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ALPB => Your Turn => Topic started by: Jeremy Loesch on May 07, 2012, 06:14:42 AM

Title: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: Jeremy Loesch on May 07, 2012, 06:14:42 AM
Hi friends, I have an historical question I thought some of you could answer pertaining to Norwegian Lutherans.

Some background: At my grandmother's memorial service I received a box that she had set aside.  Inside the box were letters that I had written to her, pictures my kids had drawn for her, my grandfather's cheerleading letter from Concordia-River Forest, and a bunch of books.  One of the books was Cammerer's "Preaching for the Church" that my grandfather had used to teach homiletics.  It includes his notes, a few papers.  Pretty special.  There was also a copy of James Adams' "Preus of Missouri".  This book deals with the Lutheran Civil War and is somewhat biographical about Jack Preus.  It is very interesting.

There are lots of references to the "Little Norwegians" and the "Big Norwegians".  Who are these groups, where did they come from, and where are they now?  And the book states that Jack Preus was ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church.  Is the Evangelical Lutheran Church the forerunner of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod? 

And how come the Norwegians and Swedes don't get along? 

If you have any answers or stories to pass along, I'd be interested in reading.  Thanks.

Jeremy 
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: gcnuss on May 07, 2012, 07:18:12 AM
I grew up in the Evangelical Lutheran Church which had been know until the late '40s as the Norwegian Lutheran Church in America.  The ELC became part of the American Lutheran Church in the merger of 1960 (?) and, subsequently, part of the ELCA.
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: James Gustafson on May 07, 2012, 07:56:03 AM
And how come the Norwegians and Swedes don't get along? 

I can take a stab at that one.  Literally.   ;)
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: Team Hesse on May 07, 2012, 08:29:47 AM
Hi friends, I have an historical question I thought some of you could answer pertaining to Norwegian Lutherans.

Some background: At my grandmother's memorial service I received a box that she had set aside.  Inside the box were letters that I had written to her, pictures my kids had drawn for her, my grandfather's cheerleading letter from Concordia-River Forest, and a bunch of books.  One of the books was Cammerer's "Preaching for the Church" that my grandfather had used to teach homiletics.  It includes his notes, a few papers.  Pretty special.  There was also a copy of James Adams' "Preus of Missouri".  This book deals with the Lutheran Civil War and is somewhat biographical about Jack Preus.  It is very interesting.

There are lots of references to the "Little Norwegians" and the "Big Norwegians".  Who are these groups, where did they come from, and where are they now?  And the book states that Jack Preus was ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church.  Is the Evangelical Lutheran Church the forerunner of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod? 

And how come the Norwegians and Swedes don't get along? 

If you have any answers or stories to pass along, I'd be interested in reading.  Thanks.

Jeremy

Interesting questions. If I see Olaf this week I will see what his responses would be....

Always interesting talking to Olaf, Grethe, Tula, and Iver.....

Lou
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: Charles_Austin on May 07, 2012, 08:33:59 AM
Many of the Norwegian immigrants to this country in the 19th Century were fleeing the "state church," and what they saw as the oppression of its bishops. Some were Haugeaners who had actually been imprisoned for preaching without being ordained.
When the Swedes came, they brought their bishops and the structure of the Church of Sweden with them. They did not see such things as bishops, a high view of the ordained ministry, the the liturgy as oppressive.
So the Norwegian-based church bodies in this country grew up in a slightly different ambiance than the Swedish churches. 
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: BrotherBoris on May 07, 2012, 09:11:04 AM
Jeremy:  I think I can help you here.  The "Little" Norwegians were the ones that formed the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Synod around 1917 or so.  Eventually they dropped the adjective "Norwegian" and became known as the Evangelical Lutheran Synod or ELS.  They were on very friendly terms with the Wisconsin Synod and the Missouri Synod when they first began.  Many of the old ELS pastors received their training at Concordia: St. Louis. They broke fellowship with the LCMS in the late 1950s, I believe. They are still in fellowship with the Wisconsin Synod. They are associated with Bethany Lutheran College in Makato, Minnesota.  Their seminary is there also.

The "Big" Norwegians were those who formed the old Evangelical Lutheran Church which became part of the American Lutheran Church which joined with the old LCA in 1988 to form the ELCA.  They are associated with places like St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota and with Luther Seminary in Minneapolis, MN. 

The Little Norwegians were theologically almost exactly the same as the Old Missouri Synod.  Originally, they did not use the Common Service, but what was called "Bugenhagen's Liturgy" in the Lutheran Hymnary of 1917.  In 1996 the ELS published an updated version of the Lutheran Hymnary. It is a very impressive hymnal, both liturgically and musically. I recommend that you purchase a copy. You might well enjoy it. It contains the Bach chorales, rhythmic chorales, Scandinavian folk tunes and both the Norwegian Liturgy (in English) and the Common Service.

Although many of the Norwegian Lutherans were militantly Low Church, such as the Haugeans and the Lutheran Free Church, the Little Norwegians were NOT Low Church.  If anything the Little Norwegians were traditional and moderately High Church for their day.  Their pastors always chanted their portions of the Liturgy.  It wasn't considered "optional" to them. Chanting was simply how it was done. Period. In regard to vestments, they used the black cassock and white surplice with a stole for the clergy. It was simple, but quite dignified.  Years ago some of their clergy used the old Norwegian style ruff collar, but one almost never sees this nowadays.  I have never seen ELS clergy use the chasuble, but it has been over 20 years since I have been in one of their churches.  I suppose some parishes that are higher up the candle might possibly use a chasuble these days, but I think it would still be rare.

Regarding the Norwegian views of Swedes, here is what I picked up living in a Norwegian community in Minnesota:

First of all, I never saw any outward hostility or anger toward the Swedes. They were simply viewed as other people of Scandinavian descent.  The only criticism I have heard about them was that they were not confessional Lutheran enough and they wanted to Americanize faster than the Norwegians did. Supposedly this lead to the Swedes adopting more Methodist style hymns and revival tunes than the Norwegians were comfortable with.  The general description I heard of Lutheranism among Swedish Americans was that they took the hard edges off of Lutheranism and made it more appealing to the general public. From the Norwegian perspective, this was viewed as selling out to the American culture.  The Swedes did not require a subscription to the entire Book of Concord like the Norwegians did. The Swedes did not militantly defend close communion like the Norwegians did. The Swedes did not seem to be interested in the doctrine of predestination very much (which was a HUGE issue for the Norwegians years ago.)  Overall, I think the Norwegians viewed the Swedes as too progressive.

Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: Chuck Sampson on May 07, 2012, 10:08:43 AM
Hi friends, I have an historical question I thought some of you could answer pertaining to Norwegian Lutherans.

Some background: At my grandmother's memorial service I received a box that she had set aside.  Inside the box were letters that I had written to her, pictures my kids had drawn for her, my grandfather's cheerleading letter from Concordia-River Forest, and a bunch of books.  One of the books was Cammerer's "Preaching for the Church" that my grandfather had used to teach homiletics.  It includes his notes, a few papers.  Pretty special.  There was also a copy of James Adams' "Preus of Missouri".  This book deals with the Lutheran Civil War and is somewhat biographical about Jack Preus.  It is very interesting.

There are lots of references to the "Little Norwegians" and the "Big Norwegians".  Who are these groups, where did they come from, and where are they now?  And the book states that Jack Preus was ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church.  Is the Evangelical Lutheran Church the forerunner of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod? 

And how come the Norwegians and Swedes don't get along? 

If you have any answers or stories to pass along, I'd be interested in reading.  Thanks.

Jeremy
Here's a link to a thread from 2010, a summary of the Norwegian Lutheranism in America by my friend, Pr. Tom Olson . . .  http://www.alpb.org/forum/index.php?topic=3230.msg174248;topicseen#msg174248
While Pr. Austin is correct in noting the ecclesiastical tensions between Norwegian and Swedish Lutheran in America, a far greater factor was Norway's chafing under Swedish domination during the period of united government . . . 
 http://www.everyculture.com/multi/Le-Pa/Norwegian-Americans.html
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on May 07, 2012, 10:17:42 AM
From my notes on the Norwegian Lutheran groups.


In 1917 the Norwegian Lutheran Church in America (name changed in 1946 to Evangelical Lutheran Church) was created as a merger of:


United Norwegian Lutheran Church in America (formed 1890)
Hauges Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Synod (formed 1846)
Synod for the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church in American (formed in 1853)


However, in 1900 the Lutheran Church of the Brethren split from the United Norwegians.


In 1918 a group split from the Synod for the Norwegian ELC and formed the Norwegian Synod of the American Evangelical Lutheran Church (1957 name changed to Evangelical Lutheran Synod)


Besides these Norwegians who were part of early mergers (and splits) there was also the Lutheran Free Church (1897, which merged with the ALC in 1962, but some split and formed the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations).


There is also the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Eielsen Synod (formed in 1846).
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: James_Gale on May 07, 2012, 10:29:30 AM
Many of the Norwegian immigrants to this country in the 19th Century were fleeing the "state church," and what they saw as the oppression of its bishops. Some were Haugeaners who had actually been imprisoned for preaching without being ordained.
When the Swedes came, they brought their bishops and the structure of the Church of Sweden with them. They did not see such things as bishops, a high view of the ordained ministry, the the liturgy as oppressive.
So the Norwegian-based church bodies in this country grew up in a slightly different ambiance than the Swedish churches.

The Norwegians' biggest ecclesiastical battles were not with the Swedes (there were very few of those), but with one another.  Consider, for example, the very nasty litigation over control of Augsburg College. 

