So lets’ be honest about the history of Lutherans in America.

It’s a rather cantankerous one.  Lots of church fights and splits over matters that, although now they make us scratch our heads, were extremely important to people at the time.

One of those church breakups happened in Decorah in 1889 when a dispute over the doctrine of predestination led to one church becoming two churches within a few blocks of each other on the same street, First Lutheran, and Decorah Lutheran.

Church fights are like family fights in that old hurts hang on and forgiveness is slow.

So the event that took place at Luther College on Sunday, November 10 is all the more remarkable considering the 150-year history that led up to it.

The four Decorah congregations of Decorah Lutheran, First Lutheran, Good Shepherd Lutheran and Luther College Student Congregation all came together for one joint worship celebrating the 150th founding of the original church.


Assistant to the Bishop Darrel Garretts brings greetings from Synod

A new hymn was commissioned and sung at the event, “Creation Bloomed when God first Spoke” was sung at the services, with text written by Luther professor emerita Carol Gilbertson, and music composed by Associate Professor of Music and College Organist Gregory Peterson (‘83).

Bishop Emeritus, Rev. Harold Usgaard (‘69) of the Southeast Minnesota Synod, who was baptized and married at Decorah Lutheran Church, was the preacher.


 Bishop Helga Haugland Byfuglien, Presiding Bishop of the Church of Norway sent special greetings for the occasion.  She writes:

“The celebration also commemorates the great
efforts made by the Norwegian immigrant families in the 19th century to bring forth traditions and language from their homeland as well as serving the congregations and adjusting to a new society”

 And then she adds an important message for all of us

 “But our common awareness must of all be that we are part of the worldwide church, always in prayer and need for unity of God’s family on earth”

May this momentous event be one of many more signs of the unity we all share in Christ!


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About The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson

The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson has been Director for Evangelical Mission, ELCA for the Northeastern Iowa Synod since late 2013. Part of her job description is to help leaders and congregations use social media and other digital means for outreach and mission. She writes and edits this blog as well as runs the social media accounts for the synod.




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