When Halvor Bagstevold donated two acres of land as a site for a new church and cemetery, he had no idea that approximately 150 years later his legacy would live on through Grace Lutheran Church of Erhard. In 1874 he started a list of people who wanted to organize a congregation built on a Lutheran foundation. Halvor died on October 22, 1875 and did not live to see the congregation organized on November 30, 1875. He was the first to be laid to rest in the ground which he donated. The church and cemetery would be named Bagstevold Lutheran Congregation in his honor.
In 1885, construction began on the first church located one mile north of Erhard on the original site donated by Havor Bagstevold. In 1891, the church was completed along with the steeple, bell, altar, and a life size statue of Christ. The “Ladies Aid” furnished the pews and Timan Lund built and donated the baptismal fount.
On July 27, 1903, the church was struck by lightning and burned to the ground. The Sunday following the fire the congregation gathered among the ashes and voted to begin rebuilding immediately. Two thousand dollars was subscribed, and the corner stone of the new church was laid on November 1, 1903.
In 1928, Christina Lee donated one acre of land for a new church site in Erhard, Minnesota, and the church was moved to the site that same year. The new church “had a light and cheery basement.” In 1945 the church had between sixty and seventy member families. After the merger of the Pelican Valley and Ringsaker churches, the Bagstevold church became affiliated with South Immanuel. Sunday School and Luther League were organized, flooring replaced, dining and kitchen areas remodeled, and oil furnaces installed.
On December 1, 1962, the name of the church was changed to Grace Lutheran Church, but the cemetery remained Bagstevold Lutheran Cemetery. In 1970, the church purchased land north of the church from Nettie Peasley for $600. Connection with South Immanual Church was severed on May 30, 1973. At the time the congregation had 368 baptized members, 290 confirmed members, and 130 families.
Grace has a long tradition of service in Erhard and surrounding communities. Our church was originally founded as Bagstevold Lutheran Congregation in 1875. In 1962 our name was changed to Grace Lutheran Church. In 2005 we moved to our new facility just north of the old church building.
The Bagstevold Ladies’ Aid was organized in the spring of 1890. Berte Kittelson was elected as first president and Kari Fossen was treasurer. At their first business meeting they agreed to hold a “sale” to help bring down the church debt. Large donations of food and clothing were donated and one member donated a cow! The proceeds came to ninety five dollars.
The Ladies Aid initially met in homes but soon they purchased a tent to meet their needs. In 1918 they purchased a 12’ x 28’ hall, which was later enlarged and used until 1928. The cost of a lunch in 1918 was 10 cents and later was raised to 15 cents. By 1920 the Ldies’ Aid had 29 members. From the beginning the Aid contributed generously to Home Missions and later to the Foreign Missions, also.
In 1960 the Ladies’ Aid changed to the ALCW…. The first father-son and mother-daughter banquets began, alternating every other year. The first fellowship dinner was held in February 1967. Over the few years new gas stoves, kitchen carpeting, a refrigerator, and chairs were purchased.
Sunday Worship :
US Hwy 59 N
Erhard, MN 56534
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