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Gathering to celebrate birth of Augustana Synod

Above, a 25-year reunion of signers of the original Synod constitution. At right, the original church at Jefferson Prairie, Wis.

The 150th anniversary of the formation of the Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Augustana Synod will be marked with a special gathering at Jefferson Prairie Lutheran Church, Poplar Grove, Ill., at 3 p.m. on June 5, 2010.

The public is invited to attend the observance, during which the leaders of the two schools that still bear the Synod's name will gather around the table on which the original constitution creating the Augustana Synod was signed.

Augustana College President Steve Bahls will be joined by both President Rob Oliver of Augustana College-Sioux Falls and Mark Wilhelm, director for Colleges and Universities for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, in signing a compact that states their shared commitment to:

  • Give thanks for the vision, dedication and steadfastness of those who came before us, and especially our forebears in the leadership of Lutheran higher education in North America, of whose legacy we pledge ourselves to be good stewards;
  • Proclaim the continuing missions of the two colleges;
  • Confess with all the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America our belief that we are marked by the cross of Christ forever, and thereby claimed, gathered and sent for the sake of the world;
  • Affirm the essential role of higher education in equipping all persons for the vocation they receive from God to serve their neighbor, and
  • Recommit ourselves, severally and in partnership between these institutions and with all colleges and universities of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, to this good ministry.

Two Augustana students will present a short play, called A Prairie Planting, which gives a glimpse into the meeting that led to the signing of the Synod's constitution. Dorothy Williams of Melrose Park, Ill., will narrate and Neil Friberg of Rock Island, Ill., will play Lars-Paul Esbjörn, first president of Augustana College. The production was prepared by Augustana College Theatre Director Jeff Coussens.

In keeping with the Scandinavian heritage of the Norwegian and Swedish immigrants who formed the Synod in 1860, the church's choir will sing two Swedish hymns and its pastor, the Rev. Thomas Groth, will offer a Norwegian table blessing prior to refreshments in the church's parish hall.

Jefferson Prairie Lutheran Church is located about 7 miles east of Interstate 90's Beloit exit. (Map)