Reminiscences of June, a Traveling Grandmother
June's Life-Long Love for the Lutheran Church
- Published on Thursday, 29 May 2008 18:40
- Written by Stanton O. Berg
June has had a life long love for the Lutheran Church and has always been a faithful Sunday church attendee. As a teenager June was confirmed in the Lutheran Church at Colfax, WI in 1942.
June and her entire family all became members of the Redeemer Lutheran Church of Fridley on Sunday October 5th in 1958. This was on "World Communion Sunday". June remained a member of this church for the rest of her life and for over 50 years.
Jesus Christ and the Christian Lutheran Church have always been an important part of June's life.
All of June's children were baptized at a Lutheran Church shortly after their birth. June was the principle driving force behind the children's religious education. All of the children were later confirmed at the Fridley Redeemer Lutheran Church and had their first Communion in this church.
I was not a regular church attendee in the early years. I would attend on the various church holidays but had many excuses (none of merit) as to why I could not go to church on a normal Sunday. June set a good example and through her many prayers for me, my life was changed.
I did not realize it at the time, but June was using very subtle and effective psychology on me. June knew that I spent much of my time in my downstairs office. June also knew that I frequently used the little bathroom next to the office. June arranged to place a mounted and attractive plaque with the quotation from John 3:16 on the bathroom wall. It was so located that every time I used the bathroom, I was looking directly at the quotation. I may not have known much about the Bible but I really knew John 3:16. (KJV):
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life."
On one special Sunday after June had left for church and as I was sitting in my office - I thought about June and one of my work slogans - "first things first" and that I was really not doing this in my life. I had a sudden deep feeling of shame in that I had for years let June go to church alone with the children. I arose and went to church that day and have done so regularly ever since. This change in me made June very happy. Later when she told others about this change in my life, she would throw up her arms and exclaim: "and suddenly there he was." Thanks to June, I not only enjoyed going to church, I enjoyed the new friends I made at church and found myself looking forward to the next Sunday. I also now regularly attend the Tuesday morning Bible Study Class at Redeemer Lutheran.
When June and I were first married my faith in God had slipped. Although I was confirmed in a small Swedish Lutheran Church in Rice Lake, WI during my high school years, I had slipped away from the church during my early years following high school. i recall telling June shortly after we were married that I considered myself to be an "Agnostic". I did not say there was no God, I only said that God had not been proven to exist. June did not argue with my position. All that I recall June saying, was that she disliked the sound of the word "Agnostic"! Thereafter it was June's constant example, her prayers and her inspiration, that resulted in the change in my life. June served as God's way of changing my life and causing me to accept God and Jesus as the ruler of my life and my salvation! Every morning it is my prayer that Jesus will take over my mind, my mentality and my intellect for the day and to lead and guide me!
June gave me the most important verse in the Bible. Reverend Falwell in his last sermon before he died said: "if the Bible was a financial statement, John 3:16 would be the Bottom Line." He also said that when looking for a synopsis or summary of the Bible, "John 3:16 is the Bible's super summary" and if you understand and believe this passage you have got it all.
History of the Redeemer Lutheran Church
The Redeemer Lutheran Church originated in January 1911 when the Fridley Ladies Aid of the Emanuel Lutheran Church incorporated with 25 members. For three years they gathered the sum of $1000 and three lots for a building site. The old original church was erected beginning with a ground breaking in 1914. It is presently considered to be one of Fridley's historical sites. -*- The value at that time was $3000. The congregation was officially organized on June 15, 1916 with 74 charter members and 42 children. Also on that date the old church was dedicated.
When June and our family first joined Redeemer Lutheran in 1958, the main structure of the present church did not exist. Only the "Old Chapel" and the basement annex made up the church's physical structure. This was also in the days that the church directories and member's pictures were all in black and white.
The basement annex was first added in 1952. The present sanctuary was later erected and the first service was held on Easter Sunday, April 17, 1960. The cost then was $210,000. The Sunday school building including the church offices were later added and dedicated on September 20th, 1964 at a cost of $190,000.
