RIDGWAY — Sister churches in Ridgway and Kersey stand as monuments to Swedish history in Elk County.

The congregation of Bethlehem Lutheran Church, in full named The Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Bethlehem, in Ridgway first met in the early 1880s at a tannery house at 401 North Broad Street, before moving to what is now First Lutheran Church, known then as ‘the German Church,” on South Street.

A lot was found on Metoxet Street to build an independent facility on. Foundations were laid, but the deed was unable to be secured and the money for the lot plus $50 for labor was returned.

In 1887, the congregation purchased a lot Ash Street and a church was constructed. In 1899, the church was raised to add a basement. Later, a bell tower was erected and a bell purchased –the same bell used by Bethlehem Lutheran today. The congregation worshiped at the site, known as the “West Ridgway Church,” from 1888 to 1913.

In the early 1900s, the church purchased lots where the Post Office currently stands at the corner of Mill and Center streets. However, the property was sold to the government for $10,000 in 1911.

That sale allowed the church to purchase the current site on South and South Broad streets, allowing for a larger facility.

In 1913, the “West Ridgway Church” was sold to the Church of Christ congregation.

Maria Lutheran Church originated with a group of Swedish settlers in the Coal Hollow area in approximately 1875. A pastor from Tabor Lutheran Church preached to those immigrants and some began meeting in a rural schoolhouse.

Local News Coverage

In 1887, the Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Mission Society was founded in Dagus Mines. Members of the society, who were being ministered to by the pastor of Bethlehem Lutheran, decided to organize into a congregation officially in 1890.

In 1891, it was resolved to build a church and land was donated on Toby Road by the Northwest Mining Company. Maria Lutheran was dedicated Oct. 22, 1891.

From there, a series of purchases and additions were made.

In 1895, a church bell was purchased.

In 1897, a site for a cemetery across the road was secured.

In 1901, a basement and vestry were added, and in 1907, a parsonage was built. That parsonage was used until 1954.

In 1921, electric lights were installed and new lights were put in during August 1953.

In 1949, a steeple cross was erected.

Recommended for you