For those who really want to dig into the history, there is a two-volume work called The Lutheran Church Among Norwegian-Americans by E. Clifford Nelson and Eugene L. Fevold, published in 1960.  The two volumes are filled with enough tales of more (organizational) marriages and divorces -- some quite messy -- to make a Kardashian blush.
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: Dave Likeness on May 07, 2012, 10:43:41 AM
My grandfather was born in Norway and came by boat
to America in 1902 at the age of 18.  He settled in
Davenport, Iowa and began his trade as a baker.
His girl friend came over from Norway in 1905 and they
were married immediately.   They came to the USA due
to the overpopulation  of Norway and it was difficult
to earn a living in Norway. 

They were conservative Lutheran Norwegians who joined
a LCMS church in Davenport.  They did this because there
were no Lutheran Norwegian parishes in the area.  My
grandfather was named Likness, but he changed his name
on the boat to our nation to Likeness.  He wanted it to
sound more English than Norwegian.
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on May 07, 2012, 10:44:09 AM
The Norwegians' biggest ecclesiastical battles were not with the Swedes (there were very few of those), but with one another.  Consider, for example, the very nasty litigation over control of Augsburg College. 


True. As noted above, there were numerous different Norwegian groups in the U.S. There was only one (sort of) Swedish group: The Evangelical Lutheran Augustana Synod of North America (formed 1860, name changed in 1948 to Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church).


The "sort of" is because, as I understand it, there were Swedes who split from the State church (like Hauge did,) but they formed a separate denomination: The (Swedish) Evangelical Covenant Church.
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: James_Gale on May 07, 2012, 11:01:10 AM
Regarding the Norwegian views of Swedes, here is what I picked up living in a Norwegian community in Minnesota:

First of all, I never saw any outward hostility or anger toward the Swedes. They were simply viewed as other people of Scandinavian descent.  The only criticism I have heard about them was that they were not confessional Lutheran enough and they wanted to Americanize faster than the Norwegians did. Supposedly this lead to the Swedes adopting more Methodist style hymns and revival tunes than the Norwegians were comfortable with.  The general description I heard of Lutheranism among Swedish Americans was that they took the hard edges off of Lutheranism and made it more appealing to the general public. From the Norwegian perspective, this was viewed as selling out to the American culture.  The Swedes did not require a subscription to the entire Book of Concord like the Norwegians did. The Swedes did not militantly defend close communion like the Norwegians did. The Swedes did not seem to be interested in the doctrine of predestination very much (which was a HUGE issue for the Norwegians years ago.)  Overall, I think the Norwegians viewed the Swedes as too progressive.

As a "Swedish Lutheran" (with no Swedish blood, by the way) who has lived in Minnesota, I am fascinated by the spin about the Swedes that you picked up among Norwegians (who are much more numerous but were historically very divided among themselves). 

Augustana did give preference to Augustana over the rest of the Confessions.  However, it did embrace the rest of the "Symbols" as "pure and Scriptural."  Augustana viewed its membership in the General Council as clear evidence of its Confessional commitment, a commitment that it did not find in all of the Norwegian churches (or in some other other "Lutheran" bodies).  Indeed, the "me-and-my-Bible-alone," prairie piety of some of the Norwegians looked "non-Confessional" to the Swedes.  The Swedes thought that they were the ones protecting the Confessions from the pietistic practices of some Norwegians. 

And the Swedes most assuredly didn't go for "Methodist" or "Baptist" hymns.  If anything, Augustana went in a more high-church direction than most of the Norwegians. 

As for communion, the Swedes most assuredly observed the Galesburg Rule.  I don't know what created the sense that Norwegians were more committed to "close(d)" communion than were the Swedes.

In short, I don't doubt that you are sharing what you heard from Norwegians about the Swedes.  But it doesn't really comport with the history of Augustana. 
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: BrotherBoris on May 07, 2012, 11:34:00 AM
James Gale writes: 

As a "Swedish Lutheran" (with no Swedish blood, by the way) who has lived in Minnesota, I am fascinated by the spin about the Swedes that you picked up among Norwegians (who are much more numerous but were historically very divided among themselves).

Augustana did give preference to Augustana over the rest of the Confessions.  However, it did embrace the rest of the "Symbols" as "pure and Scriptural."  Augustana viewed its membership in the General Council as clear evidence of its Confessional commitment, a commitment that it did not find in all of the Norwegian churches (or in some other other "Lutheran" bodies).  Indeed, the "me-and-my-Bible-alone," prairie piety of some of the Norwegians looked "non-Confessional" to the Swedes.  The Swedes thought that they were the ones protecting the Confessions from the pietistic practices of some Norwegians.

And the Swedes most assuredly didn't go for "Methodist" or "Baptist" hymns.  If anything, Augustana went in a more high-church direction than most of the Norwegians.

As for communion, the Swedes most assuredly observed the Galesburg Rule.  I don't know what created the sense that Norwegians were more committed to "close(d)" communion than were the Swedes.

In short, I don't doubt that you are sharing what you heard from Norwegians about the Swedes.  But it doesn't really comport with the history of Augustana.

James: Thanks for your response!

It is very interesting to hear things from the Swedish Lutheran perspective.  I try to remain neutral and fair to both sides. My roots were in German Lutheranism, so I don't have anything invested emotionally with the Norwegians. (I simply lived among them for a number of years and attended an ELS college and church).  I highly doubt everything they told me about the Swedes was either fair or accurate.  I am familiar with the old Augustana Synod and the old Augustana Synod Hymnal of 1925.  That particular hymnal preserves the old Olavus Petri rite of the Swedish Mass in English translation.  Its a really nice service, and liturgically it is very rich, both textually and musically. I think its kind of a shame that it hasn't been preserved somewhere in American Lutheranism. I really liked the evangelical catholic flavor to it and much of the music that was used with it.

I can see why Swedes might think of Norwegian Lutheranism as "me and my Bible alone prairie Lutheranism".  There is, especially among the more pietistic Norwegians a great sense of austerity and plainness. 

For what its worth, I had locals in Mankato, Minnesota tell me that their perception was that the Swedes were, on the whole, wealthier and more urbane than the "Norskies" (as they called themselves.) There was a perception that the Swedes and many of the old Augustana Synod churches were where the Lutherans who had "arrived" financially attended. The Norwegians perceived themselves as more rustic, more rural and less wealthy than the Swedes.  I don't know if any of this is actually true.  I do know that Norwegian humor is very self-deprecating and that the Norwegians are the only ethnic group I have ever known that actually enjoys telling ethnic jokes about themselves

One joke they used to tell me in Mankato was that whenever someone moved from Sweden to Norway, the IQs of both nations went up.  ;)

Take care.
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: Jeremy Loesch on May 07, 2012, 11:36:19 AM
Thank you all very much!  It's very interesting.  So the "Big Norwegians" are called big because of the number of members and the "Little Norwegians" were little due to the amount of their members.  And it does help me see that the NELS became the ELS over time.  (I think the ELS hymnary is a worthy book.)

Very interesting stuff!

Thanks.  Jeremy
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: James_Gale on May 07, 2012, 11:48:53 AM
James Gale writes: 

As a "Swedish Lutheran" (with no Swedish blood, by the way) who has lived in Minnesota, I am fascinated by the spin about the Swedes that you picked up among Norwegians (who are much more numerous but were historically very divided among themselves).

Augustana did give preference to Augustana over the rest of the Confessions.  However, it did embrace the rest of the "Symbols" as "pure and Scriptural."  Augustana viewed its membership in the General Council as clear evidence of its Confessional commitment, a commitment that it did not find in all of the Norwegian churches (or in some other other "Lutheran" bodies).  Indeed, the "me-and-my-Bible-alone," prairie piety of some of the Norwegians looked "non-Confessional" to the Swedes.  The Swedes thought that they were the ones protecting the Confessions from the pietistic practices of some Norwegians.

And the Swedes most assuredly didn't go for "Methodist" or "Baptist" hymns.  If anything, Augustana went in a more high-church direction than most of the Norwegians.

As for communion, the Swedes most assuredly observed the Galesburg Rule.  I don't know what created the sense that Norwegians were more committed to "close(d)" communion than were the Swedes.

In short, I don't doubt that you are sharing what you heard from Norwegians about the Swedes.  But it doesn't really comport with the history of Augustana.

James: Thanks for your response!

It is very interesting to hear things from the Swedish Lutheran perspective.  I try to remain neutral and fair to both sides. My roots were in German Lutheranism, so I don't have anything invested emotionally with the Norwegians. (I simply lived among them for a number of years and attended an ELS college and church).  I highly doubt everything they told me about the Swedes was either fair or accurate.  I am familiar with the old Augustana Synod and the old Augustana Synod Hymnal of 1925.  That particular hymnal preserves the old Olavus Petri rite of the Swedish Mass in English translation.  Its a really nice service, and liturgically it is very rich, both textually and musically. I think its kind of a shame that it hasn't been preserved somewhere in American Lutheranism. I really liked the evangelical catholic flavor to it and much of the music that was used with it.

I can see why Swedes might think of Norwegian Lutheranism as "me and my Bible alone prairie Lutheranism".  There is, especially among the more pietistic Norwegians a great sense of austerity and plainness. 

For what its worth, I had locals in Mankato, Minnesota tell me that their perception was that the Swedes were, on the whole, wealthier and more urbane than the "Norskies" (as they called themselves.) There was a perception that the Swedes and many of the old Augustana Synod churches were where the Lutherans who had "arrived" financially attended. The Norwegians perceived themselves as more rustic, more rural and less wealthy than the Swedes.  I don't know if any of this is actually true.  I do know that Norwegian humor is very self-deprecating and that the Norwegians are the only ethnic group I have ever known that actually enjoys telling ethnic jokes about themselves

One joke they used to tell me in Mankato was that whenever someone moved from Sweden to Norway, the IQs of both nations went up.  ;)

Take care.

