LAKE CAMPBELL, S.D. (KELO) — A congregation in eastern South Dakota is celebrating a big milestone in June.
You’ll find Lake Campbell Lutheran Church nestled along a gravel road in Brookings County.
The ringing of a bell will let you know service is starting.
The church is a constant in 69-year-old Arlen Trygstad’s life.
“I was baptized here, confirmed here,” Church member Trygstad said.
His family’s connection to the congregation starts way before he was born.
His ancestors, the Trygstad family, were some of the founding members of the congregation in 1870.
“They started meeting at someone’s farm to begin,” Trygstad said.
A church was built in 1878.
Then in 1890 a new church was built on donated land.
That rural landmark is still home to church services today.
Its congregation has persevered through challenges.
“Different economic times. You know, business or family, they go through good times and lean times, and the same has gone on with the church and it’s pretty much taken everybody pulling together to keep things going,” Trygstad said.
Church members were supposed to celebrate 150 years in 2020, but another challenge, COVID-19, delayed it by two years.
Pastor Jackie Braun was called to the church just as the pandemic was hitting South Dakota.
That would kick off live-streamed services, as the pandemic paused in-person worship.
“God sometimes calls us to do crazy things and doesn’t give us a lot of time to prepare, but we figure it out along the way, and we did,” Rev. Jackie Braun said.
Braun says anywhere from 50 to 100 people worship in this rural church on Sundays, but the online option increases attendance.
When she thinks about the years to come, she’s optimistic.
“I see us growing and thriving and doing what they’ve been doing for the last 150 years, figuring it out, listening to God’s call to them to follow and to serve one another as best as they can,” Braun said.
Trygstad says he’s noticed more younger families getting involved with the church.
“And I would like to see that continue because there was a time when my generation was the younger ones and that wasn’t very long ago. Now we’re starting to see the 30 and 40-year-olds coming back in, younger than that and it’s fun to hear the little kids raising cane during the services,” Trygstad said.
It’s the younger generation that will lead this congregation to even more milestones down the road.
“Our forefathers were able to start this church and build it, and it’s up to us to maintain it and keep things going and keep spreading the word,” Trygstad said.
So far this congregation is doing just that.
The congregation will celebrate 150 years on June 12th starting at 9:00 a.m. with church service and then fellowship to follow.