Havana Trinity Lutheran Church


On April 1, 1892, the Scandinavian Lutheran immigrants in the Havana area organized themselves into a congregation under the leadership of Lewis Johnson and Martin Johnson. The congregation was served by Pastor L.H. Bueide who lived in Britton, SD and served four other churches: Britton, Pleasant Valley, Zion and Trondheim. Services were held once or twice a month in area school houses and homes, four of which are mentioned in our records: the school which stood where the Havana Public School stood, the Romundstad School (southwest of the Oscar Peterson farm, now Bruce Peterson), the Bergh School (near the Melvin Buisker farm) and the Mike Bergh home (the Orville Bergh Farm). The first year the congregation numbered 77 members. Some of the family names to be found on the membership roll of 1892 are: Vik, Olafsen, Fladby, Melby, Berntsen, Bergh, Hersgaard, Spande, Larsen, Guliksen, Knudsen, Knutson and Hovren. The confirmation class met regularly and the first class was confirmed in 1892. Belinda Vik, Martha Enberg, Lewis Johnson were the first children confirmed in the congregation.

In 1900 the first weddings were held at the parsonage in Britton: Nels Henjum to Tina Bergh and John Fladby to Millie Bergh. Pastor Bueide served until his retirement in 1902 but he continued to live in Britton and to serve Havana occasionally.

In 1903, Pastor P.P. Houglum accepted the call to serve this large parish. The confirmation class continued to meet, sometimes at the home of Mrs. Brita Olson, a member of the Pleasant Valley Congregation. In 1904, the class from Havana was confirmed at the Pleasant Valley Church. Prior to this, confirmation had been held in the school houses. Pastor Houglum moved to a new parish in 1905.

In 1906, Pastor Michael Mickelson began serving the Britton parish and also Havana.  He continued to work in the area until 1910.

After 1910, the Britton pastor no longer served the church in Havana. However, some people remember a parochial teacher and a Pastor Ronning from the Veblen-Hillhead area who had services in the area school houses occasionally during this time.

There are no records of the activity of the Lutheran Church in the Havana area during 1911 to 1916. It is not known exactly what happened, but it is known that the South Trinity Congregation (which was connected with the Forman parish), built a new church in 1907. Some of the people who had previously belonged to the Havana Congregation joined the South Trinity Congregation. Apparently there were so few left in and near Havana that the congregation was inactive for approximately seven years.

In 1917, Pastor Anders I. Haugen moved to Havana and began gathering up the scattered Lutherans in the area and reorganized the congregation in 1920. The church was then named Clayton Lutheran after the first child baptized there, Clayton Oland. At this time there were approximately 20 members including the family names of Oland, Melby, Johnson and Rolie on the membership roll. The parish was now made up of Havana and Immanuel Lutheran Church (located approximately 10 miles east of Havana). The parsonage was located in Havana. The former Methodist Church, located northwest of the Havana Public School, was rented for services and confirmation class until 1927 when the Ladies Aid purchased the Methodist Church building for $600.  In the 35 years since the congregation was organized, this was the first church home. The church was very small and several times a tent was rented for joint confirmation services for Havana and Immanuel in order to accommodate all of the people. On Easter Sunday of 1922, 13 children were baptized. Also in 1922, the first confirmation was held for Clayton Lutheran; Stella Peterson was confirmed. In 1928, Pastor Haugen resigned from the parish after serving for eleven years.

The Ladies Aid was formed in the early 1920’s and continues its mission to serve the congregation and the community to this date.

In December of 1928, Pastor O.L. Stensby from the Britton parish began to serve the Havana Clayton Lutheran Congregation. The services were now all in the English language. It was about this time that Tony Kopshaver passed away leaving $500 to each of the Havana churches. This money was used to help in the construction of a basement for the church. Pastor Stensby died in 1937 while still serving the Britton parish.

Pastor Einer Jorgenson, also from the Britton parish, served Havana for the years of 1938 and 1939. For the last three months of 1939, Pastor Dahle Melsaether of Veblen held services at Havana every two weeks.

In 1940, Pastor W.L. Ellickson accepted the Britton call and also began serving Havana. Gordon Eggertson and Julius Hovland, seminary students, interned under pastor Ellickson and helped in Havana.

In 1943, the parish alignment was changed and a new parish with Cogswell and Brampton was formed. With the new parish, Pastor E.J. Haanstad, who was living in Cogswell, was extended the call to serve Havana.  Havana was now able to have services every Sunday. Previously it had been every two to three weeks. Pastor Haanstad resigned in 1945.

