A valedictory celebration in honor of the Augustana Lutheran Church takes place on June 24-26, 2016, at Trinity Lutheran Church in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia. More than 300 participants are expected to mark the end of what has been called “Sweden’s greatest creation.”
Founded in 1860 with 60 congregations in the Midwest, the Augustana Lutheran Synod expanded to the eastern United States, growing to 1500 congregations and 600,000 members by 1962, when it merged with other Lutheran church bodies to ultimately create the present Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
The valedictory is being sponsored by several organizations, including the Augustana Heritage Association, the Augustana Institute, the Swedish Colonial Society, the Lutheran Archives Center, and the American-Swedish Historical Museum in Philadelphia.
During the three-day celebration, participants will enjoy an extensive program of speakers, music, worship and tours of Philadelphia and nearby places of interest.
The speakers include Dr. Maria Erling of Gettysburg Seminary, who will talk about Augustana in the eastern United States, and Bishop Emeritus of Sweden’s Strängnäs Diocese Dr. Jonas Jonson, who will speak on the Swedish ecumenical leader Archbishop Nathan Söderblom. Jonson’s book on Söderblom has been translated into English and will be available.
Other events include musical performances by the talented Emily Tepe, a 13th generation Swedish-American, and Dr. Jack Swenson playing Trinity’s renowned organ in the church’s acoustically-perfect nave. Sessions will also be dedicated to Swedish immigration to Massachusetts and missions to Japan. Bus tours will take participants to Philadelphia to visit historic sites and explore Philadelphia’s Swedish heritage since the founding of the New Sweden Colony in the 17th century.
The valedictory concludes with a festive eucharist using the 1922 Augustana liturgy, celebrated by Metropolitan New York Bishop Dr. Robert A. Rimbo, with music for this English translation of the Svenska högmässa.
To register and for more information, contact Judy Gifford at hgiff@ptd.net or (610) 767-0372. Rooms have been set aside at a nearby Holiday Inn where participants make their own reservations. The registration deadline is April 1.
This valedictory event, tucked between last year’s papal visit and this summer’s Democratic National Convention, provides a perfect opportunity to visit Philadelphia and to suitably close the doors on the Augustana Lutheran experience.

Lawrence Backlund