Author Topic: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans  (Read 6934 times)

Mike in Pennsylvania

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Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
« Reply #30 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.
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Rev. Spaceman

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Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
« Reply #31 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.
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James_Gale

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Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
« Reply #32 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.

wgross

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Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
« Reply #33 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.

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J. Eriksson

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Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
« Reply #34 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

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Rev. Spaceman

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Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
« Reply #35 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.
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Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
« Reply #36 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.


Rev. Spaceman

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Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
« Reply #37 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.
Rev. Thomas E. Jacobson, Ph.D

Dave Likeness

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Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
« Reply #38 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.

Steven Tibbetts

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Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
« Reply #39 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.
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Lon Kvanli

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Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
« Reply #40 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."

wgross

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Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
« Reply #41 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.

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« Last Edit: May 09, 2012, 11:39:41 AM by wgross »

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
« Reply #42 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.)
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Rev. Spaceman

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Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
« Reply #43 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.
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grabau

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Re: Question(s) for or about Norwegian Lutherans
« Reply #44 on: May 09, 2012, 05:28:54 PM »

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