The First 50 years - 1916 to 1966

In the early 1900s, Central Oregon was indeed a “God forsaken country” but more and more settlers arrived having heard of available free land through homesteading and the anticipation of large sawmills locating to the area. In the time around 1916, Deschutes County came into existence and Bend, which was incorporated in 1905, was designated as the county seat and that is when Bend had a growth spurt. With the increased population, people felt the need for spiritual community and the need for ministerial services of all faiths.

It was in 1916 that a concerted effort was put into establishing a Lutheran church in Bend because there were many people that shared a Lutheran background. The Lutheran church was formed in 1916 and was served by visiting pastors until a pastor was called in the fall of 1916. In a meeting in April of that year, those present used the constitution of the Norwegian Lutheran Church of America as a guide and reference for the organization that was to follow. The new congregation was named The First Scandinavian Evangelical Church of Bend, Oregon. Shortly thereafter, the name was changed to First Lutheran of Bend, OR.

Money was in short supply, but through a loan from the Home Mission Department, volunteer labor and donations, the first church was built at a cost of $1,073. The cornerstone was laid on March 11, 1917. The congregation was a Mission Call for several years, but eventually was able to stand on its own two feet. In those early years when calls went out to Pastors, the call stipulated that the pastor must be able to conduct the services in the Norwegian language. In the first 50 years, First Lutheran Church was served by 13 Pastors.