(9/20/13) The 150th anniversary of Tamarack Lutheran Church, rural Arcadia, WI, will be celebrated on Oct 6th.
We start the day with a 10 am coffee social, the service will be at 11, followed by a traditional church dinner. From 2-4 in the afternoon we will host a coffee and pie social.
In 1863, the area known as 'Tamarack' – due to the Tamarack trees in the marsh area - established a Lutheran church. In fact, the stained glass window above the outside doors indicates it was originally named the Norwegian Evang. Lutheran Church. The church membership either met in homes or in a local schoolhouse until the original church building was built in 1878. This current structure was built in 1926. As much material from the original church building was used in the current building. Things like the steeple bell, pews, and the altar painting are from the original building. Services were conducted in Norwegian into the early 1900's so the Norwegian culture had quite an influence on the church....and to some extent still does today.
For many years, the church was served by a circuit pastor who at one time was the pastor at four (4) other churches on his circuit meaning that actual church services were held here on a rotating basis. This number varied over the years and gradually the other churches – as well as Tamarack – were able to have their own pastors.
The church experienced quite a period of growth which led to the construction of a Sunday School wing in the early 1950's and the establishment of other youth groups. The current membership consists of quite a few people who went to Sunday School here. One of our biggest memories was preparing for the annual Sunday School Christmas programs that ended with a big exchange of gifts and receiving a bag of hard candy and an apple at the end of the program. Another part of this period was establishing a mission church in Trempealeau in 1958 which is now Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church, our sister congregation, also served by Pastor Dana Jackson. One of the big events for the church during the '50s and '60s was the annual lutefisk dinner which showcased the fine cooking of the church ladies.
The mid 1970s saw a gradual shift in the demographics of the community as many of the family farms where the bulk of the church's membership came from were sold, with the new residents living in this area belonging to other religions. This affected the church and it experienced a period of decline. There were very few children – if any – to have a Sunday School so that part of the church building was vacant and unused. Church membership declined as well. In early May of 2005, a severe storm damaged the Sunday School wing and it was removed from the building.
Fortunately, the past several years have seen a remarkable turnaround for the church. Membership is up and still increasing. We've been able to make many capital improvements to the church including repairing all the beautiful stained glass windows that serve as an inspiration to all of us and a memorial to the many Norwegian ancestors who started the church and have their names on the windows they donated. Also, with the increased membership the beginning of a new Sunday School program has emerged.
In recent years the church has hosted community events like the Taste of Tamarack and The Blessing of the Fields & Flowers, renamed this year to Blessing of the Fields and Wheels. We are probably one of the few churches that have our own motorcycle "gang" who make it an annual event in early June to come to church here and have their bikes blessed
The 150th planning committee can be reached at 608-323-7630 for more information. Also check us out at www.tamaracklutheran.com .