BETHEL BAPTIST CHURCH — PARK RIVER
“Walsh Heritage” Vol 2, pg 675
LOCATION: 201 4th St. E, Park River, ND 58270
In 1894 when L.J. Anderson visited the Torket H. Haavet home near Edinburg, he was the only Baptist living in Walsh County. Anderson held some meetings in his home and several were converted and baptized by Anderson, among them Daniel Halvorson Hove and Elling Bagne. Later, Rev. Modall visited the place several times and baptized more converts.
The church was organized Feb. 17, 1896. The name given was “The Bethel Norwegian Baptist Church of Edinburg.” There were eight members; Andreas Larson, Mrs. Andreas Larson Lars Neilson, Mrs. Lars Neilson, Miss Thora Halvorson, Aaron Nordquist, Secretary H.C. Hendriksen, and Treasurer Daniel Halvorson Hove. Rev. L.J. Anderson and L.J. Parbst were present and assisted with the organization. Rev. Anderson was chosen to be the Pastor. He served as Pastor the rest of the year on the Edinburg and Milton fields and during that time eight new members were received into the church, three of whom lived near Park River.
From October, 1897, Rev. C.J. Hill served the church for one year at the same time as he was serving the Barton Church. During the summer of 1899, J.O. Gotaas served the church at the same time he was laboring on the St. Thomas field, and the following summer he did the same.
From 1901 to 1904 Rev. S. Reinhaldtsen was Pastor. The work was gradually transferred from Edinburg to Park River, as Park River was more of a center than Edinburg and since there was a church building in which the Norwegian church was allowed to hold services. Since 1902 the Edinburg church had been known as “The Scandinavian Bethel Baptist Church of Park River.”
In 1904 Rev. N.J. Lee came to Park River and became Pastor of the American and the Norwegian churches and served them two years. From 1907 to 1910 Rev. J.A. Moe pastored the church. In 1907 the Norwegian Church took over half the property rights of the house of worship. Two years later the church changed its name to “The Bethel Baptist Church of Park River.” Finally the American Church went out of existence. In 1909 the Norwegian Church took over the church building completely and received the deed on the same.
As the Baptist church was the first church in town, it was used by other denominations until they could obtain churches of their own. The original building was destroyed by fire in 1920 and the present building was rebuilt in 1921. Rev. R.J. Jensen was Pastor when it was rebuilt. Rev. O.M. Jorgenson served as Pastor for the longest time, from 1929 to 1946. The church has an active missionary program with over twenty missionaries throughout the world of whom several are members of the church and from this area.
Submitted by Mrs. Carl H. Larson, Park River, ND