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Augustana Lutheran Church is Relocating “…Now, it’s a new day.”

By Rev. David Spong*

A “pillar”… for 146 years

Augustana Lutheran Church, a pillar in the Swedish and Lutheran community for 146 years, is relocating to 1900 11th Ave. South. Church-members and friends will process to their new location on Sunday, May 6, where they will have their initial worship. Augustana will make this their new home in what has been the base for Community Emergency Services, a food pantry, shelter, and office for community outreach.

C.E.S. is a ministry Augustana Lutheran Church initiated 41 years ago to minister to the needs of feeding the hungry and caring for people in this neighborhood. It was in 1971 that Minneapolis businessman, Russell Lund came to Augustana Church and approached Pastor Berg saying in effect, “I’d like to give some money to help low income people in crisis situations.” In 1978 Augustana Church contributed $50,000 matched by Russell Lund to buy the Emmanuel Methodist Church on 11th Ave.

Pastor Mark Peterson, director of C.E.S., stated, “We had worship space in this former Methodist Church that was underutilized. We are primarily a service center. We have space that will accommodate worship and fellowship for Augustana Church.”

“Set Your Hands to Unfinished Tasks.” Says, Pastor Berg, in his 102nd year 

The final worship service for Augustana at the 7th St. and 11th Ave. will be on Sunday, April 29, with Pastor William Berg preaching. Rev. Berg, who was pastor at Augustana from 1965-1980, will address the congregation on the theme of, “Set Your Hands to Unfinished Tasks.” Pastor Berg says, “There is still much work to do in this community. There are still people who are concerned. God’s amazing grace is needed in our day especially.”

Ann Carlson, a member of Augustana, commented that Community Emergency Services is the child of Augustana. Now the parents are moving in with their child. C.E.S. is near to our hearts. Our space is too big for us. This has been an important part of our ministry. Augustana has been a servant church for 146 years and this provides a new opportunity for both of us. C.E.S. has been providing ‘bread for the body.’ Together we can provide the ‘bread of life.’”

“Hope Community Church has bought our old building and we are excited for them to be the new owners. We feel good about their ministry in that place. Now it is a new day for us.”

Life for 130 Year Old Religious Edifice goes on.

In a history of Augustana, Doris Spong wrote these words: “It was in 1882 that Augustana Church built their sanctuary at 7th and 11th Avenue. It was possible to build this great edifice which seated 1175 persons at the amazingly low figure of $23,219.75, due to generous cooperation and volunteer labor. The architecture of the building was affected by the American influence. The characteristics of the Augustana sanctuary which is a copy of the Blasieholm Church in Stockholm, Sweden, are similar not only to such early Augustana Synod churches erected in Denver and New York, but also to such churches as Marble Collegiate in New York City. The organ was located behind and above the pulpit and altar. The balcony surrounded the entire nave. This provided a clear and unobstructed view of altar, pulpit, and choir.”

“Stability and extension of the spiritual ministry were direct results of the building of this church. Augustana became the meeting place for synodical conventions, conferences, and other occasions, such as evangelism meetings, memorial services and other church gatherings. Augustana has served as host to Swedish Archbishops and royalty. Thus Augustana played a vital role in the work of the church at large.”

“Now, it’s a new day.”  “…On a journey…and we have hope…”

Pr. Berg went on with his comments as he was thinking about the future, “Who would have dreamed this relocation would ever be happening? Now, it’s a new day.” Dr. Berg seemed undaunted that Augustana would be a strong force in serving this community well into the future.

Questions still abound for this congregation in this time of transition as Ann Carlson asks, “How well will this relocation work? We really don’t know. But we are on a journey and we have hope and we believe God is calling us to a new day.”

* Rev. David Spong is a Lutheran Pastor whose father, Rev. Bernard Spong, was pastor of Augustana Church from 1957 to 1965.

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