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Thingvalla Lutheran Church Records, 1913-1916
The Thingvalla Lutheran Church was organized in 1889 in Eyford, North Dakota, located 5 miles south of the town of Mountain in Pembina County. Eyford was settled by immigrants from Iceland, who named the town after Jacob Sigurosson Eyford from Eyjafjorour, Iceland. The residents of Eyford built Thingvalla Lutheran Church for $2,500 iin 1893. In addition to Thingvalla, Icelandic immigrants built seven other churches in the surrounding area to serve as community centers. The Thingvalla Church separated from the Icelandic Lutheran Synod in 1910 due to a disagreement between members over the doctrine of plenary inspiration. The minority members of the congregation took the majority members to court for ownership of the church stating that the majority members had departed from original faith and violated the constitutions of the church and synod. The minority members eventually lost the case upon the ruling of the North Dakota Supreme Court in 1914.
In June 2003, a fire destroyed the Thingvalla Lutheran Church. At the time of the fire, its members rotated between the eight Icelandic churches in the area because of a dwindling population and to preserve and keep open the churches. The Thingvalla Lutheran Church was nearly 110 years old at the time of the fire.
The Thingvalla Lutheran Church Records consist of a photocopy of a book entitled Tru Og Pekking (Faith and Knowledge). The book was written by Frederick J. Bergmann in 1916 and dedicated to the members of the Thingvalla Lutheran Church. The book covers four broad areas: Biblical research; Martin Luther's view of the Bible; select readings of the Bible; and North Dakota synods. The original is held by Joe W. Hall, Gardar, North Dakota.
Also included are legal documents related to the case of Gudmundson v. Thingvalla Lutheran Church. On June 5, 1910, the Thingvalla Lutheran Church withdrew from the Icelandic Lutheran Synod. A disagreement between members over the doctrine of plenary inspiration of the Bible was the basis for the separation. A minority of members later withdrew from the congregation and passed a resolution that the majority members had departed from the original faith and violated the constitutions of the church and synod.
The synod held proceedings to resolve the matter and determined that the church had violated the constitutions of both church and synod. The minority members then took the majority members to court for ownership of the church. The Pembina County District Court, based on the proceedings of the synod and testimony from witnesses, ruled that the minority members were the true members of the Thingvalla Church.
The majority members appealed the case, arguing that the trial court had based their decision on insufficient evidence since the synod proceedings had no authority over Thingvalla because of their withdrawal. They also argued that plenary inspiration was not written in either constitution nor was is presupposed in the documents. The North Dakota Supreme Court ruled on December 14, 1914, in favor of the majority members stating that the synod did not have authority over the Thingvalla Church and that plenary inspiration was not a fundamental doctrine of the Lutheran Church or a test for membership.
Materials in the collection include a photocopy of the ruling by the Pembina County District Court, briefs submitted to the North Dakota Supreme Court by the Appellants (defendants) and Respondents (plaintiffs), and a list of exhibits in the Supreme Court. Also included is a photocopy of the final ruling by the Supreme Court as published in North Dakota Reports.