On January 1st, 1966 the congregation had grown to 2373 baptized members. Further growth continued so that by January 1, 1983 the congregation totaled a baptized membership of 2988.
In 1985 the present activities center was added. In early 2002 extensive remodeling was completed and dedicated consisting of the addition of several church offices and meeting rooms as well as a large new entrance to the building complex.
-*- A history of the City of Fridley ("Fridley It's History and People") has been published by the Fridley Historical Society and the Fridley History Center and first became available in January 2009. A picture of the Redeemer Lutheran Church's Old Chapel appears in this book as one of Fridley's historical buildings.
Unfortunately for a period of time (2004) there was a faction in the Church that had a "wrecking ball" mentality. This group felt that the old Church did not present an appearance in proper harmony with the other new buildings. It is this type of thinking that has over the years, destroyed countless historical buildings and much of the physical evidence of our early heritage. June and I were very opposed to such thinking as were a number of other older Redeemer members. Fortunately, it now appears that this mentality has gradually disappeared.
The "Old Chapel" now called the "Heritage" Chapel appears to be a valued part of the overall church complex with many activities being scheduled there.
The beautiful large stained glass window that occupies the front of the church on the right side was apparently installed in the early 1920's. At the present time there is a brass commemoration plate on the right side bottom edge of the window as one faces the window from the inside. The plate reads" "In Memory of Charles Alfred Nelson 1861-1922 by The Nelson Family."
Pastor Glesne was kind enough to permit me to formally establish the "June K. Berg, Old Chapel Repair Memorial Fund" in 2007. (Money donations had been going into the fund since 2004.) It currently appears on the annual financial reports as one of the building funds and always has a healthy balance.
Substantial funds have already been spent from this fund in repairs and improvements to the "Old Chapel". These include replacement of the furnace, the addition of an air conditioner, replacement of the front steps and door, restoration of the large frontal stained glass window, and new electrical wiring. More recently the Old Chapel Cross was refinished, new carpeting installed and the downstairs rooms were remodeled.
A special article describing the June K. Berg Old Chapel Memorial Fund can be found on this website on the bottom blue navigation strip under the label: "June K. Berg Memorials." That article is one of several at this location that describes various charitable programs that are currently being used as memorials to preserve June's memory and as my effort to properly use our joint life savings.
Below is the link to the index page for the June K. Berg Memorials and the specific article on the Old Chapel Repair Memorial Fund.
Our children (in order by age), were all confirmed at Redeemer. David was in the Redeemer confirmation class of 1962. Daniel was in the confirmation class of 1964. Susan was in the confirmation class of 1968. Julie was in the confirmation class of 1973. A number of family baptisms have taken place in the church. Four family members have also been married in this church. (David, Julie, Kristen and Grandma Haldis.) There is little question that the Redeemer Lutheran Church is and has been June's family church home above all others in her life.
The Redeemer Church Business Administrator Annette Beseman advises that in 2008 the weekly church attendance was approx. 745. This represents a 53% increase in weekly attendance since that Sunday 50 years ago in 1958 when June and her family joined the Church. The weekly offerings however, now average $20,789 per week. This amounts to an average of $27.90 per person. The sharply increased giving is probably closely related to the economy and the present average family income. The gross family income for June in 1958 was $7,929 a year. While this seems like a paltry amount compared to present day standards, it actually represented a good income for a middle-income family in that time period.
The Redeemer Lutheran Church has been a member of the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) during all of June’s lifetime membership in the Redeemer Lutheran church.
August 19th, 2009: The ELCA held their national convention in downtown Minneapolis. The ELCA held their meetings in the Minneapolis Convention Center. At the same time they were using the Central Lutheran Church across the street as their convention church. At 2 PM on that date they were debating and voting on a very controversial matter, a proposed “Social Statement on Human Sexuality” – the proposal would permit practicing homosexuals to qualify for pastoral ministry. At that precise time, a rare small tornado struck and severely damaged the Convention Center roof, then broke off the steeple and cross atop the Central Lutheran Church and split the remainder of the steeple in two…the tornado then lifted. No severe weather had been predicted or expected...there were NO Warnings or Watches...the tornado initially touched down just south of downtown, followed 35W, crossed I94 to the convention site. Pastor David Glesne was a delegate to the conference from Redeemer Lutheran during this conference.
