Monday, November 1, 2010

Minnekirken, Codfish and My Peeps!

I had an opportunity to spend time with my Norwegian community. Minnekirken, the Norwegian Memorial Church in Logan Square was having a cod fish dinner. I got to spend time with members of the church as well as folks from the larger Chicago land area. Minnekirken may be a small church but it is the only Norwegian speaking church in a 400 mile radius.

The church is significant to the Norwegian community. At one time Logan Square was a Norwegian and Jewish neighborhood. The stores, restaurants and lodges all reflected this. 30 years ago Cathi and I worked at the Norway Center only a few blocks south of the church. This was a building that supported Norwegian-Americans through two World Wars. It supported Norwegian exploration of the Poles. It was visited by Norwegian royalty. When I worked there it was owned by a lodge of the Sons of Norway. I loved the Viking Lounge and the huge hall with Viking murals and a walk in fire place. Today it is but a dream, the building is residential.

However, the church still exists. Along with the statue of Leif Erikson in Humboldt Park these are the only two reminders of a different time. During the nations bicentennial the King of Norway visited Chicago. He came to Minekirken for a church service. I stood outside the church and got a glimpse of the king. It was a very good day.

I was able to meet their new pastor, the Rev. Sigurd Grindheim. The minister holds a PhD. in New Testament studies. He has preached and taught in the United States, Norway and Ethiopia. He served as a Chaplain in the Norwegian Army. He has also worked on a Norwegian translation of a study bible. Clearly this is a talented, dedicated man! I enjoyed my encounter with this inspiring man. He also brought me up to the sanctuary so I could video the church.

Norwegian Memorial Church in Logan Square

The last time I was in this church for a service was two ears ago. I was here to mark the Syttende Mai of the 17th of May. This is Norwegian Constitution Day. When I was here every pew had a Norwegian flag. There were chorus of men, women and children in traditional folk costumes. At that time I met the equivalent of the Norwegian Speaker of the House though many simply referred to him as the vice President of Norway.


So I took photos of the sanctuary from the first floor and the balcony. It is truly a simple, humble church. I was surprised to find a statue of St. Francis in this Lutheran church.

Minnekirken and St. Francis

I then want back down to the basement reception hall to eat a wonderful meal. I also spent time with a very enjoyable couple. They were not members of the church but supported the church. We talked about the neighborhood from “back in the day.” We talked about their neighborhood. At the end of the evening they made a contribution (unsolicited) to Emmaus Ministries. It was great to spend time with Art and Peggy Doering. Finally, the crowning glory to a wonderful night was a spontaneous concert. One of the gentleman got up and sung a couple of Norwegian ballads. It was a great evening hanging with my peeps!

Singer at Minnekirken's Cod Fish Dinner

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