Monday, September 22, 2008

Flom Township Churches

On February 5, 1885, the Aspelund Lutheran Congregation was organized at the home of Halvor Aas. Several meetings and much planning preceeded the organizational meeting. Rev. Hans Johnsen, who was then serving the Wild Rice Congregation was present to conduct the meeting. The reason for organizing a new congregation was the distance which many parishioners had to travel to attend services at Wild Rice. Some lived 8 or 9 miles east and south of Flom. They thought it was too far to drive to Wild Rice a distance of 15 miles or more with horses, especially in the winter.
At the time Aspelund was organized, a gentlemens agreement was made between Aspelund and Wild Rice that the road one mile north of Flom (now hiway 113) would be the dividing line. All those who lived north of this line would stay at Wild Rice and those south of this line would go to Aspelund. This agreement was later terminated.
Knut Jacobson offered a one acre tract of land to the congregation for the site of the church building and cemetery. This offer was accepted, the location being about twenty-five rods due east of the southwest corner of Section 34 of Flom Township. On the lot was a grove of Aspen trees, from which the congregation got its' name; "Aspe"-meaning popple tree, and "lund"-meaning grove or a beautiful place. The site was cleared of brush and timber and the first church was erected. We have no record of the size of the church building but it was of the opinion of Hans E. Skansgaard that it was about 20x28 feet. The original plans had called for a somewhat larger structure but financial problems prevailed.
Some of the earlier history mentioned here is taken from the 65th anniversary history. The original records of the early congregation unfortunately are not available.
The Charter Memebers were as follows: Tobias Tollefson, Gunnar O. Lund, Knut Jacobson, Andrias Dorseth, Anton Johnson, Knut Brenden, Peder O. Rue, Lewis Johnson, Ole Melaas, Halvor Aas, Jon Stende, Chrstian Torgerson, Henry Johnson.
Rev. Hans Johnsen served as pastor until 1892 and Gunnar O. Lund was the congregation's first organist.
In 1892, Rev. K.K. Bjorgo, who was then the District President, suggested and recommended that the Aspelund congregation send a letter of call to Rev. Hans Nodshilder, who was then serving the Lake Park congregation, to be our pastor. Rev. Nodshilder accepted the call and worked very energetically and with much enthusiasm. He had preached only a few sermons when attendance grew so the church was proving too small.
Rev. Nodshilder passed away at a Pastoral Conference held at Albert Lea, Minnesota in the fall of 1894, having served Aspelund Congregation less than two years. It was not until after his passing that his plans for a larger church building were disclosed.
Rev. Bothne who was then serving the Hitterdal congregation was called to serve as interim pastor until Rev. B.J. Larson of Lake Park accepted the call and became Aspelund's pastor for almost twenty-five years. He served this congregation from 1894 until the fall of 1919. In 1897, a special meeting of the congregation was called and it was decided to build a new church on a new location. A tract of land was purchased from L. Sande, located about a half mile south of Flom in Section 33 of Flom Township. Knut Jacobson and Andrew Dorseth were elected to the building committee. John Haugen was given the contract to build the church of the following dimensions: main auditorium 30x40 feet, with addition entrance 12x12 feet and chancel and sacristy 18x24 feet. Hans Skansgaard was given the task of blasting all the rock used in the foundation, as he had some knowledge of explosives. There was no basement under the church at this time.
The bell for the church was purchased with ladies aid funds. Extra strong footings were made to support the bell tower. Special pulleys were made and with the aide of several men and teams of horses the bell was raised to its' place of prominence. There is an inscription on the bell that states that it was given to the church by the ladies aid.
The church was completed during the summer and the cornerstone ceremony was held November 21, 1897 with Rev. E.J. Ovrie of Pelican Rapids the guest speaker. According also to the records the church was dedicated on July 6, 1902 with Rev. K.K. Bjorgo giving the dedicatory sermon.
After the church was finished a group of young people got together and started a choir, under the direction of Axel Berg, the Parochial School teacher. G.O. Lund was the organist. The choir was short lived as Mr. Berg soon moved away. Mr. Lund continued as organist for three more years. Then his daughter, Nettie, assumed his duties until the family moved to Twin Valley in 1907. The old organ was very unique in that it had pipes protruding from the back, to make it resemble a pipe organ. Later, in memory of Knut Brenden, the congregation was given a new organ. It had a handle on the side that could be pumped back and forth for power. Julius Westby had the job of pumping the organ, for as long as the church owned the organ.