Historical church gets historical donation


Verendrye Electric Cooperative presented Norway Lutheran Church with a check for $1,700 to help fix the church steeple. A special celebration was held at the church because the grant was the millionth dollar granted from the cooperative’s Operation Round Up program. (Pictured from left): Keith Reinowski and Steve Peterson, both Operation Round Up board members; Blaine Bruner, chairman of Verendrye Electric; Vera Nelson, secretary/treasurer of the church; and Randy Hauck, manager of Verendrye Electric.

Verendrye Electric Cooperative held a special event May 18 to celebrate the millionth dollar granted by Operation Round Up, a program in which Verendrye members voluntarily round their bills to the nearest dollar. The funds donated are given as grants to charitable causes in Verendrye’s service area. The program started in 1996, and about 90 percent of its members participate. Verendrye Electric is a Basin Electric Class C member, headquartered in Velva, ND.

The event was held at Norway Lutheran Church, a 110-year old church between Karlsruhe and Denbigh, ND. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the church no longer holds weekly services, but it does hold a few each year, including a special service during the Norsk Hostfest.

The church received the millionth dollar in the form of a $1,700 check to assist with refurbishing its steeple. “It’s a great honor for Norway Church to be chosen for this because it’s something that’s historical,” said Vera Nelson, the church’s secretary/treasurer. Nelson has been involved in the church for most of her life – and she turned 100 years old earlier this month. She attended the event and accepted the check on behalf of the church.

In addition to Nelson, about 50 people attended the event, including former members of the church, Verendrye board members, and members of the media.

“We had a great turnout. The church is really in the middle of nowhere, so it was our delight to see so many people come and visit with us about how important this church is to them. It was a special day for a lot of people, and $1,700 will go a long way toward fixing up this local landmark,” says Tom Rafferty, member services manager of Verendrye Electric.

He says the board typically reviews about 20-25 applications per quarter, and as long as the project meets the qualifications and the application is filled out correctly, the board tries to fund every project to some degree. “It’s a great program,” Rafferty says. “Members don’t even notice a difference on their bills, because it’s only an average of 50 cents per bill, which adds up to about $6 year. It doesn’t seem like a lot but when you multiply it by about 12,000 members, it really adds up.”

In the 21 years since it gave its first grant, Verendrye has supported several programs dealing with children, education, the arts, and healthcare. “This program fits perfectly with the cooperative philosophy,” Rafferty says. “Everyone pitches in a little to have a big impact on the community.”


A group of church members and Verendrye employees pose for a group photo to celebrate the $1,700 Operation Round Up grant given by the members of Verendrye Electric Cooperative.

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