Red River Valley Conference

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The Red River Valley Conference was formed from a portion of the Lutheran Minnesota Conference of the Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church in 1912. In 1941 the Red River Valley Conference also absorbed the Bismarck and Sheyenne districts of North Dakota, previously of the Minnesota Conference.[1] Originally, the conference included both the Red River Valley as well as North Dakota to the west and extended to the St. Paul District to the east, covering about 300 miles west to east and 50 miles north to south.

Organizations within the Red River Valley Conference included the Women’s Missionary Society, Young Women’s Society, Junior Missionary Society, Luther League, and Lutheran Brotherhood. The Conference’s Board of Charities also proposed and managed Warren Hospital, Bethany Home for the Aged, and Bethany Children’s Home.[1]

Educational institutions of the Red River Valley Conference included Hope Academy of Moorhead, MN (1888-1896), Lund Academy of Christine Lake, MN (1899-1901), Northwestern College of Fergus Falls, MN (1900-1932), and North Star College of Warren, MN (1908-1936).[1]


Alexandria District[edit]

The Alexandria District was originally a mission field and the first district within the conference. The first congregation in the Alexandria District was organized at Oscar Lake in 1866 and served by Pastor J. P. Lundblad. The formal organization of the district did not take place until September 1879, by which time it had grown to 19 congregations with over 700 members. Due to growing membership and geographical size, in 1898 the Alexandria District split into three districts: Central District, Red River District, and James River District (North Dakota).

Both Lund Academy and Northwestern College were established in the Alexandria District to provide educational opportunities to members of the region. Lund Academy, located in Christine Lake operated from 1899 to 1901 while Northwestern College of Fergus Falls ran substantially longer, operating from 1900 to 1932. Northwestern offered courses in six areas, including the Academic, Normal, and Preparatory departments as well as the Schools of Commerce, Music, and Art.

Bemidji District[edit]

St. John’s was the first congregation in the Bemidji District and was founded in 1881 in Fertile. The Bemidji District was organized from the northeast part of the Red River Valley Conference in 1919. At the time of its organization it was composed of 12 congregations with over 1,000 members.

Fargo and North Dakota Districts[edit]

The James River District that was formed in 1898 split into the North Dakota District and Fargo District in 1909. The first congregation, Maple Sheyenne, was established in North Dakota in 1878 and was led by Pastor A. P. Monten.

Red River District[edit]

The Red River District was created from the division of the Alexandria District in November 1886 and comprised the northern part of the conference. In 1881 Pastor J. G. Lagerstrom organized the first congregation in the district, the Black River Church near St. Hilaire. Located in Moorhead, Minn. within the Red River District, Hope Academy was established by the Lutheran Benevolent Society in November 1888. The Academy offered scientific, classical, musical, and special English courses, and many students participated in the Star Lyceum Literary Society. Hope Academy was forced to close in 1896 due to declining numbers of the surrounding congregations. The Red River District was also home to North Star College in Warren, Minn., which operated from 1908 to 1936.


  • S. W. Swenson (1912–22)
  • Oscar O. Gustafson (1922–52)
  • Walter E. Carlson (1952–62)

External links[edit]

Archival Collections at the College and Lutheran Church Archives at Gustavus Adolphus College


  1. ^ a b c d Larson, J. Edor. History of the Red River Valley Conference of the Augustana Lutheran Church. Blair, NE: Lutheran Publishing House, 1953.