Walsh County, North Dakota

Odalen Lutheran Church

The Odalen Lutherske Kirke, also known as the Odalen Lutheran Church or simply the Odalen Church, was an historic Norwegian-American Lutheran church located in Tiber Township, in Walsh County near Edinburg, North Dakota.

Odalen Lutherske Kirke was significant for its association with the Norwegian immigrants from the traditional district of Odal in the county of Hedmark in eastern Norway. Norwegian immigrants settled this area in rural Walsh County and established the congregation in 1884. The church was built in 1896 in the Greek Revival style. It bore a striking resemblance to the Ullern Church built 29 years earlier in Odal.

It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on January 11, 2006. It burned to ground on June 21, 2007 and was delisted on November 28, 2007. It was the last public building in Tiber Township. On July 30, 2008, an 80-foot cross was erected at the site to memorialize the church. Plans are ongoing for a further memorial. (Wikipedia)


Source: “Walsh Heritage” pg 615-617

The Odalen Lutheran Congregation was organized June 16, 1884, by the Rev. M.C. Holseth. Rev. Holseth was at that time a member of the Norwegian Synod, serving a congregation about 40 miles further south by Forest River. He had for a year or more done some home mission work among the pioneers of Lutheran faith west and northwest of Park River, including the territory where Odalen congregation was organized. The church site and cemetery ground was donated by Jens Haug.

A meeting was called to organize a congregation June 16, 1884. The records show that 24 voting members took part. As quite a number of the first members were from Odalen parish in Norway, it was decided to name the new congregation Odalen Norwegian Lutheran Congregation. The first congregation meeting was held at the Jens Haug home with the following being elected as the first officers: Ole Spaberg, secretary; Palmer Spaberg, treasurer; and Jens Haug, Mikkel Foseide and Theodore Holt, trustees.

April 10, 1885, a meeting of representatives from Pleasant Valley, South Park and Odalen Congregations was held in the Garfield Schoolhouse to consider forming a parish. It was decided to call Rev. Holseth as pastor. Rev. Holseth accepted the call to be pastor of the three congregations and continued to serve them until 1892. Rev. Thorvald Larsen was then called and he served the three congregations until 1897.

As Odalen congregation was a close neighbor to Zion and Trinity congregations served by Rev. J.T. Langemo, it seemed more practical and more convenient for Odalen congregation to belong to the parish of these two congregation than to the Park River parish. The connection with the Park River call was therefore dissolved and a call extended to Rev. Langemo to serve Odalen together with Trinity and Zion. Rev. Langemo accepted the call and served these congregations until he resigned as pastor in 1934.

Other pastors serving our parish were: Pastor G.L. Halmrast, 1934-1942; Pastor R.O. Overgaard, 1943-1947; Pastor S.L. Talakswon, 1948-1951; Pastor Robert Bergeson, 1951-1955; Pastor S.O. Kvaale, 1956-1963; Pastor Anton Gerlach, 1963-1970. Our present pastor is Paul Guldseth. He came to serve our parish in 1970.

Odalen Church was built in 1896. The Ladies’ Aid bought the altar and other furniture for the church. Gilbert Rud, a Tiber Township pioneer, helped with the carpentry and also was instrumental in building the scaffolding or the huge church bell in the church tower. Through the years many improvements were made in the church due to love and devotion of the active members who are proud of their church which stands as a lighthouse in the Edinburg community. Submitted by Denis Monson.


“Walsh Heritage” pg 616

The Odalen Ladies’ Aid of the Odalen Congregation was organized by the Rev. Th. Larson at School District No. 92 on March 265, 1895. The purpose and aim of the Aid was to raise funds for the building of a church. The constitution adopted was very brief, stating that the Aid meetings were to be held the first Thursday afternoon of each month from two to five at a member’s home or the schoolhouse. Membership dues were 25 cents and an additional 10 cents each month.

The program of the Aid meetings was conducted entirely in the Norwegian language. They consisted of devotions, talks by the pastor, lots of hymn singing and the present business. The social hour was spent in cutting materials for garments to be sewed by the members and later sold at the Aid Auction. At the close of the afternoon the hostess would serve lunch by setting a complete table and guests would partake of bread, butter, cake, sauce and coffee.
The only means of transportation to and from the meetings in those days was walking, wagons in the summer, and sleighs in the winter. The charter members were as follows:

Mrs. Mathias Mortenson
Mrs. Arne Weberg
Mrs. O. Olen
Mrs. John Mortenson
Mrs. Arne Weberg
Mrs. O. Oien
Mrs. John Peterson
Mrs. Hans Hansen
Mrs. Sondre Sonderson
Mrs. Lauritz Nygard
Mrs. Aslak Juveland
Mrs. Hans Trofgruben
Miss Marie Hansen
Mrs. Even Stevne
Mrs. Jorgen Skyrud
Mrs. Jens Haug
Mrs. O. Haugen
Mrs. Olaf Gryde
Mrs. Kittel Knudsen (Gryde)
Mrs. Erick Lovseth

The following joined the second and third meetings:
Mrs. Mikkel Foseide
Mrs. Ole Haug
Mrs. Carl Svenneby
Mrs. Helge Lee
Miss Martha Mortenson
Mrs. Theodore Holt
Mrs. Erick Berg
Mrs. Olaf Wicklowire
Mrs. Jorgen Nygard
Mrs. Martin Hammerstad

The first officers were:
Mrs. Sondre Sonderson, President
Mrs. Mathias Mortenson, Secretary
Mrs. Jens Haug, Treasurer

The Aid would have an auction sale each year and also a 4th of July celebration to help raise funds for their work. The first auction sale was held at Kittel Grydes home on 26 Nov 1895. The amount realized was $138.55. After two years of work the Aid had the sum of $1,300 in the treasury to help the building of the church. The Aid bought the altar and other furniture for the church and helped with the furnishing of the basement when it was built in 1916.

As the years passed the Aid grew and the scope of its work extended beyond local needs. In 1952 the constitution was revised and the aim of the Aid was changed to: 1) Promoting and stimulating love for the great mission of the Evangelical Lutheran Church; making all nations disciples of Jesus Christ. 2) Aid prayerfully and financially the activities of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, with emphasis upon its missions program, and 3) Support the local congregation and its activities.

1975 finds the Aid still active in carrying on local and foreign mission work and aiding in general improvements in the church. Membership totals 36 and the officers consist of: president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, stewardship secretary, education secretary historian and librarian, pianist, nominating committee, historian and librarian, pianist, nominating committee, flower and card committee, clothing committee, coupon committee, quilting committee and bazaar committee. “A busy Aid for the Lord is a happy one.”

Submitted by Mrs. Joe Nygard.

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