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Willerup: a Significant History with an Exciting Future

Updated: Aug 4, 2021

In the early 1850’s the Reverend Christian Willerup, a Methodist circuit rider out of Cambridge, Wisconsin, visited with Norwegian Lutheran immigrants in the area and persuaded a number of them to become Methodists. It was this group who became the founders of the Heart Prairie Norwegian Methodist-Episcopal Church, and Chistian Willerup became its first minister--a visionary leader and founder of a fresh movement of the Holy Spirit.

According to our early church records, Christian Willerup noted on June 26, 1853 that Christopher Steenson had donated a portion of his farmland to establish a church and cemetery. Thus, the Heart Prairie Norwegian Methodist-Episcopal Church was established in the early 1850’s by a settlement of Norwegian immigrants from the parish of Holla in Telemark, Norway.

Later the congregation was served by Reverend Christopher Steenson and his son Reverend Steen Steenson, who became a missionary to Norway.Two church ledgers exist from the 1850’s with information noting births and deaths of those in the congregation, and information regarding meeting details. Earliest entries are in Norwegian and later entries are in Norwegian and English.

In 1856, the Danish-American pastor Christian Willerup founded the first Methodist church in Fredrikstad. He was sent from America where the Scandinavian Methodists had already established a Scandinavian Methodist church a few years earlier.

Willerup is a mission-driven church encouraging one another to cultivate and share their experiences of faith. Consider what the early Scandinavian Methodists accomplished only twenty years after they began: the movement had grown to an actual annual conference with almost 3000 members.

We are a Spirit-driven church. We love the Lord and want to fulfill His mission here in Wisconsin and across the globe. Willerup has more than twenty partners worldwide who share in our focus to see Jesus Christ be realized in the life of every person--we all have value and worth to Jesus. It is our desire to see His Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.

Willerup has a significant history--and a very exciting future. Come a long and grow with us.

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