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Lymn: Vang fire brings me full circle

My first job out of college brought me to western North Dakota, but Vang Lutheran Church kept a part of my heart there after I left.I didn't know how close I was to my ancestors' land, and a church they helped create, until I was living in North ...

Katherine Lymn

My first job out of college brought me to western North Dakota, but Vang Lutheran Church kept a part of my heart there after I left.I didn’t know how close I was to my ancestors’ land, and a church they helped create, until I was living in North Dakota for my own reasons 100 years later. They helped build the church and I got to see how special it was in its final years, when it was just barely beating back those prairie winds. My grandma loved her grandpa, and she loved to learn that all these years later, I had returned to his land. The church succumbed to nature on Monday, when it was struck by lightning and burnt down. It went with dignity, putting on a true fiery show on the prairie and going down in no more than two hours.My great-great-grandpa Carl Wisted helped pick the location, and his brother Iver was on the three-man building committee. Sister Othilda, who’s buried at the cemetery across from the church, was on the Vang Ladies Aid.
Carl Wisted, who was on the Vang Lutheran Church building committee and is buried in its cemetery. The grief I’ve felt for the church has been strange. It was the closest tie to my family there that left long before I returned. I would return again and again - to show a new friend the church, to find solace, to just go for a drive. Sometimes Vang was the destination and sometimes it was halfway home.The 100th anniversary of the first congregational meeting in the church would’ve been this July. The other founding members of the church were names I knew in North Dakota when I was a reporter at The Dickinson Press from 2013 to 2015: Nodland, Kling, Synnes. That permanence is what I loved about North Dakota and what I loved about Vang, and maybe why my heart hurt so much when I saw the harrowing pictures of it in flames on Monday. With time bringing so many changes, I counted on Vang being one place that would always be there when I went back to visit. It was the first place I was going to drive to when I visited next. But what Vang really did for me was get me out there, onto the prairie. By North Dakota standards I was a city girl. But when I got out to Vang, I turned around and saw the land. Some pretty country - and that’s still there.Lymn is a reporter for Post-Crescent Media in Appleton, Wis. She is a former reporter for The Dickinson Press. There will be a service for Vang Lutheran Church at the site of the church at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, June 26.My first job out of college brought me to western North Dakota, but Vang Lutheran Church kept a part of my heart there after I left.I didn’t know how close I was to my ancestors’ land, and a church they helped create, until I was living in North Dakota for my own reasons 100 years later. They helped build the church and I got to see how special it was in its final years, when it was just barely beating back those prairie winds. My grandma loved her grandpa, and she loved to learn that all these years later, I had returned to his land.The church succumbed to nature on Monday, when it was struck by lightning and burnt down. It went with dignity, putting on a true fiery show on the prairie and going down in no more than two hours.My great-great-grandpa Carl Wisted helped pick the location, and his brother Iver was on the three-man building committee. Sister Othilda, who’s buried at the cemetery across from the church, was on the Vang Ladies Aid.
Carl Wisted, who was on the Vang Lutheran Church building committee and is buried in its cemetery.The grief I’ve felt for the church has been strange. It was the closest tie to my family there that left long before I returned. I would return again and again - to show a new friend the church, to find solace, to just go for a drive. Sometimes Vang was the destination and sometimes it was halfway home.The 100th anniversary of the first congregational meeting in the church would’ve been this July. The other founding members of the church were names I knew in North Dakota when I was a reporter at The Dickinson Press from 2013 to 2015: Nodland, Kling, Synnes. That permanence is what I loved about North Dakota and what I loved about Vang, and maybe why my heart hurt so much when I saw the harrowing pictures of it in flames on Monday. With time bringing so many changes, I counted on Vang being one place that would always be there when I went back to visit. It was the first place I was going to drive to when I visited next. But what Vang really did for me was get me out there, onto the prairie. By North Dakota standards I was a city girl. But when I got out to Vang, I turned around and saw the land. Some pretty country - and that’s still there.Lymn is a reporter for Post-Crescent Media in Appleton, Wis. She is a former reporter for The Dickinson Press. There will be a service for Vang Lutheran Church at the site of the church at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, June 26.

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