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Bayside celebrates 130 Superior years

Clockwise from left, church members Lucy Bergstrom, Cathy Whitby, Pat Sislo and Jan Tunell gather around pastor Thomas Bush to admire a polished communion chalice that was used by previous congregations at Bayside Baptist Church. Artifacts and pictures will be on display Sunday and Thursday during the church's 130th anniversary celebration.(Submitted photo)

Explore the history of Bayside Baptist Church through stories, artifacts and testimony next week as the church celebrates 130 years in Superior.

"I know there's a lot of people in our congregation who are very proud of that and the impact we've had on our community," interim pastor Thomas Bush said.

The anniversary and God's faithfulness will be the focus of the 10 a.m. worship service Sunday, which will include a baptism service and be followed by a church picnic.

Take a deeper dive into church history Thursday, Aug. 16, at 6:30 p.m. Members will share stories and testimonies. There will be a celebratory prayer time followed by a dessert fellowship.

Historical archives, pictures and artifacts from the past 130 years will be on display.

"We'd love to have anyone with a past connection with Bayside come celebrate with us," Bush said. "It's great to see old friends and old faces. Everyone is welcome."

In August 1888, First Swedish Baptist Church of West Superior was founded by Swedish immigrants. A one-room church was built in 1889 at North Sixth Street and Weeks Avenue for $1,200.

"Billings Park was not populated, so at the time, North End was West End," Bush said.

A second, larger building was built on the same site in 1900. The congregation moved to a building at North 20th Street and Ogden Avenue, now the Heritage Apartments, in 1922 and became Ogden Avenue Baptist.

In 1995, the church traveled west to Billings Park and changed its name to Bayside Baptist.

Donna Herstad's been attending Bayside Baptist Church for more than 67 years. Her family has a 100-year history with the church.

"My great-aunt and my grandmother, there was six in the family, my great-great grandfather would put them on the trolley with 15 cents each — 5 cents for the trolley to church, 5 cents for the trolley home and 5 cents for offering," she said. "They only spoke Swedish after church."

Ledgers from the earliest years are written in Swedish. It was the language of choice for Sunday morning worship, with English spoken during evening services. English services took over completely in the 1930s, Bush said.

Today, about 400 attend Sunday services. The church also offers a community garden, a dresser ministry through Lake Superior Life Care Center, a food pantry, the Promise 14:18 ministry for adoptive and foster parenting and monthly activities for older adults.

"I think our church has always been reaching into the community, trying to serve our community and care for our community," Bush said.

In trying times, the congregation has come together.

A fire destroyed the building on Weeks Avenue months before the Ogden church was finished in 1923. Services were set up in buildings around Superior until the new church was complete.

Following the stock market crash of 1929, just footing the coal bill for one room was too much for the congregation to pay.

Church women stepped forward to hold bake and rummage sales, serve dinners, sell raffle tickets and more to pay off the mortgage.

"My great-aunt she said they stuck a booth out at the fairgrounds," Herstad said. "They sold homemade items and they sold food. They did that until the bill was paid."

For her, fellowship is what sets Bayside Baptist apart.

"The brother and sister fellowship," Herstad said. "We always stand up for each other."

Bush said time and again, stories of the past highlight "perseverance."

"And God has been good in just blessing this ministry and this church," he said.