I don't know how much of this is even relevant to most Lutherans today.  Young people in the ELCA probably don't know or care whether their congregation has Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, German, Finnish, Slovak, or other roots.  But I do find the history interesting.  And there are lessons embedded in history for those who care to study them.

The perceived "class" differences between the Swedes and Norwegians are interesting to consider.  Once upon a time, the Swedes probably did consider themselves to be the sophisticated Scandinavians.  But frankly, that didn't necessarily mean much.  If you walk the halls of the Minneapolis Club and read the names of the past presidents, it becomes clear that the leading businessmen in Minnesota were not Scandinavian of any stripe.
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: Charles_Austin on May 07, 2012, 11:50:17 AM
My mother and both my grandmothers were born in Sweden. My grandmother was living with us when I was born, and family lore says I spoke Swedish to her until I was four and she moved elsewhere. My earliest remembrances of "church" are the Julotta services at dawn on Christmas day, sitting in the balcony at Augustana Lutheran Church in Sioux City. We moved across town, but my grandmother thought I would return to Augustana when I was 12 so I could take confirmation instruction in Swedish. Since I had stopped speaking Swedish at age 4, that didn't happen.
One of my early ULCA pastors came from the Augustana background, so that influence was present in my youth.
I admit to having some biases against Norwegians instilled in me in my early days and I have asked God to remove them from me. He hasn't fully done so yet.  ;D
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: Wayne Kofink on May 07, 2012, 11:55:59 AM
Some of the Norwegians who eventually formed the United Norwegian Lutheran Church were originally joined with the Swedes in the Scandinavian Augustana Synod. My understanding is that withdrawal of the Norwegians from the Augustana Synod in 1870 was an amicable separation. Despite Norway being under the Swedish crown, the linguistic and cultural differences were too great for both groups to work together in the same synod.

I have known several people with one Norwegian parent and one Swedish parent and in all cases the persons identified themselves as either Swedish or Norwegian, but never both. And their cultural identity determined their church affiliation. I think Brother Boris’s comments are right on the mark. The Norwegian Lutherans I knew in Wisconsin (1970s) tended to regard the Swedish Lutherans as being too liberal. They wanted their children educated at Luther College, Decorah, Iowa, and never considered Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois, an acceptable alternative.
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: RDPreus on May 07, 2012, 04:50:55 PM
The Little Norwegian Synod (known today as the ELS) broke with the LCMS in 1955.  The issue was fellowship.  Up until a few years ago, it was considered to be "old Missouri" and many conservative LCMS pastors and congregations (or portions of congregations) went to the ELS, regarding it as a conservative version of Missouri.  In recent years it has adopted the WELS (Wauwatosa) position on the ministry, breaking with H. A. Preus and the other "Missourians" of the 19th century who held to the position of C. F. W. Walther.

The three leading figures of the old Norwegian Synod were: Herman Amberg Preus, U. V. Koren, and Jacob Aall Ottesen.  Here's a paper on H. A. Preus that I gave at the Reformation Lectures at Bethany College in 2003 at the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Norwegian Synod:

http://www.christforus.org/Papers/Content/LegacyHermanAmbergPreus.html

Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: Jeremy Loesch on May 07, 2012, 05:32:59 PM
Thanks Rolf and everyone for the info!  Working through "Preus of Missouri" requires a scorecard I do not possess, so I appreciate everyone's time. 

Were the United Norwegian Lutheran Church the "Big Norwegians"?

And how does one pronounce "Aall"?  (The likelihood of me meeting someone with this name is quite small considering I live in Caecil Co. MD but should I ever, I would not want to embarrass myself.)

Very interesting stuff.  Thanks everyone.  Jeremy
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: Rev. Spaceman on May 07, 2012, 07:07:49 PM
Scandinavian-American Lutheranism is actually my focus in doctoral studies.  Most of what has been said here is accurate, but I would like to add a couple of things and clarify one point in particular.

Yes, the "little Norwegians" are the group from the Norwegian Synod that refused to join the merger of Hauge's Synod, the United Norwegian Lutheran Church, and the Norwegian Synod in 1917.  The reason behind their refusal was their unwillingness to affirm the Madison Agreement of 1912, which allowed for two different interpretations of the doctrine of election to coexist in a unified Norwegian Lutheran church body.  The new denomination began with the title "the Norwegian Lutheran Church of America" (NLCA).  They changed the name of the denomination in 1946, after World War II, in order to reflect the American character of the church body.  The new title was the "Evangelical Lutheran Church."  So, this "big" church body, which reached about one million members in the 1950s, was rightfully called "the big Norwegians."  The "little Norwegians" were connected with the Missouri and Wisconsin Synods, along with a few smaller groups, in a cooperative federation called "the Synodical Conference."  This was an alternative to other cooperative Lutheran federations such as the National Lutheran Council and the American Lutheran Conference.

I wouldn't say that Norwegians and Swedes "didn't get along."  The situation is much more complicated than that.  In 1853, a group of both Norwegians and Swedes joined the Synod of Northern Illinois and together left that synod in 1860 due to a lax attitude toward confessional subscription.  All they could muster was a claim that the Augsburg Confession was "mainly correct."  The Scandinavians together formed a group called the "Scandinavian Augustana Synod" in 1860.  They called a Scandinavian professor, Lars P. Esbjorn, to teach at their seminary.  After ten years, however, linguistic and cultural issues led to the amicable departure from the Swedes.  It was clear that there were not ill feelings.  The Norwegians that left in 1870 split right away into two groups.  The larger was known as "the Conference of the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church," or simply "the Conference."  The smaller group was the "Norwegian Augustana Synod."  In 1890, those two groups joined together anyway along with a group from the Norwegian Synod known as the "Anti-Missourian Brotherhood."  That was the merger that formed the United Norwegian Lutheran Church.

I disagree with Pr. Austin's assertion that the Swedes brought with them their historic acceptance of episcopacy.  There were isolated voices throughout the years within the Augustana (Swedish) Synod for the acceptance of historic succession, but the Swedes in that body mostly rejected any claim to be in Swedish historic succession.  Swedish immigrants came to the US for many of the same reasons that Norwegians did: financial, mostly.  Though in both countries there was resentment of the establishment, including religious establishment.  And it should also be noted that the majority of both Swedes and Norwegians, and Danes as well, did not join Lutheran churches in America.

When the Archbishop of Sweden, Nathan Soderblom, visited the US in the 1920s, he presented a pectoral cross to the president of the Swedish Augustana Synod as a sign of friendship.  Although it was accepted, it was accepted with the caveat that "we do not hereby adopt any understanding of apostolic succession in our church body" (paraphrase).  There was a strong desire among the Swedish American Lutherans to distance themselves from the State Church of Sweden.

Big topic.  Lots more to say, but I'll end it for now.   
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: Charles_Austin on May 07, 2012, 07:51:32 PM
Sorry. I did not mean to imply that the Swedish Lutherans brought or sought the "historic episcopate" in the way practiced in Europe. What I meant was that they brought a different attitude towards bishops and church structures than those who came here fleeing a state church.
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: Rev. Spaceman on May 07, 2012, 09:14:26 PM
Charles, yes, I think you could argue that the Swedish Augustana Synod had a bit of a different "flavor" to it regarding its structure.  What's interesting is that the Swedes only had one Lutheran church body in North America whereas the Norwegians had at one point six, I think.  The Norwegians split in a variety of directions, yet most all of them maintained their tie to Lutheranism, albeit with different pieties.  Among the Swedes, there was an outright rejection of Lutheranism among many (the Swedish Mission Covenant being the largest competitor to the Augustana Synod among Swedish Americans), and those that remained Lutheran were found within one body, expressing their diversity within one church.

I should also point out that there were some Swedish immigrants that came much earlier than the ones being discussed here.  They settled along the Delaware River, and these were eventually absorbed into the Episcopal Church.  The argument was that the Episcopal Church more faithfully represented the Church of Sweden than any Lutheran synod.  The same argument was made later by an Episcopal priest named Gustav Unonius.

More generally, a couple of things I forgot to mention regarding the broader issue raised:

The Evangelical Lutheran Synod (Little Norwegians) are today headquartered in Mankato, MN, and they have a college and seminary in the same location.  A couple of their pastors were in close proximity to me when I served in northern Minnesota.  They are today in fellowship with the WELS, and as such they will not pray with other Christians, though I did attend a joint reading/study group of the Book of Concord with them (and other Lutherans).  They were nice folks, but also very clear about their confessional standpoint.

