Aurora Lutheran Church
Aurora Lutheran Church had its beginnings among the Norwegian immigrants who arrived in the community in the late 1850’s. Early records show that services were first held in homes and surrounding schoolhouses. In 1871, the first pastor was called. Around the mid-1870’s, the decision was made to construct a church building which served the growing congregation until 1885. By that year, the need for a larger building had become obvious.
Rather than adding on to that first facility, the congregation decided to disassemble the old building and, in salvaging and recycling some of the lumber, build a new, larger church on a parcel of land about a mile east of the original location. The narthex of the present building was the result.
The graves in the original church lot were also moved to the new location.
Numerous improvement and maintenance projects have been undertaken over the many decades since 1885. In 1961 a major renovation was completed which included additional Sunday school rooms, rest rooms and a balcony. In 1989 yet another large expansion was built which increased the size of the dining area and included a larger entrance and an elevator.
In 1965, Aurora Lutheran Church and Trinity Lutheran Church of rural Blooming Prairie formed a two-point parish, deepening our partnership in the Gospel while maintaining our separate congregations. From 1965 until Trinity's closure in December, 2018 our churches were known as the Aurora and Trinity Lutheran Parish.
Aurora Lutheran Church is well known in the community for owning and operating the Aurora Diner at the Steele County Free Fair each August. The diner was constructed by volunteer labor in about two weeks just before the fair opened in 1965 and has been serving home-cooked meals to grateful fair-goers every year since then.
Another popular annual tradition at Aurora is the oyster/chili dinner which is held on the Sunday before Thanksgiving every fall.
Trinity Lutheran Church (1874-2018)
What we knew as Trinity Lutheran Church, once a part of Aurora and Trinity Lutheran Parish, began under the name “Straight River Norwegian-Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church” in the spring of 1874. The first place of regularly held church services was Steele County School District 38 also known as Straight River schoolhouse, located on section 29 of Summit township 2 miles east of Ellendale next to the Straight River. The school was a log structure built in 1864. The first documented congregational business meeting was held on October 11, 1877 with Pastor Østby as chairman.
In 1878, Søren Petersen offered to donate land on section 9 of Blooming Prairie Township for the construction of a schoolhouse. This became Steele County School District 47 and also the new home of what was now known as “Brorson Danish-Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church” in 1879.
At the March 29th congregational meeting of 1887 it was decided that a separate church building should be built. The funds were enlisted and construction took place during the summer of 1887. The tower, steeple, chancel, sacristy, balcony and basement had all been added in later years. The plan was to have the church completed by the first of August. Brorson Danish-Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church finally had a home of its own!
As Brorson grew, various improvements were made to the building and property.
In 1940 the name of the church changed from Brorson to something with a wider appeal beyond the Danish community - Trinity Lutheran Church.
In 2018, after many discussions, Trinity members voted to close. Closing a congregation is an occasion filled with a mixture of emotions in varying degrees: grief and nostalgia about what has gone before, as well as anxiety and hopefulness about the future.
We give thanks for the ministry that has happened in and through this congregation, for the people who have been fed and nurtured in the Christian faith here, and for those who have been sent into the world from this gathering to witness to the love of God and to serve their neighbor. Even as we mark the end of an era in one place, as one community, we acknowledge and give thanks that we all are participants in God’s mission that continues beyond these walls.