Rough notes and outlines for a research project …

Working title?: “Swedes in Roger Williams’ Garden: Acculturation Inclusion and Community in Swedish Immigrant Churches, 1848-1861″

— or —

“Luther’s Dear Angels in Swede Town: Acculturation in Immigrant Churches, 1848-1860-1861

… potentially expanding the presentation I gave at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in October.


Dec. 31, 2020 and Jan. 8-17, 2021: A couple of edits:

  • Change the dates to 1848-1861 so I can incorporate the Civil War stuff into the last section on Swedes engaging the larger culture …
  • Add — or rework — a historical epilogue that closes out the story by briefly outlining
    • A. Esbjörn’s return to Sweden, Norelius’ later career, also Paul Andersen, Carlsson, Hasselquist
    • B. very quick thumbnail of Augustana Synod, tension between pietist and Church of Sweden heritage and, ultimately, ecumenical role (Soderquist, Bergendoff)
    • C. ren forsamling v. folk forsamling divisions in Kansas — leads into last chapter on what it means for us today.
  • Last — findings, discussion — chapter — could incorporate into discussion of Nordic social democracy, “Minnesota nice,” Jante laws, etc. … the newspaper stories on ELCA churches in Vasa, Minn., and the Twin Cities that I linked earlier to one of my blogs. Also: The Latino church in Madison, Wis., and ELCA in Chicago, LSTC, (find out what Immanuel is up to). ALSO: Hit the idea that each ethnic group and/or faith tradition will have its own historical memorabilia to take out of the attice and engage with. (Lay foundation for this by explaining how the Home Missionary Society worked, in general and in Illinois (Knox) and Esbjorn’s relationship with AHMS.
  • Add to last section (Jan. 11): In previous section, at end of historical narrative. As the war progressed, Esbjorn would return … etc., etc., Augustana Synod over the years would … leading up to mergers culminating in 19__ with ELCA. In succeeding years, ELCA would enter into common communion agreements with the Presbyterian Church in the USA and the UCC, descendants of the denominations in AHMS, the Methodists, ith whom esbjorn had fought, and the episcopal church …
  • [Jan. 17] In his study of polarization, Ezra Klein cites research by _____________ and posits that American political loyalties, like those for sports teams, fall out along “us-vs.-them” lines separating “in-groups” from “out-groups” and “… QUOTE. I would suggest that the Puritan ideal of the church — and with it the commonwealth — as a gathered community of believers is still deep in the bones and marrow of the American body politic. Roger Williams, who formulated the separation of church and state, was almost uniquely hospitable to out-groups — whether the were _____ Indians, Jews or Quakers, but his fear of contamination by unbelievers, amounting amost to a phobia, was inextricably bound up with it. In the 1850s, the legacy of that fear made trouble for Esbjorn and the Swedish Lutherans who were accustomed to the more latitudiarian (?) practices of an established folk church; I would argue that it still makes trouble for us today, and Esbjorn’s ____________ are worthy of emulation.


Jan. 23 — quote: “We may be certain that it was not a comfortable thing for the Scandinavians to know that among a certain element of the university and city population they were looked upon as plebeians and stigmatized as ‘green Swedes’; but we may be equally certain that there was on Esbjörn’s part a nationalistic prejudice which caused him to see matters in a false light and to suspect things that existed only in his own imagination.” George Stephenson, The Founding of the Augustana Synod, 1850-1860 (Rock Island: Augustana Book Concern, 1927), 111. [note on 110-11 cites communication to Lutheran Observer, Feb. 24, 1860, signed “Western,” replying to comms. from “Illinoian” and “Egyptian” — denying “that there was suspicion and hostility against ‘foreigners’ at Illinois State University” that letter is in American Origin …, with derogatory quotes about Europeans assigned to Springer, Vol. IX, pp. 98ff ]

Earlier [updated in mid- to late November, and again in January]: Two (conflicting) 5-paragraph freshman English theme-type outlines — how to bring them into harmony?

  • Intro
  • Body 1 — Swede Town
    • Start with Powell’s description of Chicago and immigrants passing through, segue to Norwegian congregation, St. Ansgarius, etc.
    • zoom out to macro religious picture in America, etc.
    • maybe (maybe? absolutely do it) zoom further to where American Protestantism fit overall, Baird — i.e. extreme form of English nonconformism as opposed to state churches in northern Europe
  • Body 2 — Luther’s Dear Angels Ecclesia plantada in Andover
    • Andover — open with Norelius descr., Esbjorn and Pillsbury’s daughters — parish organization … became the model …
    • church membership conflict with american home missionary society — larger issue of gathered community v. folk church
    • Esbjörn’s letter to Norelius
    • Transition to postils and Christmas sermon
  • Body 3 — Acculturation Luther’s Dear Angels in Swede Town
    • Christmas sermon — postils in general, and Bergendoff’s discussion of Esbjörn letter
    • Work in some of all of these in light of above: This faith would be tested. Northern Illinois Conference and General Synod — “unaltered Augsburg Confession”; music; American culture at large — Norelius and that book I ordered; Politics and US Civil war
  • Conclusion

second (earlier outline)