When Scandinavian immigrants came to North America during the "second wave" of immigration beginning in the 1840s, only small percentages of these immigrants eventually found their way into Lutheran churches.  Remember that 100 percent of these immigrants were at least nominally Lutheran (and most of them not more than that).  Among the Danes, only about 9 percent of the immigrants became Lutheran in the US.  Among the Swedes, about 16 percent.  Among the Norwegians, about 30 percent.  These numbers seem low, but if it were not for the activity of missionary pastors in North America, they would be even lower.  Imagine how many Lutherans there would be today on our continent if 100 percent of these immigrants became Lutheran!
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: J. Eriksson on May 08, 2012, 02:08:04 AM
I am the great grandson of a pioneering Augustana Pastor.  I come from a 'long line of semi-eminent Swedish Lutheran divines' ;D witness my brag about clerical families and challenge to Dave Benke and Marie Meyer if they could beat the number of clergy at their family reunions on a thread a while ago.  Probably my great grandfather was a colleague of Eric Svenson's great grandfather in Kansas a long time ago.
1.  civil service clergy livings were done more carefully in Sweden than in Norway and the Oslo dialect was more foreign to the folks in the sticks than Swedish dialects.  (Country dialects were objects of fun/jokes /derision to the folks in Oslo.)   There was a linguistic barrier between rural folk and university trained folk in Norway.  The result was that Swedish  laypeople were friendlier and identified more with their clergy.
2. The earliest Swedish and Norwegian immigrants came to NA without the blessing of the State church  (see Moberg the Immigrants etc.) ie "it is not God's will that you desert the country of your Birth to go to NA where wild savages and sectarians reign supreme and the true Lutheran faith is not present"  In contrast to LCMS roots which were  a joint emigration of pastors and their people coming out of the Prussian Union of "Lutheran recusants' who shared the stresses and challenges of the New World with their people.  See Weedon's church's Constitution "To establish among us the office of Holy Ministry for the Salvation of Our Souls".   How many list members have parish constitutions that start this way?
 State church pastors had great difficulty adjusting to conditions in NA    see Muhlenberg's Notebook of a Colonial Clergyman, less so for pastors coming from the Bible School tradition. my ggf running into a great number of former classmates in the Seaman's missions and in NA. -
3.  Clergy vestments and collars were worn but might have been 'the cheapest available and in various styles'  Reform or Lutheran what's the diff?
4. The sponsors of early church work in NA and elsewhere were the Mission organizations not the state church.  My great grandfather went to India in 1877 sponsored by the "Evangeliska Fosterlands' Stiftelsen"  as the heat and humidity were too much for him he came to NA in 1884 
5. The Waldenstrom controversy split  went through my ggf 'alma mater' the Johannelund's Mission Institute.  He writes: "that half of the students embraced the Walderstrom position" (Mission Covenant)
6.  He was the first 'lesare' Bible Reader on his landlords farm and subjected to some ridicule.
7. It was legal to pay farm workers partly in kind with Branvin distilled booze,  both in Sweden and Norway (see the economics of the US whiskey rebellion) and in many parishes at that time in Sweden every head of the household had an alcohol problem.   As a teamster he was  invited to have a drink to keep him warm and his reply was that those who do are often found frozen to death in the winter,  or when chucked out of the inn  forced to burrow into the manure pile to keep warm.  He got to sleep on the bar-room floor because he was sober.  As a result Scandinavian pietism reacted strongly against this most common and visible social illness.(source  family lore plus personal experience)
8.  Source Family lore;  'a comment on someone expelled from 'theological faculty in Sweden'  "it must have been theft,  they would not expel him for drunkenness or adultery".

9. If any list members have roots/family ties/ experience in Ishpeming, Michigan or in Kingsburg, California.  I wouldn't  mind if they contacted me.   


Best to all
James
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: wgross on May 08, 2012, 11:44:10 AM
Rev. Spaceman (reply 21) points out that some Swedes believed that the Episcopal Church was more representative of the Church of Sweden than was any Swedish-American synod. In his classic study of immigration, The Uprooted, Oscar Handlin stated that the Church of Sweden actually advised emigrants to join the Episcopal Church. I believe that I have read this elsewhere, too, but I don't when this policy started or for how long it lasted. I would be interested to know more about this.

William G. Ross
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: George Erdner on May 08, 2012, 01:07:02 PM
Rev. Spaceman (reply 21) points out that some Swedes believed that the Episcopal Church was more representative of the Church of Sweden than was any Swedish-American synod. In his classic study of immigration, The Uprooted, Oscar Handlin stated that the Church of Sweden actually advised emigrants to join the Episcopal Church. I believe that I have read this elsewhere, too, but I don't when this policy started or for how long it lasted. I would be interested to know more about this.

William G. Ross

That's not a difficult position to understand, though I don't agree with it. What follows is my best recollection of an explanation as to why some non-Roman Catholic state churches in Europe recommended that when their people immigrated to the US, they join the Episcopal Church.
 
The founding principle behind some European state churches was that there is only one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, but for the sake of good order, God established individual nation-states with kings who ruled by His divine right. Therefore, while the Bishop of Rome was established by God as head of the Church in his area of jurisdiction, the divinely anointed king of other nations was to appoint a local bishop (or Archbishop) as head of the church in his kingdom. Hence, the Church of England was the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church establishment in England, the Church of Sweden was the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church establishment in Sweden, etc. As a representative republic, with no king and a prohibition of any sort of established state church in America, there was no established Church of the USA. However, the Episcopal Church, as the successor to the Church of England when what is now the USA used to be part of England, the Episcopal church would be closer to the mythical "Church of the USA" than any other church body in existence at the time.
 
As I said, this is what I recall being taught during my high school Sunday School classes. I'm not saying it's something formally proclaimed by European bishops as doctrine. It's more along the lines of the advice that some Europeans gave to their friends and associates who were leaving for America. It might even have been coming more from European secular politicians than from European churchmen. I've seen very little reference to this sort of explanation for how the Protestant state churches in Europe saw themselves. The whole argument strikes me as more likely coming from European politicians seeking to maintain control over the local state church than anything else.
 
Addendum:
 
I did a little more research after posting this, which is why I highlighted that last sentence. The explanation I repeated was a secular, political position made by politicians. It's only peripherally a part of church history. It's more properly a part of secular history in regards by attempts made by politicians to dominate and control the religious establishment for their own purposes. Also, it was a position held by some politicians, not necessarily the majority in any Parliament or royal court.
 
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: Charles_Austin on May 08, 2012, 01:33:42 PM
People who understand church history will have to speak up here. I just don't have the desire to explain anymore.
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: Bergs on May 08, 2012, 02:14:54 PM
In my little hometown located in the middle of Minnesota there were 567 residents (in the 1960 census, 599 in 1970) and 3 Lutheran churches - the Swedish, the Norwegian, and the German (Missouri Synod).  At one time there was also a Danish Lutheran Church which had not survived by the time I arrived and no one told me much about it except where it had been located.  There was also a Methodist, Free Methodist, Roman Catholic, and Church of the Open Bible congregation.

In reviewing the history of the Swedish and the Norwegian Lutheran church they had considered forming a single Lutheran parish in 1887 when the town was just forming.  But the record shows they were not able to put it together.  The Norwegian Lutheran church I was a member of there had strong Haugean roots which may explain a whole lot.  Perhaps it was a language thing.  However I am told that depending on dialect, Norwegians and Swedes can reasonably understand each other. 

In the 1950's both congregations were without a called pastor at the same time and they again tried to merge (there had been a bit of "inter-racial" marriage during the intervening years).  Again it failed though no one I talked to could remember why.  By then both congregations were having all services in English so language was not a barrier.  Up until 1946, there was still 1 service per month being performed in Norwegian.

The two parishes finally merged in the 1980's given the very trying economic times (remember the rural bank crisis) and changing demographics.  Even then it took another 10 years of wrangling before they were able to settle the "which building" question when they built a new church (a financially well-off member stepped up and led a capital campaign with a very generous gift, darn those rich people anyway).

My only recollection of the differences fits with other stories above.  In the former ALC (Norwegian Lutheran Church) the pastor was unable to be a congregational officer and when seeking out a new pastor, several candidates would be interviewed.  In 1984 I joined an LCA (Swedish Lutheran Church) in Minneapolis as given the upcoming merger ALC vs LCA made no difference.  To my surprise the senior pastor also served as President of the congregation which was allowed at this LCA congregation.  Serving on a call committee about 5 years later the more seasoned members of the congregation told me they were surprised to get more than one candidate as in the old days of the LCA/Augustana Synod the bishop recommended a candidate and there was no discussion.

Brian J. Bergs
Minneapolis, MN
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: James_Gale on May 08, 2012, 02:40:51 PM
Rev. Spaceman (reply 21) points out that some Swedes believed that the Episcopal Church was more representative of the Church of Sweden than was any Swedish-American synod. In his classic study of immigration, The Uprooted, Oscar Handlin stated that the Church of Sweden actually advised emigrants to join the Episcopal Church. I believe that I have read this elsewhere, too, but I don't when this policy started or for how long it lasted. I would be interested to know more about this.

William G. Ross

Early on, there no doubt was some of this.  And the Church of Sweden expressed its unhappiness that Augustana refused  persistently to accept episcopal ordination from the Swedish church.  Even so, by the turn of the 20th century, the Church of Sweden had designated Augustana as the "Daughter Church in America."  Augustana viewed the willingness to bestow this designation as vindication of the Confessional principle that "the Lutheran Church has no set system of church government or polity."   
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: Rev. Spaceman on May 08, 2012, 02:49:11 PM
In my little hometown located in the middle of Minnesota there were 567 residents (in the 1960 census, 599 in 1970) and 3 Lutheran churches - the Swedish, the Norwegian, and the German (Missouri Synod).  At one time there was also a Danish Lutheran Church which had not survived by the time I arrived and no one told me much about it except where it had been located.  There was also a Methodist, Free Methodist, Roman Catholic, and Church of the Open Bible congregation.

In reviewing the history of the Swedish and the Norwegian Lutheran church they had considered forming a single Lutheran parish in 1887 when the town was just forming.  But the record shows they were not able to put it together.  The Norwegian Lutheran church I was a member of there had strong Haugean roots which may explain a whole lot.  Perhaps it was a language thing.  However I am told that depending on dialect, Norwegians and Swedes can reasonably understand each other. 

In the 1950's both congregations were without a called pastor at the same time and they again tried to merge (there had been a bit of "inter-racial" marriage during the intervening years).  Again it failed though no one I talked to could remember why.  By then both congregations were having all services in English so language was not a barrier.  Up until 1946, there was still 1 service per month being performed in Norwegian.

