Among all the well stated reasons offered as the motive for the immigration to America, the struggle for freedom of religious expression was high on the list for many of those who settled this area. That freedom took shape in fellowship groups that started soon after the needs of immediate shelter had been met. Several of these immigrants came from the Misterhult area in Kalmar län, from the Medelpad and Hälsingland areas near Sundsvall, and from Skåne, particularly Kristianstads län where the Baptist movement in Sweden had taken root. So it isn't surprising that the first organization was a Swedish Baptist Church. This group flourished and grew and set the tone for the community that still persists. More information on this church is included in their section that follows.
But freedom and organization do not always lead to the same goals. So history records that as the Baptist group grew, it suffered withdrawals as individuals pursued freedom to reorganize and form new groups. The Sabbath day question resulted in the Adventist presence which existed for a number of years particularly among those who lived along the Otter Creek and West Otter Creek. No clear organizational records exist but oral history has passed down the name of Charles Ludvig Hamren, the former Baptist minister at the church in Lansing, Iowa, as their spiritual leader. After he drowned crossing the flooded Otter Creek the movement seemed to slowly whither although there were a number of individuals on the 1895 census who listed themselves as 7th Day Adventists.
Then there was the question of the role of baptism and organizational membership requirements which gave birth to the Church of God movement. This movement eventually became known as the Evangelical Free Mission organization. They built a church in Stockholm section 18 at the northwest corner of the cemetery. They moved it first to Old Kiron and later to Kiron. They replaced it with a new structure in 1914. This group was blessed with a series of able leaders and dedicated members and existed in their own facilities for many years. Their history is included in their section.
There were a number of individuals in the area who declared in the 1895 census that they were affiliated with the "Holiness Band". To date, no further explanation of 'what or who' this organization was has been uncovered.
Within ten years after the start of the community, there were a group of Swedish Lutherans among the immigrants who had formed the nucleus of the church they called Bethel Lutheran. They carried on their work for many years in a country church with a steeple which had a wonderfully sounding bell. When the toller performed his appointed duty, the beautiful sounds could be heard for miles. The church in Wheeler section 31 burned down and today the new church building exists in its town of Kiron setting. Its history can be found in their section.
Surrounding the Swedish community were immigrants of other nationalities, particularly those from the various German states - i.e.. Schleswig, Holstein, Mecklenberg, Prussia, etc. Their common language was German, not Swedish, and their spiritual needs were met by a church that spoke their language. This became the church known as St. John's Lutheran. Although the ethnic language requirement died out many years ago, the rural church served multiple generations from its countryside setting in Stockholm section 15 and now continues to do so from its new facility in the town of Kiron. Its history is documented later.
When the land to the north in Ida County became available and especially with the prospects of a railroad in the Maple valley to the north, a number of the original Swedish immigrants saw advantage to relocating to the new area in Hayes township. They met their spiritual needs with religious practices common to them and so the Arthur Swedish Baptist church was formed. They built their church in the south west quadrant of section 12. It flourished for many years with close affiliation to fellow Baptists in Kiron. When geographic separation no longer was a real consideration due to the excellence of the transportation system, the church closed its doors after many years of service. The record of the church is included in its section.
Another church was located a short distance from the Baptist church in Hayes township in the south east quadrant of section 13. It served the needs of those farmers who followed the tenets of the Mission Covenant church organization. Historical records indicate that it had a rather short life in its rural setting but continued in a new setting in the town of Odebolt. No further history of this church is recorded here.
There was another Church of God or Evangelical Free Church in Hayes township that was located in the north east quadrant of section 3. This church has moved to the town of Arthur and still exists. For the present, it is not documented here.
A Methodist church existed in the eastern Stockholm township village of Boyer. For the present, it is not documented here.
Revised 2 Sept 1999