Historic Dennison church gets preservation grant

Nestled between the fields and farms of Goodhue County sits a house of worship steeped in history. 

Established in the 1880s by Norwegian immigrants, Vang Lutheran Church has been an important part of the fabric of Dennison, Minnesota for decades.

"One little saying I like to say is it's a church with a proud past, a vibrant present and a hopeful future," said pastor Paul Graham. 

From the stained glass windows to the intricate organ, you can see its beauty from the outside, but there's a hidden history in the walls as well. The country's first deaf architect, Olaf Hanson, designed the church.

"When (Olaf) built the church, he wanted it to be a very welcoming place for all, so he built it with lots of sight lines," said Graham. 

As time has gone on, the mission of the church has grown. The congregation established a community garden and is known for its outreach in the area of food insecurity, food drives and supporting local food shelves.

But the years have taken their toll on the actual building, namely the bell tower.

Vang Lutheran was recently awarded a $100,000 grant through the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Fund for Sacred Places. The money will allow the church to work on stabilizing the structure of the steeple, while also freeing up funds to use for further community outreach.

"This allows us to do both: be good stewards of the building and continue the ministries," said Graham.

The church still needs to raise another $100,000 to complete the work on the steeple.

For more information or to make a donation, visit their website.