** I narrowly missed a personal encounter with this tornado...just immediately prior to the tornado hitting the Convention Center, I had visited June's grave at Lakewood Cemetery and placed fresh roses on her grave. As I was returning from Lakewood and driving north on highway 35W nearing the I 94 junction, I was suddenly engulfed in torrential rains and winds...it was so bad I could hardly see to drive. It was later that I learned of the tornado...part of Highway 35 was under water for a short time...I was very fortunate that day! This tornado appeared to operate with almost surgical precision. No injuries or deaths were reported. The total property damage was estimated at $500 thousand (Wikipedia) ...when considering the severe damage to the roof of the huge convention center and the Central Lutheran Church Steeple and Cross, very little other damage would remain. There is no question but that this was an unusual event...one headline read: "Surprise tornado in Minneapolis." I am not aware of any tornado ever striking the downtown Minneapolis area previously.
The disputed measure passed by the exact required 2/3rds majority. In the months following the ELCA convention’s actions, Redeemer Lutheran Church took the necessary procedural steps to disassociate the church from the ELCA. Redeemer Lutheran Church now belongs to the LCMC. (Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ)
In 2010 the Redeemer Lutheran Church was expanded to a two church ortwo campus location when the Coon Rapids Campus was added. (2135 Northdale Blvd NW, Coon Rapids, MN 55433.) The main office remains in Fridley at 61 Mississippi Way NE. Overall the total membership has declined. Current membership as of 12/31/11 is 2,126. The weekly Sunday attendance is also down. The average Sunday attendance for 2011 at the Fridley Campus was 567. The attendance in winter, spring and fall is approx. 615 with the summer months attendance at only 471 average. The Coon Rapids Sunday attendance is approx. 100 all year. Average attendance for both the Fridley and Coon Rapids Campus is approx. 715 for winter, fall and spring with the summer attendance at 582
The Pastors of the Redeemer Lutheran Church
The only Pastor in 1958 when June joined Redeemer was Arnold M. Stone. Compared to present day standards, Pastor Stone would probably be considered a no-nonsense type Pastor. Because of this characteristic and in conjunction with his name, he was fondly but not openly referred to by the church young people as "Rocky". When Pastor Stone first joined the Redeemer family on January 1st of 1958, he was initially assisted by Oliver "Ollie" Olson a Youth Director, who later became an ordained minister. In the late 1960's, Associate Pastor J. Henry Bergren assisted Pastor Stone. In November 1973 the Associate Pastor assisting Pastor Stone was Leroy A. Erlandson.
In 1979 Pastor Gene H. Hermeier accepted a call to be the Redeemer Senior Pastor following the retirement of Pastor Stone. Pastor Hermeier's associate Pastors in the early 1980's were Pastor Daniel "Dan" D.Rudquist and Visitations Pastor Clifton "Clif" E. Trued. Associate Pastor Paul Cross later joined them.
June recalls that Pastor Cross had his own trademark. He finished every prayer with – "and all Gods Saints said, Amen." The congregation always joined in with a rousing "Amen".
Pastor Dave Glesne became Redeemer's Senior Pastor in 1994 after Pastor Hermeier left Redeemer to accept a call to a church in Illinois.
Pastor Trued filled the gap as temporary Senior Pastor during the interim between Pastor Hermeier's leaving and the selection of a new Senior Pastor. This was a period of staffing turmoil for Redeemer. Pastor Cross left to accept an opportunity to continue his religious studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky. Pastor Rudquist left to take a medical disability retirement. Pastor Trued left to take a long promised retirement.
Associate Pastor Sean Kelly joined the staff in 1998. *Pastor Sean Kelly left Redeemer Lutheran Church at the end of June in 2007 to accept a call from the Penasquitos Lutheran Church at Rancho Penasquitos, San Diego, CA.
