Faith Lutheran Church

The Lutherans in and around Hannaford worshiped together in the early years and were known as the Baldhill Congregation.  Records show that the first meeting to organize a Lutheran congregation was held in June of 1885.  As a result of this meeting, two congregations, Baldhill and Eidfjord, were organized.

The Baldhill congregation met in the Gunderson School most of the time.  This school was located 1 mile south of Walum on the east side of the highway.  Plans to build a church building began as early as 1888.  Dry years and hard times delayed these plans and when they were discussed in earnest in 1892 there were mixed feelings as to where the church should be built.  The people in the north part of the area felt Hannaford was the most suitable place and the people from the area to the south felt Walum to be the best place.  Land had already been given for a church site in Walum and a cemetery started.  The congregation's differences over the church site were discussed at several meetings over a period of several years.  On February 8, 1898 the decision was made to build on the church site in Walum.  This church today is known as St. Olaf Lutheran Church.

Eidfjord took in a territory that reached into Mabel Township.  There were also differences of opinion about where to locate this church when the time came to build.  The result was the organization of a new congregation in Mabel Township in 1896 and the erection of a church in 1899.  Eidfjord Congregation built their church in 1901.

Several families from Baldhill still felt a church should be built in Hannaford and as a result plans were made to form a congregation in Hannaford.  The first recorded minutes of a meeting are dated February 12, 1898.  The meeting had been called by Even Olsen.  He was chosen chairman and H. H. Groven, acting secretary.  A committee of three was named to draw up a constitution and by-laws with Even Olsen, chairman, Ole Edlund and Halvor Sorenson committee members.  They named the congregation Hannaford Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church.  On March 5, 1898 a constitution was adopted which was signed by: 

Even Olsen, Halvor Sorenson, Halvor C. Johnson, H. H. Groven, Halvor Anundson, Thomas Olson, Niels Hemmingson, Walter Hemmingson, John K. Stromme, E. H. Groven and Christ Sonju.  Reverend P. A. Thoreson was called to be their first pastor in March of 1898.  He was already serving Baldhill, Eidfjord and Mabel congregations.  Pastor Thoreson served in this area for 32 years.

A church building was erected in 1899.  Andrew Langdon donated the building site and also gave the land for the cemetery north of town.  Mrs. E. H. Groven who died in 1902 was the first burial in the cemetery.  The building committee for the first church was Pastor Thoreson, Even Olsen, Niels Hemmingson, Christ Sonju, and H. H. Groven.

In 1900 the congregation affiliated with the United Lutheran Church.  There were several mergers over the years.  The United Synod merged with the Hauge and Norwegian Synods in 1917 to form the Norwegian Lutheran Church of America.  The name was changed to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in 1946.  A merger of the United Evangelical Lutheran Church, the American Lutheran Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church took place January 1, 1961 and the American Lutheran Church came into being.  Faith Lutheran is a part of this synod.

The original church building did not have a basement or general meeting room and this made it difficult for the women of the congregation.  They held their Ladies Aid meetings in the various homes until 1909 when they purchased the two-room school, which had been vacated when the cement block school building was built in 1907.  They called their newly acquired building the Ladies Hall.  This stood where the present church stands.

By the late forties the church building was beginning to show the effects of time and weather.  The floor was sagging toward the center under which was the furnace and the whole church would sway with strong winds.  On September 22, 1949 it was decided to sell the Ladies Hall and build a new church.  The Hall was moved uptown a block east of where it stood to make room for the new church.  Donald Knauss purchased it and used it for an appliance store.  It was later used for a cafe and today is the American Legion Hall.  September 3, 1950 H. H. Swingen, Gustav Sonju, Louis Larson, C. O. Johnson and John Priebe were elected to the building committee.  By November 19, 1950 the first worship service was held in the first unit of the new church.  This unit is the dining room.  The second unit of the church or the sanctuary was completed in 1952.  Ludvig Hareland was the contractor.  During the years 1970 through 1973 the church was extensively remodeled with Clifford Johnson as head carpenter and Claude Freer working with him.  Many hours of labor were also put in by the men and women of the congregation.

A realignment of churches took place in 1924 when Mabel joined the Binford parish and Union joined to form a parish with Hannaford, St. Olaf and Eidfjord.  In December 1959 Hannaford resigned from the four-point parish to form a parish by themselves.  At this time Mabel was part of a two-point parish with Trinity in Cooperstown.  In 1962 Pastor Alvin Bergh began serving Mabel Church along with Hannaford and now in 1975 these two congregations make up a two-point parish.  Hannaford changed the name of their church to Faith Lutheran in 1960.

Prior to 1920 Pastor Thoreson owned his own home.  That year the congregations purchased the home of G. M. Aarestad for their parsonage.  When Hannaford became a one point parish, the parsonage was sold to the rural churches and a new home for the pastor was built across the street to the south of the church.

Many faithful pastors have served the congregation over the years.  Pastor P. A. Thoreson served the longest from 1898 to 1921.  He was followed by George S. Natwick, John M. Haaland, E. C. Tollefsen, E. O. Stenson, Elmer O. Lee, Lewis E. Bakke, Roy W. Gilbertson, Edwin L. Bersagel, Alexander Thompson, Alvin J. Bergh, Roger C. Paulson, Neil Thompson, and Michael J. Lockerby.

Four members of the congregation have served in full time service of the Lord.  Claire Ouren spent 13 years as a missionary in West Pakistan.  In 1961 she married Kenneth Lunn and returned to Hannaford to make her home.  Her sister Bernice has been a missionary among the Mexican Indians of Tamazunchale, Mexico since 1943.  Claire and Bernice are the daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Ouren.  Lyle A. Rich, son of Mr. and Mrs. Lyle E. Rich and Darrel R. Olson, son of Mr. and Mrs. Otto Olson are both pastors in congregations of the American Lutheran Church.

Source: Griggs County History 1879 - 1976  Page 111

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