Solomon Lutheran School in Woodville, the oldest Evangelical Lutheran school in America, has been celebrating its 150th birthday.
The school’s doors originally opened Jan. 20, 1862. Years after Woodville was founded in 1836, many German settlers formed a group to build a church. The original site of the church, which was dedicated in 1843, was at the corner of College Avenue and Perry Street.
When the church was completed, it was called the German Evangelical Lutheran Reformed Church of Woodville. The first pastor of the church was Rev. George Cronenwett, who served the congregation for 47 years.
|Solomon Lutheran School, which opened its doors Jan. 20, 1862, is wrapping up its
150th anniversary year.
As more German settlers arrived in the area, the church quickly became too small, and in 1860, church officials began plans to rebuild.
The name “Solomon” came from an important part of history. The church was built to the dimensions of the temple in the Old Testament. When the new church was completed, it was just in time for the Christmas Eve service of 1865, and the new name became The Lutheran Solomon’s Church of Woodville. In 1862, the name was edited to Solomon Lutheran Church and, to this day, it is still the same building.
By 1920, English language services were held exclusively, but before that, there was one service held in German and one in English.
The school began during the Civil War in January 1862, making it the oldest private school in the ELCA Synod.
Over the past 150 years, the church has employed around 15 pastors, including the new pastor, Kristina Ahlman, who came to Solomon in the fall.
“Being a pastor at Solomon is awesome and it’s a legacy. I think Solomon’s an undiscovered treasure to be shared within the community,” said Ahlman. “Solomon is full of faithful friendly people, and I’m inspired by how caring people are in this community.”
Many people have been deeply influenced by the church and school, like Kay Nickelson, who has been a teacher at the school since 1976. “I moved to the area from Iowa, and the church and school were my family when I first started teaching here and still are to this day,” she said.
Many individuals who have grown up in this area find it hard to leave, including teacher Kay Peloquin. “I went to school here at Solomon and ever since then, I’ve deepened my relationships. This place has given me confidence and
faith to share with others,” Peloquin said.
“I went to school here, and I am still a member of the church. The church and school has taught me how to stand on my faith,” said Tom Heminger, a member of the congregation.
The real history of the church and school is in the people who have helped shape it and the people who continue the work. With the church and school only being 150, there’s more work to be done.
Solomon’s friends right across Main Street, members of the Woodville United Methodist Church, are also celebrating their 150th birthday.
Reprinted with permission from Window to Woodmore, Woodmore High School’s student newspaper.