History of Gran Lutheran Church

Gran Lutheran Church was organized on September 1, 1873 in Ingebret Larson’s log home with the help of Reverend Lawritz Carlson from Alexandria, Minnesota, who was visiting new settlers along the Goose River.  He conducted services, performed baptisms and at times organized new congregations.  At this organizational meeting, a resolution was requiring adherence to the confessions and teaching of the Norwegian Synod.  A constitution was drawn up and signed by twelve men, namely: Ingebret Larsen (Finstad), C. Hanson (Molden), Andrew Peterson (Gedskemo), Ole Erickson (Lien), Hans Hanson (Molden), Andrew Hanson (Molden), Iver Larson, L.S. Larson, Olaf Swedberg, O. Ingebretson, Ole Peterson, and Peter Paulson.

At the time Gran was organized a site was chosen for church and cemetery on the northwest quartet of Section 12, Mayville Township, on land which at one time was owned eventually be Kenneth Hanson. A few burials tool place on that site but no monuments were erected to mark the graves. Because settlers on the north side of the river had difficulty reaching this site it was decided to build the church at the site of its current location, on the southwest quarter of Section 7, Norway Township.

On Oct. 1, 1874, a young seminary graduate, Bjug Harstad, became Gran’s first minister.  Services were held at first at the Ingebret Larson home and later at other homes also, but in 1877 when Pastor Harstad married Guro Omli, he built his own log house with a large wing, 16 x 24, to serve as a meeting place for service and congregational meetings.

On Dec 14, 1874 a congregational meeting was held at which time a resolution was adopted recommending that the settlers living in the “West Part”, which is known as the Portland area, organize their own congregation.  This resulted in the forming of the Bruflat congregation.

On November 19, 1878, in this same room a school was opened.  There was a vital interest shown by the members of the congregation in education, religious and secular.  In the “Franklin School” Hustvedt taught the 24 young people who had already been confirmed, and the 31 children who were not confirmed were taught by J.L. Mehus.  Both teachers promised to teach even if they did not receive any salary.  In 1886 the congregation organized a boarding school, the first boarding school in Dakota Territory.  This was a boarding school for pre-confirmands.  This was said to be the forerunner of the Bruflat Academy of Portland.

The first move to build a church was taken on January 25, 1878, but the motion was later recalled. On October 9, 1880, the plans were resurrected. Ole Hegg donated two acres as a church plot and a graveyard.  By December 1881 the church was used for the first time.In 1886 as basement twas added, the cornerstone being laid on June 24th while being dedicated by Reverend Harstad. A steeple was also added that year. In 1888 a church bell was purchased at a cost of ninety dollars plus twenty-one dollars for shipping..

While Harstad served the Gran congregation, he also worked as a missionary for the surrounding territory.  He traveled widely among settlers, walking from the Trysil congregation near the Sheyenne River and Georgetown to Wild Rice, Crookston, Grand Forks, Northwood, Bang and Clifford.  Gran was a mother church to fifteen new congregations, many of which are still in existence.

Gran congregation was formally incorporated on Feb. 8, 1886 with the following incorporators:  B. Harstad, L.P. Aarhus and J.C. Leum.  A Ladies Aid was organized in 1885.