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Five years after Churchs Ferry church closed, members look to future with memorial

CHURCHS FERRY, N.D.--In Churchs Ferry Cemetery stands two brick monuments not much taller than the average person. One brick structure with an arch awaits an old bell from a wooden tower that stood near Zion Lutheran Church, which used to stand a...

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Karen Hausmann picks up a boquet that blew over at the Church's Ferry Cemetery Thursday. Five years ago this section of the cemetery was under water and has re-emerged as the level of the lake has gone down. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

CHURCHS FERRY, N.D.-In Churchs Ferry Cemetery stands two brick monuments not much taller than the average person. One brick structure with an arch awaits an old bell from a wooden tower that stood near Zion Lutheran Church, which used to stand about a mile north of the cemetery. The bell serves as one of the last reminders that the Churchs Ferry church once welcomed community members for more than a century. But as the flood waters from Devils Lake threatened to engulf the church, members of the congregation knew the building's closure was inevitable. Sunday marked the fifth year since the church's closing. The wooden church building is gone, and all that is left at the site along 65th Avenue Northeast in Churchs Ferry is the wooden tower that once held the bell. Churchs Ferry is 20 miles northwest of Devils Lake and has a population of 12, according to the U.S. Census. The monument took almost five years to complete, and all that is left is to install the church's bell, which is sitting at a repair shop. At the cemetery, the other brick monument holds a marble slate engraved with drawings of the church, the congregation's history of opening and closing and a Bible passage from the Book of Psalms.
The memorial serves as a place of remembrance for members of Zion Lutheran, but it's also a reminder of what was lost in flooding that has threatened communities in the Devils Lake area for years. "We still lost our church, our community," said Karen Hausmann, a Churchs Ferry resident who attended the church when it was open. "Homes and livelihood." Threat of flood Zion Lutheran Congregation began as a home mission with the Rev. B.L. Hagboe, who held services in his home. The church, previously known as Zion Scandinavian Free Lutheran Church, marked its founding in Jan. 9, 1896. The church building was dedicated in 1901. The new sanctuary was built in 1976. Until 1919, services were held in Norwegian. The wooden bell tower was dedicated in 1982. By the end of May 2011, Devils Lake had risen by more than 30 feet and had quadrupled in size since 1993. The highest level the lake reached was 1,54.4 feet above sea level on June 27, 2011, more than enough to flood communities, thousands of acres of farmland and roads. Like other communities, Churchs Ferry was not immune. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"2564404","attributes":{"alt":"Rain showers pass west of the Church's Ferry cemetery this week. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald","class":"media-image","height":"1871","title":"","width":"2838"}}]] Flood waters inundated the city's sewer system, forcing Zion Lutheran members to vote on March 13, 2011, to start the closing process for the church. May 29, 2011, marked the final worship service before the church's doors were closed permanently. At the time, most of the two dozen families who attend this church had moved to surrounding communities, including Devils Lake, to escape the rising water. Almost immediately after the church closed, members started planning to build a memorial, said Louise Nelson, president of the Churchs Ferry Cemetery Association. "That was always the plan from our original meetings to close," she said. "We always wanted something." Churchs Ferry Cemetery seemed to be the logical place for the memorial since it was elevated, but even the burial ground also faced tragedy. Most of the cemetery is on a hill, but the southwest corner, where five infants were buried, was covered in water in May 2011. The children's names were the only portion of the stones visible. "I was just hoping that the water didn't come further." Nelson said. "We had lakefront property when we didn't want lakefront property." Nelson said she is related to the children in the corner graves dating from the late 1890s to the early 1910s. "They were just little babies," she said. Moving forward The following year, the waters receded from the tombstones, but the water killed the trees in the corner of the graveyard. Water marks show how far up on the stones the water came. Nelson said she didn't have to move, but some of her neighbors weren't as lucky. "People lost their homes and access to their homes," she said. The shortest route to the cemetery, 65th Avenue, has been closed south of U.S. Highway 2 because the road flooded. The only way to get to the site from Churchs Ferry is to go east to 67th Avenue Northeast then west on 58th Street Northeast, a 2.5-mile trip. Seeing the graves is a positive, but Hausmann noted people still lost their homes, farmland, roads and their church, the place where everyone gathered once a week. The members of the congregation now go to other churches in other towns. "It was a place of gathering," Hausmann said of the church. "Now you see someone in Devils Lake and you think, 'I haven't seen you in forever,' and it was someone you used to see at least once a week." While Nelson is glad the waters have receded, there always is the threat that the waters could come back. Devils Lake's elevation was at 1,450 feet above sea level as of Friday. "The water is right there," Nelson said as she pointed to water sitting mere feet from the outer border of trees. "Without some long-term plan, it could easily happen again." Still, she believes she and others have to keep moving forward. And though hardships have left deep wounds, Hausmann said the flood has made her faith much stronger. "Basically it's too depressing to think about," Nelson said. "You have to be positive."CHURCHS FERRY, N.D.