Rodan139: Swede Valley Lutheran Church

A few weeks back I took Rodan139 out to Swede Valley Lutheran Church and took a few pictures. A very pretty country church, that unfortunately doesn’t have the pretties setting. The farm fields in the background are okay. It is just unfortunate that what I’m sure was a parsonage at one time, is so close to the church to the north. I also, didn’t wish it was on a fairly major highway. All that being said, it is very photogenic.

Rodan139: Swede Valley Lutheran Church

Rodan139: Swede Valley Lutheran Church

Rodan139: Swede Valley Lutheran Church

Rodan139: Swede Valley Lutheran Church

Rodan139: Swede Valley Lutheran Church

Rodan139: Swede Valley Lutheran Church

Rodan139: Swede Valley Lutheran Church

Rodan139: Swede Valley Lutheran Church

Rodan139: Swede Valley Lutheran Church

Rodan139: Swede Valley Lutheran Church

Rodan139: Swede Valley Lutheran Church

Rodan139: Swede Valley Lutheran Church

Rodan139: Swede Valley Lutheran Church

Rodan139: Swede Valley Lutheran Church

Rodan139: Swede Valley Lutheran Church

Rodan139: Swede Valley Lutheran Church

Rodan139: Swede Valley Lutheran Church

Rodan139: Swede Valley Lutheran Church

Rodan139: Swede Valley Lutheran Church

Rodan139: Swede Valley Lutheran Church

Rodan139: Swede Valley Lutheran Church

Rodan139: Swede Valley Lutheran Church

Rodan139: Swede Valley Lutheran Church

Rodan139: Swede Valley Lutheran Church

Rodan139: Swede Valley Lutheran Church

Rodan139: Swede Valley Lutheran Church

Rodan139: Swede Valley Lutheran Church

Rodan139: Swede Valley Lutheran Church

Rodan139: Swede Valley Lutheran Church

Rodan139: Swede Valley Lutheran Church

Rodan139: Swede Valley Lutheran Church

Rodan139: Swede Valley Lutheran Church

Rodan139: Swede Valley Lutheran Church

Rodan139: Swede Valley Lutheran Church

Rodan139: Swede Valley Lutheran Church

Rodan139: Swede Valley Lutheran Church

I’m sure I’ll be back here to photograph this church some more, but probably a couple other country churches I will have to photograph first.

20 thoughts on “Rodan139: Swede Valley Lutheran Church”

  1. I enjoyed seeing this from the sky. Old country church that my mom attended along with her siblings. Narrow pews with thin padding but a lovely sanctuary. Grandparents and other family buried north of the church.

  2. Tamara,

    That is quite a bit of family history in that church for you! I’ve been inside a couple times. I was a bridesman in a wedding there. Also went there for a baptism.


    I bet the setting for it was prettier before 169. I don’t know Iowa highway history that well, other than most highways are way more recent than I expect them to be. I think it is the second prettiest country church in Boone County. I think Saint Paul Lutheran is prettier. Also has the prettier setting. The house next to it is nice looking, at least. It is just too darn close.

    Although it is for sale, if you are looking to move to the country.

    It does remind me that when I went through Clare, Iowa it had what appears to be a recently shuttered Catholic Church that was beautiful. They had taken down a lot of the Mary and Jesus type sculptures and piled them in an entry way. I wish I could have gone inside of it. Made me sad.

  3. I have seen Saint Paul Lutheran several times without knowing what it was called until just now, but it is beautiful. Far more trees, which covers up for any potential landscape deficiencies. Perhaps it would be worth it to buy the house just to knock it down.

    That’s so sad. I hope someone bought the church and restored it, either as a church or house. There is a house in Ogden that used to be a church, and I’ve always wanted to go inside. I think it would be amazing to live in an old church.

