The History of the Raymond S.D.A. Church 1867 - 1868
The Raymond S.D.A. Church was raised up and organized through the evangelistic efforts of Elder John Matteson during the years of 1867-68. Elder Matteson can well be called the “apostle” of our message to the Scandinavian people in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. However, we find that Elder Matteson’s first apostleship for the Adventist message began in the United States.
In 1855, when John Matteson was twenty years old his family migrated to the United States. They settled in the heavily wooded area some distance from Green Bay. John soon became interested in religion and in 1860 went to Chicago to attend a Baptist school. It was here that John prepared himself for ministry. Three years later in 1863 as a Baptist minister, he located in Poy Sippi, Wisconsin. It was here that he came in contact with our Sabbath keepers, especially P. H. Cady, with whom he began to study the Sabbath question. He soon accepted the S.D.A. faith and felt that he was called to teach it to his church members and to his family. Within five months all but one family of his congregation followed his teaching of the Advent Message. This was the beginning of the Poy Sippi Church.
It was at this time that Elder Matteson received the burden to work for the Scandinavian people in the United States. Soon he was preaching to the Danish settlers in Freeborn, Minnesota. Some of these people had relatives and friends living in Raymond, Wisconsin and began sending literature and letters to them. Through these contacts one woman in Raymond began keeping the Sabbath. Who this woman was is not known—but she did feel a burden for the people of Raymond, therefore, she sent a plea to Elder Matteson to come.
And so it was that in the fall of 1867, Elder Matteson came to Raymond to hold meetings in the homes of interested people. Soon they were able to secure the Raymond Schoolhouse where they held their first evangelistic meetings. The attendance was small—only eighteen to twenty-four people came, but those who did were deeply impressed by the message they heard. When the meetings ended nearly all had accepted the S.D.A. belief. So it was on February 28, 1868, the new believers met in the Raymond School where they organized themselves into the Raymond S.D.A. Church consisting of eighteen members.
During the first four years church was held in the homes of the various members. The home of Chris Bertelsen is especially mentioned as a frequent meeting place. This is now the home of Emma Olsen which is located behind our present building.
On March 25, 1872 the following business meeting was held at the Bertelsen home to discuss the need of the church. It was agreed upon to purchase one acre of land of the south-east corner of Oscar Sheldon. Next, the building was to be 24 x 30 feet and that $500.00 [sic] be raised to cover the cost. All agreed to buy materials and haul them to the site in the fall and winter of 1872 and building would begin in the spring of 1873. And now, how to get the $500.00 for the materials. The members agreed that the only possible way was to make pledges and trustees were appointed as follows: H. C. Muller, Anders Sorenson, and Christian Bertelsen.
There seems to be no records of the progress of the construction or of the completion of the church—nor does there appear to be any dedication. However, I have learned that a man named Hans Jacobsen was a carpenter. His wife was a member but he was not. Hans, the carpenter, was killed in a horses’ runaway accident and is buried in our cemetery.
When new ventures are embarked upon, many problems and trials arise. This new company of believers was no exception. About nine years after the church was organized things were not running as smoothly as might be. At a business meeting held May 27, 1877, Elder O. E. Olsen had come to help solve the difficulties which had arisen at the company. According to the records, secretary, Ole Jorgensen spoke of the condition of the church and of the poor spirit that existed among the new believers, and he said that if this state continued the church would go on the rocks. After much prayer it was suggested by Elder Olsen that under the present circumstances it would be best to discontinue the present system and re-organize a new one. After some debate the members seemed to favor his move. All but one voted to re-organize and the meeting adjourned to re-assemble the following Thursday. So it was that on May 31, 1877, the members assembled to organize a new society with specific standards to be held up by the members.
The records show that the following members stayed faithful to the early Raymond Church:
Ole Jorgensen and his wife Anna
Ole Hansen and his wife Maren
During the first quarter of a century the Danish language was used almost exclusively in the church services. Gradually English came to be used more and more frequently. The last year that church records were written in Danish was in 1918.
Miss Carrie Nelson was the first church clerk to keep these records in English. The late Milbert Sorensen translated many of the old Danish records into English before his death. These old records tell of the beginning of the church school in 1904. Since that time many families have moved into this area so that their children could attend a Christian school.
- Pete and Ruth Frantz, 1968