My daughter Emily ceased involvement with the LDS Church a long time ago, and hasn’t been involved with a church since. But over the last two months, that has changed. She and her boyfriend Gabe have started to attend Minnekirken, which is the Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church in Chicago. From the church’s website:
Minnekirken, which means “Memorial Church” in Norwegian, is located at 2614 N. Kedzie Boulevard in an area known to Chicagoans as Logan Square. The neighborhood surrounding the church is typical of Chicago’s North Side neighborhoods and reflective of a diversity of languages and cultures.In the neighborhood these days, one predominantly hears Spanish spoken in several dialects representing different Hispanic cultures. Minnekirken serves as a reminder of a neighborhood heritage long past in which scandinavians played a significant part. During the first half of this century there were several Norwegian language churches in the Logan Square area and over 20 Norwegian churches in the metropolitan area. Today, Minnekirken is the last remaining Norwegian language church within a radius of 400 miles of the city.
This church is about a block away from Gabe’s apartment, right on the train line (ironically they pass an LDS Church to get to it!), and Gabe had gone by that church many, many times. So one Sunday a couple of months ago they decided to go in and try it. The first two Sundays of the month is all in Norwegian; the third the service is English but the liturgy is Norwegian; and the fourth is all in English.
A woman does headset translation into English for the Norwegian Sundays, but they haven’t actually used the headsets yet. They enjoy listening to the Norwegian, even if they don’t understand it. Emily remarked that “it feels more holy.” And Gabe told me that he actually prefers the Norwegian, because in English when he can understand it there are sometimes doctrinal statements made that he disagrees with, but in Norwegian that doesn’t happen. (I thought maybe some of our Bloggernacle participants need a Norwegian LDS Church to attend; it might improve their relationship with the Church!) In fact, the reason I thought of posting on this was that I enjoyed my daughter’s FB status update, which was that she heard her pastor say “twilight zone,” so it must have been a good sermon.
There are about 40 active people in the congregation, the demographic of which skews older (lots of 60 and 70-somethings). The pastor and his wife are about 40 and appreciate a younger couple coming and participating. There are a couple of babies, but no toddlers or teenagers, which does not bode well for the future.
In any event, I’m thrilled that Emily has found a church she actually enjoys attending. I think it is good for her to have a church experience. I like the Lutheran Church, and there is a Lutheran background in our family (her mom was raised Lutheran, and her maternal grandparents and aunt are Lutheran). It’s a different church experience than the low church LDS, with a pastor, offering, liturgy, and so forth, but I think it’s good for her to experience that different mode of worship. And I think the whole Norwegian language thing is just way cool.
Some of you may think it’s a little odd that I as a Mormon father should be so happy to see my daughter attending a Lutheran church as opposed to an LDS one. But the LDS option isn’t in the cards, and I’m just happy for her to have found a spiritual home that works for her.
Here is a blog post that features video of the interior of the church.
[Personal to my friend Jack: The pastor, Sigurd Grindheim, got his Ph.D. and used to teach at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield.]