Our Savior's Lutheran Church to host concert and hymn-sing this Sunday in celebration of 150th anniversary

Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Lansing invites the public to a free album debut concert and hymn-sing this Sunday, November 5 at 1 p.m. The “If These Walls Could Sing” debut concert will be the final celebratory event of the year offered in honor of the 150th anniversary of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church.

The new album, called “If These Walls Could Sing”, features 24 historic hymns of faith performed by former organist Douglas Shaffer on the church’s 1941 Reuters pipe organ. It was produced to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the church this year. The carefully selected songs have resounded in the sanctuary since its founding by Norwegian immigrant in 1867.

Throughout 2017, Our Savior’s Lutheran Church has been celebrating this milestone anniversary. In addition to the historic album, a comprehensive book, "Are These Our Roots?", was written by church historian Barbara Scottston. It chronicles the wider story of Norwegian immigrants settling into northeast Iowa and establishing a network of congregations mirroring the worship traditions of the motherland.

The book also explains the foundation of the “Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of Lansing, Iowa,” as the church was originally named, the building of the sanctuary and later the parish hall, the evolution of the congregation, its affiliations with other area churches, the election controversy, and the various pastors who have provided leadership over the 150 years. This book is available as a free download at the church website, www.LansingLutherans.org.

Pentecost Sunday, June 4, the church held a heritage service immersing worshipers in original traditions, hymns and liturgies, some of which were sung in the Norwegian language. Nine clergy persons led the service, including Rev. Don Berg, former interim pastor at Our Savior’s and interpreter for the church historian; Revs. Peter and Deb Samuelson, former pastors at Our Savior’s and Waterville Lutheran; Revs. Judd and April Larson, former pastors at Old East and West Paint Creek Churches and parents of the late Ben Larson, former musician at Our Savior’s (Judd is a great-great-grandson of W. O. Erickson, who built the church building); Rev. Terrie Rae Anderson, great-great-granddaughter of W. O. Erickson; Rev. Kris Snyder, former pastor of Waterville Lutheran Church; Rev. Diane Koschmeder, member of Our Savior’s; and current pastor Rev. Laura Gentry. Former organist, Lynn Feuerhelm, who also played for the church’s 100-year anniversary service, returned to play organ for the celebration. Norwegian baked treats were served after the service followed by a catered banquet at TJ Hunters. Then a concert by the Luren Singers, a Decorah-based Norwegian men’s choir, was given that afternoon.

During the November 5 event, Shaffer, currently the organist of the First United Methodist Church of Cedar Falls, will be playing selections from the album on the pipe organ complete with a hymn-sing. The hour-long performance begins at 1 p.m.  Afterwards there will be a reception with the “If These Walls Could Sing” CDs available. The concert is free and open to the public.

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