What's your Story?
Sinai members, past interns and pastors helped with a story
sharing project that is a part of Sinai's 125th anniversary
year. Stories have been printed in a bulletin during this year,
posted on the Sinai website and on Sinai's facebook page
so that people can read these stories and learn more about
our congregregation. A booklet with stories from the 100th
year in 1991 along with these Why Sinai stories are available
for pick up to take home with you to read!
Sinai is small enough to nudge me out of my comfort zone to
serve in new ways, small enough that I can remember whether I
saw a fellow member in our church. And I know that others will
care if I'm not in church on a Sunday. Sinai is a place where I
can watch people as they go to communion and know important
pieces of their faith stories. Or, when I assist with communion, I
could (If I didn't fear forgetting someone!) say each
communicants's name. Those who come together at the corner
of 8th and Pebble are my family. As in any family, some are
closer than others, but everyone is a tangible reminder that we
are all part of God's family on earth. Gary Overfield
We came to Sinai in 1970 because we knew the pastor, and the
church was adjacent to the campus of Midland Lutheran College,
where Ron was to begin teaching. We have come to love the
people of Sinai and consider them a big part of our family.Elmer
and Freda Johnson, Paul and Dolores Watson, Rudy and
Glennice Carlson and Dale and Ruth Lund were among the first
who graciously accepted us, made us feel welcome and provided
guidance as we became involved in service to Sinai and the
community. Through serving on Church Council, teaching
Sunday School, singing in the choir (yes, Ron sang in the choir
for a time), and serving on Evangelism Committee, Worship and
Music Committee, Altar Guild, and ELCW, we felt at
home.Although I had been brought up as a Southern Baptist, the
Lutheran liturgical service drew me into a place in worship which I
had never experienced. I soon began using my talents to
contribute to worship by directing Cherub Choir, Junior Choir,
Senior Choir (not all at the same time), and ultimately Bell Choir.
I am always honored when I am asked to play my violin or viola.
I have even been known to attempt to play my recorder under
Gary Overfield’s leadership. Sinai feels like family to us. While
our two sons live far away, we feel truly loved by this body of
people called Sinai and look forward to the years to come.
Sinai is a place that makes me feel like I belong. Since the first
day our family walked through the doors looking for a new church
to attend, the members made us feel right at home and like
family. It was easily one of the deciding factors for us in deciding
to join the church. I had never taken part in any church service,
other than to attend, before my family came to Sinai. Now my
whole family has had the opportunity to be part of worship, and it
has helped us all build a stronger relationship with each other, the
congregation and God. Sinai has certainly been an important part
of building our children's faith and providing them with the
opportunity to see the importance of faith in our lives. I am proud
to be part of Sinai's congregation and look forward to continuing
to build relationships with our church family. Chris Bogenreif
Sinai is a place that can mean many things for so many people.
What it means to me? I feel relaxed when I’m at Sinai. I feel like I
can be myself and have honest opinions about things without
being judged. There are places that, if I said that about these
places, I wouldn’t be telling the truth. Sinai is a place where
people come to worship God without second-guessing
themselves. Everybody should want to feel good. Where at other
places, other public places, you feel like you need to act
differently in order to fit in. Nobody should have to act a certain
way or say certain things just to feel good about themselves to fit
in. I never feel that I have to do these things and that’s what Sinai
means to me. It’s a place where you feel good.
In the past few years, Joe Fuhr has taken to hugging every
single person in church on a given Sunday. Sometimes he does
it during Communion when people are standing in line waiting to
receive the body and blood of Christ. One Sunday he got a little
carried away and the whole line was clogged up and Communion
took a little longer that day. If anyone has consumed and
become the love of Christ, it’s beautiful Joe Fuhr.
One Sunday, Ethan Bogenreif and his mother Kristin were
standing in line in the aisle waiting for Communion. Ethan had
worn his Sunday trousers and had forgotten his belt. Behind him,
his mother periodically hoisted up his trousers that kept inching
their way down. Then Ethan saw Joe Fuhr sitting in the pew on
the other side of the aisle. Ethan crossed the aisle and hugged
Joe. Ethan lost track of his trousers a little bit, and the
Communion line was disrupted, and his mother was biting her lip
because she really wanted to return the trousers back to a higher
position. For me this was an exquisite portrait of Christ’s love,
carried on through Joe Fuhr: a hug so enthusiastic that it disrupts
the regular order and is so much more important than trousers
inching down. Nearby, a loving mother, another agent of Christ,
worries about falling trousers. Jeanne Kocher
As a parent representative for Stretch (Confirmation) and leader
of Middle School Forum, Sinai has blessed me with many gifts.
