History of United Lutheran Church

United Lutheran Church is the result of a merger of three early Lutheran congregations in Grand Forks: Zion, Trinity and First.

Zion: In 1879, when the village of Grand Forks was only eight years old, the Zion First Evangelical Norwegian Lutheran Church was organized. The first church building was constructed in 1881 on the site of what is now United Lutheran Church. Zion was aligned with the United Norwegian Lutheran Church in America.

Trinity: 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.

First: In 1889, a group split away from the original Zion congregation, and formed the First Lutheran Church. In 1890 the congregation purchased a lot next to Trinity. A small church was built, then later moved to the corner of 2nd Ave 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 1967-67 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 installed. (Which is used as the backdrop of our website.)

United Lutheran Church is located near the heart of downtown Grand Forks. Its art deco facility, on the historical register of buildings, has been home to a rich history of worship, mission and celebration of the arts. Today that history inspires but does not bind the present life of the congregation.