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The Red River Ev. Lutheran Church


William Jerome


One of the first concerns of the early pioneers was thatthey would have a proper place to worship. This brought about the organizationof the Red River Ev. Lutheran Church.

The Red River Ev. Lutheran Church was organized at thehome of Mr. and Mrs. Lars. Mattson on October 8, 1881.

Among the early settlers of the area around Kennedy andHallock, Minnesota were the Lars Mattsons, Nels Hansons, Jonas Sandbergs,J. P. Johnson and John Olson who came in 1879. In 1880 and 1881, severalother families came from southern Minnesota.

In September of 1881, the Minnesota Conference sent PastorJonas Lagerstrom of St. Peter to work in this area for a month. At a serviceheld at Lars Eklunds, it was decided to establish an Augustana congregation.

So, on October 8, 1881, the Red River Congregation wasformed Pastor Jonas Lagerstrom was elected chairman. Nels Hanson was secretary.

For many years the church was served by students and pastorswho stayed only a short time, but still the work was carried on. PastorL. J. Lundquist visited the newly organized congregation in 1882.

In the spring of 1883, another pastor, Rev. L.. A. Hokanson,was called by the Minnesota Conference to visit the mission field in theRed River Valley.

In 1883, Pastor L. G. Almen came here and confirmed thefirst class which had been instructed by student Brown. The members of thefirst class were: John and Bothilda Brown, George Mortenson, Mathilda Suneson,Alfred Berg, August Stenquist and Andrew Anderson.

Several different locations were first considered for thebuilding of the church. At a meeting on June 15, 1885 with student S. G.Swenson as chairman, the present location was approved and accepted. Thissite consisted of five acres of land, a gift of Mons Smith. At an extrameeting in December of that year, it was decided to build a church withthe dimensions of 30 by 50 at a cost of not more than $915.

At a meeting in February of 1885, it was decided that thepastor's salary would be $350 a year. The first permanent pastor was Rev.S. G. Swenson who came in 1886 and stayed until 1888. With the helpof students, Pastor Swenson served until he was elected County Superintendentof Schools in 1888.

In 1892, student L. P. Lundgren was ordained and acceptedthe call as their pastor. Now they could have regular Sunday services.

The Ladies' Aid had been organized the year before in 1891with Mrs. J. G. Lindgren as their president. The Ladies' Aid proved to bevery helpful to the church. In the fall of 1892, they purchased pews forthe church at a cost of $230. The pulpit and altar were also purchased bythe Ladies' Aid in that year. In 1893, the church interior was lined withmetal. In 1894 an organ was installed and two beautiful chandeliers weregiven to the church. One by Samuel Cederholm in memory of his wife and oneby the Young Peoples' Society. In 1895, the sacristy was built and in 1896the interior was painted and an 83 foot tower was built. In 1897, the Ladies'Aid purchased a bell and also paid for the installation. These additionsto the church showed that this Ladies' Aid got a lot more done than justtalk!

In 1906, the 25th Anniversary was celebrated and in memoryof this Pastor Lundgren put together the "Minnesalbum," a historyof the congregation and the people that helped build it up.

One interesting statistic in the records was that in fourteenyears of Pastor Lundgren's services in Kittson County, from 1892 to 1906,he baptized 897 children.

The Sunday School was organized by Pastor Swenson in 1887and ever since then the Sunday School year has closed with a festival onDecember 28.

In 1891, a choir was organized and for many years following,several persons were appointed annually to lead the singing during the year.Prof. A. Hegstrom, a music teacher at Northwestern College, was called herein 1906 to teach the church school for two months. He also served as choirdirector and led the singing at the 25th Anniversary.

A Young Peoples' Society and a Young Ladies' Sewing Societywere organized along with the Luther League in 1911.

This church has progressed very far since its beginningin 1881. The success of this church shows that no matter how hard the pioneershad to work, they still found time for their hours of worship.


"Diamond Anniversary," 1881 - 1956, Red RiverEv. Lutheran Church

Jerome, Mrs. L., Interview on February 3, 1971



Jerome, Mrs. L., Interview on February 3, 1971