    Jon and I are planning a very belated/postponed 15th anniversary trip to Curacao as soon as we practically can. We’re staying at a nice resort that Jon really wanted to go to for most of it, but I insisted that we stay at least one night in this inexpensive, amazing suite that used to be a former monastery chapel: That’s got way more personality than a resort.

  4. Something that wasn’t included in the Saint Paul pictures is that in the far northeast corner of the property. If, say a guy was going to go back there to try to take a leak in private. They might discover that there is a bird feeder underneath the trees in the corner that looks like the church. Type of think you’d only discover, if nature called while you were out there.

    Yeah. I think there are two former churches in Ogden that are former houses. In Boone, there are also at least two. One is two blocks from me. Used to be the Primitive Methodist Church.

    Actually, I can think of a third one near the football field. It used to be the Mormon Church. Allegedly was also a whorehouse at one time. At the very least, it was definitely a bar. Jesse and I toured it back before the pandemic. Someone in his orbit had recently purchased it. You can tell in the inside that it used to be a church because of a bell tower that you can’t really see from the outside. Plus the floor plan is very wide open, like a sanctuary. Or a ballroom.

    I’m sure there are even more that I don’t know about. The other one is on Clay Street, if you are curious. Used to be the Free Methodist Church.

    Actually, I can think of a 4th. Near the high school. Another former LDS Church has been turned into an apartment building. But I think most churches in Boone that have closed up shop had their building torn down.

    There is a church in a Boone downtown storefront right now. Called the Lighthouse. But I think it is Facebook only right now. Kind of like my church.

    Sounds like a cool trip! My biggest post pandemic goal is still to eat inside a restaurant.

  5. Also reminds me of a monastery in Eastern Iowa I want to visit someday that makes coffins.

  6. I had NO idea there were so many of them – especially in Boone! I think the one in Ogden that I’m thinking of (just east of downtown) was really only on my radar because I think it got converted while we were in middle school. It was maybe a Free Methodist church before? I’ve never even heard of a Primitive Methodist Church?

    I will have to take a tour of Ogden and Boone and look around them. It is too bad photos of things like that don’t make it onto Google, to be able to see the insides before and after. I would 100% take a tour of a home that used to be a church AND a whorehouse. That would be some good stuff – Boone could get a whole “parade of church homes” thing going once a year, and I’d go every single time to see the church/whorehouse/bar.

    It’s interesting that several of those you listed are religions that are major religions, but considered fringe in Iowa. I guess, to phrase that better, ALL of them are considered fringe religions, but some of them are major religions elsewhere.

    I’ve always thought it would be interesting to convert an old church to a house. You’d definitely have a ton of entertaining space, between the sanctuary and fellowship areas. An old high school acquaintance posted a video last night of her daughter playing piano during service at our old Methodist church in Ogden – maybe it was the angle, but it looked like only about 10 people were in the congregation. I hope that church doesn’t die out. It’s interesting that so many churches are sort of doing the storefront thing right now.

    I’m hopeful it’s a fun trip! I did a lot of research to find the right destination.

  7. The other one I’m thinking of in Ogden is a few blocks east of 169. It might not have ever been a church, but it looks like it once was.

    I’m sure there are actually plenty more in Boone that used to be churches. I’ve been looking at old phone books in maps when I’ve been doing research for the Postcard Project. One fascinating thing I’ve found is, how many buildings in Boone have been destroyed by fire. Including at least 2 churches that I have found. Any ways, the LDS was also once in west Boone by the courthouse. A building I’m sure definitely doesn’t standing. Plus, I found a bunch addresses that aren’t consistent with current churches.

    But what is maddening is that so many church addresses are just listed as intersections in the phonebook:

    Church of the Nazarene – 15th & Crawford
    Open Bible 7th & Carroll
    Augustana Lutheran – Also 7th & Carroll
    Assembly of God – 4th & Harrison
    Jehovah Witnesses – 804 8th
    Church of God of Prophecy 1022 16th Street
    Assemblies of God 5th and Benton
    Salvation Army 1033 1/2 8th Street
    Church of the Nazarene – 15th & Crawford

    Are they having in person services at the Methodist Church in Ogden? If they are, what is the limit? We aren’t having in person services, so if you shared a video from that, there wouldn’t be anybody there.

