The Red River Valley land that today comprises the Bygland area was originally owned by the Sioux and later the Chippewa Indian tribes. A treaty in 1863 transferred eleven million of their acres to the United States government.
The first white settlers in Bygland came from the Setesdal area of Norway in 1872. Many settlers followed, wishing to homestead land in the fertile Red River Valley.
Early regional churches sent missionaries to the Valley area, traveling long routes between communities which were often scores of miles apart. Here they held services in private homes. The first official Bygland church was built in 1875 from logs and labor donated by its 89 members. A cemetery was established nearby. Since Bygland was a farming community, pastors were paid a meager salary supplemented by bushels of wheat and oats and loads of firewood.
A new church was built in 1917. An active Sunday School, Ladies Aid organization, and choir were ever present due to the dedication and industry of church members. In 1959 this church burned down due to a fire of unknown origin. A new church, the present brick structure, was built and dedicated in 1961. Current membership is around 200 with approximately 100 households. As always, the church is characterized by its location in the beautiful countryside.Bygland Lutheran Church is affiliated with the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America) and is part of a joint parish with Fisher Lutheran Church, currently served by Pastor Karen Young Trenne.
Bygland Lutheran has an active Sunday school, a busy quilting group, and services each Sunday and on special occasions. Members have the opportunity to be involved in various community service projects throughout the year with fellow parishioners. The annual Lutefisk dinner (held each year in early December) and Community Picnic (late summer) have become favorite community events.
About The Community
The congregation is located in the open country, surrounded by beautiful farm land, between Fisher and East Grand Forks. Fisher has experienced some growth over the past 6 to 8 years, even though there are not many businesses left in town. New apartments and town houses have been built. Fisher's convenient location between Crookston and Grand Forks/East Grand Forks insures its future as a bedroom community if nothing else. It offers small town peace and quiet, its own school (K-12), and a good place to raise children, and it is close to the employment opportunities of some larger cities. East Grand Forks is just 7 miles North of the Bygland Church. It, along with Grand Forks, ND, suffered a severe flood in the spring of 1997, but has rebounded in a remarkable way and come back better than ever. Many new homes plus two new schools have been built on the South end of the city following the flood. The city has been growing to the South, which may bode well for the future of the Bygland Congregation.