Beside the shores of the mighty Columbia River and its tributary, the Cowlitz River, a small group of Finnish-American believers farmed and fished to earn their temporal livelihood. These believers also saw the need for spiritual food and endeavored to keep services for the nourishment of their undying souls.

The earliest records of this congregation are in the treasury accounts. The books show that between the years 1898 - 1900 a total of $7.40 was collected for communion expenses. In 1901 the membership contained 29 names, each person paying dues of between 25 cents to 20 dollars. These dues plus the communion collection gave the congregation total assets of $139.55.

At this time the congregation began to think of building a church. A certain member donated land on Mt. Solo which is a small mountain on the western edge of what is now the city of Longview. The records show that in 1902, when they were building their church, they received financial donations from Calumet and Republic, Michigan; French Lake, Minnesota; Astoria, Quincy and Westport, Oregon; and Seal River, Oak Point, Stella and Klickitat, Washington. The church was built between the years 1901 - 1903.

The first official minutes of the congregation were written at a yearly meeting held on January 25, 1903, in the Mt. Solo church building. At this meeting a board was elected whose members were: Chairman, Hille Lahti; Secretary, Johan Kela; Treasurer, Matti Rytinki and trustees, Petter Jaacobson and L. G. Määttä. (Note: all names are spelled as they appear in the original minutes with spellings changing according to the writer of the minutes.)

After the second annual meeting in 1904, an extra meeting was held on January 10th, at which time it was decided to seek legal incorporation of the church. This incorporation was finalized and sealed by the state of Washington on March 30, 1904 as the Finnish Apostolic Lutheran Church. This was the name which was in general use by the Laestadian believers in the United States until the mid 1970's. Those signing the incorporation papers were board members John Kela, Peter Jacobson, William Lahti, Matt Ryding, Gustav Määtä, Henry Mustola and Victor Seeborg.

The first servants of the congregation were Petter Jacobson, William Lahti and Antti Wirkkala. Services were held regularly on a monthly basis in this church until about 1927 and yearly meetings perhaps as late as 1930. A notice inserted to the minutes says that services were held in the Mt. Solo church on January 17, 1927. This was possibly the last time services were held in this building. In 1929 a discussion was held as to whether the church should be repaired or sold. However, there appeared to be some problem as to ownership of the church land. A decision was made to ask Long-Bell Lumber Company to buy the building for $500. Long-Bell offered $100, which was unacceptable to the congregation. They decided to ask $200 and advertise it in the daily newspaper. The only further mention of the church sale was a 1931 entry in the treasurer's books of receiving $12.50 for the church boards. It appears evident that the church was dismantled and the lumber sold.

After this time monthly services and Sunday school were held in the homes. The Sunday school classes were held only in the summer months. When visiting ministers came from Finland or the Midwest, another church or larger facility was rented. Henry Kukkola was a minister in the mid 40's for a short time. Until his death, services were held in his home which was a former grange building. The congregation did not have a church of its own again until 1949 when the building on 11th and Maple Streets in Longview was completed. At that time the congregation had begun to grow but was still very small. Oscar and Aldevin Laulainen were serving as ministers of the congregation when this second church was built.

Tapani Ojalehto began to serve the congregation on a monthly basis until the mid 60's. Throughout the years, believing ministers were called in conjunction with the Astoria congregation. There is mention made in the records of Henry Alajoki, Ivar Lehtinen, John Nelson, Vasunta and Vaarala having visited in the 1930's. Many other believing ministers have visited the congregation since that time, however the list would be too long for this short history. In 1963 Lauri Hakso was called from Finland to be the minister of the congregation. Astoria, Quincy and Seattle also took part in this call and promised to support him as a minister and call him to keep services each month in their localities. The name of the local congregation was changed in the mid 70's to Longview Laestadian Lutheran Congregation. In the late 70's the Quincy congregation had become so small that they sold their building and joined the Longview congregation. At the same time the congregation began to experience more rapid growth with a number of young families moving from other areas of the United States. Also, a number of the young people married and remained in the local area. The church building was now too small and a building fund was started in 1979. In November of 1984 the last services were held in the Maple Street church. At that time, the church was leased, with an option to buy, to a man for his funeral business. This business prospered and the church was sold to him. For almost two years all church functions, which included services, bible class, day circle, and Sunday school, were held in rented facilities.

During the spring and summer of 1985, ground preparation and building of a new church began. This church is built on land purchased from Lauri Hakso and is located west of Longview in a beautiful country setting. Dedication services were held in conjunction with LLC (Laestadian Lutheran Church, formerly AALC) Area I Fall Services in September 1986. Around 600 service guests, including children, attended these services. In 1987, the congregation was the host of the LLC Summer Services. The first two days of services were held in the new building and the next two at Rainier High School. The attendance at the summer services was estimated at around 1300. In 1994 the congregation again hosted the LLC summer services with about 1700 guests in attendance. The membership of the local congregation is now 415 including children. The activities of the congregation have increased as the size has increased. Services are held every Sunday throughout the year. Bible class, Sunday school and day circle are held during the school months only. In the summer months there is an evening service on Wednesdays in place of bible study. There are a number of special activities which have come into being as the need has arisen. These include many different camps, youth bible class, youth discussion, parenting workshops, congregation days and discussions and so on.

We have been abundantly blessed here in Longview, as well as throughout North America, by our gracious Heavenly Father. May He continue to keep us within His protective arms of Grace.

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