These opportunities have opened my heart, mind, and body to a
new way of teaching God's Word. No longer is religious
education just instructional classroom work. It is a way to be
active in class, church, and community through sharing our daily
lives with each other so that we may build relationships with God
and Christ's Community.
One of my favorite activities during this time is "Highs and Lows."
This is where everyone gets the opportunity to share something
positive and negative in their lives over the past week. It is a
great tool for people to begin sharing their lives and building a
relationship with each other.
I thank God for providing me this Faith Foundation and the
people of Sinai that brought forth all these wonderful
God's blessings and peace!! Aaron Wulf
When I moved to Fremont 10 years ago, I was looking for a
smaller church that I could become a part of. I was drawn to
Sinai due to the people that greeted me from the first day I visited
and seemed to genuinely care about me. I was also interested in
music being such an important part of worship and I found that at
Sinai. When I first joined, special music was held at both
services and I appreciated this and hope that more special
music can be incorporated into both services again in the future.
I think that being a part of the Sinai community has helped me
grow in my faith by participating in worship, bible studies and
helping out whenever I am able to use the gifts that God has
given me. Gail Barth
I think Sinai is a wonderful place because the congregation is
very kind and caring and the people around me feel like family.
There is Sunday School and all the teachers are very kind. They
teach something new and exciting every week. There is also a
Sinai Singers group that sings about stories in the Bible. I love to
hear the adult choir. Every so often they have a bell choir that
plays bells and chimes. Sinai has helped my family through
really tough times and they always make me feel good when I
am sad or don't feel good about myself. Our Pastor is one of the
kindest people you might ever meet. I like how in the middle of
the service he will tell a nice story that is related to the Bible and
it always touches my heart. Those are the reasons I love Sinai.
Eunice and I joined Sinai in September 1959. Sinai was then
the Swedish Lutheran Church in Fremont. Howard
Youngblum was Pastor at that time. Some years later, a
member of Sinai came to me at the bank requesting a loan of
$1000. He was a mechanic at the Mav Auto Repair Shop,
which was closed. He had a job with an auto shop in Omaha,
but he needed help providing transportation to Omaha. I had
to tell him I could not get his loan past the bank loan
The next Sunday, something hit me from the sermon that
maybe there was something Sinai could do. We were a
twelve member Council. I gathered them together and
explained the situation. Ron Johnson was a member of the
Council, and he said that he was going to visit the Lutheran
Credit Union in Omaha and see if they could help. He
reported back that the Union would make the loan if ten board
members would each buy a $100 certificate and pledge it
toward loan. Ten members said, “Yes.” So Leroy and I
visited the family for their approval, which they gave. So the
money was collected and Ron took it from there.
A couple of years later, I was in Omaha and checked with the
Credit Union to see how the loan was doing. They said the
loan had been refinanced, and his credit was OK. The
certificates were no longer needed. Some were redeemed. I
suggested they write others and say their certificates were no
longer needed and could be redeemed at their convenience.
A great Council, as have been many others. Joe Fuhr
To me the words "church family" was always just something
churches used as a welcoming tool. Soon after joining Sinai it
became apparent that these words would take on a deeper
meaning. We are an actual family with all the blessings,
problems, and heartaches that any family experiences. I love
that I have people who are so special to me ranging from 2 to 92.
We don't always agree with or even sometimes like each other
but accept and respect members in and through various
situations. As in any family, we all have different interests and
gifts and Sinai offers needs and opportunities for each of us to
serve and be fulfilled. I am so grateful to have found a place
where I can sing, love and learn with small children, and enhance
my life with "forever friends"....FAMILY.... Ann Knippelmeir
I have to confess that I grew up privileged! I was blessed to be
placed in the most wonderful Christian family, in the most
beautiful small white country church, in the middle of nowhere,
surrounded by loving grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles,
cousins, . . . you get the picture, . . . where from my earliest
memories I felt safe and nurtured in the teachings of Jesus.
