OVERLY The 125th anniversary of Willow Creek Lutheran Church, Overly, will be celebrated July 11. The theme chosen for the celebration is "I am with you always." Bishop William Rindy of the Eastern N.D. Synod will deliver the message during the 10:30 a.m. worship service. Also participating in the service will be the Rev. John Hesford, current pastor, and seven other pastors. There will be a freewill offering for the catered noon meal. The afternoon will be a time of fellowship and viewing displays. Anniversary cake will be served.
The Willow Creek congregation was organized Oct. 25, 1885. While traveling between Minot and Dunseith, the Rev. O.H. Aaberg had a major breakdown with his buggy. While it was being repaired, he visited with some of the early settlers and, under his guidance, the Willow Creek congregation was organized. Aaberg lived in Grand Forks County and came to the Minot area twice a year to preach the Gospel wherever he found a group of Scandinavians. The first pastor was the Rev. Theodore Tonnessen. The Rev. C.D. Eikenes accepted a call as pastor in 1893 and served the congregation for 37 years.
Willow Creek church was built in 1896 and was originally located on the Willow Creek Cemetery land south of Overly. The church was moved to Overly in 1920. In 1930, the Ebenezer Lutheran congregation of Overly merged with the Willow Creek congregation resulting in a membership of 300. By the time of the 100th anniversary in 1985, the membership had decreased to 97. Current membership is 35.
Over the years, the Ladies Aid, Sunday School, Luther League, Men's Club, Lutheran Daughters of the Reformation, Lutheran Children of the Reformation, Luther League orchestra and choirs were organized. The Ladies Aid (Women of the ELCA) was organized in 1889 and continues to meet monthly for Bible study and to conduct business.
Three men from this congregation have been ordained into the ministry: Conrad Aamodt in 1947, Terry Sletto in 1971 and John Syvertson in 2003.
Willow Creek has partnered with Valle Lutheran Church in Rolette in sharing a pastor for more than seven decades. In 2002, Willow Creek congregation joined with Rolette, Bisbee and Egeland to form the R.O.B.E. Ministry, which was served by Pastors Gayler and Sharon Korsmo until 2005.
The R.O.B.E. Ministry dissolved in 2005.
The Willow Creek congregation voted to form the Mountain View Ministry together with congregations from Peace Lutheran and United Methodist churches of Dunseith, and Valle Lutheran of Rolette in 2005. The Rev. John Hesford accepted the call to serve the four congregations and held his first service at Willow Creek on Oct. 8, 2006. St. Sylvan Episcopal Church of Dunseith joined the Mountain View Ministry in January 2010.