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Choice Methodist Church
Build in 1874, it was first known as the church at South Fork. Choice was not there yet.
Inside the Choice Methodist church
In the front of the church there was a raised platform, maybe on one step. There was a wooden railing in the front center. On the right side was a reed organ. On the left side there was a deacon bench where the pastor sat. In the front center was the pulpit and behind the pulpit was the alter.
There were two rows of pews. The pews were butted against the walls on the ends with an entry in the center. The pews in the rear had storage under the seat. In the 20s the young Norwegian Lutheran bachelors would sit in these rear pews. In the left rear was a wood stove. Henry Hauge was also the chief fire builder for the wood heater. In the winter you could see him walking to the church carrying his lantern. He would come early to start the fire. Lewis Aygarn was always concerned about burning the church down and he would reprimand Henry for having too big a fire. (Lewis also made sure the stove was out at night in his house.)
The entry way could have had places to hang coats but when it was cold people kept their coats on during the service.
In the early days the men sat on the right side and women on the left. During my time, mostly elderly men sat on the right and families on the left. Some of the elderly men, especially Henry Hauge and Oliver Larson, were vocal when they agreed with the pastor with a loud "Amen". Henry had some seminary training in Norway and was married to a daughter of Ole Richardson.
Offerings were collected in Henry Hauge's hat or in a woven basket.
Communion was usually only the elderly.
The church did not have a basement. That may have been a good thing because during the funeral for Tollak Johnson in 1922 there were so many people in the church that the floor broke.
The old sermons were mostly of the hellfire and brimstone type. My Uncle Carroll Larson, born 1915, didn't see how he could ever get to heaven.
There was at least one revival meeting in Choice where a large tent was brought in.
The Choice Methodists were the first Norwegians in the area to drop services in the Norwegian language. I don't know the dates but there were services in Norwegian at least in the 1920s and possible in the 1930s. When services were held in Norwegian many Lutherans would attend. Even when English was used several Lutherans would attend, especially on Sundays that the South Fork Lutheran Church did not have services. It was more of a community church than a Methodist church. When my grandmother, Helen Richardson, born 1875, was baptized the certificate was in English but her confirmation certificate was in Norwegian.
The church was built by Christian Anderson in 1874. Christian was married to a daughter of Ole Richardson. Services were held until the spring of 1952 when the last of the old timers died and the church was razed. The declining rural population spelled the end.
The pastor lived at the parsonage in Newburg. The church services at Choice were in the evening to allow plenty time for the pastor, with his horse and buggy, to get to Choice. The pastor would stay overnight with one of the local farmers. One place he often stayed was the Archie Wicks farm. I have no documentation on others but certainly he must have stayed with Ole Richardson, one of the organizers of the Choice Church. The church was located on Ole's farm, right across the road from his house. Later when cars were in use, at least in the summer, the pastor could arrive earlier and church services were held in the afternoon.
One time Llewellyn Larson, a son of Oliver Larson, who lived across the road from the church, begged his dad for a goat. Finally his dad gave in and Lew got his goat. The problem was that the goat took up residence on the front steps of the church and wouldn't let people in.