|History of the Congregation|
The First Lutheran Church of Litchville, North Dakota has a long history
which dates back over a century ago. In the following paragraphs is a
summary of the congregational story which was written in First Lutheran’s
100th Anniversary book, "A Time for Celebration". This book breaks up the
congregation’s history into four eras, and to stay consistent with that
theme the following material will do the same. To obtain a copy of this
book you may contact the church by phone or email, which is posted on the
contacts page of this website.
The Pioneer Years at Griswold 1897-1900
The First Lutheran congregation was established on January 2, 1897 at an
inland settlement in Prairie Township of LaMoure County known as
Griswold. This settlement was named after the first settler to arrive in
the area, H.W. Griswold, who had started a post office there a decade
The settlers at Griswold desired the teachings of the Word of God, so 21
men of the settlement got together and signed a petition which stated the
“willingness to organize a Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran congregation.”
The original name for the congregation was “Skandia” because of the
Scandinavian ancestry of the men who signed the petition. The petition
did not officially incorporate the congregation because no charter was
obtained at this point. Church services were held in the Griswold
creamery because the congregation lacked the funds to build a church.
First Decade in Litchville 1900-1911
A new branch line of the Northern Pacific Railway started the movement of
Griswold businesses to a destination closer to the railroad, which
happened to be Litchville. During this era farmers began thriving on
good crop yields and the members of Skandia started to see their funds
reach a point that would allow them to build a new church.
On January 13, 1902 an annual meeting was held at which two important
decisions were made in regards to the future of the congregation. First,
was the decision incorporate the congregation under laws of the state and
second was to build a new church. On August 24, 1902 the congregation was
able have their first worship service in the new church, which is still in
use today. Two days later the congregation members signed a Certificate
of Corporate Existence which would establish the congregation as the
Skandia Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church of Litchville, North Dakota.
Fifteen Years of a Divided Church 1911-1926
This era was caused by turmoil among congregation members of Skandia.
Young people were starting to form societies that would have meetings
held in the church. The older, more conservative members of the
congregation saw this as a bad thing, and at an annual meeting in 1909
they made objections to the newly created societies. By 1911 more than
10 families left the church and organized the Immanuel congregation
separate from Skandia.
Skandia suffered greatly from the separation of the congregation, because
the large decrease in members made it difficult to regularly pay a pastor
for worship service. Throughout the years of this split Skandia saw
several pastors come and go for various reasons. The Immanuel
Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Church was organized on February 8, 1911
and initially consisted of 123 members. Immanuel also had a few troubles
acquiring a steady worship leader, but after obtaining Rev. John S. Sunde,
on August 1, 1924, the situation between the two congregations started to
First Lutheran Church of Litchville 1926-Present
Rev. Sunde was able to communicate between the two congregations in way
they had not been able to do previously which led to them reuniting on
June 11, 1926. On that date the official name became First Lutheran
Church of Litchville, North Dakota and then the congregation would have to
decide whether to keep both church buildings.
At first both buildings were kept using Skandia church for regular service
and the Immanuel church for Ladies Aid and social gatherings. First
Lutheran could not support the expense incurred running both buildings so
it was decided that Immanuel would be sold. This sale helped move the
Skandia (First Lutheran) church to its current location which is a more
central area compared to the previous area.
After the relocation of the church in 1930, First Lutheran has incurred a
steady flow of changes which helps construe its present state. For
instance, since 1926 First Lutheran has been affiliated with three
different church bodies to arrive at what it is today, Evangelical
Lutheran Church of America. There have also been many changes to the
church building, hymnals, pastors, and more. As stated in the
introduction, this is a summary of First Lutheran’s history and to get a
more in depth look, access a copy of "A Time for Celebration".