    When we briefly had in church services, there was maybe 30 people that showed up. Much more than that wouldn’t have felt safe.

    I remember that Shannon’s favorite church ever, used to be in a mall. So maybe it is the wave of the future. I don’t know, but I can tell you that our church is about to spend $8000 on video streaming equipment. That only gets us one camera. But fortunately, adding future cameras won’t be that expensive. The guy who puts it in and sets everything up is also a Pastor at the Methodist church in Cedar Falls.

    I don’t think that I took any pictures inside the old whorehouse/church. So I don’t think I have any to share. The address is 125 W. 5th Street though, if you want to see the outside. I’ll have to check my old phone for pictures.

  8. That would seriously be an amazing tour – you could have a whole series of them, or at least of the sites of former churches, if you broke all of those down.

    …Every intersection has four corners, why wouldn’t they just include the addresses? There were addresses if there were street names and numbers. We have some intersections for statues – but the statues don’t have their own physical address like a building would. That’s weird to do that often. Once is an anomaly, twice is an aberration – that many is flagrantly weird.

    I can’t tell if Ogden is streaming, meeting regularly, or both? It looks from their website like all of these are happening, and that it’s June AND Christmas: That website needs some love. We have only done streaming in Ames at FUMC – the kids have done all of their Sunday School that way, even when there were a few people in-person. I think they MAY allow just a few people in who don’t have internet?

    WOW, I had no idea a streaming video camera was that much – I assumed someone could just set up their phone or something via Zoom. That’s pretty low-rent, so I can understand why they’d want to upgrade. I just am always amazed how much things that I have never researched or needed cost.

    I just did Google Street View on that address, and it looks so normal. Not at all like it has such a saucy history.

  9. The next THE POSTCARD RECREATION PROJECT old-timey postcard I’m working on recreating is a postcard with a picture of 5 different churches. Of the 5 buildings. Only are currently standing.

    They are labelled like this:

    German Lutheran
    Swedish Mission

    The Catholic and Presbyterian churches are still standing. The Baptist church burned down in the 1940s, but I that isn’t hard to figure out what congregation used to be in that building.

    The German Lutheran church building also… wait for it…. burned down. But it didn’t take much research to figure out that this congregation is now called Trinity Lutheran.

    It took me awhile to figure out if the Swedish Mission congregation still existed. This took some effort because there it turns out two different congregations in town split from one congregation. Evangelical Free and Augustana. Neither one is in the building in the picture. So trying to figure out which one was in that building and where that building used to be took some work.

    Augustana used to have one of thos 7th & Carroll addresses. But so did the Open Bible Church. While researching the Augustana history, it turns out that in the early 20th century, they traded churches with the Central Christian Church, because the trains were so loud that it was disrupting their activities. What I find funny about that, is that Central Christian Church is on 8th and Greene (different building now) which is only ONE block from 7th and Carroll. Which I doubt make a huge difference in the volume of the trains.

    I just think it is fascinating that congregations just traded church buildings.

    In the end in turned out the Swedish Mission Church is now the Evangelical Free Church. It used to be located on 6th and Monona. Which interestingly enough, while it was a different building, housed the last LDS Church, before they moved out on 22nd Street.

    But at one time, one block in Boone would have housed the Augustana Church, the Presbyterian Church, and the Baptist Church. Across the street to the south would have been the Open Bible Church. Across the street to the north is the Central Christian Church. Half a block to the east, is both the Grace Episcopal Church and the First United Methodist Church.

    Although, until it burned down, the Baptist Church was located at the corner of 6th and Greene.

    Any way, all this will be in the post. At least most of it.

