top of page


Always striving to know,
love and serve God, and all people.

Our Story. Our Life. Our Home.


March 17, 1879

At a meeting in the Andrew Johnson Home, a few Scandinavians organized the Sandvikens Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Congregation. Pastor Moen conducted services only a few times each year. Sunday school and church services were held in homes of the parishioners, most frequently in the home of John Henry Peterson. In 1888 or 1889 the small log church shown in the drawing was erected and served at the house of worship until 1893. The log church was located about 1/2 mile south of the present church but on the east side of the road (Now Minnesota Hwy 238). In 1888 the name of the congregation was changed to Gethsemane Evangelical Lutheran Church.


Pastors during these formative years were: Pastor T. Moen, Pastor C. Wahlund, Student Pastor J.A. Carlsrom, Mr Gust Rinstrom, and Pastor J. Magney.


White Frame Church

Gethsemane Lutheran congregation outgrew the little log church and plans were made to build a new church. An eleven acre tract of land on the west side and a little north of the original church site was purchased. Pastor Magney, a traveling missionary who conducted services a few times a year, drew up the plans for the new church.

Parishioners donated logs which were sawed into lumber. After many struggles, much labor and sacrifice, the church was erected and the first service was held in 1894.


In 1899 Pastor J. Albert Johnson was called to be the first resident pastor. The first parsonage was built in 1898-99 and cost $1200. In 1906 and 1907 improvements were made to the interior of the church. A cellar was made and a furnace was installed. The bell, still in the building today, was given by the Ladies Aid at a cost of $425 (A sum equal to the pastor's yearly salary).

In 1916 and 1917 new pews were purchased and the high altar with an oil painting was added. In 1919 electric lights were installed in the parsonage and in 1923 they were added to the church.

From 1888-1898 ministers to the congregation were J.P. Lindbald, Alfred Nelson, Nordin Hultcrants, M.P. Magney and J.A. Johanson. Student Pastors were G. Ristrom, Peter Peterson, and Edward Schuck.

Pastor J. Albert Johnson, the first resident pastor served from 1899 to 1904. Other pastors were Pastor J.E. Hedberg (1904-1905), Pastor J.S. Ryding (1905-1908), F.G.Granquist and Pastor J.S. Cronberg (1908-1910), Pastor J.A. Gustafson (1910-1912), Dr. M Peterson (1912-1914), and Pastor P.S. Miller (1915-1923).


Brick Church

The church built in 1892 received a new outside dress in the form of brick veneer in 1923.

Services were conducted in Swedish until 1927 when Pastor Bergdahl arrived. He conducted an English service on the first Sunday of each month. In 1932, English and Swedish services alternated every other Sunday.

In 1937, a new roof was laid and the interior was remodeled. Another renovation of the interior took place in the early 1940's when the stained glass windows and new lights were added. In 1940 a new parsonage was built.

In 1942 Pastor Olson encouraged us to do a harvest festival offering rather than hold auctions and other fundraisers. The first harvest festival offering was $118.20. The offering has increased nearly every year, generous parishioners have surpassed $10,000 in recent years.

Pastors who served during these years were Rev W. Lindberg and Pastor O.H. Ardahl (1924-1927), Rev Samuel Bergdahl (1927-1939), Rev Hjalmer Olson (1940-1943), and Rev H. Albert Larson (1944-1949).



In 1952 an addition was made to the south and west sides of the church. This addition housed the chapel, two classrooms, offices for the pastor and church secretary on the upper level. The lower level of the addition provided a library/nursery, an archives/classroom, two restrooms, a furnace room and a storage area.

About 1960 the basement dining room was curtained off to provide more classrooms. New light oak pews were installed in the sanctuary.

Pastors serving during this time were Rev E. Edward Tornow (1950-1956), Rev J.L. Benson (1956-1958), Rev A.M. Gustafson (1958-1962), Rev Anton Lundeen (1962-1965), and Rev Raymond Johnson (1966-1976).

In 1968 a new front entry was added. It created a Narthex and eliminated the winter problem of ice and snow covered steps.

Pastor David Everett served Gethsemane from 1976 to 1984. A new parsonage had been built in 1976 and Pastor Dave, his wife Karen and son Steven were the first family to live in it.

Pastor Raymond Johnson was named Pastor Emeritus in 1976 and he continued to live in the older parsonage until he moved to the Augustana Apartments in Minneapolis in 1994. Pastor Johnson died August 27, 1997. He was 91 years old.

Pastor Victor Nelson was the next pastor. He served Gethsemane from 1985 to 1989. Pastor Pat Hall introduced the contemporary worship service while he was pastor from 1989-1991.



Pastor Alan Bray, his wife Gretchen and daughter, Julia, came to Gethsemane in 1992 and stayed until 2000. It was under his guidance that a new church building was built on the land west of the existing church.

Pastor David Sorenson, along with wife Joleen and children Kiersten, Andrew, and Garrett, was called to Gethsemane in 2001 and served the congregation until 2004.

Pastor Trisha Jorgenson, along with husband Mitch and children Nadja and Austin, was called in 2004 and served the congregation until 2014.

In August of 2015, Pastor CJ Boettcher along with his wife Kandice, was called to serve our congregation. They were blessed with a baby girl, Emma Grace, in 2017. Pastor CJ Boettcher served this congregation until 2019.

In the fall of 2019, Mavis Buker, a SAM (Synod Authorized Minister) served our congregation  through COVID and beyond until December 2023 where she retired to enjoy life. Mavis and her husband, David currently are active members of our church family.

Cooperation between two synods brought two congregations together, First Lutheran Church in Sauk Centre and Gethsemane Lutheran in Upsala, to form a strong partnership. We have formed a great shared ministry team that will allow Gethsemane to remain a strong and viable community.

Our current leadership includes Pastor Mike Carlson (lead pastor), Pastor Becky Thomas (associate pastor) and Vicar Diana Brown (intern).

Let's Connect

155 Walnut Ave W

PO Box 128

Upsala MN 56384

(320) 573-2001

Join us!

10:30 a.m. 

Sunday Worship

9:30a.m. Summer Worship (Memorial - Labor Day)



bottom of page