Lake Koronis Assembly Grounds celebrates 75th anniversary

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 06/24/97.

The Lake Koronis Assembly Grounds (LKAG) will be celebrating its 75th anniversary on June 28-29 with tours, special services, displays and guest speakers.

A number of activities have been planned to observe the anniversary. The schedule of events for the anniversary celebration are as follows:
Saturday, June 28
1 p.m. Registration
3 p.m. Koronis Remembered with displays, video, speakers in the chapel.
5:30 p.m. Dinner
7 p.m. Koronis Remembered
Sunday, June 29
9 a.m. Morning worship service with Bishop Wayne Clymer, former Minnesota Bishop and well-known speaker and teacher during past Assembly Weeks; music by a menís chorus and celebration choir.
12 noon: Dinner
1 to 3 p.m. Old timers activities, tour of grounds, parade of cottages.

The idea of the Assembly Grounds was founded around the old-time ďcamp meetingsĒ held each summer starting in the late 1870s. One of the first meetings was held at the August Donathís place. They hauled a supply of water from the Holifer farm on a stone boat. Other years the meetings were held at the Grove Church, northwest of Paynesville, Zion Church, northeast of Paynesville, and at the towns of Regal and Roscoe.

Discussions were held statewide about the need of a site for state meeting grounds to be used as a successor to the camp meetings and for other gatherings such as conventions, pastorís meetings and more. Several locations were considered, and Lake Koronis was selected.

The annual session of the Minnesota Conference of the Evangelical Church, held in the spring of 1921, appointed a committee to establish the Assembly Grounds on Lake Koronis.

The Paynesville location was selected because it was a central location for the Evangelical Associationís three divisions. In September they transacted business to purchase 14 acres from William C. Miller, Paynesville, for $1,400. After that, work began to clear trees and build a road from Paynesville. It was an old winding road that was so narrow, cars could hardly meet.

The first meeting at the Lake Koronis Assembly Grounds took place in 1922. Records show that someone remarked, ďAfter they get there, if it rains, the people will have to stay. They cannot get out if the road gets wet.Ē

Hired as the first caretaker for the grounds was F.B. Moede at a salary of $500 per year with free house rent and fuel.

By 1940, the Assembly Grounds had grown to 32 cottages, 20 with running water. Today there are 36 cabins on the Assembly Grounds, 23 of which are privately owned. Since its meager start, the Lake Koronis Assembly Grounds has grown to 200 acres of forest and grassland on the northwest shores of Lake Koronis.

Originally, a large share of the building construction was financed by donations, labor services and other organizations. As the demand for the facilities grew, additional housing, both seasonal and winterized, was added, plus a chapel, tennis courts and cabin camping. In 1985, the Assembly Grounds acquired Koronis Olympic Athletic Camp (KOAC).

The original tabernacle was built to accommodate 1,400 people which included outside overflow seating. The Tabernacle has since been remodeled several times. A large window, providing a view of the lake, was completed 15 years ago and the building is now more functional for diverse activities.

Today, summertime facilities include: dorms with beds for 450 people; a Tabernacle that seats 650; a dining hall that seats 300 people per shift; 34 tent and trailer sites; and an assembly hall that seats 200. Camp Koronis, the youth camp area across the road, has housing for 68 campers.

Year-round facilities include: Retreat Center with lodging for 70 people; Lakeview lodge with lodging for 60 people and a chapel that seats 125.

Ninety-six groups used the grounds in 1996, Larry Kalas, LKAG manager, said. Newer camps include a horse camp, teddy bear camp, and a sport camp, to name a few.

In 1995, the master plan for the Assembly Grounds was updated and the board of management has a commit-ment not only to preserving this special church heritage, which has been important to hundreds of groups and thousands of children, youth and adults but also to upgrade the facilities for todayís needs and a vision for the future. A capital improvement plan is in the process for this need.

The governing board consists of Rev. Ric Koehn, Leonard Davidson, Larry Kalas, Gary Haglund, Jim Elseth, and George Farnum, Paynesville; Doug Spong, Rocco Wilson, and Wes Mellgren, Minneapolis; Dave Schneider, St. Paul; Rev. Gordon Langmade, Brooklyn Park; Bill Kern, Henning; Kevin Farnum, Delano; Dr. Merrill Frydendal, Mankato; Paul Petterson and Patsy Bellman, Stillwater; Lee Truwe, Maple Grove; Bill Reynolds, Deer River; and Rev. John Praetorius, St. Cloud.

For further information on the Lake Koronis Assembly Grounds anniversary celebration in regards to registration, housing accommodations, contact the Lake Koronis Assembly Grounds 320-243-4544.

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