Into the next 100 years

Mindekirken kicks off a year of events for its centennial celebration


Photo: August Schwerdfeger / Flickr
The 17th of May is always a big day at Mindekirken, but with the 2022 centennial celebration, you can expect more special events and programming throughout the entire year.

St. Paul, Minn.

Mindekirken, the Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church, is celebrating its centennial on Jan. 9, exactly 100 years after its founding in Minneapolis on Jan. 9, 1922. The Lutheran congregation, started by Norwegian immigrants to preserve the Norwegian language through worship, is hosting a special opening program and banquet on Jan. 8, followed by a Sunday worship service with guest pastor, Jens Dale, to be followed by an entire  year of celebratory events.

The church’s current pastor, Gunnar Kristiansen, returned to Mindekirken in September 2021. He is from Bodø, Norway, and served as pastor originally, from 1998 to 2000. Kristiansen specified that this year will be a celebration open to everyone, old and new friends, but the year’s programs are designed to honor the “Friends of Mindekirken” and to thank the members for their continued support. Over 900 invitations were sent out within the Twin Cities Norwegian community to this weekend’s events. 

Before the banquet, the Mindekirken sanctuary will be open to all for a centennial program. Music by the Mindekirken choir, accompanied by harp, piano, and organ, can be enjoyed, followed by greetings from Norwegian Honorary General Consul Eivind Heiberg, from the Minneapolis Area Synod of Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and from the president of the council, Jeanette Henrikssen. A historical presentation will be given by trustee Gracia Grindal, to give a full picture of how the church began 100 years ago. 

A catered banquet follows the program in Mindekirken’s Fellowship Hall and at Norway House, amid much excitement for the expansion of the Norway House campus. This social gathering provided a relaxing continuation of the kickoff and allowed for community members to reunite and remember what they love about Mindekirken. 

The congregation has been working hard to prepare for this year. In addition to a calendar full of events and programming (with more dates to come), a centennial logo was designed by Roy Lindaas, who grew up in the congregation. Member Kari Fosse  painted a series of watercolors illustrating her memories of Mindekirken, which have been put together into a calendar. The calendar, alongside prints and notecards, is being sold to support the church. Shirts, buttons, and additional anniversary merchandise are also available.

The festive Sunday service on Jan. 9 is hosted guest pastor Jens Dale, who served as the church’s pastor from 2002 to 2005 and has since moved back to Norway. A new hymn by Stig Warnø Holter will debut, sung by the choir together with the congregation, titled “I Jesu navn skal all vår gjerning skje” (In Jesus’ name all our work shall be done).

When asked what this milestone means for the church, Kristiansen said, “The centennial will mean a lot for the future of our beloved church. We will have different programs spread out throughout the year that will give people an opportunity to visit and to be reminded about our great past.” 

To last another 100 years, the church must continue to adapt and change with its members and community. 

“These programs will also point to our future. We took a survey, asking our members what kind of programs and what kind of church they want in the future. And during the centennial, we will invite our members to a workshop where we will discuss the answers of the survey, and make a priority list,” Kristiansen said.

Mindekirken carries out a unique mission and the Norwegian cultural connection has allowed for a century of longevity. Kristiansen explains, “During the pandemic, our church suffered, like everybody else. But after we opened our church for in-person programs again, many have returned. And I sense a positive spirit now, people really want to visit our church, and it seems like more and more people from the Norwegian community here appreciate Mindekirken as their spiritual home. I believe that our church will continue to practice and present Norwegian culture and traditions for the years to come.”

This article originally appeared in the Jan. 7, 2022, issue of The Norwegian American.

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Laila Simon

Laila Simon is a writer in Minneapolis, who has been writing for The Norwegian American since 2017. Together with Kate Running, she is owns and operates Knit & Gather, a place where people come together to learn to knit. Laila is a dual citizen of Norway and the United States. When she’s not attempting ambitious recipes, she translates Norwegian poetry and adds to her houseplant collection.