-In Churchs Ferry Cemetery stands two brick monuments not much taller than the average person. One brick structure with an arch awaits an old bell from a wooden tower that stood near Zion Lutheran Church, which used to stand about a mile north of the cemetery. The bell serves as one of the last reminders that the Churchs Ferry church once welcomed community members for more than a century. But as the flood waters from Devils Lake threatened to engulf the church, members of the congregation knew the building's closure was inevitable. Sunday marked the fifth year since the church's closing. The wooden church building is gone, and all that is left at the site along 65th Avenue Northeast in Churchs Ferry is the wooden tower that once held the bell. Churchs Ferry is 20 miles northwest of Devils Lake and has a population of 12, according to the U.S. Census. The monument took almost five years to complete, and all that is left is to install the church's bell, which is sitting at a repair shop. At the cemetery, the other brick monument holds a marble slate engraved with drawings of the church, the congregation's history of opening and closing and a Bible passage from the Book of Psalms. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"2564403","attributes":{"alt":"Karen Hausmann, left, and Louise Nelson look over the the portion of the Church's Ferry Cemetery that had been flooded","class":"media-image","height":"1873","title":"","width":"2829"}}]] The memorial serves as a place of remembrance for members of Zion Lutheran, but it's also a reminder of what was lost in flooding that has threatened communities in the Devils Lake area for years. "We still lost our church, our community," said Karen Hausmann, a Churchs Ferry resident who attended the church when it was open. "Homes and livelihood." Threat of flood Zion Lutheran Congregation began as a home mission with the Rev. B.L. Hagboe, who held services in his home. The church, previously known as Zion Scandinavian Free Lutheran Church, marked its founding in Jan. 9, 1896. The church building was dedicated in 1901. The new sanctuary was built in 1976. Until 1919, services were held in Norwegian. The wooden bell tower was dedicated in 1982. By the end of May 2011, Devils Lake had risen by more than 30 feet and had quadrupled in size since 1993. The highest level the lake reached was 1,54.4 feet above sea level on June 27, 2011, more than enough to flood communities, thousands of acres of farmland and roads. Like other communities, Churchs Ferry was not immune.
Flood waters inundated the city's sewer system, forcing Zion Lutheran members to vote on March 13, 2011, to start the closing process for the church. May 29, 2011, marked the final worship service before the church's doors were closed permanently. At the time, most of the two dozen families who attend this church had moved to surrounding communities, including Devils Lake, to escape the rising water. Almost immediately after the church closed, members started planning to build a memorial, said Louise Nelson, president of the Churchs Ferry Cemetery Association. "That was always the plan from our original meetings to close," she said. "We always wanted something." Churchs Ferry Cemetery seemed to be the logical place for the memorial since it was elevated, but even the burial ground also faced tragedy. Most of the cemetery is on a hill, but the southwest corner, where five infants were buried, was covered in water in May 2011. The children's names were the only portion of the stones visible. "I was just hoping that the water didn't come further." Nelson said. "We had lakefront property when we didn't want lakefront property." Nelson said she is related to the children in the corner graves dating from the late 1890s to the early 1910s. "They were just little babies," she said. Moving forward The following year, the waters receded from the tombstones, but the water killed the trees in the corner of the graveyard. Water marks show how far up on the stones the water came. Nelson said she didn't have to move, but some of her neighbors weren't as lucky. "People lost their homes and access to their homes," she said. The shortest route to the cemetery, 65th Avenue, has been closed south of U.S. Highway 2 because the road flooded. The only way to get to the site from Churchs Ferry is to go east to 67th Avenue Northeast then west on 58th Street Northeast, a 2.5-mile trip. Seeing the graves is a positive, but Hausmann noted people still lost their homes, farmland, roads and their church, the place where everyone gathered once a week. The members of the congregation now go to other churches in other towns. "It was a place of gathering," Hausmann said of the church. "Now you see someone in Devils Lake and you think, 'I haven't seen you in forever,' and it was someone you used to see at least once a week." While Nelson is glad the waters have receded, there always is the threat that the waters could come back. Devils Lake's elevation was at 1,450 feet above sea level as of Friday. "The water is right there," Nelson said as she pointed to water sitting mere feet from the outer border of trees. "Without some long-term plan, it could easily happen again." Still, she believes she and others have to keep moving forward. And though hardships have left deep wounds, Hausmann said the flood has made her faith much stronger. "Basically it's too depressing to think about," Nelson said. "You have to be positive."CHURCHS FERRY, N.D.-In Churchs Ferry Cemetery stands two brick monuments not much taller than the average person.One brick structure with an arch awaits an old bell from a wooden tower that stood near Zion Lutheran Church, which used to stand about a mile north of the cemetery.The bell serves as one of the last reminders that the Churchs Ferry church once welcomed community members for more than a century. But as the flood waters from Devils Lake threatened to engulf the church, members of the congregation knew the building's closure was inevitable.Sunday marked the fifth year since the church's closing. The wooden church building is gone, and all that is left at the site along 65th Avenue Northeast in Churchs Ferry is the wooden tower that once held the bell.Churchs Ferry is 20 miles northwest of Devils Lake and has a population of 12, according to the U.S. Census.The monument took almost five years to complete, and all that is left is to install the church's bell, which is sitting at a repair shop. At the cemetery, the other brick monument holds a marble slate engraved with drawings of the church, the congregation's history of opening and closing and a Bible passage from the Book of Psalms.
