Canada Conference, Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church

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Canada Conference, Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church

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The Canada Conference of the Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church was the Canadian arm of the Augustana Lutheran Church, which was founded in the United States in 1860 to serve Swedish immigrants. The Canada Conference was officially founded in 1913, and merged into the Lutheran Church in America in 1962.

Beginning in the 1880s, the Minnesota Conference of the Evangelical Lutheran Augustana Synod in North America (ELASNA), which was renamed the Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church (AELC) in 1948, had established a mission in Western and Northern Canada because of the increasing Swedish and Scandinavian immigrant population settling there. After sending temporary pastors to the mission in an attempt to organize members, the first Augustana church was established in New Stockholm, Assiniboia District, Northwest Territories (now part of Saskatchewan) in October 1889. Other churches were established in Manitoba and Ontario in the following years, including St. Mark's Lutheran Church in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1890, Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Erickson, Manitoba in 1891, and Bethesda Lutheran Church in Kenora, Ontario in 1894. The first permanent Augustana Lutheran minister to reside and work in Canada, Rev. Svante Udden, arrived in July 1892 and was influential in establishing more congregations in Alberta, Manitoba, and British Columbia. By 1900 there were three resident ministers, ten congregations, and almost 800 members of the ELASNA in Canada.

Rev. L. P. Bergstrom, who arrived to Canada in 1909 as Mission Superintendent, was largely responsible for the formation of the Canada Conference in 1913. He organized and increased attendance among the existing churches, called for more pastors, and formed new congregations. By 1913 there were 39 Augustana congregations across Canada, eight pastors, and almost 3000 baptized members. Many in Canada felt that these numbers warranted the formation of a Canadian conference. On May 23, 1913, pastors and delegate from across Canada met in the New Stockholm Lutheran Church, Saskatchewan, to institute and organized the Canada Conference. It would consist of three districts: Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba-Ontario. Rev. J. G. Dahlberg of Winnipeg was elected the first president of the conference.

In 1962, the Canada Conference of the AELC merged with other Canadian Lutherans to form two of the three Canadian Synods of the Lutheran Church in America (LCA): the Western Canada Synod and the Central Canada Synod. Together with the Eastern Canada Synod, the three Canadian synods constituted the Canada Section of the Lutheran Church in America (LCA-CS). In 1985, the LCA-CS withdrew from the LCA and, together with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada (ELCC, 1960-1985, corporate name for the Canada District of the American Lutheran Church (ALC)), formed the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC). Now under the leadership of the ELCIC, the Central Canada Synod, Eastern Canada Synod, and Western Canada Synod were reorganized into six synods, of which five remain: Alberta-North Synod (1986-1988), British Columbia Synod (1986-), Eastern Synod (1986-), Manitoba/Northwestern Ontario Synod (1986-), Saskatchewan Synod (1986-), and the Synod of Alberta and the Territories (1986-).


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