Luther Memorial Church

Founded: 13/12/1899 Current Use: Active Congregation

1899, a congregation of Danish Lutherans met in the lecture hall of Grand View College as the Danish Evangelical Lutheran St. Johannes Congregation. Built 1918, across from Old Main at Grand View College (now university) with funds provided for the sanctuary in 1917 by Church of Denmark to commemorate 400th anniversary of Martin Luther’s nailing the 95 theses to the door of Wittenburg Castle Church. Grundtvigian or Happy Dane congregation. Architectural plans from another Lutheran church in Dwight, IL Historically served a the Cathedral for the Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. 1942, name changed to Luther Memorial Church. For decades, the history and experience of the congregation has been firmly linked to Grand View College (now Grand View University), a historically Danish institution. Many Lutheran pastors have trained here. Notable for wood carving and altar painting by Jes Smidt (1855-1942), Danish immigrant and master carver who completed altar surrounds, pulpits, lecterns, baptismal fonts, altar railings, and altar paintings for Danish churches in SD, IA, TX, NE, MN, CA, WI, CO. Luther Memorial is among the best preserved examples of Smidt’s work in the country,including an exceptional example of Smidt’s carved pulpits. Church also houses Smidt altar surround, painting, altar railing. Danish heritage observed through fraternal organizations such as Danish Brotherhood and Danish Sisterhood, aebleskiver meals, Julefest, dancing around the Christmas tree, and Fastelavn.

Craftspeople/Artists: Jes SmidtJes Smidt

Renovations/Additions: Circa 1990s, re-roofed, original slate replaced€¢1962,1962 office and education addition on the east side that impacted light coming through stained glass on east side of sanctuary€¢2018--, Architectural firm Slingshot, has completed design for the new addition that will replace the 1962 building and retore stained glass to original appears. Church also undergoing major renovation, replacing roof with synthetic slate.

References: Hansen, Thorvald. Reflections, The Story of Luther Memorial, Des Moines, Iowa. American Publishing Company, 1974. Pedersen, Edwin Smidt. Jes Smidt, Immigrant Woodcarver. Self Published, 2011.

Is anything missing or incorrect? Let us know!

Scroll to Top