Trinity Lutheran

Trinity Lutheran, known as the “Hill Church,” sits surrounded by evergreens west of Oldham, S.D. It served a community of Scandinavian immigrants from about 1897 to 1925 before the congregation joined the church in town.

I grew up just down the hill from our church in Clear Lake, South Dakota. Thank goodness we lived close, because my dad was usually still knotting his necktie as we walked out the door minutes before the service was set to begin.

On Christmas Eve, as we make the walk in the dark of a winter evening, my mom likes to remind everyone of the year I was born. A blizzard kept most people from attending the candle light service that year. My parents wrapped me in blankets and battled the wind on the walk to the church’s double doors.

I heard that story again this year. It was the first time since my grandparents died a few years ago, that we celebrated Christmas Eve in Clear Lake. Thankfully, we had clear roads to travel home that night, and the blizzard held off until our Christmas celebrations were over. That winter weather can sure ruin travel plans around here.

I was well aware of that last year when I scheduled and rescheduled several road trips to rural churches for our Prayers on the Prairie series.

Now in its fifth year running, this winter feature highlights rural churches across our coverage area. We dive into their history, take some pretty photos and talk to current members about what makes their place of worship a special one. We try to feature a different church in each issue, but that didn’t happen last year. The snowy weather kept me from making it to many places.

I’m hoping this year is kinder to the traveler so I can visit more churches and bring you more stories.

Anticipating some weather disruptions, I worked ahead a little bit over the last year. I visited a hand full of churches through the spring and summer months. Some of the pictures will look a little unseasonable.

We’re kicking off this year with a beautiful brick church outside of Dimock in southeastern South Dakota. I visited last May when the huge lilac bushes around the church were in full bloom.

I’m looking for more churches to fill out our winter series, so if you know of a quaint rural church that would make a good story, please reach out to me by email at or give me call at 800-888-1380. And if you can promise clear roads and friendly weather, even better.

Janelle is editor of the Tri-State Neighbor, covering South Dakota, southwestern Minnesota, northwestern Iowa and northeastern Nebraska. Reach her at or follow on Twitter @JLNeighbor