Hoge Memorial Presbyterian Church
Rev. Alfred J. Wold ( 1939 – 1960 )
Dr. Wold was not a native born Ohioan. In fact he was born in Orkdal, Norway, which is located 27 miles northeast of the port city of Trondheim. An article was written in April 1940 about Rev. Wold’s life as a young boy growing up in Norway. At the time of the article World War II had come to Norway. The German held city of Trondheim, was reported to be preparing for an attack by British forces. The article described his child’s eye view of Norway.
Mr. Wold lived at Orkdal until he was 12 years of age. A number of his nephews and nieces also had homes in that section of Norway. Then the family came to America and settled in Minnesota, with many other of their countrymen. Later his brother returned to Norway to live. At the time of the article [ April 1940 ] it had been a month since Mr. Wold had heard from him.
Ice skating and skiing were Mr. Wold’s boyhood pastimes in winter, and swimming and fishing in the fjords in summer. And the fuss we make about June 21 being the longest day of the year must seem pretty silly to him, as about an hour of dusk is all the night there is in summer up there in Norway.
When asked about the present [ April 1940 ] plight of his native land, Mr. Wold said; “ I believe that the Germans must have passed the heavily fortified islands that guard the port of Thorndheim on pretense. The terrain of Norway is similar to that of Finland but I believe that Germany will make more rapid progress with her mechanized army than did Russia in Finland, because of the network of good roads in Norway, some of which have been blasted out of the solid rock and would be hard to destroy. It is too bad that two such peaceful countries (Denmark and Norway) would have to be dragged into the chaos of war. They were unprepared; spending their money for social improvement instead of creating a vast war machine they had become two of the most civilized countries in the world, and now ---.”
As he matured he made plans to go into the ministry. Dr. Wold studied four years at the Bible Institute and Academy of Minneapolis, where he met Anna Erickson, of Superior, Wisconsin, a teacher of music who later became his wife. Dr. and Mrs. Wold had one daughter, Eleanor (Mrs. Howard Volgenau ) of New York City. Dr. Wold later earned his A.B. degree at Macalester College in St. Paul: his B.D. degree at McCormick Seminary, and took special graduate studies at Garrett Institute and the University of Chicago. On June 9, 1958, Dr. Wold was conferred with an honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity at Macalester College. Mrs. Wold received her music education at the Bradbury School of Music, Duluth, Minnesota, and the Northwestern School of Music in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Dr. Wold has served churches in Chicago and Minneapolis before coming to Hoge Memorial. He began preaching at Hoge on July 9, 1939 in the old church building at 29 S. Eureka Avenue which soon became inadequate. The crowded sanctuary, the packed church school rooms, reminded him at every turn of the pressing need for new quarters, and he began to lead the church in planning for a new building.
On March 23, 1952, ground was broken for the new church at 2930 W. Broad Street. Construction began June 16 and Hoge held its first service in the new building on May 2, 1954. It was dedicated on May 30, 1954 and is valued at more than half a million dollars. This has been accomplished with a comparatively small mortgage remaining. During their time at Hoge, the Wold’s lived at 281 S. Southampton Avenue.
Eight years into his 21 year total as pastor of Hoge, Rev. Wold has seen the church exceed all expectations in growth. The Sunday School has become the largest in the Columbus presbytery and numbers about 800. A class with 100 in attendance is not unusual at Hoge Memorial. The Couple’s Class is one of the largest in the whole city. The youth program is a five-day-a-week activity (where Mrs. Wold does her part ), and out of it within the previous few years have come three outstanding candidates for the ministry.
Alfred Wold became acutely conscious of the whole suburban Church problem and opportunity in the Columbus presbytery. He was chairman of the Extension Committee when the Board of National Missions conducted a survey of the city, and it was under his leadership that extension plans were formulated. He also served as Moderator and as chairman of the Christian Education and Ministerial Relations Committees. He was also a member of the Founder’s Committee of the Y.M.C.A. and served on the Board of the Children’s and Family Bureau which was the largest private social service agency in the city at the time.
