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Danish Lutherans in America.

1. The 1st Luth. minister in Am. was the Dan. pastor Rasmus Jensen of Aarhus, Den. He came 1619 with the Jens Munk expedition, sent by Christian* IV of Den., to Nova Dania on Hudson Bay; reached the mouth of the Churchill R. September 1619; died there 1620. A number of Danes settled in New Amsterdam (later NYC) with the Butch in the 17th c. Lauritz Anderson Rhodesius was ordanined 1656 for work in the Dan. W Indies, which became the Virgin Islands of the United States 1917 (see Caribbean Islands, E 8). Dan. Luth. pastors served there till 1918. Many Danes, including Luth. pastors, joined the Moravian Ch. Some Dan. Luth. laymen became Moravian pastors. Two Dan. pastors became Moravian bps.: John Christian Jacobsen (went to Nazareth, Pennsylvania, 1816; ordained bp. 1854; d. 1870) and George Frederik Bahnsen (1805–69; pastor Bethany, North Carolina, 1834; ordained bp. 1860). Moravian missionaries reached the W Indies 1732 and Greenland 1733. A number of Luths. who became Moravians went to Labrador. Otto Christian Krogstrup (b. 1714; ordained 1741), a Dan. Luth. pastor who joined the Moravians, went to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1753. Others who went to Am. in the 18th and 19th cents. included Michael Knoll,* Peter Brunnholtz,* J. C. Leps,* H. Hayunga, A. R. Rude, and Edmund Balfour. All served Eng. or Ger. congs. except where a native tongue had to be used.

2. The chief wave of Dan. immigration began ca. 1850. During the next 80 yrs. ca. 331,000 Dan. immigrants came to the US Many joined Mormon, Adv., Bap., and Meth. chs.; others joined Norw., Swed., and Ger. Luth. chs.; many remained unchurched.

3. C. L. Clausen* helped lay the foundation for Dan. Luth. work in Am. As a result of his influence a commission (known as Udvalget) to assure the preaching of the Gospel among Danes in N Am. was organized in Den. 1869; Norw. Luth. pastors had organized several congs. among Dan. settlers. In 1871 the commission, which was leaning toward Grundtvigianism (see Denmark, Lutheranism in, 8), sent pastor A. C. L. Grove-Rasmussen, lay preacher A. S. Nielsen, and student Rasmus Andersen* to survey the field among the Danes. They met Clausen, pres. of The Conf. for the Norw.-Dan. Ev. Luth. Ch. in Am. (see Norwegian-Danish Augustana Synod in America, The) founded 1870. Nielsen was called to serve the Danes at Cedar Falls, Iowa, and was ordained by Clausen 1871. Nielsen, Andersen, A Dan,* and N. Thomsen* rejected cooperation and fellowship with The Conf. for the Norw. Dan. Ev. Luth. Ch. in Am. and organized the Kirkelig Missionsforening (Ch. Miss. Soc.) 1872. The name was changed unofficially 1874 and officially 1878 to The Dan. Ev. Luth. Ch. in Am. (Den Danske Evangeliske Lutherske Kirke i Amerika). Doctrinal differences involving Grundtvigianism led to the exclusion of more than 20 conservative pastors and their congs. 1894. These pastors and congs. formed The Dan. Ev. Luth. Ch. in N. Am. 1894 (also known as North Ch.). The Dan. Ev. Luth. Ch. in Am. helped form the NLC 1918; changed name to The Dan. Ev. Luth. Ch. of Am. 1945, to Am. Ev. Luth. Ch. 1953. HQ Des Moines, Iowa, where it had Grand View Coll. and Sem. Official papers: Kirkelig Samler and Lutheran Tidings. In 1962 the AELC merged with 3 other chs. to form the Lutheran* Ch. in Am.

4. Pres. of Kirkelig Missionsforening, The Dan. Ev. Luth. Ch. in [of] Am., and the AELC: A. Dan 1872–74, J. A. Heiberg* 1874–79, A. S. Nielsen* 1879 to 1883, T. Helveg* 1883–85, A. S. Nielsen 1885–87, J. Pedersen 1887–88, A. L. J. Söholm 1888–91, A. S. Nielsen 1891–93, O. L. Kirkeberg* 1893, A. S. Nielsen 1893–94, K. C. Bodholdt 1894–95, P. Kjölhede 1895–1903, K. C. Bodholdt 1903–11, N. P. Gravengaard 1911–18, K. C. Bodholdt 1918–22, S. D. Rodholm 1922–26, H. Jörgensen 1926–36, A. Jensen 1936–60, A. N. Farstrup 1960–62. Final bap. membership 23,808 in 76 congs.

5. In 1884 the Dan. pastors and congs. of the Norw.-Dan. Conf. withdrew and formed The Dan. Ev. Luth. Ch. Assoc. in Am. (Det Danske Evangeliske Lutherske Kirkesamfund i Amerika). Headquarters: Blair, Nebraska, where the ch. est. Trin. Sem. 1884 and added a coll. 1899 (first called Blair Coll., but called Dana Coll. since 1903). In 1896 the Dan. Ev. Luth. Ch. in N. Am. merged with the Ch. Assoc. of 1884 to form the United Dan. Ev. Luth. Ch. in Am. (name changed in 1945 to United Ev. Luth. Ch.). Its periodicals included Dansk luthersk Kirkeblad (1877–1920) and Danskeren (1892–1920), which merged to form Luthersk Ugeblad. De Unges Blad i Amerika (1896–1918) became bilingual and changed name to Our Lutheran Youth; it became all-Eng. 1921 and was absorbed into The Ansgar Lutheran 1927. See also Publication Houses, Lutheran.

6. Pres. of United Dan. Ev. Luth. Ch. in America and the UELC: G. B. Christiansen* 1896–1921, M. N. Andreasen 1921–25, N. C. Carlsen 1925–50, Hans C. Jersild 1950–56, William Larsen 1956–60. Final statistics: ca. 73,000 bap. mems. in ca. 182 congs. The UELC merged with 2 other chs. to form The American* Luth. Ch. as of January 1, 1961. JMJ

Danske i Amerika, 2 vols. (Minneapolis, 1908, 1916); P. S. Vig, Dansk Luthersk Mission i Amerika i Tiden för 1884 (Blair, Nebraska, 1917); E. Mortensen, Stories from Our Church (Des Moines, Iowa: The Committee on Publications of the Dan. Ev. Luth. Ch. of America. Blair, Nebraska: LPH, 1952); P. C. Nyholm, The Americanization of the Danish Lutheran Churches (Copenhagen, 1963); J. M. Jensen, The United Evangelical Lutheran Church: An Interpretation (Minneapolis, 1964).

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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