Seth Johnson/Daily Journal: Gordon and Peter Fjestad look forward to celebrating the 140th anniversary of Hedemarken Church Sunday.

Archived Story

Carlisle area church celebrates 140th

Published 10:58am Thursday, August 9, 2012 Updated 10:58am Thursday, August 9, 2012

It was 1872 when Hedemarken Church opened its doors near Carlisle. People rode in on horseback and the service was in Norwegian. Although many things have changed in 140 years, some traditions, such as musical praise, have stood the test of time.

For its 140-year celebration on Sunday, the aChord Quartet will perform outside of the church, followed by a picnic.

“Music has always been a big part of the church,” said church council trustee Gordon Fjestad. “You grew up with music with this church, and for a small church, we sing pretty good on Sundays.”

Gordon and his cousin, Peter Fjestad, were baptized, confirmed and married at Hedemarken Church, and they call it home.

“I can stand in the back of the church and look out at the cemetery where my great-grandfather, grandfather, father and son are buried, and someday I’ll be there with them,” Peter said.

The church that stands today was built in 1883, for a cost of $3,558, and the original log church was sold for $60. After 57 years of conducting services in Norwegian, the church made the change to English in 1929.

In 1905, the church had 315 members even though services weren’t held every Sunday because the pastor split time between Hedemarken and another area church.

Today, the church has a regular Sunday attendance of about 20.

“The church used to have 114 kids in Sunday school, and now we have zero,” said Peter. “The farms get bigger, and the population out here gets smaller. Like most churches everywhere, fewer and fewer people attend.”

The Fjestads said they hope to see a good turnout for the 140-year celebration this Sunday. The event will begin at 10:30 a.m. and all are welcome to visit and check out the historic church.

“We’re like a family here,” Gordon said. “Everybody here is family whether they are related or not.”

Hedemarken Church might not have very many members, but everybody helps out a lot, he said.

“We want to keep the church going for as long as we can,” said Gordon.

The church is located on County Hwy 88, northwest of Fergus Falls. Everyone is welcome, with admission being a free will offering.

For questions, call the Zion/Hedemarken parish office at 218-736-2913.

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