Congregation rallies behind rural church
17 miles north of Hettinger stands one of the last operating rural churches in Adams County, the Richland Lutheran Church. For nearly 70 years, the small church has provided a quaint location for rural individuals to worship. Even today, the church still has a dedicated following of over 30 parishioners, showing that Hettinger’s roots to rural life are not only alive but thriving.
“I think construction on the church started in 1949 and was finished in 1950,” said Howard Nelson, a long time parishioner of the church.
Just last summer, devoted members of the congregation volunteered their time to keep their church operational by renovating the whole building. By the end of the project, the congregation had repainted the building, installed a new sign for the cemetery, re-tinned the outhouse, and built a new roof on the church. According to Howard, the repairs and renovations were done completely by the members of the church.
“It was all just volunteered by people who went to church there,” said Howard. “We didn’t hire a contractor, we just did it ourselves.”
Nelson attributed the longevity of the rural church to its dedicated following. Although there were tumultuous times, the church always seemed to pull through.
“I couldn’t tell you why the church has made it through the years,” said Nelson. “It’s just kind of amazing. There have been many times where we have thought; well this might just be the end, but then it always happened out that more people would come.”
Now with strong, dedicated following, Nelson said that church has been growing in recent years.
“In fact, we have been increasing over the past three or four years,” he said. “The people are just close, and we’ve been happy with the ministers. It’s been a blessing that the church just keeps-on agoing.”