From those early lessons, and with the visual history of early
Christians with shows like the “Bible AD,” I realize that for many
followers of Jesus thousands of years ago and today, fear was
and is a daily part of life. For them to draw half of the symbol for
a fish in the sand, and then have a stranger finish that symbol
must have given them instant security. Every follower of Christ
should be privileged like I have been, and now Sinai completes
my" FISH," and I know that, gathered in his name with friends
and family here, I can still enter and be moved by song, prayer,
and communion in a secure, safe, loving place. Vickie Ruether
What's in a name? Immanuel-First-Bethany-Grace-Sinai
These are the churches that have guided me through my faith
journey. Each one has stretched my mind with Bible study,
music, caring friends and showing care for others. When our
family came to Fremont, Nebraska, we were welcomed into
Sinai. We were excited to find a congregation caring not only for
its members but for Habitat, Care Corps, Low Income Ministry
and many other places. Truly…Our “Lives are under
construction,” and Sinai is the place to be! Ruth Lund
I was married to Roger on October 12, 1957. Of course Roger
was born and raised at Sinai. He was a member for 75 ½
years before he passed away on 12-15-13. I joined Sinai after
we were married. Our two daughters were both baptized and
confirmed at Sinai. Roger’s grandparents were married here in
1907. His parents were married here on September 14, 1934.
I have had a good history with Sinai and made a lot of friends.
The choir has made my time great. I have been a choir
member for only 33 or 34 years. They are my family. With the
help of all of my friends at Sinai and Pastor Al, I have been able
to make it without my wonderful husband Roger. Thank you,
Sinai! Shirley Lundstrom
Because Sinai is more than our church; it is our family.
44 years ago, I found a teaching job in Fremont, and Jim was in
the army for four more months.
It was my job to find a church home for us.
I grew up in Blair with one big Lutheran church, so I thought
another big church would be like home.
I went there first, but it was really big and no one even said hello.
My co-teacher Dori Nelson invited me to Sinai, so I went.
The choir was so amazing, I thought you probably had to try out
to get in it!
And everyone was SOOOOO friendly; I felt so welcome!!
I joined the choir (didn’t have to try out!).
Sinai became our family.
We try to make new visitors and members
feel as welcomed as we did.
Sinai IS a special place! Annette Holtam
Following graduation from high school in 2003, I was fortunate to
go to my second ELCA Youth Gathering, in Atlanta, Georgia,
that year. While at the hotel, I had the opportunity to visit with a
pastor and a youth leader from Fremont, Nebraska, where that
fall I would be attending college. I didn’t think much of the visit at
the time. Little did I know how God was working in my life at that
Later that summer, I received mail from Midland with a form from
Sinai Lutheran Church informing me about a “Home-away-from-
Home” program for out-of-state students to be paired with a
family from Sinai to help with the student’s first-year transition. So
I decided I would sign up, as this would be the first time I had
ever not been near my family.
We met our host families the first week of orientation at a party in
the Sinai fellowship hall. As I was visiting with my host parents,
Lu Ann and Gary Ehmcke, I kept thinking, “This lady seems
really familiar to me.” As it turned out, it was Lu Ann and Pastor
Mike Ostrom whom I had met in the hotel in Atlanta! My life has
been richly blessed by having Gary and Lu Ann, as well as the
many other members of Sinai Lutheran Church, whom I count as
family in my life. Scott Flanagan
I remember 20 plus years ago when our family of six was looking
for a new church home. We were making weekly visits to various
churches in town, sometimes more than once. We had friends
that belonged to Sinai at that time and they urged us to visit. So,
between our other visits, we attended that little church by Midland
College. We continued to visit other churches as well, but found
ourselves being drawn back to Sinai more than others. I
remember the warm, friendly, inviting feeling, as well as the
beautiful music, and feeling spiritually fed. It wasn’t long before we
were attending regularly, and even getting involved in activities,
and then finally becoming a full-fledged member. One of our
biggest fears in leaving the church we had belonged to for so
many years was leaving our dear friends of many years.
Thankfully, we still have many of those friends, but have also
been blessed beyond measure with friends and acquaintances at
Sinai. I feel truly grateful to be a member of a church that fills my
life with so many blessings. Sandy Reimnitz
Why Sinai? Well, it’s my family’s church quite simply. My
question would be, “Why do I attend every week?” I often find
myself considering staying home on any given Sunday morning.