Pastor Harley Schmitt joined the staff in 1997 with special responsibilities for Pastoral Care. His title is "Congregational Care Pastor".
Pastor John Niewald joined the Redeemer Church staff on 1 July 1997 as an Associate Pastor.
Pastor Scott Nocton was called to Redeemer as an Associate Pastor on July 22, 2007. - Pastor Nocton has since taken a medical leave in 2011.
Pastor Jason DeShaw is the Pastor of the newly added Coon Rapids Campus Redeemer Church.
Grace McClure joined the staff of Redeemer Lutheran as an Intern Pastor in 2010.
Terri Anderson become Redeemer's newest Intern Pastor in 2013. Terri also has the additional responsiblity as Director of Community Life.
June had fond memories of all the Pastors who have served Redeemer over the years. As one might suspect, June did have some favorites among the group of pastors. In particular she remembered her relationship with Pastor Hermeier. The combined or joint humor and fun of Pastors Rudquist and Cross stood out as bright spots in the Church for June. Pastor Rudquist is also a clear favorite among some of June's children and grandchildren. The warmth and kindliness of Pastor Trued also made him a favorite. June loved all of the staff under and including Pastor Glesne. June viewed Pastor Kelly as a personable rising young star. (June was deep in the shadows of Alzheimer's when Pastor Kelly left to return to his home state of California.) Pastor Schmitt however, because of his kind and caring contacts with June, occupied a special place in her heart.
Redeemer Lutheran Church Women (LCW)
A series of Bulletins issued by this group dated 1986-1987 through 1997-1998 were reviewed. This collection of ten (10) bulletins when reviewed, disclosed a very active group of Redeemer women who appeared to be carrying a very heavy work load of Redeemer Church functions and services. This group of ladies was also affiliated with the ELCA and their official complete name was “Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.” The Women of the ELCA was not an auxiliary but rather an integral part of and partner in the ministries of the ELCA. The shorter name for the group was simply Lutheran Church Women. (LCW)
Lutheran Church Women was broken down into smaller groups called “Circles” Each Circle would meet monthly for Bible study, fellowship and business. Each circle was responsible for a designated church service project or projects. In the time period of 1986 and earlier, eleven (11) Circles were operating at Redeemer. Those 11 circles were: Lydia Circle, Martha Circle, Sarah Circle, Mary Circle, Rebecca Circle, Hannah Circle, Ruth Circle, Naomi Circle, Miriam Circle, Faith Circle, Priscilla Circle and in addition, the Altar Guild Group. Each Circle was headed by a Chairwomen or Co-Chairwomen. Twelve (12) members would be the typical makeup of the group. Meeting times varied from daytime to evening time. Meetings were most often held in one of the member’s homes. The Chairwomen would report to an Executive Board. The symbol of the Lutheran Church Women was a descending dove, a sign the early Christians used to represent the presence of the Holy Spirit among God’s people.
The number of LCW Circles diminished rapidly in the next few years so that by 1997-1998 only five (5) circles continued in operation at Redeemer. The first large reduction in Circles started in 1989-1990. The final five (5) circles in 1997-1998 were Sarah Circle, Rebecca Circle, Naomi Circle, Miriam Circle and the Priscilla Circle. The LCW was also comprised of a number of standing committees: Education, Membership, Service, Nominating, Library, Historian, Meals on Wheels, Funeral and Quilting. The LCW also conducted special events such as Christmas Smorgasbord, Quiche and Muffins Brunch, Mother-Child Salad Luncheon etc. This large fall back in the Redeemer Women's participation is unexplained but may have been one of the results of the social change of women leaving the homemaker status and entering the outside work force. This result was also probably a factor in the eventual discontinuation of LCW at Redeemer.
