Walsh County, North Dakota
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QUALE CHURCH — Cleveland Township

“Walsh Heritage,” Vol 2, pgs 1044-1045

Rev. P. A. Nykreim, serving a parish in an around Grafton, made several visits to Cleveland Township during the early years and conducted services in the various homes. On New Year’s Day in 1884, he met with the settlers at the home of Nels Thompson to assist the settlers in organizing a congregation. Mr. Thompson suggested the name Kvale, the name of his home farm in Sogn, Norway. This was accepted by the group. The spelling has since been changed to Quale. Rev. Nykreim continued to serve as the congregation’s pastor until the spring of 1886.

Rev. G. J. Omland, who lived near Garfield, became the next pastor. Plans for the building of a church were made. In 1886 a committee was named to select and buy a place for a cemetery and a future church building. Chosen on this committee were Ole Gullickson, Andrew Foss and Andrew Severson. Mr. and Mrs. Knute Sorteberg gave an acre of land as a cemetery and church site, and Ebbie Stevenson made a gift of one-half acre adjoining the first to the north.

In 1897, the congregation voted to build a church. A committee was chosen and Gilbert Haugen, Nils Runnestrand, Sr., Andrew Severson, Carl Carlson, Olaf Loken and Knute Loken started a subscription campaign, which brought in $800. The church was built by Olaf Thorson of Park River in 1898 and was dedicated in June of 1899. For twelve years services had been held in the Runnestrand schoolhouse. Rev. Omland, although serving seven other congregations in this territory, continued to serve Quale for almost 22 years.

Pastor M. O. Silseth of Lankin held his first service in Quale on December 8, 1907. He served for 14 years before he resigned in 1920. A new parish was formed of the Fordville, Quale and Sarnia congregations and Rev. Norris Olson was called to serve this parish. Pastor Ole Nilson of Grand Forks served as interim pastor until Pastor Olson arrived in July of 1921.

At this time the parish bought a parsonage at Fordville, and this has since remained as the parish center. In 1924 the congregation observed its 40th anniversary with a three-day festival with many visiting pastors and speakers taking part. In October of 1926, Pastor Olson resigned. Rev. Thomas Anderson, Petersburg, served as interim pastor the rest of the year. At Christmas, 1926, Rev. S. K. Knutson of Kankakee, Illinois, conducted his first service in Quale. In 1929 it was decided to build a basement under the church. The basement was used for the first time when a circuit meeting was held in Quale in June of 1930.

The tornado that struck on July 27, 1931, destroyed the church and basement. The loss was partly covered by insurance, and the congregation decided to rebuild as far as the insurance money permitted. The church was built by Peter Bye of Park River, and the basement was fully completed so that the Christmas service could be held there. By 1935 the church proper could be used for worship services, and on July 21, 1935, the church was dedicated. The circuit meeting was held and a delayed 50th anniversary was observed.

Almost all services in Quale had been conducted in the Norwegian language up until the winter of 1935. At the annual meeting held February 8th, the congregation voted that every other service be conducted in the American language. By 1940 all services were held in English.

Rev. S. K. Knutson resigned in June of 1944. Rev. Haatvedt of Petersburg served as interim pastor until Rev. Carl W. Holm of Nekoma began his work there in January of 1945. 

In 1948 Sarnia was released from this parish to join Michigan, and a new congregation organized at Lankin joined with Fordville and Quale. In June of 1948 Pastor Holm resigned. Rev. M. E. Arneson was installed on June 5, 1949. During the pastorate of Pastor Arneson the building project, begun in 1931, was completed.

Caroline Jallo (Mrs. Nels Huseby), was the first organist. Others who have served as organists are Mrs. Nels Runnestrand, Martha Silseth, Blanche and Nettie Starkson, Bernice Huseby and Viola Jallo. Mrs. Henry Helegson served as organist for 20 years. Mrs. Oliver Ruzicka is the present organist.

Pastor Arneson resigned in January of 1955. Allen W. Skindlov, of Portland Oregon, was installed on June 7, 1955. Vernon Severson, a seminary student, held several services. Pastor Skindlov served the congregation until June of 1965. The next pastor was Rev. Orris Haroldson, who served from July 1965 to July 1968. Pastor Ervin Overlund came in January 1969 to serve as pastor.

On April 17, 1970, the parsonage in Fordville was struck by lightning, causing heavy damage to the inside. Temporary housing was arranged for the pastor and his family until repairs were made. The Quale Church celebrated its 90th anniversary on June 30, 1974.

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