On March 14, 1944 a men’s group was formed. The organization was formally known as the Clayton Lutheran Church of Havana Brotherhood. The first members were Andrew Hillestad, Oliver Hillestad, Oscar Peterson, Donald Mikkleson, Richard Hardena, William Lubke, Fred Ellestad, Holver Hanson, William Motl and C.N. Evenson. The reasons for forming the organization were (1) to mobilize the men and put them to work in the church (2) to promote an aggressive program of boys work so as to win hold and develop the young men for the church (3) to unite men for Christian service in the community and (4) to bring the men together for Christian worship. The group disbanded on June 26, 1945.

Pastor A.B. Cornelson moved to Cogswell and began serving the parish in 1946. In June of this year, the wedding of Betty Ann Wellman and Herbert Tillapaugh was held in the church. This was the only wedding ever held in the little church which was now becoming too small for the congregation. Pastor Cornelson left in 1953.

In 1954 Pastor W.H. Lindquist took charge of the parish. The congregation had been growing to such an extent that a new church building was needed. The South Trinity Congregation, near Forman, had disbanded in 1956 and their building was purchased for $700.  That same year it was moved to the present site in Havana and the work of remodeling it began. The total cost for the building, moving and remodeling was approximately $5000. A beautiful Meneely bell was installed by the Young Peoples of South Trinity with the inscription “Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.” Psalm 150:6. During this time the small church building (the former Methodist Church) was sold and church services were held in the Legion Hall until the new church was ready for occupancy. In 1957 the name of the church was changed from Clayton Lutheran to Havana Trinity Lutheran. On Good Friday, April 19, 1957, the first services were conducted in the new building. In 1958, Pastor Lindquist accepted another call and moved from the parish.

In late 1958 Pastor Ralph S. Forde accepted the call and began ministering here. A Dedication Service was held on June 4, 1961 for the newly moved and remodeled church. The first improvement was the replacement of the worn out pump organ with a new electric organ. In 1962, the stained glass windows were purchased from the Milnor Church for $5 a window. Pastor Forde left the parish in 1962.

It was on October 15, 1959 that the first annual Lutefisk supper was held. Five hundred tickets were sold and all the ticket holders were fed in a little over 3 hoursEvery man, woman and child helped with the work. The profits from the supper were used for building improvements. In the summer of 1962, Pastor Arlington T. Mitskog began serving the Cogswell Parish. It was during this time that joint parish council meetings were first held. Pastor Mitskog moved in the spring of 1964.

For one year, from spring of 1964 until 1965, the congregation was served by Pastor C. LeMont Carlson on an interim basis. It was during this time that a new parish parsonage was built in Cogswell.

In June of 1965, Pastor Rolf T. Storlie began his pastorate in Havana. In 1966 Immanuel Lutheran (located approximately ten miles east of Havana) merged with Havana Trinity Lutheran and increased the membership to the highest point in the history of the congregation. That same year, new carpeting for the church was purchased and installed.  Pastor Storlie left in 1970.

In 1966, Lois Brakke donated a large backlit cross affixed to the outside of the front of the church in memory of her husband Earl.

In 1970, Pastor Russel Pollock began to serve the parish. He remained with us until 1975.

Pastor Danith Kilts began serving the parish in 1976 remaining until 1981.

The years 1976 to 1978 saw many improvements made to the church. Bathrooms were added, the ceiling lowered, insulation was added, storm windows were installed and the church was rewired. In 1978 the congregation decided to purchase the New Lutheran Book of Worship.

In 1981 Pastor Wallace Anderson accepted the call to serve the parish. He served until 1989.

In 1984 and 1985 the entry was fixed with new doors and new carpet was laid. A new sidewalk was poured in the front of the church and the outside of the church was painted.

In 1988, Grace Hawkinson donated a perpetual light for the sanctuary in memory of her husband Don. That same year, work was done in the basement. The walls were painted, new carpet was laid and the kitchen received some repairs.

In the fall of 1990, the sanctuary was painted by several members of the congregation, new carpeting was put down, two ceiling fans were installed and a new bulletin was purchased and hung.

In 1990, the Cogswell parish was dissolved. In May of 1990, Havana Trinity approached Nordland Lutheran Church in Rutland and a two point parish was formed. Pastor Dan Faust, who was serving in Rutland, continued to serve the parish until 1997. The basement of the church was painted this year.

In 1997, Pastor Vickie Rau began her time with us until she resigned in 1999. After her resignation, there were many years that Pulpit Supply was used until the call acceptance of another pastor in 2002. Many retired pastors filled in on Sunday mornings. Forman Trinity Lutheran Church extended a hand in providing students with the needed confirmation instruction. With a decreasing population, the last confirmands in the Havana Trinity Church were confirmed April 27, 2014.

