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Our Saviour's Congregation of Renville
(By Rev. Gilbert Oppen.)
The History of Renville County, Volume 2
Compiled by Franklyn Curtiss-Wedge
In the early days, the first Norwegian settlers in this community, as in all new communities, had but very little spiritual guidance; but having been brought up as true Lutherans they loved their Bible, their hymn book, and their little Luther's Catechism. These hooks were their chief devotional books and they treasured them highly. As to public worship, they had little because of the lack of ordained ministers. The only time they could assemble for public worship was when occasionally some minister from some eastern community, on his missionary journey would visit them and conduct services in some private home. Then they would hear the gospel of Christ preached unto them, have their children baptized, and partake of the Lord's supper. To them the gospel of Christ sounded sweet.
May 5, 1873, a congregation was organized under the name of "Our Savior's Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church of Renville and Redwood Counties," and was composed of Norwegians in this vicinity of the western part of this county, and also of Redwood county. The pastor, Rev. J. E. Bergh, preached at various places in private homes and later on in the school house in Renville. It soon became apparent, however, that with so large a territory the pastor could not give the people as many services as they wished; hence, in the early eighties the Norwegians in Renville and vicinity began thinking of forming a congregation of their own, a thought which was realized in 1886. At a legally called meeting on October 25, 1886, the articles of incorporation of the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran church of Renville were adopted and officers elected. The following persons made up the first board of directors:
President, Rev. J. E. Bergh; secretary and treasurer, L. Pederson; trustee for one year, C. Carlson; trustee tor two years, Jacob Olson Dahle; trustee for three years, Hans Olson Lilligaard.
In the year 1887 steps were taken towards the building of a church. In the early part of 1888 the present lots owned by the church were purchased and as soon as funds could be provided a church erected. The congregation prospered steadily, but was struck a heavy blow in the summer of 1894 when a cyclone came and totally destroyed the little church. The members were not dismayed, but took hold with renewed energy to rebuild the church, having full confidence that God would prosper their undertaking. In a short time a new structure took the place of the old one. This church property has been improved from time to time. In 1913 about $1,500 was spent for improvements on the church building; during the summer of 1915 about $800 was spent for improvements on the parsonage.
The present officers of the congregation are as follows: President, Rev. Gilbert Oppen; vice-president, L. E. Lien; secretary, Gurin Kvernes; treasurer, O. J. Dahle; trustee, P. J. Wigdahl, Hans Jepson, Lars Kronlokken.
The following pastors have served the congregation: Rev. P. A. Kittelsby, 1891-1894; Rev. A. J. Torgerson, 1895-1896; Rev. H. Solum, 1896-1899; Rev. Nils Giere, 1899-1904; Rev. M. C. Waller, 1904-1908; Rev. T. L. Rosholt, 1909-1911; Rev. Gilbert Oppen, 1912.
The congregation has always realized that the religious instruction of the children is something the church must provide, and consequently as early as 1889 a Sunday school was organized and has ever since been kept up, doing its mission among the children.
A young people's society has always been actively at work in the congregation, doing its mission among the young. The ladies' aid was the first organization within the congregation, being organized as early as 1887. The ladies' aid has been one of the chief promoters of the church and has been at all times actively at work promoting the cause of both home and foreign missions.
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