The two parishes finally merged in the 1980's given the very trying economic times (remember the rural bank crisis) and changing demographics.  Even then it took another 10 years of wrangling before they were able to settle the "which building" question when they built a new church (a financially well-off member stepped up and led a capital campaign with a very generous gift, darn those rich people anyway).

My only recollection of the differences fits with other stories above.  In the former ALC (Norwegian Lutheran Church) the pastor was unable to be a congregational officer and when seeking out a new pastor, several candidates would be interviewed.  In 1984 I joined an LCA (Swedish Lutheran Church) in Minneapolis as given the upcoming merger ALC vs LCA made no difference.  To my surprise the senior pastor also served as President of the congregation which was allowed at this LCA congregation.  Serving on a call committee about 5 years later the more seasoned members of the congregation told me they were surprised to get more than one candidate as in the old days of the LCA/Augustana Synod the bishop recommended a candidate and there was no discussion.

Brian J. Bergs
Minneapolis, MN

Brian, Swedes and Norwegians can indeed understand each other for the most part.  The Scandinavian languages are pretty much the same in the grand scheme of things.  But there are slight differences, especially in the written forms of the languages.  There are also somewhat different cultural traditions in the respective countries.  There could have been any number of reasons why the two congregations wouldn't have wanted to merge at that point.  At that time, there were still emigrants from both countries arriving.  This kept alive the hope that the unique linguistic and cultural traditions needed to be maintained.  How would official records be kept in a unified congregation?  In which language?  As you note, there were likely issues of piety/worship involved in the mix.  Some Norwegians, especially those most closely related to the State Church of Norway, might have had an easier time fitting in with the Swedes.  Though some Swedes also could identify with a "low church" style as well.
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: John_Hannah on May 08, 2012, 02:57:01 PM
Archbishop Nathan Soderblom (of Uppsala) visited an group of Augustana congregations here in the Bronx in the 1920s. That would indicate a degree of solidarity between the Augustana Synod and the Church of Sweden.

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: Mike in Pennsylvania on May 08, 2012, 03:51:57 PM
George's post is generally correct, but with one addendum.  Most of the Swedish immigrant congregations that became Episcopalian did so before the American Revolution, when the Church of England was indeed the official church of the colonies, at least from England's point of view.  Other churches, the Puritans in New England, for example, served as established churches in their territories, and colonies like Pennsylvania and Rhode Island had no formally established church.
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: Rev. Spaceman on May 08, 2012, 04:39:03 PM
Archbishop Nathan Soderblom (of Uppsala) visited an group of Augustana congregations here in the Bronx in the 1920s. That would indicate a degree of solidarity between the Augustana Synod and the Church of Sweden.

Peace, JOHN

John, I noted this in one of my posts.  And although it is true that Archbishop Soderblom visited the United States in the 1920s, his visit and the content of his preaching were heavily criticized by many within the Augustana Synod.  At least one commentator in the Augustana Synod's periodical accused Soderblom of essentially promoting Unitarianism.  He presented the president of the Augustana Synod with a pectoral cross as a sign of friendship, and it was accepted, but it was accepted with reservations, including a statement that the acceptance of the gift did not imply a recognition that the Augustana Synod was somehow under the jurisdiction of the State Church of Sweden.

The Augustana Synod had a somewhat complex relationship with the Church of Sweden over the years.  There was a sense of shared Swedish heritage expressed among many, yet there was reluctance to affirm that tie too closely, as the Church of Sweden, like Soderblom, were viewed as too liberal.
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: James_Gale on May 08, 2012, 05:02:49 PM
George's post is generally correct, but with one addendum.  Most of the Swedish immigrant congregations that became Episcopalian did so before the American Revolution, when the Church of England was indeed the official church of the colonies, at least from England's point of view.  Other churches, the Puritans in New England, for example, served as established churches in their territories, and colonies like Pennsylvania and Rhode Island had no formally established church.

Good point.  The Swedes who came to North America before the Revolution are in a very different category from those -- mostly from Småland, as I understand it -- who came to the US in the mid- to late-19th century.  The latter group included those who formed the Augustana Synod.  As Pr. Spaceman has pointed out, the relationship between Augustana and the Church of Sweden was not simple.  While individual opinions must of varied, Augustana as a body seemed intent on staking out its independence while at the same time yearning for some kind of special relationship with the "mother church."  Theological and political issues played a role.  But the biggest concern seemed to relate to efforts by the Church of Sweden to "share" the episcopacy with Augustana.  Augustana's resistance, as much as anything, seemed driven by a strong desire not to be seen as being somehow under the Church of Sweden.

I appreciate Pr. Spaceman's contributions here.  I don't know how relevant any of this is to today.  But I find it all quite interesting, all the same.

For what it's worth, the Board of Trustees of Gustavus Adolphus College includes a bishop from the Church of Sweden.  The King and Queen will be visiting the College in the fall.  So somehow or other, the relationships have persisted.
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: wgross on May 08, 2012, 05:48:31 PM
Many thanks to Mr. Erdner, Mike, and Pastors Gale, Hannah, and Spaceman for their helpful and well-informed responses to my question about why the Church of Sweden at one time advised emigrants to join the Episcopal Church. These responses were consistent with my own impressions, and also provided additional information.

The affinity of the Church of Sweden for Anglicanism also was demonstrated by the establishment of inter-communion between the Church of Sweden and the Church of England in 1920, under the aegis of Archbishop Soderblom, three-quarters of a century before the Porvoo Agreement and the establishment of inter-communion between the ELCA and the Episcopal Church.

William G. Ross
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: J. Eriksson on May 08, 2012, 08:09:21 PM
Family lore says that my ggf was considered to have the equivalent of Anglican orders at least in the case of emergency while in India. 

We must also remember that prior to the American Revolution there was in many colonies an "Established State Church".  Your Constitution reflects this in the negative.
One of Muhlenbergs sons had to go to London to get Anglican Orders before he could serve a church in one of the Colonies.  I think HM  Muhlenberg himself had to go through London on the way to America to get 'orders' before he could legally serve in the Colonies.  A process smoothed by the fact that there were German speaking Lutheran court chaplains to the Queen.  And the Georges 1 ,2 and 3  also were Kings of Hanover.   IIRC IT wasn't until Queen Victoria that the Monarchies split as a woman couldn't inherit the Hanoverian throne.

You guys should know this stuff

Best James
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: Rev. Spaceman on May 08, 2012, 08:31:15 PM
George's post is generally correct, but with one addendum.  Most of the Swedish immigrant congregations that became Episcopalian did so before the American Revolution, when the Church of England was indeed the official church of the colonies, at least from England's point of view.  Other churches, the Puritans in New England, for example, served as established churches in their territories, and colonies like Pennsylvania and Rhode Island had no formally established church.

Good point.  The Swedes who came to North America before the Revolution are in a very different category from those -- mostly from Småland, as I understand it -- who came to the US in the mid- to late-19th century.  The latter group included those who formed the Augustana Synod.  As Pr. Spaceman has pointed out, the relationship between Augustana and the Church of Sweden was not simple.  While individual opinions must of varied, Augustana as a body seemed intent on staking out its independence while at the same time yearning for some kind of special relationship with the "mother church."  Theological and political issues played a role.  But the biggest concern seemed to relate to efforts by the Church of Sweden to "share" the episcopacy with Augustana.  Augustana's resistance, as much as anything, seemed driven by a strong desire not to be seen as being somehow under the Church of Sweden.

I appreciate Pr. Spaceman's contributions here.  I don't know how relevant any of this is to today.  But I find it all quite interesting, all the same.

For what it's worth, the Board of Trustees of Gustavus Adolphus College includes a bishop from the Church of Sweden.  The King and Queen will be visiting the College in the fall.  So somehow or other, the relationships have persisted.

My thinking is that this history is really very relevant today as we think about mergers, different pieties.  The vestiges of these things can be seen today in many places.  For a long time, merger was seen as the destiny of American Lutherans.  In some cases, mergers are certainly practical.  But with every merger, some things are lost.  For example, with the 1917 merger of the Norwegian bodies, although attempts were made to preserve the Haugean worship tradition, the Haugean worship tradition was pretty much lost in the shuffle.
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: LTSwede on May 08, 2012, 10:13:29 PM
There was a strong desire among the Swedish American Lutherans to distance themselves from the State Church of Sweden.

Where to start...
As a proud swedish american born here, with ties to the U.P. of Michigan (logging, mining for 2 generations), yet still have 1st cousins/Aunts/Uncles relatives in Sweden (a most convoluted tale), ordained in Vasteras in the Church of Sweden. I can speak to this topic.

I am also married to a 100% norwegian lass from Minnesota with ties to North Dakota and the whole Norwegian issue (and yes her father is even an old ALC Pastor).

My sense is that most Swedes (and Norwegians) came for economic reasons.  They were not fleeing from religious persecution (of course exceptions such as Bishop Hill).  They were not trying "to distance themselves" from a state church.  The "church" for most of them was a great solace of religion, language, and culture.  Whether on the prairies or in the logging camps they sought an anchor of faith.  Yes it had strains of "pietism", Selma Lagerlof, Laestadius (or Hauge for the norwegians), et al - but so did the Church of Sweden at that time.  Most of the immigrants came from the south and west of Sweden which to this day would be considered more "low church" than other parts.  My grandparents church in Varmland was a "new" church from the late 1800's that replaced the old medieval church.  It is a pretty non-descript church (still beautiful) that would fit into a New England scene.  The Church(s) where I was ordained in Vastmanland and served had medieval gothic structures with triptychs, multiple altars, ornate fonts, high mass, chasubles/copes etc.  Even to this day the Church of Sweden has some diversity of liturgy, theology, and history within the various Diocese.

