Longtime St. Cloud Pastor Dies – On ‘This Date In Central Minnesota History’
St. Cloud – September 8, 1929 – Longtime St. Cloud pastor passes away
On this Sunday morning Pastor August Agather of Trinity Lutheran Church went to provide service as usual. He waited in the sacristy for the finish of the organ prelude when he suddenly became ill. Within minutes, the waiting congregation was notified of his death due to stroke.
Pastor Agather’s funeral was one of the largest ever held in Central Minnesota at the time. Amplifiers which arrived just before the service were hastily installed, permitting people to hear the service for blocks as well as indoors. Many surrounding lawns and benches filled with people unable to enter the church. The entire Sauk Rapids business district closed. Caskets were left open as standard practice until 1940, and at the close of service the congregation filed past the casket to pay their last respects.
August Agather was born in Lodz, Russia on January 1, 1870. He came to the U.S. alone at age 17 and enrolled in Luther College, New Ulm. He graduated at 19 but was considered too young to lead a congregation, so he remained a seminary assistant for another year. In 1890 he came to Johnson, Minnesota, and in November married Frieda Ulrich. On December 10, 1893 he was installed in Sauk Rapids.
As the use of the English language increased, Pastor Agather began to study it at home. By 1915 he began conducting a few English services such as funerals. He started a mission in Holdingford where a number of Slavs had settled and he served them in the Slavic language. During World War I he taught himself French so he could translate news. He was often used in the St. Cloud courts system as an interpreter when Polish or other nationalities were involved in a court case.
He began missions in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Alberta, Canada when he took trips and discovered poor people living in clay huts and shacks. Polish hymn books, catechisms, and Bibles from Europe were taken in large suitcases to distribute among the needy. He also started missions in the Wyoming where many immigrants from Europe settled and worked in the mines. He made his last trip just three months before he died. Pastor Agather remained in Sauk Rapids for the remainder of his life and is buried in the Trinity cemetery.
Thanks to Jill Copeland for her help with our series, “This Date In Central Minnesota History” on WJON.