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Biography of Rasmus J. Meland

Rasmus Meland, who was instrumental in organizing Nordfjordlaget and was its first president as well as its vice-president, secretary, treasurer, and annual editor during the ensuing years, was born December 1, 1869, on the homestead of John J. Meland, three miles north of the village of Frost in Faribault County, Minnesota.

He attended English and Norwegian parochial schools until he was seventeen years old, when he was able to enter Luther College, Decorah, Iowa, as a student. There he studied for six years before teaching public and advanced private school in Faribault County, Minnesota, during the year of 1892-1893. In the fall of 1893 he became a student at Luther Seminary, Robinsdale, Minnesota, from which school he graduated in June, 1896.

On the 25th of August of the same year he married Dina B. Moe, and in October he received and accepted a call from Waco, Texas. He was ordained in the South Blue Earth Church, December 13, 1896, by Rt. Rev. T. A. Torgeson, president of the South Minnesota district of the Norwegian Synod, to which the Texas congregation belonged; and he was installed in the Waco church Christmas Day, 1896, by Rev. 0. T. Rikansrud. In September, 1900, he received and accepted a missionary call from northern Minnesota. While there he organized four congregations in a three-year period. He transferred to Grantsburg, Wisconsin, where he also organized several rural congregations besides one congregation in Grantsburg. Upon recommendation of the district president he received and accepted another call to Lodi, Wisconsin, where he remained for nearly 13 years.

At the Norwegian Lutheran Church convention in Fargo, North Dakota, in 1918, he and a few convention delegates organized a Lutheran Information Bureau, which was to help the many Lutheran church people, who sold their farms and prepared to locate on new farms. He was elected the secretary of the bureau, and the following year he was requested to move to Minneapolis, Minnesota, to devote his full time to this job. The next year, however, a collapse in real estate business took place, and very few farms were sold. Hence this placement work became unnecessary.

Then he and a few Luther men organized a Teacher's Agency with the main purpose of placing Lutheran teachers in Lutheran schools and in Lutheran communities. Thus he kept successfully busy until the depression in the early thirties when it became nearly impossible to place any teachers.

After moving to Minneapolis he also assisted in organizing a Guidance Bureau and was its first and only president, as it was disorganized in a few months. In addition, he was a charter member of the Norwegian National League and was its corresponding secretary for many years. While he was its president, he succeeded in getting the League to begin the publishing of a Norwegian newspaper by the name of "The Minneapolis Posten."

Rev. Meland, the founder of Nordfjordlaget, who was made a Knight of the St. Olaf order in 1947 by King Haakon VIII of Norway, died April 3, 1961, in Minneapolis. His survivors include three daughters and two sons.

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