But something always pulls me to Sinai. (It might be Diane!) At
Sinai, I witness countless numbers of members who give so
much of themselves to our church family, as well as to our
community. Being at church reminds me that my life is not
about me, but it’s about being a disciple of Christ. See you next
week. I might be fishing today. Ron Harpster
Why Sinai? Indeed, that is the question Evan and I asked each
other in 1967. Prior to our marriage we attended another LCA
church and had indicated our desire to become members there.
Sinai entered our lives via a gentle knock on our door. Standing
there was our upstairs neighbor with a welcoming smile, a plate of
cookies, and our wedding write-up. She noted that since we were
married in an Augustana Lutheran Church, she wanted to invite
us to her “Swedish” Lutheran church, Sinai. Additionally, she
related that she had taken the liberty of asking her minister to call
on us! Within the week the pastor rang our doorbell. So, what
could we do other than be polite and visit Sinai one time? Sinai’s
hearty “Välkommen” convinced us to stay! Thanks, Clara, for
your invite. You were right-Sinai is the perfect church for us!
Evan and Carolyn Nordstrom
Last Sunday was as normal as any other. I sat in the back of the
sanctuary, participating in the service, but letting my mind
wander sometimes as it is prone to do. During the offering, the
choir sang its anthem. Pastor Al poured wine into the chalice for
communion. All of a sudden, popping up two rows ahead was
four-year-old Hazel. She stood on her grandma’s lap, arms flung
upward in the biggest V she could muster. It seemed as though
Hazel couldn’t contain her enthusiasm for Jesus any longer.
A friend lamented recently that a problem with worship in many
congregations is that we go not expecting anything out of the
ordinary. As a recovering alcoholic, he said that the primary
difference between Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and worship
services is that people expect the extraordinary at AA.
Today I am grateful to Hazel and to a community like Sinai where
I can expect God to show up in extraordinary ways.
Memories of Sinai
When I was a child, Sinai sponsored a smorgasbord, a
community-wide fundraiser. Approaching the “huge” Fremont
City Auditorium, I could feel anticipation for what would be
beyond the doors. This well attended event was held from 1951
to 1961 with the money used to furnish the new church on Pebble
Street. My grandparents, George and Esther Nelson, helped to
spearhead this one evening event.
According to newspaper articles 750 to 900 people were served
the feast. Adults paid $2.00 each to attend with children under 12
paying $1.00 each. The smorgasbord was held from 5 p.m. to 8
p.m. with two seatings. The persons who had second seating
tickets were escorted to the auditorium bleacher seats to await
their turn. As a child I waited impatiently in my seat, mouth
watering, peering down at the two three-tiered tables, one on the
left and one on the right of the auditorium. The tables were heavy
laden with food from appetizers to desserts; and oh how I loved
Grandma’s Swedish spritz cookies.
150 parishoners from one small church prepared and served
900 people in a three-hour evening, working together to build and
sustain a church. Just as Sinai members worship and look after
each other as a family.
I remember my Grandma Nelson’s anticipation of the annual
community-wide Smorgasbord, a very Swedish event that took
months to prepare for. My grandma, Esther Nelson, along with
150 members of Sinai (men, women and children), prepared and
served the feast.
The special Swedish Potato Sausage (Potatiskorv) was made in
Grandma Nelson’s small kitchen where Esther Erickson and
Elsie Eckerson ground the meat (beef and pork) with cooked
potatoes, onions, salt, pepper and a “little bit of allspice”.
Theslippery casings, soaking in a kettle of water, were ready to
hold this very tasty treat. How, you may ask, does the
meat/potato mixture “get into” the slippery casings? After
removing a length of slippery casing from the water Elsie got the
job of “blowing out” each length of slippery casing and placing it
on the end of the sausage stuffing machine. Elsie then placed
the meat mixture into the hopper of the machine, turned the
handle and, miraculously, the meat moved into the slippery
casing. Grandma with Esther’s help tied off a length of stuffed
casing with string and quickly placed it into the freezer in the
basement awaiting the day of the big feast.
More to come from: Jan Ostransky
Our children have always been our greatest concern and at first
Diane and I were looking for someplace for our youngest to be
confirmed. But we also were looking for a warm and welcoming
environment, where people come to worship together as a family.
