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Lutheran Church in Africa founded 100 years ago with help from rural Kenmare congregation

One hundred years ago, members of a small Lutheran church north of Kenmare, and a handful of students who attended a high school affiliated with the church raised $2000 to help begin a mission in West Africa.

10/09/13 (Wed)


Continuing a mission . . . United As One Lutheran Parish Pastor Cole Bentley
and Trinity Lutheran Church members Janet (Pedersen) Rhoads and
Bryan Quigley represented the church and the Western North Dakota Synod
of the ELCA in Nigeria last weekend as the Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria
celebrated its founding 100 years ago. The LCCN started after
Rev. Niels Bronnum and his wife of Denmark made a mission trip
to the African nation in 1913, funded in part by a $2,000 donation
from the members of Trinity Lutheran Church, Kenmare.

By Caroline Downs

One hundred years ago, members of a small Lutheran church north of Kenmare, and a handful of students who attended a high school affiliated with the church raised $2000 to help begin a mission in West Africa.

The church was Trinity Lutheran, started and supported by Danish homesteaders in 1896 and still active today as part of the United As One Lutheran Parish of northwestern North Dakota.

“It’s always amazed me, the discussion that went on in 1912,” said Bryan Quigley, a member of Trinity Lutheran and married to Jean Pedersen, whose grandfather Eiler Pedersen was a charter member of the church. “There are no minutes we can find from a hundred years ago, or whatever is there is written in Danish. We’d probably lose ten members over it now!”

Quigley, with his sister-in-law and Trinity member Janet (Pedersen) Rhoads and current pastor Cole Bentley represented Trinity Lutheran and the Western North Dakota Synod of the ELCA during a centennial celebration planned last week in Numan, Adamawa State, Nigeria, the center of the mission launched in 1913 primarily through the gift of the Kenmare congregation.

The story is well-known locally and among many of the 2.7 million members of the Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria (LCCN): how one Jens Dixen, Trinity Lutheran Church member and principal of Brorson High School, rural Kenmare, encouraged his students and the congregation to send $2,000 of the $5,000 needed across the world to fund a mission trip for Rev. Niels Bronnum and his wife from Denmark to Nigeria.

The Bronnums arrived and established an independent church as part of the Sudan United Mission-Danish Branch. One hundred years later, with seven dioceses, 43 divisions, 296 districts, 555 pastors, a seminary and other facilities, the LCCN continues its presence. In fact, the LCCN keeps growing with an estimated 10,000 new members every month.

“In today’s dollars, that $2,000 would be $47,000,” Rhoads said. “Now, we would ask each other, ‘How do we know that it’s really going to do anything? Is that the best use of our money?’ Was that a part of their discussion then?”

She, Quigley and Bentley were the first representatives to visit any LCCN church ever . . . . Read EVERY WORD on EVERY PAGE of The Kenmare News by subscribing--online or in print!