First Lutheran Church was first organized on September 25, 1900 with forty-five members. Officers were elected and the Finnish Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church was chartered. In order to be in complete compliance with the Evangelical Lutheran Augustana Synod, the congregation re-organized in March, 1902 at a meeting held at the Finnish Temperance Hall, under the guidance of Pastor J.T.O. Olander. The church building was erected by the end of that year.
A Sunday School, Ladies Aid Society, and Luther League were formed in the first decade.
Due to the economic depression in the 1920s, the Dollar Bay congregation shared a pastor with churches in Calumet and Hancock. By 1930, the name was changed to First Lutheran Church. With the arrival of Pastor John F. Simonson, in June, 1942, all worship services were conducted in English only. During his twenty-four year tenure, a parsonage was purchased at 23159 Fir Street.
During the sixties, a nationwide re-organization of the Lutheran Church resulted in the formation of the Lutheran Church in America (LCA). By the mid-sixties, First Lutheran Church became a single parish, and in 1967, called the Rev. Gerald Erickson as pastor.
By the seventies, First Lutheran had become totally self-supporting. An addition that nearly doubled the size of the church was dedicated on February 9, 1974.
Outreach ministries were added and in 1980, the congregation sponsored a refugee family from Vietnam.
There were some lean years in the mid-eighties, but growth began anew after the Rev. Jay Shrimpf was called in 1992. A second service on Sunday mornings was added, along with Wednesday evening worship, and many families with young children became active.
A remodeling project was started in the summer of 1996 to accommodate the growing membership and to make the entire facility accessible to those with physical disabilities. Many additional improvements were made throughout the facility.
First Lutheran Church was a lively and active congregation in the nineties, engaging in additional outreach activities, national and global missions, continuing to worship and serve together in Dollar Bay and the surrounding communities. In 1994, Bonnie Joyal began the parish nurse program at First Lutheran and in surrounding communities.
As has occurred nationwide, membership and worship attendance began to decline in the early years of the 21st century. Still a viable worshipping community, and still serving the community in a variety of ministries, First continued to have its own pastor until 2007, when the Rev. Nicholas Hopman was called to serve both First Lutheran, Dollar Bay and Grace Lutheran, South Range.
List of Pastors since its inception:
- Rev. Johan Theodore Ottoson Olander, 1902
- Rev. Erik Rehner, 1904-1907
- Rev. Edward Ekstrom, 1911-1913
- Rev. Frans Eric Wilhelm Kastman, 1913-1915
- Rev. Anders Emil Monell, 1915
- Rev. David J. Laurence, Vice-Pastor, 1916
- Rev. Frank G. Granquist, 1917-1921
- Rev. F. Edward Olson, 1923-1925
- Rev. G. H. Bomgren, Vice Pastor, Calumet
- Rev. John A. Burman, 1926-1928
- Rev. Carl O. Soderbloom, 1928-1942
- Rev. John F. Simonson, 1942-1966
- Rev. Gerald A. Erickson, 1967-1971
- Rev. Terry A. Berg, 1972-1977
- Rev. Steven W. Carlson, 1978-1983
- Rev. Lane L. Knouse, 1983-1986
- Rev. Francis J. Strong, 1987-1992
- Rev. Jay M. Shrimpf, 1992-2000
- Rev. Katrina Gallagher, 2002-2005
- Rev. Nicholas Hopman, 2006-2011
- Rev. Sally L. Wilke, 2012-2016
- Interim Pastor Julie Belew, 2016 – 2017
- Vicar Micah Cavaleri, 2018 – present