Featured Stories, Lutherans in the Twin Cities

An unbroken circle

A group of Lutheran ladies who have been meeting for 70 years

Carole Olson, Marion Matson, Eleanor Olson, Sylvia Myren,  Audrey Hagen, Norma Hovden, Gerry Anderson, Sally Erickson, and Grace Fenne are members of Fidelis Circle, which formed 70 years ago at Holy Communion Lutheran Church, one of the  congregations that formed Minnehaha Communion Lutheran Church, its current host church.

Carole Olson, Marion Matson, Eleanor Olson, Sylvia Myren, Audrey Hagen, Norma Hovden, Gerry Anderson, Sally Erickson, and Grace Fenne are members of Fidelis Circle, which formed 70 years ago at Holy Communion Lutheran Church, one of the congregations that formed Minnehaha Communion Lutheran Church, its current host church. Metro Lutheran photo: Bob Hulteen

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was president of the United States when a group of women held an organizational meeting of a “ladies aid” on October 26, 1943. Their business included the election of officers and the scheduling of a regular meeting time.

Then, on January 11, 1944, the name Fidelis Guild was chosen. That was later changed to Fidelis Circle. And now, 70 years later, this circle still meets regularly. The circle was founded at the now-merged Holy Communion Lutheran Church, and continues at Minnehaha Communion Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Minneapolis.

Three charter members of that group — Sally Erickson, Grace Fenne, and Sylvia Myren — still remain active.

A long tradition

Ladies Aid groups and circles were common in Lutheran congregations for many years. Often they were the service arm of the church.

Sally Erickson of the Fidelis Circle confirmed that it was also involved in service activities for the congregation, ranging from making baptismal napkins to favor trays for hospitals. Members were also responsible for serving Easter breakfast annually and serving the needs of what were then called “unwed mothers.”

Circles, in addition, had an educational and social function. The women held business meetings and studied the Bible together. Clergy leaders were sometimes invited to meetings, but members of the circle offered leadership.

Still, the women of Fidelis Circle agreed that it was the fellowship of the group and the acts of service that are the strongest experience.

“Some of us have been in each other’s weddings,” explained Erickson. “Some of us were confirmed together and now we have gone through a lot of our life experiences with one another. Fidelis Circle has added enrichment to our lives.”

Circles have diminished in popularity, especially as more households have two adults working outside the home.

Still, the Fidelis Circle will continue to meet. These women chose an appropriate name seven decades ago. No one could ever contend that they are not, indeed, faithful.

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