A Brief History of God’s abundance and blessing at First Lutheran Church…
A young student from Harvard University named Jonas P. Dahlin began showing an interest in the Swedish immigrant families who were populating the neighborhoods of Malden and Everet in the early 1890′s. He began mission work with these immigrants offering worship and fellowship in the traditional laguage and style of the Swedish Lutheran Church. As a result a Lutheran Christian congregation was formed on October 26, 1893.
The Rev. Carl Henderson was called as the first pastor during those earliest years. Land was purchased at the corner of Church and Waite Streets where the church is still located. The church building was erected and dedicated on October 10, 1897. The church structure remains today as one of the oldest houses of worship in the city of Malden.
A number of pastors and lay leaders served the congregation during its earliest years. Among them were Pastors L. O. Linell, Oalf Lundgren and Henry Hanson. In 1919, during Pastor Hanson’s tenure, a parsonage was constructed where the pastor and his family would live. The then parsonage now serves as the Parish House, which is where you can find the Sunday school classes, Adult education classes, various meetings and the parish offices.
Rev. Dr. John Eckholm, a retired professor from Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois, assumed the pastorate in 1928. Under his vigorous leadership, a major addition to the church was constructed and numerous auxiliary groups, including the Lutheran Brotherhood, the Luther League and the Woman’s Guild, were organized. This was a vital time of the congregation in terms of fellowship and community building and activities within the life of the congregation.
Under the leadership of the Brotherhood, the first Lucia Fest was held in December 1932, beginning a tradition which continues to the present day. The Lucia Fest, which is held in early December every year, is a Swedish tradition which seeks to commemorate St. Lucia who was a wealthy young Christian martyr known by the Roman Catholic and other traditions to be the patron saint of the blind. She is known for bringing the light of God’s love into the darkest places. The Lucia Fest celebration at First Lutheran includes a brief procession of the saint (a young woman chosen every year to commemorate her memory) as well as a fun celebration of the congregations life and talents. You can find much laughter and many Christmas carols being sung that night! (And don’t forget to enjoy the Swedish baked goods that show up every year!) For more information go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Lucy Dr. Eckholm was succeeded by the Rev. Hilding Kron. Pastor Kron’s enthusiasm for music, shared with Mr. Leonard Bratt who had become organist and choir director in 1937, led to the building of the first pipe organ. First Lutheran became well known for its fine choir and musical life during this time. Mr. Bratt served as organist until his death in 1976
The Rev. Emil Carlson came to Malden in July 1948. During his ten-year the congregation grew in size and outreach to the community. There were also numerous improvements were made to the structure of the church building.
Following Pastor Carlson’s death, Pastor Vincent Ligouri served as pastor. During his seventeen-year tenure, a new parsonage was purchased, the old parsonage converted to a Parish House, now parish office and Sunday school building, the steeple added and a new organ built. In 1966, Bethlehem Lutheran Church of Everett merged with First Lutheran.The Rev. James Knowles was pastor from March 1977 to July 2003. The hymnal The Lutheran Book of Worship was introduced in 1979 and a major renovation of the sanctuary undertaken in 1983. In January 1988, the congregation became part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). After Knowles’ the church had two interim pastors, Pastor Rick Schulhaus and Pastor Heidi Fieldston.
In July of 2005, the Rev. Angela Freeman became the first female pastor called to full-time ministry at First Lutheran Church. Under Pastor Angela’s leadership, in 2007, the congregation adopted a new Purpose Statement and Guiding Principles. In July of 2012 Pastor Angela took a call to ministry in Hawaii and the Rev. Rachel Manke was called as the pastor to the congregation. Pastor Rachel led the congregation through a renewing ministry process, which included a grant from the New England Synod. Pastor Rachel moved to VA in the fall of 2015.
Rev. Dave Dalzell served as a transitional pastor from winter of 2015 to summer of 2017 while the congregation completed the search process and called the current pastor, the Rev. Emily Hamilton. First, a congregation blessed with years of great leadership, is poised to continue its mission in the community of Malden.