As Duluth was rapidly spreading westward in the late 1800’s, a need was realized for a Swedish Lutheran Church in the area. On September 3, 1890 a meeting was held to organize “Elim Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church.” At the first annual meeting in 1891, the newly formed congregation joined the Lutheran Minnesota Conference of Augustana Synod.
One of Elim’s first projects was to erect a building. With a membership of less than thirty and a great panic sweeping the nation, the congregation and pastor placed their faith in God and decided to purchase lots for a church and began building. Because of the widespread unemployment, many good workmen were available to help in the construction, with began on April 5, 1894. On July 1 of that same year, the first meeting was held in the new church. By 1896 Elim’s membership had grown to 120.
For the first 34 years of its history Swedish was the language used for worship. In 1924 this started to change. The decision to use English during the morning worship on the first Sunday of each month opened the door for its greater use as time went on. In 1940 the decision was finally made that if Elim was going to face its future it would have to do so in the native language of the nation.
Elim continued to grow in membership and in response the church was enlarged in 1925, making it the largest protestant church in West Duluth.
On Monday, May 15, 1961, Elim caught fire which eventually consumed the whole building. The cause was attributed to faulty wiring. The congregation was without a pastor at the time of the fire. Many of West Duluth’s churches opened their doors to the members of Elim during this difficult time. The congregation was faced with the question of whether to merge with Our Savior’s Lutheran Church or to rebuild. A vote was taken and the decision to build was determined by just two votes. The present site was chosen as the new home for Elim and construction began on August 18, 1963. Construction was completed on February 23, 1964.
November 28, 1987 is another day Elim will never forget. Fire once again broke out, this time in the church office. It was determined that arson was the cause of the fire. Cleanup and reconstruction took nearly a year.
In 1988 Elim became a part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. This same year Elim called its first of many interns. In the more than 125 years that Elim has been in ministry in West Duluth it has faithfully reached out with Christ’s love for all people. It is with enthusiasm that Elim greets the future.