Community Stories

A Danish American Childhood at Bethlehem Lutheran

Compiled by Laurie K. Sommers, Preserve Nordic Churches Project Manager, 2017-2019, based on emails by Asta Twedt and shared with her permission. There is a lovely land In Minnesota’s forests Where Danes have taken a stand: Have planted staff and taken root Defying winter’s coldness With hardy fortitude This is the opening verse of “The […]

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Kalevala Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church–A Place of Refuge in Troubled Times

Written by Laurie Kay Sommers, former project manager, Preserve Nordic Churches Project 1918. It was a time eerily like our own—overwhelmed hospitals, people wearing masks, churches, schools and businesses shuttered. A virus for which there was no cure sweeping across countries and continents. As we navigate the coronavirus pandemic of our time, there is comfort […]

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Bethany Lutheran: Art Deco Jewel of the Upper Peninsula

Written by Laurie K. Sommers, Preserve Nordic Churches Project Manager, 2017-2019 It was pure serendipity. Elmer A. Forsberg—head of the Department of Drawing, Painting. and Illustration at Chicago’s Art Institute, and Consul of Finland for the Midwest—was teaching a summer art class at his cabin in Michigan’s western Upper Peninsula. The cabin, it turns out, […]

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Augustana Sioux City’s Altar of Peace

Written by Laurie K. Sommers, Preserve Nordic Churches Project Manager, 2017-2019 The congregation of Augustana Lutheran Church in Sioux City, Iowa, was grateful. It was 1919. World War 1 was finally over, and the young people of the church had come home safe and sound. As a gift of thanksgiving to God for war’s end […]

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Saving Turnbridge Lutheran Church

For more than three decades now, the church on the prairie just west of Rugby, North Dakota has sat silent and vacant, its proud gray steeple belying the toll that weather and neglect has taken on the clapboard siding and checkered roof below. Once upon a time, Tunbridge Lutheran Free Church — built in 1914 […]

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Jefferson Prairie Lutheran and the Churches of our Hearts

Written by Laurie K. Sommers, Preserve Nordic Churches Project Manager, 2017-2019 We all have a sacred place that warms our heart and fills our memory with the spirits of those who have gone before. It may not be the most architecturally significant place. The community that once supported it may have dwindled or changed. But […]

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The Girl Who Designed Savo Lutheran Church

Written by Laurie K. Sommers, Preserve Nordic Heritage Churches Project Manager, 2017-2019 I was chatting by phone with the pastor of Savo Evangelical Lutheran Church outside Frederick, South Dakota as part of the Preserve Nordic Heritage Churches Project when I heard something fascinating and surprising: “The church was designed by the minister’s daughter.” I wanted […]

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