The history of Trinity Lutheran Church, Durand, Illinois, is the story of the determination of a small group of Norwegian immigrants who left their native country to seek their fortune in America.
Married for less than one year, Clemet Stabeck, age 38 from Rollaug Parish, and Live Halvorsdatter Glaim, his wife, age 21 from Veggli Parish, left Numedal, Norway in 1839, part of a group of 100 who had been recruited by Ansten Nattestad. After arriving in Chicago, Clemet and Knud Knudson went on foot to find a suitable area for them to settle. They proceeded west to Silver Creek precinct, now known as Rock Run Township, northwest of the future Davis, Illinois. They were attracted to the area because it resembled the wooded areas of their native Norway.
These early settlers were sincere Christians and they brought their strong faith with them. Together with four other Norwegian settlements in the northern Illinois/southern Wisconsin area, they sent a letter to Bishop Sverson in Christiana (Oslo), Norway, asking that a pastor be sent to minister to them.
In 1844, Norway's Bishop responded by sending Rev. J.W.C. Dietrickson to the area. In November of 1844, he organized the Rock Ground Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church. Because Rev. Dietrickson was responsible for several other congregations, his visits to Rock Ground were infrequent. Services were held in the homes and, between visits, were conducted by the settlers themselves, who had brought with them their catechisms, Bibles, hymnbooks, and a Postille (book of sermons).
The Norwegian Synod was organized during the period from 1851 to 1853. It was the first real synod apart from the State Church of Norway. The organizational meetings were held at Luther Valley.
In 1851, when Rock Ground church joined the synod, the name of the church was changed to Rock Run, but among residents of the area it was known as the Norwegian Church.
The first church building, a stone structure, was dedicated in June 1852 on the property where the South Rock Run Lutheran Cemetery is located. The dimensions of the church were 33 feet long, 27 feet wide, and 14 feet high, measured from the floor which was 3 1/2 feet above ground. It likely seated 75 persons. The initial building expense -- $365.00 -- was met by assessing each member what was considered their fair share. Repairs were made to the stone church in 1856 and again in 1858.
From One Congregation to Two
In 1869, the congregation of Rock Run split over the issue of slavery, although that is probably a too simplistic view of what really caused the split. A minority group seceded from Rock Run, and in 1871 they built a frame church a few miles to the north (at the location of the North Rock Run Lutheran Cemetery). They considered themselves to be the true Rock Run congregation.
Services in the North church continued until about 1912. A few of the members returned to the South church.
Second Church Building
By 1875 the stone church built in 1852 was deteriorating badly and the congregation voted to replace it with a larger (50' x 36') frame church. During the construction period, the congregation met in the school house across the road -- the Church Hill School. The new church building was dedicated on May 23, 1876
The Addition of a Town Church
It was difficult to reach South Rock Run from Durand, especially during the winter. Best Road, north of Durand Road, was then considerably steeper than it is now. Others voiced a desire for English services.
Due principally to the leadership of Mrs. A.M. Heide, known affectionately as "Grandma Heide," the church became a reality in Durand in 1905. It was known initially as the Durand English Mission. As the name suggests, at least some of the services were to be in English. Grandma Heide was a tireless worker, and the success of this venture was due in large measure to her efforts. She left no stone unturned in awakening interest and gathering funds for the project. She conducted fund drives and quilted to raise money for the town church. Mr. Nels Johnson assisted her. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that she was a half-niece of Clemet Stabeck who was instrumental in starting the first church in 1844.
On November 16, 1904, the mission was organized as Trinity Lutheran Church Society of Durand. On September 4, 1905, the cornerstone for the town church was laid, with English services in the morning and speeches in Norwegian and English in the afternoon.
This church building is now the site of the Village Hall in Durand.
The North Church Closes It's Doors
Services are believed to have ceased at the North Rock Church in 1912. In May of 1921 the NORTH ROCK RUN CHURCH BUILDING WAS STRUCK BY LIGHTNING AND BURNED TO THE GROUND.
The South Church Closes It's Doors
The South Rock Run Church was still conducting services when on May 25, 1922, the SOUTH ROCK RUN CHURCH BUILDING WAS STRUCK BY LIGHTNING AND BURNED TO THE GROUND. Winnefred Fosler Nuss, who was almost five years old at that time and who lived across Best Road from the church, remembered the fire, which quickly consumed the building.
Rather than rebuild, the congregation decided to utilize the village chapel, Trinity Lutheran Church Society of Durand.
Trinity Lutheran Church of Durand
On December 12, 1925, the village congregation voted to adopt the name: Trinity Lutheran Church of Durand. Agreement was reached to deed the property belonging to the former church organizations to the newly named church. The North Rock Run Cemetery and the South Rock Run Cemetery are still used today and are maintained by members of Trinity Lutheran Church.
In 1976, the congregation voted to build a new church building. Property was purchased on Durand Road, west of Patterson Road. (This property was once the site of the Vinegar Hill School.) On November 12, 1978, the new church building was dedicated to glory of God.