    I think it is just a universal truth that Methodist websites need some love. My church’s website if filled with outdated information and links to pages that are completely blank. It is pretty awful.

    What we are currently do is the phone thing. The $8000 includes labor, a camera, a board to run things through, a new computer, a remote control to control the camera, and a bunch of wiring. The camera itself is in the ballpark of $2000.

  10. Oh my gosh, that’s super complicated, and you may need a map with arrows drawn in, like the old Family Circus cartoons when the kids would run around or whatever. Was one named Jeffy? I don’t remember any of the others’ names, but I do remember Jeffy.

    That is hilarious and awesome that two churches just up and switched for somewhat arbitrary reasons. I’d think that would take a ton of legal documents and notaries these days. It’s somewhat whimsical. I do also really enjoy that apparently so many of these ethnicities could not be in the same congregation as another, and so they had to have separate churches.

    You’ve done a really impressive amount of work on this. I hope that you can put it somewhere in something that gets published, or added to the library or historical society. That’s really fascinating, and I bet nothing else like it exists.

  11. I’m putting it here. It is getting published here. But I am going to join the Boone County Historical Society in 2021. Just need to get the check sent in. So maybe, something could happen there.

    There was a Norwegian Church thrown into the mix as well. The German Lutheran Church, which became Trinity Lutheran held its services in German. So you can see why non-Germans weren’t lining up to go to it.

    Family Circus was the absolute worst. Jeffy sounds right, but I couldn’t even tell you how many children were even in the Family Circus. That scene in GO completely nails how worthless Family Circus is. I wonder if it even exists still.

    Looks like it is still a thing. The guy who started it died in 2011 and his son took over.

  12. I’m so glad you put it here – my concern was just more that the elderly (as a rule) are not great with the internet. Or if someday you took down your server or something.

    I would imagine there was a bit of time when people didn’t want to have a lot to do with the Germans, yes. I will have to ask Kristal if they learned all of that history at Trinity when she went to school there.

    Yes, Family Circus was terrible. For a while in the mid 00s (and presumably before), Jon’s group of buddies from high school would all hide a Family Circus cartoon somewhere on another’s person or belongings to torture them. It’s THAT bad. I’ll gave to watch the scene from Go – I’ve never seen that movie!

    My grandparents took me to this ice cream shop one time when I was visiting them in Arizona when I was in middle school or so: I don’t remember the ice cream being good or bad, but I remember it being a horror show of Family Circus decorations. It’s like going to the Precious Moments chapel, but with Family Circus. The least they could have done to make it more interesting was put those dotted lines all over the place to trace where customers have gone, like they used to do in some of the cartoons.

  13. Maybe you don’t understand the power structure at my church.

    It goes:

    Republican Jesus
    The Methodist Women
    The Pastor of the Moment

    This doesn’t exactly say the German thing, but it talks about how when they laid the cornerstone speeches were given in both German and English:

    I don’t know if GO is worth watching, but it is okay.

    That is a weird way to torture one’s friends. But certainly effective.

    I would definitely go to that ice cream place. Even though, I don’t like “The Family Circus”, just because it is so unique.

  14. We have a fairly conservative portion of our congregation, too – I don’t understand, we’re the religion that historically was just sort of cool with everything. I keep thinking maybe decisions will be reversed this next year – it sounds like most of the really conservative congregations are overseas? I just don’t understand how Republican Jesus is a thing in our denomination.

    That is fascinating about the cornerstone laying speech. I knew there were little townships of certain origins around here (I think Stratford is Scandinavian largely, etc), but didn’t know it was predominant enough to have to deliver speeches multilingually.

    He’s not wrong at all. Good thing (I guess?) the Register used to put Family Circus at the top of the first page of the Sunday comics, so we could get it out quickly. The decor was definitely memorable. I’m always 100% on board with interesting places and things.