We found that family at Sinai. It is difficult to explain, but we
came to realize that the members of Sinai weren’t just people
trying to do what God wants them to do. You are all people whose
smiles are genuine, whose love and caring comes through with
everything you do. You walk the walk. None of us are perfect, of
course, but Sinai is a place where you don’t just see Christ at
work, you can feel it in the warm smiles, the friendly greetings
and the genuine concern of its membership. I feel the love and I
want everyone to know that I love you all in return. Why Sinai?
You, that’s why. God Bless you all, and thank you all.
We chose Sinai as our church home because we were
immediately impressed with its friendly atmosphere and the
feeling of being at home. Sinai reminded me of my church
growing up in Wausa, NE. Although Thabor Lutheran had a
membership of 400-500, it had the personal touch and family feel
that we recognized at Sinai. I had the church as my babysitter
quite often as my mother was the organist and choir director-my
hours crawling under the pews or pretending to be the preacher
gave me the feeling of being at ease with all that occurs within the
church. Yet, far more than what one experiences within the
building itself, the loving support of the people of the congregation
brings to life the true meaning of a worshiping community. This
helped me in my formative years, and became the same
experience for me and my family as we grew to know Sinai from
After visiting several congregations, Sinai stood out with its
traditions (many Swedish, of course), its use and love of music,
and its people who opened their arms to us and our young family.
This nurturing support for us all, both then and now, became
influential in our faith and family life. I hope and pray that Sinai
can continue to be a comfort and focal point in the lives of many
other families. I am thankful for what Sinai and her people have
meant to me and look forward to many new experiences in
“shaping disciples to serve”. Milo Anderson
Eunice and I joined Sinai because “Sinai was similar to the
Swedish congregation Eunice grew up with at the Lutheran
Church in Bristol, Nebraska. It was like going back home.”
The first Sunday we attended Sinai, Elmer and Freda Johnson
visited us that afternoon. Again it was like going back home.
I joined Sinai by being baptized at the church on 1st and Pebble
by Pastor C.O. Gulleen on December 11, 1932. I believe we still
use the same font today. Then later was confirmed still at that
church. Married at the church on 8th and Pebble in October of
1953 by Pastor Theodore Johnson. But my family has a long
history at Sinai. According to my Great Grandmother, Christine
Johannesson Landeen’s obituary, she was a charter member of
Sinai. She was born in Sweden, married there and came to the
US with her husband in 1991. She was a Christian woman,
always active in Sinai, which she helped found. They had six
sons and daughters- one daughter was my Grandmother Freda
Landen Pearson. Someone dropped one “e” out of the last name.
According to family tree, their name was originally Johnson-
changed to Landen and on the obit was Landin. I don’t know
which is right. My Grandmother Freda Landen Pearson was
member of the first confirmation class at Sinai. My parents were
members until moving to California in 1953. I also remember
Elmarie Sandal having to push pedals with her feet while playing
the organ.Just a little of my history…Beverly Weiman Yost
When I started looking for a church I visited Sinai and knew that I
had found the place I wanted to attend and to join. The choir
became an important part of my life. It was in singing with the
Sinai Choir that I found a special community of love and caring.
When I told the choir about my former students on Rosebud
Indian Reservation and that they needed more hats and gloves
the choir collected THREE large garbage bags of items for me to
take to the students. They donated enough hats and gloves to
make sure every student at the elementary school had a brand
new hat and pair of gloves. I was overwhelmed by their
generosity and caring! When I felt the call the go to seminary the
choir rejoiced with me and supported me in the process. I am
beyond thankful for the community that surrounded me with love
and reminded me that I am a Child of God. Whenever I come
home to Sinai I still get those feelings. It truly is a worshiping
community founded in the love of Christ and welcoming all who
enter its doors. I thank God for Sinai Lutheran Church every day.
It's difficult to imagine my life outside of the context of this
community of faith at Sinai. Ron and I came to Sinai as a young
family and were welcomed, encouraged and supported
immediately and well. I have been inspired by others here,
challenged to use God's gifts to me, and fed in so many ways.
Deep and rich friendships have formed through our almost 32
years of membership here. Worship at Sinai strengthens and
sustains me in the challenges of daily life. I continue to know that
God's abundant love surrounds us all through the gifts of this
congregation and pray that those who God brings into our midst
today experience that same welcome and encouragement.