Augsburg News

News Archives - 2004

Lutheran Free Church Celebration: 'From Memories to Mission’

Jun. 10, 2004

A reunion celebration of the Lutheran Free Church was recently held at Augsburg College. This special day, "From Memories to Mission," included numerous opportunities to tell stories, remember the legacy and share resources.

It was a time of church merger among Lutheran immigrants in America, as well as a time of disaccord among the Norwegian Lutherans. In 1890 three groups formed "The United Norwegian Lutheran Church of America." Although the merger went well, it was discovered that St. Olaf, rather than Augsburg, was named the official college of the church. This posed a threat to Augsburg's mission. Augsburg’s administration, led by Georg Sverdrup and Sven Oftedal had a vision for the education and theological education, which involved the college and ministry together. They met with a group of people who called themselves "Friends of Augsburg" to make defensive plans. As a result, the "Friends" met again in June 1897 and organized The Lutheran Free Church. It wasn’t until 1963 that this rift was mended, in large part due to the work of Dr. Bernhard Christensen, president of Augsburg College from 1938-1963; Dr. T.O Burntvedt, president of the Free Church from 1930-1963; and Dr. John Stensvaag, Free Church president from 1958-1963.

The day of celebration included a lecture, "The Legacy of the Lutheran Free Church" by Inez (Olson) Schwarzkopf '59 and Gracia Grindal '65; morning devotions led by Art Rimmereid ’53; Moe Johnson '52 gave the sermon; and the organist was Charlotte (Kleven) Rimmereid '52.

Reunion celebrants took part in a Singspiration of old LFC favorites. A banquet was held in the evening, with the invocation from Neal Snider '57; host, Gloria Burntvedt Nelson '43; and speaker, Paul Almquist '59