Monday, March 7, 2016

Charlotte: Growing Up at St. John's

My mother, Charlotte Hovick Lohman, moved from the tiny town of Madison, Minnesota (near the South Dakota border) to the college town of Northfield, Minnesota in 1926.

They very quickly became members of St. John's Lutheran Church, a mere nine-minute walk from their home (according to Google). Founded in 1869 by Norwegian immigrants, the congregation was earlier named St. Johannes Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Congregation. From the beginning, St. John's, as it later became known, had close ties with St. Olaf College. My grandparents, Charles and Pauline Hovick, dedicated to providing for a good education for their daughters, spent much of their lives working at St. Olaf. (But alas, there was no tuition discount offered to children of college employees at the time.) Charles was a custodian at Mohn Hall, and Pauline was house mother at Forest Hall, an off-campus dormitory. St. John's building was built in 1913.

My mom enrolled in something called St. John's Cradle Roll in 1927.

Music has always been so important in my family. My grandmother Pauline played the piano and taught her three daughters to play, and grandfather Charley played the mandolin. From the start, my mom sang in the choirs at St. John's. 
Here's St. John's in 1934, about the same time as the choir picture was taken.

June 9, 1940. That's her in the back row on the left, looking a bit glum, I must say. Mom was tall, so you'll often find her in the back row of photos.
Charlotte, decked out in her white robe and carnation, alongside her proud parents, Charley and Pauline.

High School
Mom saved the bulletin from their Christmas Day service in 1943, the year she graduated from Northfield High School. Note the staggering number of people from that single congregation who were serving in the military. (And on a lighter note, how many of them were named Anderson, Arneson, Asleson, Benson, Carlson, Edwardson, Ellingson, Hanson, Jacobson, Johnson, Jorgenson, Knutson, Peterson, Swanson, Thompson, and Tollefson. But, oddly enough, not an Olson in the whole lot.)

And later...
My mom's first marriage took place at St. John's on the evening of May 18, 1950 (look at the candlelight!). She married Rev. Warren Thompson, who died only fourteen months later, leaving her four months pregnant with their son, Charles (who was named after both of his grandfathers).
For decades, St. John's has been a gathering place for my extended family. So many funerals, yet they were opportunities to see beloved cousins who have spread out far and wide. 

And much later...
I had the thrill last year to go to St. John's to co-lead a Building an Inclusive Church training. It was so wonderful to be back in that space, combining my personal and professional lives, and to spend time with the good folks of St. John's who were so passionate about making the church one that fully welcomes LGBTQ people. Go, St. John's!

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