By Colette Gjermundson
For the DC Herald
About 75 people gathered on a high hill southeast of Dunn Center on Sunday, June 30 to dedicate the new Vang Chapel which sits on a slight mound on the east side of the Vang Cemetery.
The chapel commemorates the historic Vang Lutheran Church, which was built by pioneers in 1916 and stood as an icon on the north side of the scoria road until a lightning fire destroyed the building in June of 2016.
The chapel project was organized by Sid and Elaine Stromme, former area residents and Vang members who live at Wilton, N.D. Randy Schafer, of Wilton, built the chapel.
Former Vang Rev. Dale V. Nabben, Bismarck, delivered a message and led the dedication by placing a backward baseball cap on his head.
He observed that some folks wear their caps backward, with the brim on their neck and those very same people shade their eyes with a hand held across their eyebrows. Nabben asked, “What’s wrong with that picture? Today we’re doing a lot of looking back.”
He recalled a wedding that took place at Vang not so long ago, as well as many sad processions to the cemetery. “But we know that the cemetery is not the end. Jesus promises hope and life,” Nabben said. “We have a tendency to look back, but we must move forward.” He encouraged those who may have left their church membership in the ashes at the Vang Church location to seek out a new church home. “Above all, remember what God has done,” he said.
Nabben then led a chapel dedication prayer: “May this little chapel serve as a reminder that You dwell not in a building, but in our lives. Lord, help and guide us in Jesus’ Name.”
In addition, Dunn County Lutheran Parish Rev. Dorothy R. Stein, spoke, recalling that her first introduction to the Vang Church, was a quick ‘drive by’ in bad weather before her actual move to North Dakota.
Her next visit, unfortunately, was to the church following the fire, where she salvaged two bricks before the charred remains were buried. Rev. Stein returned one of the bricks to the chapel during the dedication, stating, “There’s something pretty special about the memories that a sacred building holds.”
Music was led by Sid Stromme and Mark Synnes, Dunn Center. Songs included “Amazing Grace,” “The Old Rugged Cross,” “The River,” and a song that Stromme wrote, titled, “The Old Ringing Bell,” which concluded with the chorus: “Now that Vang Church is no longer standing. It was a beacon of hope in its day. God sent lightning from heaven. To save it from wasting away.”