  • Intro. xxx (CH1)
  • Body 1 Prologue (CH2) Swedish and international background. Folk church.
  • Body 2 Planting a Swedish-American church (ecclesia plantanda)
    • creolization — espec in music.
    • xxx
  • Body 3 Growing church
    • Other Lutherans — Norelius observations
    • Americans — where did Augustana Swedes fit in 1850s (Norelius keen observer (a) in Columbus and, Linclon book, Noreliu
    • Epilogue — Augustana Synod and Svensk-Amerika
  • Findings and conclusions. xx
    • xxx
    • xxx
    • xxx


  • Eaton homily at Andover 2015
  • Challenges of 2020s — tribalism, polarization, exclusion, etc.
  • Maria Erland — bit about memorabilia & lessons of history
  • challenges of 1850s — footholds of Swedish culture — adapting to voluntary associations w/o state support in an essentially Reformed Protestant church culture in America —
  • THESIS — compromise took a bit of this a bit of that and set a creolized membership policy that was more inclusive


  • Folk church — not yet fully developed in the 1850s, but inherent in the Swedish system
  • Luther and Duke John the Steadfast, Elector of Saxony — 2 kingdoms — Saxon visitation
  • International nature of Lutheran churches — outgrowth of medieval universities — spread to Scandinavia, folk church
  • Awakening in Sweden, influence of English Norconformists,
  • Robert Baird and Esbjörn —

PLANTING 1 — Chicago

  • Open with Powell in Chicago, 1847
  • Footholds, little outposts of Swedish culture
  • Maybe Andersen and Unionius — Fredrika Bremer’s description — stats on what churches immigrants belonged to or none at all
  • xxx

PLANTING 2 — Andover

  • Open with vignette of Norelius first meeting with Esbjörn
  • Ecclesia Plantada — origin of phrase — Esbjörn establishes Swedish parish
  • competition with Hedstrom

PLANTING 3 — Esbjörn’s compromise and his letter to Norelius

  • xxx

OTHER LUTHERANS 1 — networking and membership in Northern Illinois Synod


UNEDITED NOTES: Eaton’s sermon was delivered at the festival service April 26, 2015, during the Founders Day celebration at Augustana Lutheran Church, Andover, Illinois. The transcription is mine.

In the 1930s it was a mixed marriage if a finn married a Swede … and so at I’ma tokeness married loren sanderson and she left the finn church to come to the swede church.

But that’s just an indication of the Incredible  generosity, hospitality and open-mindedness of the augustana tradition, which I came to love. In fact the inaud fire in their hair —

When they said everybody in the congregation was welcome in that congregation, they meant it. So when the accepted a non-swede  

We didn’t have an organist when I first5 came in fact they’d use an accordion every once in a while.

We had an organist from the finn church in kamanak whose father was a filipino-american and her mother a European-American – so —- came over to be our organist, which everybody thout was just great and then she started bringing her boyfriend and then fiancé and husband of 24 years Marcel is African American. And then we found out his grandmother was Italian, which was a huge divide. And Marcel being like st Andrew brought all of his friends and relatives, and bB the time I was called from that church to serve as bishop we had mixed race families, African ameriacn families, we had gay families with children we had finnish families in the church – no Norwegian of course – in our rendition of santa lucia’s day we had the little gingerbread chindren who danced around in their gingerbread costumes singing about how brown are we well, they all were except Kevin, he was the only white kid.

So that’s part of the tradition, the welcoming that augustana has always  been a witness to in the greater church – first in your own synod and then in the LCA and then the ELCA it’s a model for the rest of the church. Particularly in these days when the culture says you’ve got to identify which camp you’re in and separate yourself one from another lest you be contaminated by that other person. That’s not not in the tradition of augustana. So I’m grateful to have served there for 15 years.

Jesus on road to Emmaus 00 good shepherd Sunday –

If people think scripture was written to make the early church look good, they have to look at this story

Trudging – instead of messiah psalm sunday it was pretty great then, wasn’t it? –

They don’t recognize him, which the universal experience of everyone who witnesses the risen Christ.

6:13 It was the last lca convention and Charles and I had just gotten married and the archbishop of Canterbury came to speak at our convention and he told a story of – (standing in line at Disney world was asked Did you see the royal wedding?

They didn’t know what they were looking for, and sometime I think we don’t know what we’re looking for in a messiah.

Guy on metro in Washington dc – 3 year old – hurried along – in 45 min only 6 peo stood to watch.

Joshuya bell, no one knew who he was – Washington post story

Not a message of power

Theol of the cross – pilgrimage with catholics to Wittenberg –

Bonhoffer – cheap grace or transactional grace – paid ultimate cost – rothenberg(?) –

I don’t know 1610 I don’t want a motivational speaker, I want

That’s the message we have to give – that’s the theology of the cross and it’s 1700 not exactly happy and perky and upbeat and fun. … I would say that the crucifixion was an act of indescribable beauty that brings true and lasting joy.

PRAYER: People of Augustana, the mother church, hear the gratitude from all your children across the country, but stand firm in the belief and the relief that in the death and resurrection of Jesus, that love was given to you and we are now to give that love to others.

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