The memorial serves as a place of remembrance for members of Zion Lutheran, but it's also a reminder of what was lost in flooding that has threatened communities in the Devils Lake area for years."We still lost our church, our community," said Karen Hausmann, a Churchs Ferry resident who attended the church when it was open. "Homes and livelihood."Threat of floodZion Lutheran Congregation began as a home mission with the Rev. B.L. Hagboe, who held services in his home. The church, previously known as Zion Scandinavian Free Lutheran Church, marked its founding in Jan. 9, 1896. The church building was dedicated in 1901. The new sanctuary was built in 1976.Until 1919, services were held in Norwegian. The wooden bell tower was dedicated in 1982.By the end of May 2011, Devils Lake had risen by more than 30 feet and had quadrupled in size since 1993.The highest level the lake reached was 1,54.4 feet above sea level on June 27, 2011, more than enough to flood communities, thousands of acres of farmland and roads.Like other communities, Churchs Ferry was not immune.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"2564404","attributes":{"alt":"Rain showers pass west of the Church's Ferry cemetery this week. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald","class":"media-image","height":"1871","title":"","width":"2838"}}]]Flood waters inundated the city's sewer system, forcing Zion Lutheran members to vote on March 13, 2011, to start the closing process for the church. May 29, 2011, marked the final worship service before the church's doors were closed permanently.At the time, most of the two dozen families who attend this church had moved to surrounding communities, including Devils Lake, to escape the rising water.Almost immediately after the church closed, members started planning to build a memorial, said Louise Nelson, president of the Churchs Ferry Cemetery Association."That was always the plan from our original meetings to close," she said. "We always wanted something."Churchs Ferry Cemetery seemed to be the logical place for the memorial since it was elevated, but even the burial ground also faced tragedy.Most of the cemetery is on a hill, but the southwest corner, where five infants were buried, was covered in water in May 2011. The children's names were the only portion of the stones visible."I was just hoping that the water didn't come further." Nelson said. "We had lakefront property when we didn't want lakefront property."Nelson said she is related to the children in the corner graves dating from the late 1890s to the early 1910s."They were just little babies," she said.Moving forwardThe following year, the waters receded from the tombstones, but the water killed the trees in the corner of the graveyard. Water marks show how far up on the stones the water came.Nelson said she didn't have to move, but some of her neighbors weren't as lucky."People lost their homes and access to their homes," she said.The shortest route to the cemetery, 65th Avenue, has been closed south of U.S. Highway 2 because the road flooded. The only way to get to the site from Churchs Ferry is to go east to 67th Avenue Northeast then west on 58th Street Northeast, a 2.5-mile trip.Seeing the graves is a positive, but Hausmann noted people still lost their homes, farmland, roads and their church, the place where everyone gathered once a week. The members of the congregation now go to other churches in other towns."It was a place of gathering," Hausmann said of the church. "Now you see someone in Devils Lake and you think, 'I haven't seen you in forever,' and it was someone you used to see at least once a week."While Nelson is glad the waters have receded, there always is the threat that the waters could come back. Devils Lake's elevation was at 1,450 feet above sea level as of Friday."The water is right there," Nelson said as she pointed to water sitting mere feet from the outer border of trees. "Without some long-term plan, it could easily happen again."Still, she believes she and others have to keep moving forward. And though hardships have left deep wounds, Hausmann said the flood has made her faith much stronger."Basically it's too depressing to think about," Nelson said. "You have to be positive."CHURCHS FERRY, N.D.-In Churchs Ferry Cemetery stands two brick monuments not much taller than the average person.One brick structure with an arch awaits an old bell from a wooden tower that stood near Zion Lutheran Church, which used to stand about a mile north of the cemetery.The bell serves as one of the last reminders that the Churchs Ferry church once welcomed community members for more than a century. But as the flood waters from Devils Lake threatened to engulf the church, members of the congregation knew the building's closure was inevitable.Sunday marked the fifth year since the church's closing. The wooden church building is gone, and all that is left at the site along 65th Avenue Northeast in Churchs Ferry is the wooden tower that once held the bell.Churchs Ferry is 20 miles northwest of Devils Lake and has a population of 12, according to the U.S. Census.The monument took almost five years to complete, and all that is left is to install the church's bell, which is sitting at a repair shop. At the cemetery, the other brick monument holds a marble slate engraved with drawings of the church, the congregation's history of opening and closing and a Bible passage from the Book of Psalms.