As to language, I find that I can understand some Norwegians better than I can understand the southern Swedes (Skane in particular -its almost a Danish dialect "porridge in the throat" they say).  My family is from Varmland on the Norwegian border, which is also a unique dialect - they called my grandmothers Swedish "fattigmans Svensk" or poor mans Swedish.

Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: Rev. Spaceman on May 08, 2012, 10:20:26 PM
There was a strong desire among the Swedish American Lutherans to distance themselves from the State Church of Sweden.

Where to start...
As a proud swedish american born here, with ties to the U.P. of Michigan (logging, mining for 2 generations), yet still have 1st cousins/Aunts/Uncles relatives in Sweden (a most convoluted tale), ordained in Vasteras in the Church of Sweden. I can speak to this topic.

I am also married to a 100% norwegian lass from Minnesota with ties to North Dakota and the whole Norwegian issue (and yes her father is even an old ALC Pastor).

My sense is that most Swedes (and Norwegians) came for economic reasons.  They were not fleeing from religious persecution (of course exceptions such as Bishop Hill).  They were not trying "to distance themselves" from a state church.  The "church" for most of them was a great solace of religion, language, and culture.  Whether on the prairies or in the logging camps they sought an anchor of faith.  Yes it had strains of "pietism", Selma Lagerlof, Laestadius (or Hauge for the norwegians), et al - but so did the Church of Sweden at that time.  Most of the immigrants came from the south and west of Sweden which to this day would be considered more "low church" than other parts.  My grandparents church in Varmland was a "new" church from the late 1800's that replaced the old medieval church.  It is a pretty non-descript church (still beautiful) that would fit into a New England scene.  The Church(s) where I was ordained in Vastmanland and served had medieval gothic structures with triptychs, multiple altars, ornate fonts, high mass, chasubles/copes etc.  Even to this day the Church of Sweden has some diversity of liturgy, theology, and history within the various Diocese.

As to language, I find that I can understand some Norwegians better than I can understand the southern Swedes (Skane in particular -its almost a Danish dialect "porridge in the throat" they say).  My family is from Varmland on the Norwegian border, which is also a unique dialect - they called my grandmothers Swedish "fattigmans Svensk" or poor mans Swedish.

LTSwede, I want to clarify that in making that comment about "distancing themselves from the Church of Sweden," I was not referring to immigrants.  I think you're right that most Swedes, like most other immigrants, came in search of a better way of life in NA.  My comment referred more broadly to the life of the Augustana Synod throughout its history.  It wasn't always clear-cut; there were some who longed for a connection with the Church of Sweden, but on the whole, the Augustana Synod tended to shy away from anything that would suggest that it was simply the American "arm" of the Church of Sweden.
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: Dave Likeness on May 08, 2012, 10:28:51 PM
As I stated in an early post, around  the year 1900,
there was an influx of Norwegians who came to
America out of necessity.  Many settled in the Mid-West.
They came because Norway was overcrowded and
they could not earn a living there.  Many of these
conservative Norwegian Lutherans joined LCMS parishes
when no Norwegian church was available.
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: Steven Tibbetts on May 09, 2012, 12:23:28 AM

One of Muhlenbergs sons had to go to London to get Anglican Orders before he could serve a church in one of the Colonies.  I think HM  Muhlenberg himself had to go through London on the way to America to get 'orders' before he could legally serve in the Colonies.

Peter Muhlenberg, who had already been ordained in the Lutheran church and served as a Pastor in New Jersey, went to England for ordination in the Church of England as a required to serve a Lutheran congregation in Virginia, where the Church of England was the established Church. 

There is nothing about H. M. Muhlenberg receiving Anglican orders in his Journals or any biography I've read.  It would not have been necessary to accept a call to serve in Pennsylvania.
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: Lon Kvanli on May 09, 2012, 10:55:32 AM
Years ago, my wife and I served congregations in southeastern Minnesota. She, being of Swedish heritage, served the congregation with Augustana roots. I, being of Norwegian heritage, served the congregations with the Hauge roots. Both parishes were quite pietistic. The parishes were on either side of Highway 52 (the four-lane highway that runs from Minneapolis/St. Paul to Rochester).

Old timers told me that in the days when the highway was nothing more than a dirt path, it was considered to be the "neutral zone" between the Norwegians (on the west side of the road) and the Swedes (on the east side). One old farmer told me, "There was a time... if you were selling your land and you couldn't find a Swede on this side of the road to buy it, before you'd sell it to a Norwegian from the other side, you'd sell it to a Catholic on this side! But that was a long time ago, and since then there's been a lot of inter-marriage between the Swedes and Norwegians. Now we're family. Now we just tease each other a lot."
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: wgross on May 09, 2012, 11:33:27 AM
My grandmother, who was a member of a heavily Norwegian congregation in Minneapolis, told me during the 1960s that when a man and woman with a Finnish surname introduced themselves to the pastor after a service one Sunday, the pastor told them, perhaps curtly, that "the Finnish church is down the street." Apparently some members of the congregation reproved the pastor for this. In his defense, he explained that he had made clear that the visitors were quite welcome in his parish, but that he thought that they might like to know that there was a Finnish church nearby since they might feel  more at home there. I suppose that it all depends on what exactly he said and on how he said it, and I wasn't there. I don't think that the pastor was necessarily unwelcoming, but I've always thought that this was an amusing example of the intense ethnicity of American Lutheranism until relatively recent times.

William G. Ross
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on May 09, 2012, 11:42:09 AM
My grandmother, who was a member of a heavily Norwegian congregation in Minneapolis, told me during the 1960s that when a man and woman with a Finnish surname introduced themselves to the pastor after a service one Sunday, the pastor told them, perhaps curtly, that "the Finnish church is down the street." Apparently some members of the congregation reproved the pastor for this. In his defense, he explained that he had made clear that they were quite welcome in his parish, but that he thought that they might like to know that there was a Finnish church nearby since they might feel  more at home there. I suppose that it all depends on how he said it, and I wasn't there. I don't think that the pastor was necessarily unwelcoming, but I've always thought that this was an amusing example of the intense ethnicity of American Lutheranism until relatively recent times.


Finns are a different group altogether. Their language is not related to the Scandinavian languages. I was told by an elderly couple - one was Finnish - that there was a time in Wyoming history that their marriage was considered illegal because Finns were not considered Caucasians, thus it was a forbidden, mixed marriage. He didn't say which nationality the Finns were considered. (My guess is Mongoloid.)
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: Rev. Spaceman on May 09, 2012, 01:07:50 PM
My grandmother, who was a member of a heavily Norwegian congregation in Minneapolis, told me during the 1960s that when a man and woman with a Finnish surname introduced themselves to the pastor after a service one Sunday, the pastor told them, perhaps curtly, that "the Finnish church is down the street." Apparently some members of the congregation reproved the pastor for this. In his defense, he explained that he had made clear that they were quite welcome in his parish, but that he thought that they might like to know that there was a Finnish church nearby since they might feel  more at home there. I suppose that it all depends on how he said it, and I wasn't there. I don't think that the pastor was necessarily unwelcoming, but I've always thought that this was an amusing example of the intense ethnicity of American Lutheranism until relatively recent times.


Finns are a different group altogether. Their language is not related to the Scandinavian languages. I was told by an elderly couple - one was Finnish - that there was a time in Wyoming history that their marriage was considered illegal because Finns were not considered Caucasians, thus it was a forbidden, mixed marriage. He didn't say which nationality the Finns were considered. (My guess is Mongoloid.)

Yes, the Finnish language is quite different, and some linguists even believe it is related to Hungarian.  But there is a considerable minority in Finland that does speak Swedish as a primary language and many more that speak Swedish as a second language.  So, it is a bit of an open question whether Finland can be considered "Scandinavian."  Finnish immigration to the US was a bit later than the other nordic countries as well.  Quite a few Finns in the US came out of the Laestadian revival, which became "Apostolic Lutheranism" in the US.
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: grabau on May 09, 2012, 05:28:54 PM

the Norwegians not of Norske Synod did not affirm BoC. grabau
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: Public School Teacher on May 09, 2012, 06:20:43 PM
The reason why the little Norweigan Synod (ELS) is so little is largely the fault of the Missouri Synod. Important LCMS people told their substantial # of friends and allies to go along with the merger. My estimate is that around one third of those in the Norwegian Synod were Missouri-loyal. Only those families and congregations most doctrinally dedicated to issues like predestination split off.

The letters on this site are a great help in piecing together the history:
http://www.franzpieper.com/
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: DCharlton on May 09, 2012, 06:40:43 PM
Yes, the Finnish language is quite different, and some linguists even believe it is related to Hungarian. 

I remember reading that Finnish it is a Ural-Altaic language.  That language group supposedly includes Finnish, Hungarian, Turkish and other central Asian languages.

Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: Rev. Spaceman on May 09, 2012, 10:37:16 PM

the Norwegians not of Norske Synod did not affirm BoC. grabau

Interestingly, one of the prececessor bodies (the smallest one) of the United Norwegian Lutheran Church of 1890, the Norwegian Augustana Synod, did formally subscribe to the entire BoC.  However, you are right that the subsequent Norwegian denominations did not see the need for a formal subscription to the entire BoC.  This doesn't mean that they didn't value it, however.
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: grabau on May 10, 2012, 08:36:30 AM
Yes, the  statement in the Lutheran Hymnary said that the other writings were not rejected but were generally not familiar.  That is because Norway was united with Denmark which affirmed only AC  and the SC.  Don't recall details but in Denmark was crime, treason? to subscribe to F of C.  There is some debate whether the Church of Sweden did or not.  I grew up in a congregation that would have been United in origin.  Usages were strictly observed: sign of the cross in baptism, the consecration abd at the benediction.  The surplice worn long before it became common in other Lutheran synods.  I don't know what would have prevailed in more "Haugean" congregations.  grabau
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: TravisW on May 14, 2012, 02:26:57 AM
To understand Norwegian Lutheranism, you kind of have to understand the political dynamics between Norway, Sweden, and Denmark.  You also have to understand Norwegian farm culture (bondekultur).   Norway was in a royal union with Denmark from about 1400 to 1814.  There were various degrees of Danish rule during that time, as Denmark was the major power of the Scandinavian states due to its continental location.  Cutting to the chase, at the time of the Reformation, Norway was pretty well dominated by Denmark.  Lutheranism was foisted upon the Norwegians as a matter of law rather than conversion.  The last Catholic Bishop of Nidaros, Olaf Engelbrektsson, was eventually run into exile even as he attempted to use the Reformation as the means to inspire some sense of Norwegian nationalism and be rid of Danish rule.  This, of course, wasn't entirely altruistic as there was a whole lot of land in Norway owned by the Roman Catholic Church, and Engelbrektsson had such a standing as to be able to build a castle and raise a small army.  Engelbrektsson tried to get Swedish allies, since Gustaf I Vasa was waging war against Denmark already.  However, he wasn't fully aware of Swedish Lutheran leanings, and received no support. 

The consequence of this was that Norway was forcibly converted to Lutheranism, and after Engelbrektsson was exiled to Holland, it came to the Danes to provide new, Lutheran clergy to Norway.  Consequently, there was immediately a divide between the Norwegians and their own clergy, as Danish and Norwegian languages were significantly different at that point - Danish had absorbed a lot of German and Frisian influence, while Norwegian was approximately similar to modern Faeroese.  So, there was a divide between Norwegians and Danes, even linguistically, for the next few centuries.  Danish massively influenced the language of educated Norwegians to the point that, even today, Norway has two official written languages.  Away from population centers, the Norwegian dialects are considerably older.

So, the Norwegians were tied to the Danes politically and religiously.  Roman Catholic tendencies died out in Norway centuries after the Reformation, despite Danish clergy rigorously rooting out "papistry" and the like.  Towards the end of the 18th century, Norway finally got a University of Theology of its own.

Pietism made its way to Norway via Danish clergy, but it took Hans Nielsen Hauge to drive the point home.  Haugean pietism has taken some really strange twists and turns in the past 200 years, but it was the Haugean revival that ultimately made Lutheranism "Norwegian".  Even for those who disagreed with Hauge on many things, such as H.A. Preus and most of the State Church, it's hard to deny that the Haugean revival completely transformed Norwegian Lutheranism in Norway and in the United States.  He also had a large hand in kick-starting a transformation in the Norwegian economy before the Industrial Revolution arrived some 25 years after his death.

Alongside all of this, it's important to remember that the Norwegian population was mostly rural, quite isolated, and had developed it's own "Bondekultur" (farm-culture).  "Bondekultur" was very old in many ways, reaching back to the age of the Vikings.  Norwegian farm culture emphasized the freedom of the farmer, the strength of the farm community, and viewed the Danish kingdom as an overseer rather than an overlord.  Isolated communities couldn't possibly be contained by Danish military might, and there was little reason for the Danes to attempt such a thing.  They put their sheriffs and magistrates in place.  The sheriffs enforced laws and collected taxes.  If the population thought the laws and taxes were bad, the sheriff disappeared and another had to be appointed.  Since the Norwegian nobility had been largely ended in the Black Death or subsumed by the Danish nobility, there weren't even really any regional nobles to enforce these things such as in Denmark and Sweden.  Certainly, Danish nobles inherited land in Norway, but they tended to sell or rent it as they had little desire to actually live there.  Consequently, sheriffs, clergy, and judges wound up being the primary Danish influence for most Norwegians.  It sounds more or less like freedom, but it's important to remember that these same communities were rife with alcoholism, blood feuds, and adultery.  Even as late as the mid-19th century, regionalism was pervasive in Norway, and the notion of a pan-Norwegian identity was still lacking.  A lot of this changed with the Eidsvoll constitution of 1814, which made Norway a "nation" even though under the Swedish crown. 

Post-Napoleonic Norway became considerably different than Norway under Danish rule.  The Swedes had agreed to most of the terms of the Eidsvoll constitution with their King as ruler rather than go to war against Norway.  So, Norway and Sweden shared a crown for about 90 years, although Norway was largely internally ruled over this time - the King ruled mostly when it came to foreign policy. 

This is the Norway that exported hundreds of thousands of its citizens to the United States.  The State Church hadn't been behind Hauge, but it benefited from the Haugean revival.  The Haugean church became its own sect in the United States, even though it was ultimately just a movement in Norwegian Lutheranism.  Similar movements in Sweden gave rise to large Baptist or Baptist-type movements, which were separate from the State Church in Sweden.

So, as to the question of why Norwegians and Swedes didn't get along, hundreds of years of cross-border warfare will tend to do that.  The last crisis was in 1905, when the Norwegians had enough of the Swedish Crown.  As to the bizarre nature of Norwegian Lutheranism, it has a lot to do with applying Lutheran Pietism to a lapsed pseudo-Catho-Lutheric population.
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: Charles_Austin on May 14, 2012, 03:44:23 AM
Thank you, TravisW, for that summary. Throw the Finns (also Lutheran) into the mix in that part of the world, and you have even more complications.
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: TravisW on May 14, 2012, 05:49:44 PM
Indeed.  Two unrelated languages, two religions, etc...

To address an earlier mention of what a Hauge service was like, I don't have any copies of orders of service.  What I do have is fuzzy recollections of what my grandparents and great-grandparents discussed.  My grandfather wasn't impressed by the Haugeans (he was 7 when the merger took place).  His parents had been raised in the Norwegian Synod, and that was what he was used to (he wasn't a big fan of things he wasn't used to).  He described the Hauge hymns as being too silly and cheerful, and the most devoted adherents as being a bit "too holy", to the extent of walking into church with their hands together under their chins as a display of piety. 

My great-grandfather was raised in a Hauge church, and he was perfectly happy to switch to a non-Hauge congregation when he moved.  I guess the piety part rubbed him the wrong way, too.  Kind of funny, because toward the end of his life, he always listened to Carl Olaf Rosenius Norheim's radio show - and it didn't get much more pietistic than Rosenius Norheim. 

Anyway, differences between the Synod congregations and Hauge congregations were very noticeable for some decades after the 1917 merger.  Looking through church yearbooks, you can see early "Synod" years where the pastor wore full vestments, often with a ruff.  Some years later, you see the vestments get simpler and simpler until it got to a point where many pastors were simply wearing suits.  The "low church" mentality was part of the Haugean DNA spreading even into formerly non-Haugean congregations. 
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: Bergs on May 14, 2012, 10:15:44 PM
Are the Lutheran Brethren considered more "Haugean" than other Lutheran groups.  My wife's family is real big on the Lutheran Brethren and I know that family (all Norwegian immigrants from the Nordfjord area) was wooed into the Lutheran Brethren by some itinerant pastors in about 1920.

Brian J. Bergs.
Minneapolis, MN
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: TravisW on May 14, 2012, 10:50:22 PM
Are the Lutheran Brethren considered more "Haugean" than other Lutheran groups.  My wife's family is real big on the Lutheran Brethren and I know that family (all Norwegian immigrants from the Nordfjord area) was wooed into the Lutheran Brethren by some itinerant pastors in about 1920.

Brian J. Bergs.
Minneapolis, MN

Yes, there's a whole lot more Haugean influence in the LB than in most other Lutheran denominations.  There's some in the Free Lutherans too, but not to quite the same extent.  The most overtly "Haugean" synod remaining in the USA is the Eielsen Synod.  Well, "remaining" -  I think there's one Eielsen congregation left. 
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: James_Gale on May 14, 2012, 10:55:38 PM
Are the Lutheran Brethren considered more "Haugean" than other Lutheran groups.  My wife's family is real big on the Lutheran Brethren and I know that family (all Norwegian immigrants from the Nordfjord area) was wooed into the Lutheran Brethren by some itinerant pastors in about 1920.

Brian J. Bergs.
Minneapolis, MN

This is from pp. 140-41 of Volume II of The Lutheran Church Among Norwegian-Americans by E. Clifford Nelson:

"Meanwhile, the United Church suffered its second schism.  In 1900 a group of congregations and pastors under the leadership of Pastor K. O. Lundeberg organized the Church of the Lutheran Brethren.  Despite the controversies between the churches, the 1890s had witnesses a religious 'revival' among Norwegian Lutheran congregations in America.  Called the 'awakening of the nineties,' it was not confined to any particular synod.  Remarkably free of excesses and emotionalism, it was considered a veritable divine visitation.  Nevertheless, sectarian influences began to exert themselves in a demand for 'pure congregations.'

It was in this context that the Church of the Brethren was born.  Pastor Lundeberg, a former Anti-Missuorian and now a member of the United Church, had visited Norway where he came in contact with a 'free church' group of Donatist leanings.  Returning to America gripped with the thought of 'pure congregations,' Lundeberg began to practice his new beliefs by exercising strict discipline in his parish at Kenyon, Minnesota.  He felt that no Lutheran church group was sufficiently apostolic in the practice of church discipline and therefore concluded he must establish a new one.  Together with a recruit from the Lutheran Free Church, Pastor E. M. Broen, Lundeberg issued a call for a conference to be held at Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  It was here that the Church of the Brethren of America was organized in December, 1900.  By 1914, the church numbered eleven pastors, two professors, and three missionaries in China.  It maintained a Bible School at Wahpeton, North Dakota.  In 1911, Pastor Lundeberg had acknowledged his error and rejoined the United Church, but his former colleague, Pastor Broen, continued the work.  In 1959, the church body had a baptized membership of 4,300."

