Saron and Zion Congregation

In 1880, immigrants from Norway settled along the Sheyenne river and on the prairie in what is now Sverdrup and Ball Hill townships. They were a deeply religious people and met in their sod and log houses to worship on Sundays, and were served by preachers Ola Westley and Andreas Vatne. Many of the meetings were held in the sod stable on the Betuel Herigstad homestead. In the summer of 1881, Pastor Nykrem of the Norwegian Lutheran Conference visited the "homesteaders." Encouraged by him they organized with others recently arrived from Minnesota, and on October 10, 1881, became the Thime Norsk Evangeliske Lutherske Menighed.

Charter members were the families of:

  • Ole Westley
  • Ole Stokka
  • Betuel Herigstad
  • Nils Herigstad
  • Andrea Vatne
  • Martin Lunde
  • Swen Loge
  • Ole Lima
  • Peder Wuflestad
  • Swen Lunde
  • Jens Bull
  • Torkel Fuglestad
  • Endre Aarestad
  • Betuel Lunde
  • Elling Froiland
  • Tonnes Vatne
  • Karl Lende
  • Arnt Njaa and
  • Hans Brassten
  • Christoffer Ashland
  • Ingeborg Soma

Pastor Lundeby from the Goose River Country served the congregation in 1883 and in 1884 the congregation divided when 13 of the members reorganized into Elim Norwegian Evangelical Congregation and became associated with Hauge Synod with Pastor Jacob Nesheim from Norway serving as their minister They bought a cemetery and place to build a church on June 23, 1886. In 1893 the congregation split again when ten families were influenced by a Baptist missionary to form a congregation of their own and these later became Saron Evangelical Church. In 1896 Elim joined with Hoiland congregation and called themselves Ebenezer Norwegian Lutheran Church. They granted their women the right to vote in 1899, and built their church in 1902.

The congregation has remained an independent Lutheran church until the present day, being served by pastors from the Lutheran Free church until 1919, after which they again reorganized, this time as Zion Lutheran Church, and from which time they have been served by pastors from the Lutheran Brethren Synod.

Pastors have been Rev. Thoresen, Edwards, Swenson, Eidsaa, and from the Lutheran Brethren: Rev. MESletta Elmer Hagen, G. Stenoien, Andreas Vatne, Oscar Monson, Olaf Monson, Olaf Vettrus, O. A. Monson, Joel Lunde, and Sanford Soma, the present pastor.

Officers of Zion Lutheran Church are: Elders: Elias Berge, Hurluf Vigesaa: Trustees: Edwin Johnson, F. L. Ronningen; Secretary: Richard Loge; Treasurer: Lars Loge; President of Aid: Mrs. Trygve Vigesaa; Pres, of Young Peoples: Mrs. George Vigesaa; Supt. of Sunday School: Mrs. F. L. Ronningen; Choir Director: Mrs. Carl Hetland; Pianists: Mrs. David Lunde, Mrs. Trygve Vigesaa.

Source:  Cooperstown Diamond Jubilee 1882-1957 Page 28

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