In 1879, when the village of Grand Forks was only eight years
old, the Zion First Evangelical Norwegian Lutheran Church was
The first church building was constructed in 1881 on the site
of what is now United Lutheran Church. Zion was aligned with
Norwegian Lutheran Church in America.
In 1886, another group of Lutherans organized as the Evangelical
Lutheran Church, later to be known as Trinity Lutheran. The
next year, a church was built in the one hundred block of
Walnut Street. Trinity was a member of the Hauge Synod.
In 1889 a group split away from the original
Zion congregation, and formed the First Lutheran Church. In 1890
purchased a lot next to Trinity. A small church was built,
then later moved to the corner of 2nd Avenue and Cottonwood
Street. First was a member of the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America.
In 1917 a merger between the three synods would have a great
impact on these congregations. Trinity and Zion merged in 1918
as Bethany Lutheran, meeting in the Zion building. In 1926 First
Lutheran and Bethany merged to form the United Lutheran Church.
In September of 1927, the installation of Rev. Ingvoldstad was
broadcast over the radio, initiating one of the longest radio
ministries in the country, continuing to this day. In 1931 the
cornerstone was laid for the new United church building, designed
by Joseph Bell DeRemer, and in May of 1932 the dedication service
was held in the new sanctuary. Today this structure is included
on the register of historic buildings in America.
The worship space was remodeled in 1962 including the installation
of a 48-rank Casavant tracker-action pipe organ in 1964. A
major classroom and office addition was built in 1965-67 significantly
expanding the facilities. Over the years, areas in the building
have been remodeled for new uses (United Day Nursery) and restored
from the destruction of flood waters (Flood of 1997). In March
of 2003, a beautiful addition to the chancel area, the “Light
of the World” mosaic artwork by David Hetland was