The Church of the Lutheran Brethren still exists, claiming 123 congregations.  Here's the web site (http://www.clba.org/).
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: grabau on May 17, 2012, 10:22:57 AM
Our pastor announced on the first meeting of confirmation class that anyone attending dances would not be confirmed. (United Church background).  In spite of pietist values we knew that men of the church enjoyed a beer or two at a rural tavern not at one of the bars on village main street.  We were visited by evangelists of LEM who stressed a kind of decision theology.  But church usages, vestments, sung collects etc. prevailed.  grabau
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: wgross on May 17, 2012, 12:08:00 PM
God Syttende Mai!

William G. Ross
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on May 17, 2012, 12:12:48 PM
Our pastor announced on the first meeting of confirmation class that anyone attending dances would not be confirmed. (United Church background).  In spite of pietist values we knew that men of the church enjoyed a beer or two at a rural tavern not at one of the bars on village main street.  We were visited by evangelists of LEM who stressed a kind of decision theology.  But church usages, vestments, sung collects etc. prevailed.  grabau


I spent a summer traveling with an LEM team (1969). Yes, decision theology and legalism. I heard that the next summer, the team members were given a speech against having facial hair -- apparently some didn't like the fact that I had a mustache and beard.


Fredrik Schiotz, the first president of The American Lutheran Church (1960) came out of the ELC. (His name is Danish, but his ancestors had moved to Norway.) His autobiography is called, One Man's Story. His experiences give some of the flavor of Norwegian Lutherans. The second paragraph of a chapter called "New Insights" reads:


During my teenage years there were some legalisms which, at the time, seemed like a part of the Christian faith. Dancing, use of alcoholic beverages, and public discussion of sex were taboo. This was true in my home community and also on the St. Olaf College campus. In fact, during college days I became acquainted with a new legalism called "unionism." This term referred to joint worship services or fellowship with congregations that belonged to churches with whom there was no formal pulpit and altar fellowship. (pp. 33-34)


He talks about how his thinking was changed from a legalistic life-style to practicing the freedom of the gospel. It includes this account about dancing.


Social dancing was not permitted by congregations n the former Evangelical Lutheran Church.…

This arbitrary position on social dancing was supported by the general assumption that it would lead to violation of the Sixth Commandment And this, of course, was true of many public dances. Boys went with the intent of "warming up" a girl for later sexual intercourse.

My change in outlook resulted during several quarters of study at the University of Chicago. In the course of preparing a class paper I found a book in the library that reported a study of youth sponsored recreation in the churches of Morris Illinois.…

He learned that all the mainline Protestant churches in Morris allowed social dancing as part of the recreation in youth work. But the Lutheran congregation did not. I knew immediately that it was an ELC congregation.…

The writer of the book went beyond this initial probing. He checked the city's record on unmarried mothers. This information obtained, he investigated church affiliations. There were more unmarried mothers among the girls from the Lutheran congregation than from any of the other Protestant churches. (pp. 38-39)


These quotes are about the Trinity Lutheran Church in Brooklyn that he served. They had a Norwegian Division with services in the sanctuary and an American Division with English services in the basement.


The congregations' low church liturgical practices did not allow for the use of vestments. I found a bylaw to the constitution which specified: Presetn skal ikke ha Klaar (the constitution had not yet been translated into English). Literally interpreted, this phrases meant, "The pastor shall not have clothes"; but its idiomatic meaning was simply, "The pastor shall not use vestments." (p. 61)


After deciding to center on the Augsburg Confession at the Sunday evening services, he decided to have a midweek meeting to discuss the objections he had been hearing about it. He writes:


When the midweek meeting came, the turnout was better than at any other such meeting while I was in Brooklyn. I explained to the group the background for my decision to preach on our great Reformation "Magna Carta." When this had been done, the floor was thrown open for questions and discussion. What was said was pretty well summarized in the statement of a young man that could be paraphrased as follows: "You see, Pastor, we are not saying that you have not preached the Word of God. But we have a tradition in Trinity that our emphasis should be on life rather than doctrine. And we do not want to lose this tradition." (p. 64)


Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: Lutheranistic on May 17, 2012, 12:26:48 PM
I was baptized and confirmed in the congregation in the Twin Cities that was the birthplace of LEM in 1937. The atmosphere, preaching and theology in the church of my youth makes contemporary Lutheranism of almost any stripe nearly unrecognizable in comparison.
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: Rev. Spaceman on May 19, 2012, 11:50:05 PM
After the 1917 merger and beyond, the leadership had to address questions of how to honor the different traditions that converged to form the NLCA (later the ELC).  There were varying degrees of formality in worship, with even some of the United Church pastors rejecting the use of clerical vestments.  The Hauge Synod pretty much frowned on such a thing.  They also rejected the use of the typical order of worship of the Church of Norway in favor of "free prayer" during worship.  Once the agreement was made for Hauge's Synod to join the 1917 merger, there was a provision stating that the principles of "Hauge style" worship would continue to be taught in seminary.  But even so, most congregations eventually abandoned that practice in favor of more formality in worship.  The practice of preachers wearing only frock coats rather than the full clerical outfit died out for the most part as well.

The Church of the Lutheran Brethren, like all other Norwegian Lutheran bodies to varying degrees, does identify with the tradition of the Haugean revival and its interpretations in America.  The big thing about the COLB that separated them from other bodies, even the Lutheran Free Church, was their understanding of "membership."  Inactive members couldn't vote or have Communion.  They were out to make higher demands on "members."
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: Rev. Spaceman on May 19, 2012, 11:52:43 PM
Are the Lutheran Brethren considered more "Haugean" than other Lutheran groups.  My wife's family is real big on the Lutheran Brethren and I know that family (all Norwegian immigrants from the Nordfjord area) was wooed into the Lutheran Brethren by some itinerant pastors in about 1920.

Brian J. Bergs.
Minneapolis, MN

Yes, there's a whole lot more Haugean influence in the LB than in most other Lutheran denominations.  There's some in the Free Lutherans too, but not to quite the same extent.  The most overtly "Haugean" synod remaining in the USA is the Eielsen Synod.  Well, "remaining" -  I think there's one Eielsen congregation left.

If I'm not mistaken, I think the last Eielsen Synod congregation closed in 1997, though I think that there are still a couple of families that identify with it, if that counts as a "congregation."
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: Rev. Spaceman on May 19, 2012, 11:56:24 PM

Anyway, differences between the Synod congregations and Hauge congregations were very noticeable for some decades after the 1917 merger.  Looking through church yearbooks, you can see early "Synod" years where the pastor wore full vestments, often with a ruff.  Some years later, you see the vestments get simpler and simpler until it got to a point where many pastors were simply wearing suits.  The "low church" mentality was part of the Haugean DNA spreading even into formerly non-Haugean congregations.

I would argue that what you see in yearbooks doesn't necessarily reflect the use of vestments in parish practice.  In some cases it might, but as I mentioned in a previous post, if anything, the practices of the Hauge Synod were pretty much lost after 1917.  Of course, it's a complex issue, with a lot of "cross-breeding" between the different pieties. 
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: TravisW on May 20, 2012, 03:24:25 AM
Are the Lutheran Brethren considered more "Haugean" than other Lutheran groups.  My wife's family is real big on the Lutheran Brethren and I know that family (all Norwegian immigrants from the Nordfjord area) was wooed into the Lutheran Brethren by some itinerant pastors in about 1920.

Brian J. Bergs.
Minneapolis, MN

Yes, there's a whole lot more Haugean influence in the LB than in most other Lutheran denominations.  There's some in the Free Lutherans too, but not to quite the same extent.  The most overtly "Haugean" synod remaining in the USA is the Eielsen Synod.  Well, "remaining" -  I think there's one Eielsen congregation left.

If I'm not mistaken, I think the last Eielsen Synod congregation closed in 1997, though I think that there are still a couple of families that identify with it, if that counts as a "congregation."

"Where 2 or 3 are gathered" being what it is, I'd count it as a congregation.
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: Steven Tibbetts on May 20, 2012, 01:33:45 PM
If I'm not mistaken, I think the last Eielsen Synod congregation closed in 1997, though I think that there are still a couple of families that identify with it, if that counts as a "congregation."

Apparently I need to consider restoring the Eielsen Synod to Pastor Zip's US Lutheran Links.  It's wikipedia page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eielsen_Synod) currently concludes with this added in 2009:

Quote
Please note the Eielson Synod is still in existence with a minister ordained on May 10, 2008 by the presiding president of Bethania ELCA-Eielson Church. Martin Leroy Bystol was the active President of such ministry of the Eielsen Synod - faithful until his death and eternal rest w/ Jesus Christ - his Lord and Savior. Rev Orvin L. Bystol is an ordained minister and resides in Eau Claire, where the church is located also. (Bethania Evangelical Lutheran Church of America- Eielsen Synod Eau Claire WI)

Some may find this curious as the Synod had had no pastors for several years and the one remaining congregation that had been affiliated with it was describing itself as an "independent" Lutheran congregation.

Pax, Zip+
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: grabau on May 20, 2012, 09:44:43 PM
Brian. I grew up in the congregation of which Fredrick Schiotz was a member for a time after the family moved from Chicago to N. Wisconsin.   I attended Northwestern Seminary (ULCA) to the dismay of some.  grabau
Title: Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
Post by: grabau on May 22, 2012, 11:32:26 AM
The Eilsen Synod official name was ELCA.  They signed off to accomodate the merger of the 3 in the '80s.  grabau