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Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • 133-year-old rural North Dakota church closing

  • A small rural church south of Fargo is closing after 133 years due to a dwindling congregation.
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  • A small rural church south of Fargo is closing after 133 years due to a dwindling congregation.
    South Pleasant Lutheran Church, a small, white building with no running water and two outhouses still standing behind it, held a parish-wide farewell service Sunday, and in a few weeks will close its doors for good.
    Janie Johnson, one of the church's members who attended Sunday's service, told The Forum newspaper (http://bit.ly/1b7VA2e ) that the church's aging congregation is getting smaller.
    After 133 years, "it was just time," she said.
    The church was the site of about 600 baptisms, 400 confirmations, 110 marriages and 260 funerals, according to a book about the church's history compiled by its members.
    On Sunday, all of those events and all of those memories played an important role in the farewell service.
    The Rev. Bill Rindy, bishop of the Eastern North Dakota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, led the worship service, which also included the sharing of memories by members of the Christine, Hickson and Walcott congregations.
    All four churches are congregations of the Shepherd of the Prairie Lutheran Parish.
    During Sunday's service, Rindy referenced the church's age several times.
    "This is a place like the way it used to be," he told the congregation. "I hope that you've had some good memories here."
    Anders Thiseth and his wife, Carol, reflected on the church's few remaining weeks.
    "It's hard, in a way," said Thiseth, who has been a member since he was confirmed there in 1947. "There have been so few members, so it's hard to keep going. There had to be something done."
    "All our kids were baptized here, our grandkids," Carol Thiseth said. "It's sad."
    The church's final service is set for Aug. 18. New York native and pastor Ron Lande, who served the South Pleasant, Hickson and Christine churches from 1967-98, will officiate the service.

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