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"2564403","attributes":{"alt":"Karen Hausmann, left, and Louise Nelson look over the the portion of the Church's Ferry Cemetery that had been flooded","class":"media-image","height":"1873","title":"","width":"2829"}}]]The memorial serves as a place of remembrance for members of Zion Lutheran, but it's also a reminder of what was lost in flooding that has threatened communities in the Devils Lake area for years."We still lost our church, our community," said Karen Hausmann, a Churchs Ferry resident who attended the church when it was open. "Homes and livelihood."Threat of floodZion Lutheran Congregation began as a home mission with the Rev. B.L. Hagboe, who held services in his home. The church, previously known as Zion Scandinavian Free Lutheran Church, marked its founding in Jan. 9, 1896. The church building was dedicated in 1901. The new sanctuary was built in 1976.Until 1919, services were held in Norwegian. The wooden bell tower was dedicated in 1982.By the end of May 2011, Devils Lake had risen by more than 30 feet and had quadrupled in size since 1993.The highest level the lake reached was 1,54.4 feet above sea level on June 27, 2011, more than enough to flood communities, thousands of acres of farmland and roads.Like other communities, Churchs Ferry was not immune.
Flood waters inundated the city's sewer system, forcing Zion Lutheran members to vote on March 13, 2011, to start the closing process for the church. May 29, 2011, marked the final worship service before the church's doors were closed permanently.At the time, most of the two dozen families who attend this church had moved to surrounding communities, including Devils Lake, to escape the rising water.Almost immediately after the church closed, members started planning to build a memorial, said Louise Nelson, president of the Churchs Ferry Cemetery Association."That was always the plan from our original meetings to close," she said. "We always wanted something."Churchs Ferry Cemetery seemed to be the logical place for the memorial since it was elevated, but even the burial ground also faced tragedy.Most of the cemetery is on a hill, but the southwest corner, where five infants were buried, was covered in water in May 2011. The children's names were the only portion of the stones visible."I was just hoping that the water didn't come further." Nelson said. "We had lakefront property when we didn't want lakefront property."Nelson said she is related to the children in the corner graves dating from the late 1890s to the early 1910s."They were just little babies," she said.Moving forwardThe following year, the waters receded from the tombstones, but the water killed the trees in the corner of the graveyard. Water marks show how far up on the stones the water came.Nelson said she didn't have to move, but some of her neighbors weren't as lucky."People lost their homes and access to their homes," she said.The shortest route to the cemetery, 65th Avenue, has been closed south of U.S. Highway 2 because the road flooded. The only way to get to the site from Churchs Ferry is to go east to 67th Avenue Northeast then west on 58th Street Northeast, a 2.5-mile trip.Seeing the graves is a positive, but Hausmann noted people still lost their homes, farmland, roads and their church, the place where everyone gathered once a week. The members of the congregation now go to other churches in other towns."It was a place of gathering," Hausmann said of the church. "Now you see someone in Devils Lake and you think, 'I haven't seen you in forever,' and it was someone you used to see at least once a week."While Nelson is glad the waters have receded, there always is the threat that the waters could come back. Devils Lake's elevation was at 1,450 feet above sea level as of Friday."The water is right there," Nelson said as she pointed to water sitting mere feet from the outer border of trees. "Without some long-term plan, it could easily happen again."Still, she believes she and others have to keep moving forward. And though hardships have left deep wounds, Hausmann said the flood has made her faith much stronger."Basically it's too depressing to think about," Nelson said. "You have to be positive."

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