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Paddock Bethany Lutheran Church (Sebeka, Minnesota) records

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: IHRC2012

Scope and Contents

Paddock Bethany was a small congregation, and kept only sketchy records of its activities. The Ladies' Aid preserved minutes from the time it first organized almost to the time it disbanded. Minutes of the early Young People's Christian Society have also been preserved. The congregation also preserved copies of its constitution in Finnish and in English. The documents related to the LCA merger, and the model constitutions would be of interest to students of church history. Of particular interest is the photocopy of a statement by Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Manhattan opposing the merger, and organizational documents of the proposed Red River Valley Synod. The collection consists of three series: SERIES I: Congregational Records SERIES II: Synod- and Denomination-Level Records SERIES III: Miscellaneous


  • 1914-1977


Language of Materials

English and Finnish


Open for use in the Elmer L. Andersen Library reading room.


This collection may be protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). It is the user's responsibility to verify copyright ownership and to obtain all necessary permissions prior to the reproduction, publication, or other use of any portion of these materials. Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law.

For further information regarding the copyright, please contact the IHRCA.

Biographical / Historical

Finnish settlement in Paddock (Otter Tail County, Minnesota) began in the early 1880s. Finnish religious activity in the area began with the ministrations of travelling Evangelical Lutheran pastors, who preached and performed various church functions. The first churches to be established in the area were Apostolic Lutheran congregations: in Runeberg (Becker County, 1895) and in Red Eye (Otter Tail County, 1896). The first Finnish church in Paddock was established in 1898, and remained independent for over twenty years until it voted to affiliate with the National Synod (Kansallis Kirkko). In 1903, Paddock Bethany (Bethania) Lutheran Church, a congregation of the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (Suomi Synod), was established at the home of Antti Ruotsala. Paddock Bethany was always a small congregation, fluctuating in size over the years between 10 and 50 members. Because of its size, the congregation was never able to afford a full-time pastor of its own, and was served by traveling pastors from neighboring congregations--usually Suomi Synod congregations in Brainerd and New York Mills. It was first served by the Rev. Heikki Sarvela (from West Duluth), when it met in private homes and then in an American church. In 1916, the small congregation was able to build a church of its own. Few records were kept of the early meetings, although oral histories and a few written records confirmed that the following pastors served the congregation: Kaarlo F. Salovaara (serving from Eveleth, Minnesota), Kaarlo K. Klockarla (Cloquet, Minnesota), and Samuel H. Ronka (New York Mills, Minnesota) in the early period; Pekka Keranen (Eveleth, Virginia, Minnesota; 1909), Adolph Riippa (Superior, Wisconsin; 1910), Matti Pesonen (Superior, Wisconsin; 1911-12), D.A. Samanen (Brainerd, Minnesota; 1912-16), Otto E. Maki (Brainerd, Minnesota; 1916-17), Antti Karlin (Karhu) (Brainerd, Minnesota; 1917-20), Taito I. Kantonen (Brainerd, Minnesota; 1920-24), Vilho Ranta (Brainerd, and later New York Mills, Minnesota; 1924-31), Frans Koski (New York Mills, Minnesota; 1931-36), Elino Tuori (Duluth, Minnesota; 1936-38), John F. Saarinen (Brainerd, Minnesota; 1938-42), Ralph J. Jalkanen (New York Mills, Minnesota; 1943-46, 1948-52), Melvin Hagelberg (New York Mills, Minnesota; 1946-48), Hugo Korpi (1952-53), and Giles C. Ekola (New York Mills, Minnesota; 1953-56). Under the pastorate of Antti Karlin, the Ladies' Aid (Naisten Ompleluseura) was formed, and a Young People's Christian Society was organized. The Ladies' Aid functioned continuously from 1918, when it was founded, until the mid-1970s, even after the congregation was disbanded. The Young People's Christian Society didn't last long, and was revived only for a short period under the pastorate of Frans Koski. Under Ralph J. Jalkanen, a Paddock chapter of the Luther League was organized and active. In 1946, young women in the congregation organized a Sunday school which by the mid-1950s was attended by 30 to 45 children. In 1956, the congregation remodelled and rededicated its sanctuary. In 1961 the Suomi Synod joined three other denominations--the American Evengelical Lutheran Church (AELC), Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church, and the United Lutheran Church in America--(ULCA)--merging into the Lutheran Church in America (LCA). Members of Paddock Bethany were opposed to the merger, and the congregation ended up disbanding, its members dispersing according to their convictions to several different Lutheran denominations. The congregational records include study documents related to the merger, and model constitutions of the major Lutheran bodies in the country.


7.5 linear inches


Records of the Paddock Bethany Lutheran Church (Sebeka, Minn.) consist of constitution and by-laws of the congregation; annual reports; model constitutions of major American Lutheran church bodies; miscellaneous religious publications; photographs of early Finnish American Lutheran church leaders; and two 60-minute cassette tapes.


Records of Paddock Bethany Lutheran Church (Sebeka, Minnesota) were donated to the Immigration History Research Center in August, 1975 by Mrs. Waino Raatikka. In March, 1988, Mrs. Richard Raatikka donated some photos of church leaders and the tape recording of a sanctuary dedication, which were added to the records. The collection was processed and the inventory prepared by John D. Wrathall in 1990. The project was supervised by Halyna Myroniuk, acting IHRC curator.

inventory of the Paddock Bethany Lutheran Church (Sebeka, Minnesota) records.
IHRC Archives
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding Aid in English

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Immigration History Research Center Archives Collecting Area