Minnesota County Histories
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The History of Renville County

Volume 2

Chapter XL

  Pages 1256-1290  

First Services Held in County - The Church the First Consideration of the Pioneers - Leading Denominations - Story of the Organization, Growth, Pastors and Work of Leading Churches Told by Clergymen and Laymen


The church has ever been a chief consideration with the people of Renville county. Almost without exception the early settlers were of a religious turn of mind. Devout fathers of the Catholic faith brought religious consolation to the French and half-breeds living here while the county still lay in Indian territory. The name of Sacred Heart is the survival of the name given to a mission in this county by some devoted and now forgotton priest. The Protestant missionaries at Lac qui Parle and other places early preached the Gospel to Indians who roamed Renville county.

When the sturdy Germans of the Evangelical faith settled in the bottoms from Beaver Creek to the Sacred Heart, and those of the Methodist faith settled about Mud Lake in Cairo township, their first thought was to hold services.

After the massacre, when the pioneers began to come back, one of the first desires was to maintain religious observances. Services were held at first in homes, later in school houses, and finally small log churches were erected.

Outside of the missions conducted for the French, Indians and half-breeds, the oldest denominations in the county are the Evangelical Association and the Methodist Episcopal. The strongest and most numerous is the Lutheran church in its various divisions. The Catholic people [have] some splendid churches and schools. The Moravian, the Reformed, the Congregational, the Baptist and the Episcopal churches flourish here, and there are also several churches of other denominations, some of them being independent.

It was the desire of the compilers of this chapter to include in this work, in such a manner as to preserve it for all time, the history of every church in Renville county, past and present. To this end over a thousand letters have been sent out. For the most part pastors and members of congregations have responded nobly. A few, however, have either failed or refused to send us the desired information. In such cases, where it has been impossible to obtain the information from other sources, the omission is due to the pastors or people of the congregations themselves and not to the compilers. In some instances as many has five different letters have been sent to one pastor without result. There may be errors in some of the records here appended. This also is due to the lack of correct information by the pastors and people themselves. Every possible means has been used to give a correct and complete history of the county churches. Those who have assisted in this effort by contributing some of the splendid articles here appended deserve the thanks of their communities.

According to the census of 1870 there were then no church buildings in Renville county. There were, however, thirteen church organizations: five Methodist Episcopal, four Lutheran, two Catholic, one Baptist and one Presbyterian. At that time there were also many neighborhood meetings being held without formal organization of a church body.

Hauges Church in Renville County 1257-1258   Zions Congregation of Bandon 1263-1264
Rev. Thomas Hanson (photo) 1258-1259   Fairfax Congregation 1264
Fort Ridgely Congregation 1259-1260   Franklin Congregation 1264-1265
Dale Congregation 1260   Hof Congregation Sacred Heart 1265
Concordia Congregation of Franklin 1260-1261   Vestre Sogn Congregation 1265
Morton Congregation 1261   Wang's Congregation 1265
Pastors of the Fort Ridgely, Dale, Concordia and Morton Congregations 1261   Our Savior's and Opdal Congregations of Sacred Heart 1265-1267
Palmyra Congregation 1261-1262   Rev. Nils Giere 1267
Rev. Parelius H. Rognlie (photo) 1262   Our Saviour's Congregation of Renville 1267-1268
Camp Congregation 1262-1263      
Zion's Church of Olivia 1268   Zion's Church of Buffalo Lake 1269
St. Matthew's Church of Danube 1268   St. John's Church of Fairfax 1269-1270
Bethania Church of Emmet 1268   St. John's Church of Osceola 1270
St. Matthaeus Church of Flora 1268   Zion's Church of Morton 1270-1271
St. Paul's Church of Hector 1268-1269   St. Imanuel's Church of Wellington 1271-1272
Trinity Church of Brookfield 1269   St. John's Church of Renville 1272-1273
Preface 1277-1278   Church of St. Mary's, Bird Island 1282-1283
The Church of St. Aloysius, Olivia 1278-1280   Sacred Heart Parish 1283
The Aloysianum 1280-1281   Church of the Holy Redeemer, Renville 1283
St. Aloysius Park 1281-1282   Church of St. Andrew, Fairfax 1283-1284
Rev. Henry D. Pomije 1282      
The Methodist Episcopal Church of Fairfax 1284-1287   The Methodist Episcopal Church at Brookfield 1288-1289
The First Methodist Episcopal Church of Olivia 1287-1288   The Methodist Episcopal Church of Renville 1289
Rev. Nahum Tainter 1288   The Methodist Episcopal Church of Hector 1289-1290
The Methodist Episcopal Church of Buffalo Lake 1288      
The Finnish Apostolic Lutheran Church 1273   The Winfield Church of the Swedish Evangelical Mission Covenant of America 1273
The Evangelical Association of Flora Township 1276-1277   Elim Moravian Church 1274-1275
Rev. Christian Louis Seder 1277   The Hector Moravian Congregation 1275
Rev. August Nierens 1277   The Bird Island Union Church 1275
The First Christian Church 1275   The Protestant Epsicopal Church 1275
The Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Svedlanda Church of Palmyra 1273-1274   The Emden Christian Reformed Church of Renville 1275-1276
The Fridsborg's Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church 1274      
The Swedish Lutheran Church of Olivia 1274      
The Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of Hector 1274      

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