A review of the LCW Bulletins revealed that at all times June was member of one of the circles and a very busy lady. In the original eleven (11) Circles, June was the designated Chairwomen of the Ruth Circle. In the later consolidation of Circles into a smaller number, June was transitioned into the Rebecca Circle. June often served as the Circle Chairwoman or as a Co-Chairwoman. In the years 1989-1991, June served on the Service Committee. In 1989 (September 12th) when June was in the Rebecca Circle and serving as Chairwoman, their Circle hosted a style show (“Growing Together”) June served as one of the models for this Redeemer Style Show. In 1992-1993 June served on the Nominating Committee.
The 2004 Redeemer Church Directory has no further mention of the Redeemer Lutheran Church Women (LCW).
June's Work at the Redeemer Lutheran Church
From 1958 and onward, June quickly entered into the life of the rapidly growing Redeemer Lutheran Church. As I look back over June's life, I see it as a reflection of her doing God's work with no thought of praise, reward or hesitation. June "walked the walk". In her humility she always made light of and ignored her own achievements...many of June's achievements and or accomplishments I did not learn of until after her death in late 2008 due to complications of Alzheimer's.
(Photo below right is a team of Redeemer Volunteer Ladies working in the Church kitchen. Photo taken on June's birthday 8 November 1984. (L-R) Barb Olson, Velma Farr, Marilou Julian, June Berg and Marie Robertson.)
June was a member of the Redeemer Lutheran Church in Fridley for over 50 years. June's Redeemer Lutheran Church membership dated back to "World Wide Communion Sunday" on October 5th, 1958.
On this date, June and the entire Berg family became members of the Redeemer Lutheran Church. Our daughter Julie was barely one month old on the occasion.
The total of the church attendance on that Sunday in 1958 was 396 persons. There were three services. (8:30 AM, 9:45 AM and 11:00 AM.) The weekly offering totaled $763.70 or approx. $1.93 per person. The church was at the time involved in a building program. Since that time, Redeemer has of course had a continuous series of building programs.
(June hosting the Redeemer "Ruth Circle" meeting in her home at 6025 Gardena Lane, 10 June 1986. (L-R) Front row: Marie Robertson, Jeanne Lindquist, Velma Farr. Back row: Barb Olson, Sheryl Melin, Mary Ellen Luckow, and June Berg the host.)
It was sometime in the period of time during the early 1960's that June served as a Girl Scout Leader for the Girl Scout Troop sponsored by the Redeemer Lutheran Church. When help was needed in the Sunday school, (1973-1974) June volunteered to teach the third grade. At one time in the 1970s, June was active in the church "Bell" choir. In the middle 1980s, June acted as a "Meals on Wheels" church volunteer that delivered meals to the elderly in the immediate church area. June and a church friend Mary Ellen Luckow, served as volunteers to the Lynwood Nursing Home every Wednesday evening for over two years. They participated in dinner and visitation with the residents. June was also active in the church "Ruth" and later the "Rebecca" circles and took her turn hosting meetings in her home and often served as chairwoman. The Church was also a part of a weekday afternoon ministry to the Fridley Convalescent Nursing Home. Ardelle Hirschi recalls picking June up on the way to the nursing home during some of the ministry sessions. They would have a "sing-along" for the residents. Ardelle, who is sort of the unofficial Church Pianist, would play the piano while June and other Church Circle members would assist the residents of the home to find the proper songbook pages and sing with them. Jean Lindquist, one of June's church Circle friends and nearby neighbor, also recalls the nursing home ministry sessions. One of the Church Pastors would have a short sermon followed by communion. Frequently this would be Pastor Rudquist, The ministry session would end with coffee and cake provided by the circle.
June also served a year on the Redeemer Church Board. June also served on the Service and the Nominating Committee's. June was one of the church volunteers that provided periodic food and assistance to the Marie Sandvik Mission in downtown Minneapolis.
On September 12th 1989, the church had a fashion show for the ladies. June served as one of the models at this fashion show. (See photo below.)
