Vang Lutheran Church Receives Grant For Crucial Building Restoration


Dennison, Minn – Vang Lutheran Church, of rural Dennison, Minnesota, is pleased to announce on October, 16 2023 the congregation has been awarded a competitive matching fund grant for $100,000 from Partners for Sacred Places in collaboration with the National Trust for Historic Preservation to complete repairs to the structure of ornate wooden steeple and bell tower that has suffered from water infiltration damage.

For over 160 years, Vang Lutheran Church has been at the center of community and service. “We are a church with a proud past, a vibrant present, and a hopeful future,” says Pastor Paul Graham.

Vang Church was part of a large Norwegian settlement in Goodhue, Rice and Dakota County. A large parish formed in 1856, in 1862 district churches were organized based on the farm location and valley where the family came from in Norway. Vang members were mostly from Valdres and Sogn Valley in Norway. The present Vang Church was built in 1896 replacing the first church, built in 1863.

Vang was designed like a stave church of ancient Norway. The interior is in the shape of a Greek cross with a high soaring ceiling. The balcony is in the shape of a horseshoe and people in the balcony wrap around the sides of the church. The arrangement of seating facilitates the feeling of being part of the community and seated under the cross. Large areas of beautiful stained glass fill the sanctuary with natural light. The vivid colored light streaming through the windows, in the morning, is a reminder of the light of Easter morning and the grandeur of Christ’s return.

Vang is a hub of all kinds of projects and community programs. For instance, the “Growing Connections” Garden, adjacent to the church and ran by church members, produces hundreds of pounds of fresh produce that is distributed in the community in a variety of ways. Much is brought to area food shelves. The Food Outreach Ministry uses the garden produce and other donated food to make frozen meals that are brought to homebound people or to welcome new neighbors. Vang, together with other local congregations, is an internship site for seminarians, and in this way has helped in the learning and spiritual development of over 40 pastors. Vang is collaborating with local churches to send high school students to the ELCA Youth Gathering, which will be in New Orleans the summer of 2024.

Vang’s ornate steeple stands tall over the prairie. The sound of the church bell ringing lets people know for miles that our community is alive. Vang's ornate wooden steeple and bell tower are in need of repair. Water infiltration into the tower structure has been an issue over a number of years. There are structural repairs as well as replacement of the ornate wooden decoration on the exterior of the tower that need to be done. Some of the decorative tin on the sanctuary ceiling under the tower also needs replacement or repair. The cost estimates are the $200,000 range.

Working together with the Fund for Sacred Places to repair our steeple and bell tower will allow us to preserve our unique building and at the same time be able to fund our church outreach programs to the surrounding community. Receiving these funds is huge for us. We are grateful to be chosen by the Fund for Sacred Places for such a generous award.

With God's love and grace Vang will continue to be a beacon of Hope and Love for all and outreach of community service for decades in the future. All are welcome to worship with us. For more information about our Vang Lutheran Church community please visit our website at For Information about National Fund for Sacred Places visit