Jenny Lind Chapel, mother church of Augustana Synod, Andover, Ill.

I write because I don’t know what I think until I say it. — Flannery O’Connor


Scratch outline

Intro: What do the ethnic synods have to teach us in the 21st century?

  • Folk church — Swedish example
  • Luther — prince’s responsibility to subjects, Christmas sermon
  • immigrant experience
  • Maria Erland quote — cf. family heirlooms

Body of theme — first of 3 grafs — Ecclesia Plantada

  • Chicago — Andover — Minnesota (Norelius)
  • parish life
  • Luther’s idea the church is for sinners — postil on John

Body 2 — Building a church

  • competition and cooperation w/ American Protestants (e.g. Methodists, Am. Home Missionary Society)
  • Cultural considerations — Esbjorn’s, turn from accommodation to Lutheran confessionalism (Noll),

Body 3 — Svensk-Amerika (2-way street on acculturation)

  • Immigrant experience —
  • Politics — Norelius — Whigs and Kossuth (?) in Columbus, Ohio, — quote about Hemlandet and Chicago Tribune
  • Indians — w/ Norelius in Minn., (Olsson missionary impulse cf. reality)
  • Civil War — Hasselquist in Hemlandet
  • Barton and Blanck of Svensk-Amerika


  • Bishop Eaton on Augustana

Quotes and links

Wikipedia (Swedish-language version):

I vissa sammanhang kan “folkkyrklig” mer allmänt beteckna strävanden efter en samhällstillvänd kyrka med “låga trösklar”, som är öppen och tillgänglig för alla. Folkkyrkligheten i denna mening kan delas in i en traditionell form och en progressiv form. Den traditionella betonar kyrkans roll och möjligheter som traditionsbärare i samband med till exempel dopkonfirmationbröllopbegravning eller årets högtider, det vill säga i de sammanhang där allmänheten traditionellt mest efterfrågar kyrkans medverkan. Den progressiva folkkyrkligheten eftersträvar en modernisering av kyrkan och kännetecknas av en påtaglig öppenhet för nya influenser från utvecklingen i samhället eller från andra religiösa traditioner än luthersk kristendom.

In some contexts, “folk church” may more generally refer to aspirations for a community-oriented church with “low thresholds”, which is open and accessible to all. The ecclesiastical church in this sense can be divided into a traditional form and a progressive form. The traditional emphasizes the church’s role and opportunities as bearers of tradition in connection with, for example, baptisms, confirmations, weddings, funerals or festivals of the year, ie in the contexts where the public traditionally most demands the church’s participation. The progressive popular church strives for a modernization of the church and is characterized by a marked openness to new influences from the development of society or from other religious traditions than Lutheran Christianity.


Luo, who edits the New Yorker’s online edition, writes:

In some sense, Trump’s Presidency has merely given modern form to racist attitudes that have long festered in American Christianity. In his book “The Color of Compromise” (Zondervan), published last year, the historian Jemar Tisby traces the revivalist origins of evangelicalism in America, and notes how the movement’s emphasis on individual conversion and piety constrained its social vision. The evangelist George Whitefield, who was instrumental in the Great Awakening, in the early eighteenth century, condemned the cruelty of slaveowners but campaigned for slavery’s legalization in the colony of Georgia. The theologian Jonathan Edwards pressed for the evangelization of the enslaved but owned several slaves; he believed the practice could be countenanced as long as they were treated humanely. “Within this evangelical framework, one could adopt an evangelical expression of Christianity yet remain uncompelled to confront institutional injustice,” Tisby writes.


After the South’s defeat in the Civil War, Southern church leaders struggled to help their congregants make sense of their loss. The result was the religion of the Lost Cause, a mythology that ennobled the Confederacy and idealized the antebellum South as a bastion of Christian piety and morals. This fusion of religious and cultural values, delivered from the pulpit, helped to legitimize a social order that continued to subjugate Black people. Later, as evangelical Christianity, anchored in the South, grew to become the dominant expression of Christianity in America, its cultural scaffolding, rooted in white supremacy, spread as well. During the era of Jim Crow, when Southern statutes enforced the strict separation of races and restricted the rights of Black people, Northern Protestant churches remained largely segregated and muted in their criticism. Many white Christians saw segregation as simply part of God’s plan for humanity.


The boundaries that evangelical leaders draw around “reconciliation” may help explain a seeming contradiction in the polling data on race and religion. In surveys that measure how warmly people say they feel about Black people, the sentiments of white evangelical Protestants exceed those of the general population. (Other white Christians’ responses fall close to the mean.) Yet the vast majority of white Christians remain indifferent to the symbols of white supremacy and skeptical of the realities of racial inequality. In “Divided By Faith” (Oxford), published in 2000, the sociologists Michael O. Emerson and Christian Smith suggest a cultural and religious framework for understanding this inconsistency. Evangelical theology is individualistic and interpersonal—it stresses both a believer’s relationship with Jesus Christ and the way that forgiveness from God impels forgiveness of others. As a result, white evangelicals’ understanding of the race problem tends to be rooted in beliefs about individual decisions and shortcomings rather than the ways that broader social forces, institutions, and culture can constrain and shape them. It’s as if they’re wearing reading glasses when their problem is nearsightedness—a failing, Tisby showed in his book, that has troubled the American church throughout its history.

Jones’s research, along with additional work conducted by Emerson and another sociologist, Jason Shelton, examining attitudes on race of Black and white Protestants, suggest that white mainline Christians have been afflicted by similar blinders, even as their churches have traditionally placed greater emphasis on social concerns. The Roman Catholic Church in the United States has its own ugly history of promoting slavery and resisting integration. When Black people fleeing discrimination in the South streamed into Northern cities during the Great Migration, many white Catholics, in particular, fought to keep them out of their neighborhoods and parishes. “White Christian churches, both Protestant and Catholic, have served as institutional spaces for the preservation and transmission of white supremacist attitudes,” Jones writes.

Works Cited

“Folkkyrka,” Wikipedia [accessed Sept. 21, 2020]

Michael Luo, “American Christianity’s White-Supremacy Problem,” New Yorker, Sept. 2, 2020

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