Gravesite Commemorative Ceremony
(From left) Kathleen Reiten Hruby, Harrison
Hruby and Doug Hruby.
Every year, the Annual Sondre Norheim Gravesite Commemorative Ceremony takes place the Tuesday morning before the start of Norsk Høstfest. Classes from Minot Public Schools, the official delegation from Telemark, Norway, representatives of the Chester Reiten Family and Norsk Høstfest gather at the Norway Lutheran Church in Denbigh, N.D., to celebrate the life of Sondre Norheim.
Below, you will find programs from past years' ceremony and dignitaries in attendance:
A Brief History of Norway Lutheran Church
In 1883, a group of pioneer neighbors met and decided they needed a place to worship. Norway Congregation was organized on July 20, 1884. Worship services were held in the homes until a log church was built on 1886. Members donated and hauled logs by ox teams. The first service in the log church was in October of 1886. The last service was held in June of 1900 when the congregation became too large to worship in the little log church. It was dismantled and the logs were sold. The rock monument in the cemetery stands on the site of the little log church.
The building of the brick church began in 1907. Members hauled rocks from the surrounding area for the foundation. The bricks were hauled out with horses and wagons from the Denbigh brick plant (approximately 11 miles). The first church service was held in November of 1907. The basement was completed in 1929 with a cement floor replacing the wooden floor in 1952.
In 1966, a program was held to dedicate a plaque for the grave of Sondre Norheim.
The Norway Lutheran Church and Cemetery were placed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 14, 1994. Norway Congregation closed in 1997. The congregation voted that the church contents remain as they are today and a Trust has been formed to take care of the church.
Today, Norway Church stands tall, overlooking the river valley and prairie lands. It is home to the Annual Sondre Norheim Gravesite Commemorative Ceremony each fall before the start of Norsk Høstfest.