June would take her turn as one of the Sunday Greeters at the church door. June also occasionally assisted with the Sunday coffee hour. June is a "Lutefisk" fan and usually helped with the preparation of the annual "Lutefisk and Meatball Dinner" in the fall of the year. She was also a participant in the "Wednesday Night Alive" activities. (Biblical study series.) For six years (1992-1998) June participated in the International BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) that met weekly for Bible study at the church. June later became active in the church "Leisure League" activities.
June has always had a grateful heart. June always remembered to thank God for all he had done for her and the family. I remember that even when June was deep in the shadows of Alzheimer's, she always thanked God amid tears at the meal grace periods. In her later years, June would frequently become confused in her prayer of grace, because of her Alzheimer's but not before she had thanked God. I would simply step in and complete her prayer for her.
Dean Eberhard (Redeemer member) tells how June was paired with him as an evangelism team to call on Redeemer Church members and visitors. This was a part of the Dr. Kennedy Evangelism Explosion program led by Redeemer's Pastor Erlandson in the 1970's. Dean describes June as:
"I remember for June, presenting the gospel was a very natural thing for her to do. People felt comfortable (not threatened) with her because she was so genuine and related effectively with them. Her love for the Lord shone through her as she conversed with the people...she had a special spirit about her and always smiling."
I am sure that as God closed June's book of life, he said to her:
"Well done, thou good and faithful servant."
The above photo was taken at the Redeemer Lutheran Church's 4:00 PM Candle Light Communion Service in the Sanctuary on Christmas Eve, December 24th, 2011. I was present at the 10:30 PM Candle Light Communion service and sitting near the front on the right side with my granddaughter Emily and my daughter Julie with her friend Geno. I hope that June was with us in spirit as she was in memory. The ceremony ended with the singing of "Silent Night", a very emotional time. It was a beautiful ceremony and is traditional every year at Redeemer. The Senior Pastor Dave Glesne gave the Christmas Eve message. The only lighting is that from the Chiristmas tree at the front of the Sanctuary and the many individual candles held by the seated members. (Photo is by long time Redeemer member and friend, Keith Olson.)
The above photo of the Redeemer Choir was taken on a Sunday Morning at the 10:15 service in the Sanctuary in December 2011. The rearmost male white hair on the right side in row seven next to the aisle is the author Stan Berg. (Photo is by Keith Olson.)
To visit Redeemer Lutheran Church, the vibrant, dynamic church that was June's church home for most of her lifetime, click on this link:
Lora Rushing Robinson - Benton, Louisiana - (16 April 2013): "I love reading about June, so this was a treat...I so much enjoyed reading this...and I loved the pictures....such elegance and beauty in the church and in June.....and I too, narrowly missed a tornado years ago...the tornado passed and touched down like five minutes after I had driven by a certain area, causing a lot of destruction...bless you"
Dave Glesne - Fridley, Minnesota - (22 April 2013): "Stan, This is an extraordinary summary and history! You have done diligent work!...Pastor Dave."
On October 23rd, 2008, June left this world for her heavenly home. June had struggled for almost eleven (11) years in an exhausting battle with Alzheimer's before God called her home.
"in my father's house are many mansions...I go to prepare a place for you..."
John 14:2 (KJV)
June's funeral obituary as printed in the Minneapolis Star and Tribune can be found in the drop down menu under the "In Memoriam" label on the top blue navigation strip:
Notes: Readers are encouraged to read/review the other chapter's (31 chapters) in this story of June K. Berg's life. (Reminiscences of a Traveling Grandmother) Each chapter is intended to be a capsule view of a small segment of June's life and travels'.
It is also intended to be a small segment of history from a time period of World War II and the periods both pre and post World War II. You will find the history is accurate and continues to be updated as new records and photographs become available.
June, a very humble person would never consider her life worthy of a story. To me June has been a lady for "All Seasons". A very unique, bright and highly principled Christian lady. While June like everyone, has likes and dislikes, I have never found her to be uninterested or bored with any thing that life has presented her.
June was well traveled. She traveled to Europe eleven (11) times and made at least 100 trips in and around the United States.
June would be included in Tom Brokaw's "The Greatest Generation."
Last update 4/15/2013