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Queen Sonja praises U.S. church for service in Norwegian

The Mindekirken, also known as the Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church in Minneapolis, was praised by Queen Sonja of Norway for continuing the practice of conducting worship services in Norwegian for a century. During her visit to the church on its 100th anniversary, the queen praised the congregation and then joined the Sunday morning service. According to Norwegian-American Historical Association’s director Amy Boxrud, the congregation was established in 1922, during the end of a long period of migration of a large number of Norwegians to the state of Minnesota which made Minneapolis the Norwegian migrants’ “unofficial capital.” Lutheran churches played a key role in the lives of Norwegian immigrants. While some opted to remain with the Church of Norway, others formed various Lutheran synods.

U.S. News reports:

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Before attending the packed Sunday morning service, Queen Sonja of Norway praised Mindekirken congregation for having maintained worship in Norwegian for all 100 years that the church has existed in Minneapolis.

“It’s extraordinary to realize that, one hundred years after, Mindekirken is still fulfilling that purpose” of building community and preserving culture and language, she said to the nearly 500 people in attendance. They had lined up for more than an hour in this modest neighborhood in brisk fall weather in the 40s — single digits in Celsius, just as in Oslo — to participate in the service.

Queen Sonja received a special greeting from Eline Gro Knatterud, 4, who presented the queen with a bouquet of red roses nearly as big as herself. Queen Sonja got down to eye level with the awestruck girl and told her, in English, that she had an identical red traditional bunad dress at home, before walking into the large stone church.

The congregation was founded in 1922, at the tail end of a decades-long migration of hundreds of thousands of Norwegians to Minnesota that made the Twin Cities the “unofficial capital” of the Norwegian diaspora, said Amy Boxrud, the director of the Norwegian-American Historical Association.

Lutheran churches were central to these immigrants’ lives, though some stayed with the Church of Norway and others established different Lutheran synods.

Den Norske Lutherske Mindekirke – the Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church – committed to keep celebrating services in Norwegian even as many other European churches were moving to English, because attacks on foreign-language speakers spread across the United States in the World War I era.

“The group said, ‘We’ll talk American English every day, but we need our hearts’ language when we praise God,” said the Rev. Gunnar Kristiansen, the current pastor to a flock of about 200 families.

Within a few years, Mindekirken was the only one of five dozen churches in Minnesota still worshipping in Norwegian, he added.

Read the full article here.

Photo by August Schwerdfeger

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