Skjeberg church construction behind, but interior donations are pouring in

Construction on SKJEBERG LUTHERAN CHURCH in Teien Township in Kittson County is going well, but slightly behind schedule. Workers with Presteng Construction, Grafton, have been out in the cold to enclose the building to be able to work on the inside. No definite completion date has been set.                      (Enterprise photo by Anna Jauhola)

By Anna Jauhola
Although it is too early to give a solid completion date for construction of the new Skjeberg Lutheran Church in Teien Township, Kris Heine is hopeful it will be done in summer 2019.
Heine, president of Skjeberg’s congregation, said the wet fall delayed pouring concrete and now cold temperatures have delayed work further.
“We are about five weeks behind,” she said. “They’ve been trying to shingle, but it has been too cold.”
Presteng Construction, of Grafton, is working on the project and Heine said the goal is to enclose the dining room and kitchen to be able to work on the inside during the rest of the winter. They are currently waiting on beams to complete the walls on the sanctuary and entry way. Once they arrive, weather permitting, Presteng will complete the sanctuary.
The original Skjeberg Lutheran Church burned in March 2018 after being struck by lightning during a spring storm. The new building will be one level and handicapped accessible, Heine said.
The church had been built by Norwegian settlers in 1883, and despite it being gone, its congregation still has a close bond with its Norwegian mother church.
“We’ve had great support from them as well,” Heine said. “They plan to do a fundraiser for us over there.”
The Skjeberg church congregation is a close-knit one, which is why they made the decision to rebuild rather than disband.
“We’ve supported each other through many different difficulties,” Heine said. “We knew if we didn’t rebuild, people would disburse to different churches and we’d lose our church family.”
The congregation boasts 100 members, with approximately 50 attending every Sunday.
Heine said the congregation is also comprised of young and old alike, which allows the Sunday School program to be active.
Right now, the congregation has put all its money into just rebuilding the structure. There was no money to furnish the building, but word travels fast among church communities and several churches have stepped forward to help.
Churches that have closed in nearby North Dakota have donated items including an altar from Pleasant Valley Church in Park River, pews from a church in Lankin, kitchen supplies, tables, chairs and Bibles from churches in Lakota and Sykeston. And recently, churches in Osnabrock and Cavalier have called to donate items as well.
“The altar is close to the one we lost,” Heine said. “It took us 135 years to get where we were. Our thanks go to the gracious people who have donated items to us so we’ll have what we need to open up the church.”
Companies have donated time and equipment to the construction project, and individual volunteers from around the area have also given their time to help rebuild the church.
“We just have to give a lot of thanks to all the people in the community and area for their support.”

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