WDAY: The News Leader

Published January 19, 2014, 09:28 PM

Not much remains of the Pembina Lutheran Church following a fire late last week

Walhalla, ND (WDAY TV) - 1903. That's the year the big Pembina Lutheran Church was built.

By: Michael Yoshida, WDAY

Walhalla, ND (WDAY TV) - 1903. That's the year the big Pembina Lutheran Church was built.

Now, little more than ash and brick remain following a fire that destroyed the church late last week.

The church was a staple of the rural Walhalla community for over 100 years.

The hum of vehicles breaks the silence, as snow gently falls on what was once the Big Pembina Lutheran Church.

People gathered not for Sunday service but to see what they couldn't believe, the ghostly remains of their church which once stood tall… a beacon of their community.

Ray Rolliness/Church Member: “well almost like you lost somebody you know”

Omar Bjornstad/Oldest Living Church Member: “it's pretty shocking. I could hardly believe it.”

Founded in 1885, the church congregation has long been a part of families in this close knit community.

Jerry Rollness/Church Member: “My grandparents went here. My parents and the last one baptized here would have been one of my grandsons.”

Ray: “well I've been kind of a lifetime member. I was baptized here. Confirmed here. So we were pretty devastated to see something like this happen.”

Bjornstad: “I was baptized, confirmed and married here and so was my wife.”

Little more than ash and brick remain. But members say it's the memories that will last.

Jerry: “came here to worship every Sunday and we always had coffee or meals or something. Everybody visited after services.”

Bjornstad: “I think way back when I was a kid. We come with horses sometimes and sleigh box.”

Memories that will serve as reminders of the joy, laughs and love that occurred in the Big Pembina Church.

The fire is believed to have happened Thursday evening.

A cause has not been determined.

The big Pembina church was one of the oldest, active churches in the area.