The immigrants who settled in this area came from Norway with strong Lutheran beliefs. They brought their "Biblen," "Psalmbok" and "Huspostel," or devotional guide. Efforts began in 1870 to establish a congregation. This resulted in the adoption of a constitution and an authorization to the Norwegian Synod to provide a pastor. Because of the widespread area, it was necessary to divide the parish, forming Nordre Immanuel, Hedemarken and Sondre Immanuel congregations.
The first pastor arrived in 1872. A log church was built, and the parish purchased a farm in Sondre Immanuel as its parsonage. The log church served the congregation for the next 20 years. In 1875, the congregation joined the Norwegian Synod.
Gradually, the settlement extended to the northeast of Nordre Immanuel. Members in the "Aabningen" (the Opening) were authorized by North Immanuel to withdraw for the purpose of organizing a new congregation.The organizational meeting was held in 1881. A parish was formed with Ringsaker in Pelican Rapids and Park and Ida in Becker County. At a meeting on July 11, a constitution was adopted, and the congregation was named "Grove Lake Norsk Evangelsik Lutheran Menighed" (Grove Lake Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church). Three acres of land for the church and cemetery was donated by Anton Clauson and Anton Kalvenes. At a meeting held on July 9, 1882, it was decided to realign the parish by excluding Ida and Park in Becker County and joining with Ringsaker in Pelican Rapids and Bagstevold in Erhard.
The doctrine of Predestination or "Election of souls by God" had been taught by the reformer, John Calvin. This teaching asserted that God had from eternity foreordained all things that should come to pass and, therefore, set up a decree of the election of certain souls to salvation and the rejection of others unto damnation. This doctrine of "Naadevangsstriden" was strongly opposed by those within the church who leaned towards the teachings of the Norwegian State Church, believing with Luther that it was God's will that all men should be saved. There was widespread division within the Grove Lake congregation.
On November 28, 1888, by a vote of 18 to 10, relations with the Norwegian Synod were severed. The minority group purchased the interest of the larger group in the church building and parsonage and retained their relationship with the Synod. The South Grove Lake group erected a building, referred to as the "Missouri Shanty."
In 1889, the larger group decided to support the Anti-Missouri Brotherhood, which was a group who had withdrawn from the Norwegian Synod in protest of the Naadevangsstriden situation. On May 18, 1890, a meeting was held at which a decision was made to build a church on land donated by Knut Hanson and Andreas Syverson. This was located three-fourths mile north of the South Grove Lake Church. The new congregation was a member of the United Norwegian Lutheran Church of America. The parish included Pelican Valley and East North Immanuel churches.
In 1913, the North Grove Lake Church suggested altar fellowship and pulpit exchange with the South Grove Lake congregation. The proposal was cordially received. The relationship between the churches became very friendly in the 10 years following the beginning of altar fellowship. On Reformation Day, October 31, 1923, the churches consolidated, and a celebration was held.
In 1926, it was decided to build a church basement across the road from the north church, where the present church stands. The next year, a plan was affected to use both churches combined into a new, larger building. The larger church was cut in half; the other was torn down and rebuilt between the two parts to form a transept. A new chancel was also added.
In 1930, the Sunday School was established to meet the spiritual needs of the children.
In 1960, the Evangelical Lutheran Church (Norwegian), the American Lutheran Church (German) and the United Evangelical Lutheran Church (Danish) united to form the American Lutheran Church. Grove Lake became a member of this new synod.
In 1961, a bright and cheerful new chancel was dedicated. A well was dug, and indoor washroom facilities added. Linoleum was put in the basement church parlors, and a new entrance was constructed with a cry room. Carpet was installed in the entrance, down the center aisle and in the chancel area. New pews were added in 1966.
A new entrance was added onto the church in 1979, and a chapel area, family room, pastor's office and Sunday School rooms made a wonderful addition in 1985.
In 2005 a pipe organ was donated to the church by Lance Johnson. Our only cost for this magnificent instrument was $12,000 to cover shipping and installation. What a wonderful sound to hear it played on Sunday mornings.
At a special congregation meeting on March 25, 2007, approval was granted to proceed with a Building Renovation Project. Work began shortly thereafter. One of the most significant features of this project was to provide handicap accessibility to the church and included a new handicap restroom. A much needed new well and septic system were added. A new expanded entrance was also built, providing a great environment for people to visit before and after worship services. Construction work was completed by the end of 2007. By the time we celebrated Easter in 2008, interior painting was done and new carpet installed. The timing was fitting because Easter is a time for us to rejoice in the new life that Jesus brings us. Our church building certainly had a touch of new life as well.
Written by Dave Bratlie