A Marine church will cap off a year-long celebration of its 150th birthday with a meal that honors its heritage.
2022 marked the 150th anniversary for Christ Lutheran Church in Marine on St. Croix, Minnesota. To commemorate the congregation’s history and celebrate what is still to come, the church hosted a variety of activities and events.
“The capstone to the celebrations is the traditional Swedish Dinner on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023,” said Cheryl Reinitz, who leads the committee for the Swedish Dinner at Christ Lutheran Church.
All are welcome to attend. You don’t have to be Scandinavian to enjoy. Serving time extends from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The dinner will feature lutefisk and Swedish meatballs - with traditional white sauce, melted butter and gravy. Tantalize your tastebuds with boiled potatoes, coleslaw, pickled beets, cranberries, brown beans, lefsa, rice pudding, Swedish Rye bread and traditional Scandinavian cookies.
Reinitz has been a member of the church, “my entire life and has coordinated the Swedish Dinner for the past five years or so, with the exception of COVID,” she said.
Other members of the committee include Cindy Kramer, Karna Lennes, Mark and Carol Rossi (cookers of the lutefisk) Anne Rinkenberger, Lesa Hoseck and pastor Joel.
Back to the beginning
The Swedish Dinner tradition began back in the 1930s when a few men in the congregation decided they wanted to prepare a lutefisk for themselves.
The first meal was led by Mr. Charlie Lindell who cooked the lutefisk in a copper boiler over a four-burner kerosene stove.
At the time, the menu was lutefisk, boiled potatoes, rye bread, doughnuts and coffee. After several years, the church ladies got involved. The menu they developed by the women is what is served today.
Brief history of Christ Lutheran Church
In 1854 there was a settlement located 5 miles north of Marine called New Scandia. The settlement was home to people that attended the church in Scandia and gave birth to the Lutheran congregation. By 1872 a meeting was held in Marine to organize a Lutheran congregation and build a church building.
Eighty-one people gathered to begin a church congregation for themselves and the generations that followed. A committee was elected to research the cost of a building. They built a church, paying $540 for lumber and approximately $348 for labor.
By April 14, 1872, the congregation was organized as the Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Town of Marine Mills, Minnesota.
The site they chose sat on top of a hill, overlooking the St. Croix River and its valley, so the community could follow the light from the steeple tower.
Christ Lutheran Church’s sanctuary was completed the winter of 1873-74 and is the oldest, continuously used church structure in the state of Minnesota.
Now, 150 years later, old and young worship together in a remodeled facility.
It is worth a trip to Marine on St. Croix to see this wonderfully preserved building.
In 2022, the church made several upgrades including painting of the sanctuary and redo of stenciling, painting of the Nyman Center, installation of an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) bathroom, remodeling of the Fireside Room, creation of archival storage by remodel of the Fireside kitchenette, new organ dedication and a new outdoor sign.
In 2021, the church entered the age of technology and started livestreaming services.
“The pandemic was hard on people. Isolation can make things like loss even worse. This allowed us the opportunity to be creative as a ministry and see ourselves as a service and a resource versus just a congregation,” said pastor Hannah.
In addition to food assistance and online services, the church also offered Zoom bingo and bread baking classes in order to continue to, “be a place of meaning and connection,” she said.
“The celebrations for the 150th anniversary [have been] part ministry, part community. Our goal [was] to offer community events that reflect the history of the church in Marine,” said pastor Joel.
Both pastor Joel and pastor Hannah were hopeful for the return of the Lutefisk Dinner in 2023.
“It’s a great way to commemorate the final phase of the 150th anniversary,” said pastor Joel. “The meatballs are a secret recipe from Marine General Store.”
Most importantly, Christ Lutheran hopes to be, “a sanctuary that reflects that we are part of Marine,” said pastor Hannah. “However and whenever you come, you are always welcome.”
For more information about tickets and pricing contact
email@example.com or call (651) 433-3222
Christ Lutheran Church is ADA accessible. Parking is available.
Dining will be on the lower level. Guests can access the elevator or stairs to the Nyman Center. Guests are welcome to browse items for sale and music in the sanctuary.