Central and Cedar Valley Lutheran Churches have a rich history of shared ministry, beginning in 1874. Norwegian immigrants began settling in Cedar Valley, nine miles south of Winona, in the 1850’s.
Along with building cabins and clearing fields, these immigrants desired to practice their Lutheran faith. Initially, traveling pastors met with families in individual homes, and then, at the newly built schoolhouse.
In 1870, the Reverend Kristian Magellsen came to preach at Cedar Valley. Arrangements were made for him to come to Cedar Valley twelve times annually to preach.
In 1871, the congregation at Cedar Valley was formally organized, and plans made for the building of a church. The first service in the new church was held June 18, 1873.
Meanwhile, on September 27, 1871, the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church of Winona was organized in Winona. Its first worship service was held on November 10, 1872, with a morning service conducted in Norwegian, and an afternoon service in English.
The first church building was purchased in 1874. The congregation changed its name to Central Lutheran in the early 20th century. Its current sanctuary was dedicated in October 1954.
On July 12, 1874, the two congregations affiliated to call a pastor to serve both congregations. This arrangement continued until September 1, 1961. During these years, nine pastors served the congregations. Fifty years later, in July 2011, the congregations voted to enter into a joint ministry agreement, and call a pastor to serve both congregations. The rich tradition of the past has continued to the present, and with the grace of God, into the future. Central Lutheran Church is presently served by Pastor Michelle Rem. Pastor Beth Krolak serves both Central and Cedar Valley Lutheran Churches.
Central Lutheran Church and Cedar Valley Lutheran Church will hold an outdoor worship service featuring the music of the Cedar Valley Folk Group (Gayle Nottleman, Stacy Anderson-Hughes, Diane Forsyth, and Jason Marek-Spartz) at 9:30 am on Sunday, August 25 at Cedar Valley Lutheran Church. (Winona County Rd. 9, between Hwy. 61 and Witoka). An old-fashioned picnic will follow worship. All are welcome! Bring a chair, your family, a friend or two, and your own picnic in a basket or cooler.