A Growing Staff
In June 1944, five young ladies came to assist Naomi and Anna with Vacation Bible School; they conducted 13 bible schools in rural communities that summer. Most of these girls were North Park students, some preparing for World Missionary work. There had never been Bible schools in any of these communities, and the teachers soon found out the children knew practically nothing about the Bible. It was this same summer that Young People’s meetings were started in the Mission Home on Sugar Run. Because Gertrude and Arnold were going to stay in Chicago a year while Arnold finished seminary, LaVerne Person was asked to remain after Bible schools were over to help Naomi and Anna.
When Gladys Anderson of Nebraska joined the staff in August 1944, she took charge of the Young People’s group and also started the Ladies Bible Class. Being a registered nurse, she often was called to the homes to help doctor the sick and deliver babies. Sometimes this meant walking long distances through fields, woods, over fences, fording streams, etc. There was at this time a great need for nurses and midwives, and others on the staff accompanied her on these errands of mercy.
Again in 1945, four girls from North Park College came to assist the Bible schools, which were held in rural schools, rural churches and the missionary home.
In August 1945, Rev. and Mrs. Arnold Johnson (Gertrude Warner) joined the staff permanently. As yet we did not have our own churches, but he helped out at Pleasant Hill Methodist Church, Rollers Chapel Methodist Church, and Elijah’s Knob besides helping with the school work and visitation in all communities.
Another of our summer workers, Gladys Hansen of Seattle, Washington came back for a year to replace LaVerne Person who went back to North Park to finish her schooling.
Through the Vacation Bible Schools and chapel services in the public schools, the Missionaries learned of the need of Sunday Schools in two rural areas. Having permission to use the Mount Washington and Larimer schoolhouses, Sunday School was begun in both places on Home Missions Sunday October 21, 1945. One Sunday School was held in the morning and one in the afternoon so Arnold could have a preaching service in each place. One more member was added to our staff when Birgit Lundgren came in November 1945. Now with more workers, 48 schools were visited and more extensive visitation and youth work was done in the new communities.
Gladys Hansen and Birgit Lundgren left in August of 1946, and Winifred Swenson of Rockford, Illinois joined the staff permanently having spent two previous summers at Covenant Mountain Mission. She too had long felt a definite call of the Lord for Home Missionary work in the southern mountains. This was intensified and made possible after having spent two summers there.
Attendance and enthusiasm was good in both the newly organized Sunday schools, and the need was great; therefore, we began looking for land upon which to build. In October of 1946, seven acres of land was purchased in the Mount Washington community. Plans were made for a temporary living quarters for the Johnson’s, which would also serve as a meeting place until a permanent home and church could be built.
We felt the need of having workers living in the communities where the Sunday Schools were located. The coming of Ruth Gustafson in January of 1947 made it possible for Naomi and Winifred to move to a small four-room house about one mile from the Larimer schoolhouse on Wallens Creek. They were in charge of the work there except for the preaching services on Sunday, which Arnold Johnson conducted. Gladys and Ruth Gustafson helped in the teaching in both Sunday Schools.
It wasn’t long until youth meetings were started, and also Saturday Bible classes, Ladies Bible classes, and Sunday night prayer services in the Missionary Home and other available homes. Because there was no electricity in the schoolhouse, it was difficult to have night meetings there.
On May 12, 1947 Gerturde and Arnold moved into the new multipurpose building on the mission property in the Mount Washington Community. When Ruth Gustafson left in July 1947, Mildred Olson of Trimont, Minnesota joined the staff. All meetings in the Mount Washington community were moved to the community center home.
In August 1948, Ruth Kasper of Topeka, Kansas joined the staff, living with Gladys Anderson and Mildred Olson on Sugar Run. Beverly Pearson from Iowa arrived June 1949 joining the other girls on Sugar Run for a few months. In September, Gladys Anderson left Covenant Mountain Mission, and work in the Sugar Run community was discontinued. The people there were now able to carry on the work themselves.
That fall Beverly and Ruth moved into a small cottage just down the hill from the mission property. When Beverly left a year later, Mildred Westberg and Ethel Iverson moved in with Ruth Kasper. Ethel Iverson, a licensed midwife and R.N. worked part-time for the mission and part-time for Dr. Ely in Jonesville. Now it was possible to have clinics and hygiene classes in our communities.
At Christmas of 1949 we received a deed for land from Mr. and Mrs. Paul Rasnic of the Wallens Creek community, and plans were immediately begun for the building of a church there.
Through funds raised by the National Covenant Women, a church and parsonage were built on the mission property. The Arnold Johnson’s moved into the parsonage in the fall of 1949. The Chapel and parsonage were dedicated on March 19, 1950. All this was made possible through the concern and publicity, which the National Covenant Women put forth as their great project at that time. The church was organized in 1961.