In addition to the New Lutheran Book of Worship, the congregation decided to purchase the Celebration Hymnal in 1998.

Pastor Kristen Schwan began her pastorate in 2002 until 2007. After her departure, the parish was approached by Hope Lutheran Church of Fargo and Luther Seminary, with the prospect of providing an internship site for the students of Luther Seminary. Hope Lutheran Church would provide the sponsorship of the intern. The congregation voted to accept this proposal even though it meant we would have a different intern pastor each year. Unfortunately, we did not receive an intern the first year, but we were fortunate to have the services of an unordained minister by the name of Brett Jorgensen, who drove to Rutland and Havana each Sunday from Valley City.

In August of 2005 the Congregation approved a tin roof for the church.  In 2009 a sound system was installed in the church.

In the fall of 2009, we welcomed Intern Pastor Justin Fenger with internship supervision and guidance provided though Hope Lutheran Church of Fargo. Several interns followed under this arrangement:

Intern Pastor Katie Jerabek from fall 2010 through summer 2011, Intern Pastor Ben Durbin from fall 2011 through the summer of 2013 after graciously agreeing to stay with us an extra year when a different intern was not possible and Intern Pastor Liesebet Gravely was with us from fall 2013 until the summer of 2014.

In 2012 the interior of the church was painted. At this time it was decided to paint the beautiful metal design on the wall previously covered up by a large red curtain that hung behind the altar for many years. The decision was made to remove the curtain and have a local artist from Forman, Becky Sundquist, paint the metal work.

In 2014, the sidewalk in front of the church was extended and a cement pad was poured under a bench donated by Elaine O’Brien in memory of her parents, Don and Bea Markeseth. That same year a ramp was built on the front of the church by several volunteer members and generous donations from the community and the front doors were repaired through a donation from the Inga Smith family.

In 2014 Hope Lutheran ceased participation in the intern program. Pastor Jule’ Ballinger of Bethel Lutheran Church in Wahpeton graciously accepted the supervision of the intern during the time that Intern Pastor Erik Karlson was with us from fall 2014 until summer of 2015.

Unfortunately, there was not an intern available to us in the fall of 2015. However, Interim Pastor Curt Larson (retired pastor from Milnor, ND) came to us upon the departure of Pastor Erik Karlson and agreed to be with us until going south for the winter and returning in the spring of 2016.

Interim Pastor Bob Onhstad (retired pastor from Aberdeen, SD) agreed to share his talents thru the winter months until the return of Pastor Curt in the spring. Pastor Bob also agreed to be the internship supervisor as we continue our search for an intern.

In the early years, the Havana Congregation was affiliated with the United Norwegian Lutheran Synod. Then, in 1917, it became a part of the Lutheran Church of America which later changed its name to the Evangelical Lutheran Church. In 1960, it became a part of the American Lutheran Church and in 1988 became a part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.


***Britton Parish***

1892 – 1902 Pastor L.H. Bueide
1903 – 1905 Pastor P.P. Houglum
1906 – 1910 Pastor Michael Mickelson
1911 – 1917 Congregation was inactive

***Havana/Immanuel Parish***
1917 – 1928 Pastor Anders I. Haugen (reorganized congregation & named it Clayton Lutheran)

***Britton Parish***
1928 – 1937 Pastor O.L. Stensby
1938 – 1939 Pastor Einer Jorgenson
1939 Pastor Dahle Melsaether
1940 – 1943 Pastor W.L. Ellickson

Seminary students Gordon Eggertson and Julius Hovland interned under Pastor Ellickson

***Cogswell Parish***
1943 – 1945 Pastor E.J. Haanstad


1946 – 1953 Pastor A.B. Cornelson
1954 – 1958 Pastor W.H. Lindquist
1958 – 1962 Pastor Ralph S. Forde
1962 – 1964 Pastor Arlington t. Mitskog
1964 Interim Pastor C. LeMont Carlson
1965 – 1970 Pastor Rolf T. Storlie
1970 – 1975 Pastor Russel Pollock
1976 – 1981 Pastor Danith Kilts
1981 – 1990 Pastor Wallace Anderson

***Rutland Parish***

1986 – 1997 Dan Faust
1997 – 1999 Vickie Rau
2002 – 2007 Kristen Schwan
2008 – 2009 Brett Jorgenson
2009 – 2010 Intern Pastor Justin Fenger
2010 – 2011 Intern Pastor Katie Jerabek
2011 – 2013 Intern Pastor Ben Durbin
2013 – 2014 Intern Pastor Liesebet Gravely
2014 – 2015 Intern Pastor Erik Karlson
2015 – 2016 Interim Pastor Curt Larson
2015 – 2016 Interim Pastor Bob Onhstad (winter months)