He gained a new responsibility and with it state-wide recognition. The House of Representatives of the 97 General Assembly of the State of Ohio elected him its chaplain, in which he served three terms. In one of those prayers published in the record of the legislature are these words: “We turn in these moments from the haste and pressure of our daily lives to seek rest for our spirits, enlightenment for our minds, and reinforcement for our highest purposes.” His State Assembly prayers have been published by the Assembly in two volumes.
Dr. A.J. Wold announced his resignation and plans for retirement to be effective July 31, 1959. The following is the letter to the congregation saying his goodbyes:
“ Almost one year ago, I made an announcement to the Session of your church, that the year of 1959 would be my last full year as active minister of the Hoge Memorial Church. The time has now come to bring that decision to a final conclusion. It is with considerable feeling of regret that these ties of fellowship must at last be severed, so far as professional relationship is concerned. Time has a way of forcing these decisions upon us, often against our own desire and wishes.
Mrs. Wold and are grateful that it fell within our lot to labor in this church as your minister over these nearly twenty-one years, and we have come to look upon these years as the most fruitful years of our ministry. This year also marks the 40 Anniversary of my ordination into the ministry.
Here in Hoge it has been our good fortune to work with some of the finest and most cooperative people Any minister could wish. The goals we set many years ago and which, through God’s blessing and your Help, we have now reached, are to all of us a matter of deep satisfaction. And it can now be announced That the major plans that were made at the beginning of our building program have now been Accomplished.
I feel confident that the good will and cooperation you have given us will be transferred to the new Leadership, and that you will be guided into even larger proportions of service to the community, and To the Kingdom of God. I cannot help but feel that with the continuation of goodwill, cooperation and Harmony, you can only look forward to the most hopeful future.
I now present to you my resignation as pastor of the Hoge Memorial Presbyterian Church and ask you To concur with me in requesting Columbus Presbytery to desolve the pastoral relationship between the Hoge Memorial Presbyterian Church and myself, and to make the effective date of the resignation as of July 31, 1960.
Dr. A.J. Wold, was honored by the congregation with the title of PASTOR EMERITUS at a reception. As part of their retirement, Dr. and Mrs. Wold left on Tuesday, June 7 for New York and, on June 9, boarded the U.S.S. United States for a two months trip to Europe. First stop on their European itinerary was England, and then Norway. During their stay there Dr. Wold preached a sermon in his native Norwegian language. After their return from Europe, Dr. Wold continued to preach at Hoge until his successor was chosen.
WE REMEMBER: Dr. Alfred J. Wold
“He was a great man, calm and sincere. He spoke slowly and with meaning. He was beloved by a very older congregation. My Grandfather Hoffman laid the tile for the fireplace in the parlor out of love for us and Hoge Church.” --- Gary L.
The Reverend Wold is the first minister I knew personally, mostly as the father of his daughter, Eleanor. Ellie and I attended school together. First our senior year at West High School graduating June 1940. The next four years as students and bus riders to Ohio State University, graduating June 1944. If classes permitted we usually ate at the Pomerene Hall - 25¢ for a hot lunch.We both attended Christian Endeavor on Sunday Evenings at Hoge. Mr. Weir was our teacher. Some of the others at these meetings were Don Mathews, Paul Churton and Lois Noble. We came home after class on December 7, 1941 to learn of the bombing at Pearl Harbor.
Rev. Wold was ahead of his time in many ways. He was cooperative and accepting of all people. He told me once that the first person who welcomed him to the Hilltop was the Reverend Ashburn of Oakley Baptist Church. The two ministers worked together to help the young people of the area. In those early years friendships were made. Mr. Ashburn's son, Reggie, graduated June 1940. He had another son, who was a minister when his church moved to Highland Avenue after Glenwood Methodist Church moved to its present location. The Ministerial Association on the Hilltop was most active because of these two men.
On another occasion, in 1940 - 41, the YMCA downtown invited churches to send representatives to meet together. Mr. Wold sent Ellie and me. Four other protestant denominations sent young people and a young priest attended.
Two things I've never forgotten about the Wolds. The family invited me to a dinner at the manse and Mrs. Wold prepared a typical Norwegian Christmas Eve repast. For over 70 years I have remembered a remark Mr. Wold said to me, "Don't be so broad that you are flat." He was a very wise man.