Alma Lutheran Church History
Alma Lutheran Church was founded in 1870 by Swedish homesteaders who left Sweden due to poor economic conditions and then left Omaha due to lack of employment. They were led by Rev. S.G. Larson and joined the Evangelical Lutheran Congregations of the Augustana Synod with 55 adults and 16 children.
Rev. L.P. Ahlquist was the second pastor of Alma from 1879 to 1882.
Rev. J.F. Borg only stayed at Alma for eight months in 1883. During his time, the land where the church and parsonage are currently located was donated by Lars Anderson in the town of Mead, between Elm and Oak, and Fifth and Sixth streets.
Rev. S.A. Lindholm came in 1884 to the newly built parsonage. At the time the church was still located at the cemetary on L and 12th. On September 18, 1886, the new church building, which is still in use today, was dedicated. It cost $7,000 to build. Rev. Lindholm resigned in 1888.
Rev. Swanberg served from 1889 to 1892. He was remembered for starting the church band.
Rev. C.G. Widen served from 1892 to 1900. He was forced to resign due to ill health.
Rev. J.E. Swanbom served from 1900 to 1906.
Rev. J.J. Younggren followed him in 1906. The English language service was introduced in 1910 during the evening services. He resigned in 1913.
Rev. Carl Samuelson served from 1913 to 1942. He was with the congregation during periods of great change - two world wars, and the change from a Swedish to an English speaking congregation. In June 1916, 1200 delegates and visitors of the Luther League came to Alma for their annual convention. The new parsonage, which is the current parsonage, was finished in December 1917 at a cost of $8,000.
On Thanksgiving Day, 1919, $3,000 was placed in the offering plate specifically dedicated to remodeling the church. At a special meeting in January 1920, it was decided that the church would be lifted and a basement would be dug. While the church was standing on its wooden blocks on Easter morning, a terrible storm approached. The steeple swayed between 12-18 feet. There was great fear the building would fall, but "the Lord was with us," and everyone was relieved to see the building still standing after the worship service in Flodman Hall.
On October 15, 1920, the pipe organ was installed and dedicated.
Rev. Herman Larson came to Alma in 1942. He was a retired Army chaplain.
Rev. John Leaf followed in 1947. In 1953 over $4,700 was raised to support a missionary to Japan.
Rev. Robert Carlson came in June 1955. During his time, the new Service Book and Hymnal was introduced.
Noel Vetter came in 1962 as a first call pastor, straight from the seminary. He was ordained and installed on July 17, 1962, at Alma. In 1963, Alma Lutheran Church, along with all members of the Augustana Synod, joined the United Lutheran Church in America, the Suomi Lutheran Church, and the American Evangelical Lutheran Church to form the new Lutheran Church in America (LCA).
The church interior was renovated and rededicated in 1966.
Rev. Robert L. Hoeft came in 1968, followed by Keith McKay in 1974.
The Lutheran Book of Worship was introduced in 1978.
Daniel Solomon arrived in 1986.
In 1988, Alma, along with all of the LCA, joined together with the American Lutheran Church to form the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Betty Lou Hadley came in 1989, followed by Jane Denison in 1998, and Chip Borgstadt in 2004.
In February 1995 construction crews cleared the old entry stairs and a foundation was laid for a new narthex. R.L. Fauss Builders began construction soon after. The new narthex addition was completed by September of that year.
The Evangelical Lutheran Worship hymnal was introduced in 2007, along with weekly communion.
In August 2007, Alena Lamirato arrived.
The altar was pulled away from the wall, the Jesus statue was moved to the narthex, and the curtain was narrowed in 2008.
March 2009 the sanctuary and narthex were painted. The curtain was removed from behind the altar and the walls in the sanctuary were painted to match the life line on the ceiling.
On December 1, 2010, Alma partnered with Edensburg ELCA in Malmo, Nebraska, to share Pr. Alena.
July 2011, the new lectern was dedicated, along with a piano in the sanctuary, two tables in the narthex, and a cabinet behind the altar.
Pr. Alena Lamirato took a call at St. Luke's in Buffalo WY. Her last Sunday was November 25, 2012.
Pr. Clay Skudahl started as interim on Dec. 1, 2012.
Pr. Andrew Dietzel arrived and began as Alma and Edensburg's pastor on October 7, 2013. He was installed as pastor to both churches on December 8, 2013.
In January 2014, the upstairs bathroom of the parsonage was remodeled.
Sabatka Brothers construction started building a new parsonage garage in the spring of 2017. In late summer a group of Alma members got together over a couple of Saturday’s to pour the driveway to finish up the garage. Other projects that were completed during this time included mud jacking the sidewalk in front of the church, elevator and organ repair.
Pr. Andrew Dietzel's last service was February 25, 2018.
In June 2018 a water leak along with mold was found in the bathroom on the main floor of the parsonage. Damaged material was removed and mold mitigated. As a result of this event, renovations of the bathroom, kitchen and pantry area began and were completed by July 2019.
In October 2018, the partnership to share a pastor between Alma and Edensburg was dissolved.
Pr. Quinlan Koch began services at Alma on June 2, 2019 and was installed as Pastor on September 29, 2019.