Memorial project for first Finnish Methodist church moves ahead
Dan Reed gave a report about excavating the large rock that will be used as the memorial on the site of the first Finnish Methodist church in the United States at the meeting of the planning group on Thursday, March 20.
Reed explained that Dale Sandberg of Sandberg Excavating had dug out one large rock on Reed property near the Dead Moose River in western Carlton County on Friday, March 17, but it proved to be too large for the monument and too heavy to move.
That rock was abandoned, with an open area around it, for a small pond for wildlife.
Another large rock was located just 10 feet away and dug out easily. It was the proper size for the monument, and it had more pink in the granite than the original gray granite rock.
The rock was loaded onto to a scoot, pulled onto to car hauler, and taken to Sandberg's property. The group went to look at the rock after the meeting and gave their approval.
Meanwhile, more information is becoming available about the congregation of the church. Reed said he might have photos of the Michaelson family, the founders of the church.
Reed told the group that plans are to have the rock in place in May. Two smaller stones will be excavated and placed on either side of the large stone memorial, and clumps of birch trees will be planted on either side of the memorial.
An attorney is going to facilitate the transfer of the property to the group at no charge.
The building currently on the site where the memorial will be placed will be removed soon.
The site is at the intersection of Highway 27 and Walczak Road, west of Moose Lake, near the West Side Church.
The dedication ceremony has been set for Sunday, July 6, at 1 p.m. The group discussed the ceremony and who would be asked to speak and provide the music.
The names of a county commissioner, a state representative, a congressman, a representative of the United Methodist Church and the historical society were listed as potential speakers. The name of a person from Moose Lake who sings Finnish songs will be asked to provide the music.
The people who attend the ceremony will travel to Moose Lake to the depot for refreshments after the ceremony, and then move on to the Moose Lake High School to watch a performance of Reed's play, "When We Come to Cut the Grass," a story about a grandmother telling stories to her grandson about how people dealt with the tragedy of the 1918 fire.
A letter will be sent out asking for donations for the project, estimated at $14,000. Grants are not often available to religious groups, it was said.
Articles about the project will be placed in Finnish newspapers and publications in both the United States and Finland, along with information about where to send donations.
Information about the project will also be included in the Moose Lake Area Historical Society's newsletter that will come out at the end of March.
A Facebook page was set up at Finnish Methodist Episcopal Church, Salem, near Moose Lake, Minnesota. Photos about the project will be posted to the Facebook page, it was said.
Wording for the inscription was discussed.
An engraving of the log building will be included on the monument, and discussion took place about an artist who could design the simple drawing suitable for the engraving.
The following week, from March 24 to the 26th, a large slab was removed from the rock by a crew from Superior Diamond Concrete Cutting to create a flat surface for the inscription.
The rock revealed beautiful pink and orange colors inside, with a streak of copper in one area.
The rock surface was smoothed to remove any saw marks.
The next step is to polish the rock before the inscription is engraved.
For those who would like to donate to the project, send a check payable to the Moose Lake United Methodist Church, with the designation "Finnish Marker," and send it to: Steve Olson, Moose Lake UMC, P.O. Box 467, Moose Lake, MN 55767.
The next meeting was set for Thursday, April 24, at 1 p.m. at the United Methodist Church in Moose Lake in the lower level.