Pine Creek Church

Viking, Minnesota

Rural Reflections Radio


The Midwest’s greatest export is our morals and common sense. Our children grow up, attend college and take what they’ve learned in country churches and pass it on to our fellow countrymen on each coast. I want to tell you about such a church this week that got it's start in Pine Creek, Minnesota near the Canadian border.

The story of this church was documented in 1932 by Signe Elton Knutson in Norwegian. Karen Lislegard translated it into English in 1972 and this week my cousin Sheila Winstead of Roseau, MN, continued the chain by sharing the story with me.

It’s 1889 and the first settlers arrive in Pine Creek, Minnesota. Faith followed closely when Pastor Pederson arrived in 1890 from Hallock to organize the twelve resident families into a congregation. In 1891 a rumor circulated that Indians had planned an attack so the men cut logs to build a fort. The attack never materialized so the timber was hewn into a church with simple hand tools and a knowledge of carpentry gained in the old country. The congregation grew so much that in 1908 that the new (and still active) church was built a mile away leaving the old church to watch over it's former parishioners now at rest in the cemetery. In 1920 the old church moved to Pine Creek to serve as community hall, fell into disrepair then finally moved again to a roadside park where it was made original. The highway department eventually quit maintaining the park and the condition of the church deteriorated.

It’s now 1999 and representatives from the State Historical Society stand before the Pine Creek Church. They’ve decided this tough old structure can stand one more move to the Pioneer Farm and Village just west of Roseau, MN. It was placed on a concrete foundation in 2000 but still the work wasn’t complete. My cousins Sheila Winstead and Tallie Habstritt asked Bob and Karen Granitz of Malung if they could help lay some rock so they could learn the craft. They then took this knowledge and used it give the Pine Creek church a veneer of brand new field stone. They had help from those touched by Pine Creek Church; Vernon and Martha Haaby, Terry Haaby, Susan Rice, Sheila’s husband Bob and the local Sentence to Service crew and to date have completed approximately half of the foundation. This small, dedicated crew hopes for a few more workdays before snowfall but they’d rather make worthy repairs than make repair in haste.


It’s 2004 and the old Pine Creek church still stands. The first church of Roseau County has kept it’s parishioners close to God and now keeps it benefactors close to history. It is like the people it’s served; enduring and welling with character. It is a place where young children learned the parables and grew faith that served them all their life. It is a historical building that is still as relevant as it was when settlers used ax, wooden dowels and their faith to build it from the timber near Pine Creek, Minnesota.