  15. I actually think we have a pretty liberal congregation, that being said, the guy who put a mural of serial rapist Donald Trump on the side of one of his buildings goes to my church. There is one person that has a MAGA license plate. And another couple that once announced in an Advent Study I was in that if people started shouting out “Hallelujah!” during a church service, “we will leave this church”.

    If you are talking about the great debate about homosexuality, yeah, progress was basically blocked by non-American churches. Heavily in Africa. Why there will probably be a split in the Methodist Church in the next couple of years. But there are also plenty of super conservative denominations in the United States.

    Just think, how many descendants of those German language worshippers now bitch when they have to “Push 1 for English”.

    And I am badly exaggerating my importance in my church. But I am almost universally loved. As I have been told many times. That being said, I’m not actually universally loved. There is a woman named Mona who can’t stand me. She was not happy one year when I was ringing the bell for the Salvation Army for our church. Basically accused me of not being a member of our church and always gives me a dirty look when I see her at church. Like she thinks the only reason I’m at church is to show her up for accusing me of not being a member of the church, that Black Friday. Several years ago now. I never forget.

  16. Isn’t it bizarre how wide of a variety of people there can be in the same congregation and worship the same idea of God/the Bible/Jesus, and some can be so very off-base? I don’t get it. I do remember that a portion of our Ogden church got FURIOUS when some who had been to Chrysalis or Emmaus would say “Hallelujah” or hold up their hand. Generally the elderly/far right.

    I definitely was thinking about the divide on homosexuality. I’m wondering if the Deep South and those overseas places will be in one contigency. Because that’s most of who I’ve seen have a problem with it? You’re correct on the German language worshippers bitching about ANYTHING being assumed as okay other than English. And it is mind-blowing.

    I think it’s awesome that they recognize that you’re smart, kind, and a great asset to the church. I am assuming that the few who can’t see that (i.e. Mona) are people who want things done her way by people who are in her group of friends from 70 years ago. Probably all also named after members of the cast of “Who’s the Boss.” (Says a woman named Angela.) I never forget, either – I can forgive, but that crap is going on a mental tally board. Let it fester, Bennett.

  17. I should point out it is literally only that one person. About 4 or 5 years ago, I was ringing the bell for the Salvation Army at Wal-Mart on Black Friday. This is one of the missions of my church. We do it every Black Friday. So there, I am ringing the bell. Trying to be as loud and obnoxious and merry as possible, cause this is how I feel the job requires.

    Out of the blue, this old lady comes up and kind of gets in my face a little bit. I thought she did like all my merry making, but no, she didn’t think I should be there.

    She half snarls to me, “Who are you?”

    I stated my name. Then she said, “Why are you doing this?”

    I explained that my church volunteers to ring the bell on Black Friday.

    The she said, “What church?”

    I explained I belong to the Boone First United Methodist Church.

    Then she snarled, “That is my church.”

    I explained that was also my church.

    She then said, “Well, I’ve never seen you there.”

    I explained that I’ve belonged to that church my entire life. Baptized there. Confirmed there. Attend pretty much every Sunday. Probably President of the Methodist Men at that time.

    She just scoffed and walked off in a huff.

    I’ve heard that sometimes (and I’m sure this is a common failing in churches because the phrase “Come as you are”, is more of a Nirvana lyric than the actual church creed that it should be) is not welcoming to strangers. This is the first and only time I ever felt that. AND I’m not a stranger. I attend church more often than her. I attend more meeting than her. I’m there at least 2 days a week. Almost every week.

    On the following Sunday, I made sure she saw me. She sits in the balcony. I sit on the lower level. During the greeting time, I made sure to lock eyes with her and wave. I literally got zero response. Which, maybe was more rewarding.

    During the Community Thanksgiving Meal setup, I was talking with a couple of the guys running the meal. They were in a quandary about whether to do something with the tables, for fear of getting in trouble. I told them just to do it. They said, that is easy for you to say, “Everybody in the church loves you.”

