Pastor K David Gabrielson taught me the facts that go with the faith and
helped me understand Luther’s Catechism, a yardstick I’ve used many times since to make decisions. Pastor Ralph
Hofrenning gave me a taste of the historic Lutheran church that I’d later read about in “Giants of the Earth.”
My memories of Zion are still strong although I haven’t been inside the church for years.
I’ve really enjoyed my monthly “Viking” column so it’s
hard to write the last one. I’ve learned so much about the town from it’s residents. Earl Erickson, Gladys Krohn
and Leroy Gustafson were like finding a time capsule in Viking’s corner stone. Like many of Viking’s former and
older residents, they may need a cane to walk but their minds were ready for a sprint across time. They gave me names and
dates but more importantly reminded me of immigrant spirit and strength in the face of adversity. One of my fellow high school
students once wrote a theme about Viking, Minnesota. He liked our little town and his thesis was that Viking was more than
a town-it was a state of mind. I would say that state of mind includes strength and work ethic but mostly just plain kindness.
I can still go to Viking and receive a kind word with my coffee and help if my pick-up breaks down. I guess it’s the
kind of character you build over a century of trying to be your best. I love my hometown even though I live somewhere else.
Ten years ago, I left some of myself in Viking but in return got a lot of Viking to take with me. Considering how much I look
back at what I learned there when faced with something new, I think I got the better deal.