History of First Lutheran of Arland
First Lutheran Church of Arland was first organized as Concordia Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Congregation on January 21, 1883. On July 27, 1890, the congregation split into the Concordia and Original Concordia congregations. Then there were two church buildings across the road from each other. Years later in June of 1935 committees from the two churches were elected to draft plans for union of the two congregations. Meetings were held to discuss plans and to draw up articles of agreement for the proposed union. A joint meeting was held September 4, 1935 and ”The First Lutheran Church of Arland” was organized and a constitution adopted. An agreement was reached that Pastor David Lovaas who had been serving the Original Concordia congregation and was also temporary pastor of Concordia would serve the new congregation. They decided the East church would be used for worship and the West church used for Sunday School, Ladies Aid and Luther League meetings. Pastor Lovaas resigned in July 1947 and Pastor M. C. Thompson was called to serve. In 1948 it was decided to move the east church to the west lot and place it on a new foundation. The first service was held in the basement November 28, 1948 and the first service in the almost completed church was held Easter morning, April 17, 1949. After Thompson we had Pastors James Hanson, John Erickson, Chester Blake, Bruce Hanson and Lowell Bolstad.
The church fire of April 8, 1991 was one of the most significant events in the long life of our congregation. The fire completely destroyed our old church building. Our new Pastor Kenneth Kuziej and his wife Carolyn and family were on their way from Canada to serve our church when the fire occurred. They were met and escorted to Prairie Farm to the parsonage where they would be making their home. At this time they were given the sad news of the fire. God had blessed First Lutheran with a good insurance company, an excellent building contractor and hundreds of individual donations from people both in and out of our congregation. And so, by February 1992 we already had begun to worship in our new unfinished building. Finally, on August 9, 1992 with hundreds of members and guests present and led by Bishop Gerthard Knutson, we dedicated our new church building.
Pastor Kuziej continued his ministry at Arland and our sister church West Akers until August of 2010. After Pastor Kuziej’s retirement our church was served by various interim ministers, Jeanie Warner, Jennie Elliot and Sam Jackson until Pastor Timothy Vettrus was installed as pastor of the joint parish of Arland and West Akers in February of 2012. During 2012, the West Akers congregation, who had been a joint parish partner with us since 1960, decided to leave the joint parish agreement. Pastor Vettrus agreed to stay on and is presently serving our congregation. Since our joint parish provided a parsonage for our minister our church council was faced with the problem of housing. The congregation authorized the church council to purchase West Akers’ 50% share of the parsonage in August 2013. This gave our church complete control of the residence for our usage. In the fall of 2016, a new interlocking steel roof was installed on what many of us still call the new church building, which is now 25 years old. What about the future? Our membership is holding steady and we are keeping our head above water. Many small rural churches are facing problems with finding and keeping ministers, however, First Lutheran of Arland has been able to maintain its full commitment to the community and surrounding area. We will continue to work together as a church family.