It's a little like going to heaven." That was the reaction of Lyman Lundeen, recently retired professor of religion at Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, Wash., to the Augustana Heritage Sesquicentennial Gathering held Sept. 18-21 at Chautauqua, N.Y. "Except," he added, "that in heaven there will be even more of us."
Lundeen addressed the gathering of 600 members of the former Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church — the first national reunion of Augustana Lutherans since the former Lutheran Church in America merger 35 years ago.
The gathering drew attendees from all 13 regional conferences of the former Augustana Synod. Most live in the upper Midwest.
In a keynote address, Herbert Chilstrom, former ELCA bishop, sounded themes that often were echoed during the four-day gathering. He cited personal piety, dignified worship, social service and global awareness as landmarks of the Augustana spirit.
The event featured workshops on Augustana's heritage. But worship and song formed the heart of the gathering. At several events, hymns from the Augustana tradition resounded under the leadership of Joseph Dahlquist, Duluth, Minn. ELCA Secretary Lowell Almen led the Sunday communion service with Krister Stendahl, retired bishop of Stockholm, preaching. An offering of more than $12,200 will go to the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago to help fund a chair in world mission and evangelism.
Gathering participants voted to establish an ongoing association and to hold another gathering in June 2000 at Augustana College, Rock Island, Ill.
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