    I said, “Not true. There is one lady that most definitely does not.” That being said, I told them that if anybody complained, they could blame it on me, since I’m pretty close to the building engineers favorite person.

    The Advent Study story, there isn’t much more to it, but it was being ran by Andrea. She did her Seminary in the ghetto of Kansas City. So she was telling a story about when she used to preach there, people would shout out things like “Hallelujah!” and whatnot during her sermon. She said, jokingly, feel free to start doing that on Sundays.

    The joke was missed. Missed by a mile.

    About the Saint Louis decision. In some ways that was set back for the super conservative congregations in the United States. Shannon told me that many of those churches had been refusing to pay their apportionments. They were hoping that the Saint Louis decision would come out in favor of making it okay for homosexual Pastors and homosexual weddings. Then, they were going to take their money and break off. But then when the decision came out to stay in the dark ages, they had to cough up that cash. They weren’t happy.

    So that is one silver lining. Those are churches in Iowa. In particular, there is one in Davenport that is dying to break off and be super oppressive.

    I don’t know what will happen eventually, but I’m pretty sure the Methodist will split into two denominations. Just like it did over civil rights. I’m okay with that, as long as my church goes with the human rights faction. Also, the good theology faction.

    It is sad though, but I do think that you are right. I think one of the strengths of the Methodist Church is that it has been a big tent. With room for Cult45s and half socialists like me. All in the same building. All worshiping the same God. Although, I’m starting to think I might be more of a Libertarian Anarchist than half a socialist. The way the term Libertarian was originally meant to mean. Not the way the John Birch society co-opted it and made it mean people that are infatuated with lowering the age of consent. It is all confusing, with the labels. I just am tired of rich people running everything.

  18. I seriously want to punch her for you. How on earth could she be mad about you ringing the bell even if you WEREN’T a lifelong, regular member? Has she never heard about the lost sheep? Wouldn’t it be a fairly large victory if someone found God and was willing to stand outside in the cold (which she clearly wasn’t) instead of shopping? I don’t understand how she had any anger about this, even if her incorrect, dumb assumptions were true. I hope you are just saccharine to her every single time.

    But I’m glad that you have so many people who love you. I know my grandpa thinks you are “the bee’s knees” (I’m paraphrasing), as did my grandma – and grandma was pretty introverted. There aren’t a lot of people under the age of 70 who are stepping up in that way, and it’s awesome that you are. I was on the education committee, but was asked to do it when Charlie was a baby, so it got to be too much for me after a couple of years with that at bedtime. I feel like I’d like to jump back in at some point, but just when our lives get into a better rhythm. I’m not dependable in the evenings right now.

    That makes TOTAL sense that they were trying to press a decision for financial reasons. I am not shocked at all, now that you say it. I do think that the split will happen – maybe not this year, maybe not the next, but it’s coming. We have friends who left our congregation and went to the Hope one because of the decision, and I don’t blame them.

    I’m of the same opinion. There’s so much that is decided to keep certain people rich, and almost everyone else poor. Jeff Bezos has TWO HUNDRED BILLION DOLLARS and there are people who cannot afford water or bread. It’s horrifying.

  19. No need to punch her in the face. I think I read something in a book one time about turning the other cheek. It was right next to the section about tying people’s access to their employers and $20 co-pays.

    I joke, but did you know that at one time (they might still be active) that there was a conservative group out there creating a Bible with out the “liberal bias”. I just can’t with these people.

    I do miss Bob. Maybe some day I’ll see him again, without your Mom, so I can actually talk to him.

    I saw a stat that with just the money that Jeff Bezos has added to his wealth, since the beginning of the pandemic, he could pay every single Amazon employee $110,000. There is absolutely no reason for billionaires to exist. Especially in a world where 2.2 billion people in the world do not have access to safe drinking water. Which is weird, because before the Industrial Revolution, everybody in the world had access to clean drinking water.

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