OGDEN -- Named after the first oasis the Israelites came to in ancient times in their exodus from Egypt, Elim Lutheran Church this week celebrates 123 years of providing a theological oasis in Utah.
The church is the second-oldest Lutheran congregation in Utah, states the church's history.
Church members will mark the occasion with a celebration following their 10 a.m. worship service Sunday at the church at 575 23rd St. The public is invited to this free event.
A birthday cake will be served. Members and guests with December birthdays will be honored, according to a news release from the church.
Scrapbooks with photographs, newspaper articles and church literature will be available for review.
Officially the church's 122nd birthday, Elim was first formed by Swedish migrants who came to Utah with relatives who had been converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, according to the church's history.
The church's first charter included the names of 10 adults and seven children who met in the home of Fred and Hannah Lund.
Charged by the Scandinavian Augustana Synod to be a missionary effort to convert back Lutherans who had joined the LDS Church, the history tells of little early success in that effort.
The history tells of the church's first pastor, the Rev. Frans August Linder, being shot at in his horse-drawn buggy and of large rocks thrown through his bedroom window onto his bed, where he was not sleeping at the time.
But church members were able to recruit from the unchurched, and the congregation grew to 50 just before World War II.
Continued expansion was evident in major building projects in 1948 and 1963 and a major remodeling in 1987.
At that time, the war effort brought to Utah many Lutherans, many of whom who found Elim.
Other highlights in the church's history include:
SBlt "Lengthy interim periods were to be a common problem throughout the congregation's first 55 years," states the history. "During that time, the congregation was without a resident pastor for 22 years."
Leadership of the church fell often to Zion Baptist Church in Salt Lake City and to deacons of the congregation.
SBlt "A Luther League group of 18 young adults was organized in 1906," states the history.
This group, unlike the older members of the congregation, used the English language exclusively in their activities and later became strong proponents of English-language-only worship services.
The Rev. O.A. Elmquist said in his 1907 pastoral report that attendance at Swedish-language services had dropped off sharply.
SBlt With declining membership numbers in January 2007, the congregation hired part-time Pastor DanaLee Ommen, who married in May 2007 to become Pastor DanaLee Simon.
"Pastor Ommen brought a new emphasis on involving lay members in leading the worship service," states the history.