Bread to Share, Volume 1

2 February 2016

Bread to Share . . . Stories about Saskatchewan’s early Lutheran pastors and their wives
by Lois Knudson Munholland
Published by Three West Two South Books
Review by Keith Foster
$30 ISBN 0-9735234-1-7

A sequel and companion volume to Pulpits of the Past, Bread to Share is a compilation of stories of Saskatchewan’s early Lutheran pastors and their wives. What sets this book apart is the prominence of the pastors’ wives and their families who are often relegated to secondary roles or neglected entirely in many church histories.

The pastors are listed alphabetically by surname. After relating the experiences of the ministers, Knudson Munholland devotes space to their wives, lists the names of their family members, and provides references. Sources include interviews as well as history books.

Although Knudson Munholland focuses on Saskatchewan, she also touches on other parts of Canada and the United States as pastors often transferred to various locations. Indeed, one pastor virtually toured Saskatchewan as he constantly relocated throughout the province.

One of the strengths of Bread to Share is Knudson Munholland’s descriptions of the hardships pastors and their wives had to endure. During the Dirty Thirties, spouse Christine Stollee would routinely place dishes upside down when setting the table so they would not be coated with dust before they were used.

Winter brought its own set of horrors. In 1915-1916, Pastor Arthur and Anna Fuhr’s first winter in Spring Valley, SK was so cold and brought so much snow that the trains weren’t able to run. Living in two rooms above the church, they confined themselves to bed to keep warm and survived on frozen bread and honey.

Munholland points out that ministers were often required to serve several congregations, which made a vehicle necessary. Getting stuck in mud was one of many hazards. If it wasn’t the mud, it was road conditions. The light soil between Bulyea, SK and Govan, SK would drift so badly and pile up so high on the road that Pastor Carl Jothen had to use gunny sacks so his tires could get traction.

Since ministers often served a wide area, they would sometimes stay overnight with obliging members. One pastor, who could usually sleep like a log, said his bed at one location was the most uncomfortable he’d ever encountered. He later found out he’d been sleeping in a coffin.

Knudson Munholland doesn’t shy away from controversy. German-born Pastor Edmund Krisch wanted to preach in English because many of the younger people in his area no longer spoke or understood German. Although the Davin, SK church council approved, the next day two members of the council said they had “reconsidered” because they feared losing their German language. They not only forbade Krisch from preaching in English but, to reinforce their point, withheld their congregations’ portion of his salary.

The stories in this 351-page book are supplemented by more than ninety black and white photos of pastors and spouses. In Bread to Share, Knudson Munholland not only pays tribute to Saskatchewan’s Lutheran pastors, she also gives wives of pastors the prominence they so fully deserve.


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