Lifelong learning and Norwegian culture
The Tuesday program at Mindekirken has become the place to be
Norwegian waffles are a constant at the lunch, and the programs after lunch are varied but high in quality. That is the formula for Tuesday Open House at Mindekirken, the Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church (ELCA), in Minneapolis. From its start in the 1990s as a fellowship event for congregation members, the weekly Tuesday Open House has grown to bring people from the seven-county metro area and beyond, depending on the appeal of the program. As the event begins its new season in September, the weekly attendance is expected to number anywhere from 40 to 150 persons.
Marilyn Sorensen of Arden Hills, Minnesota, chair of the committee overseeing the planning, says the weekly events attract people who might be categorized as “life-long learners.” One third are members of the south Minneapolis congregation, with the remainding people interested in Norwegian-American culture. Sometimes, tour groups from a distance make the Tuesday Open House a stop on their itineraries.
Marilyn Sorensen says the weekly events attract people who might be categorized as “lifelong learners.”
The programs are generally quite rich, with presenters readily agreeing to be at Mindekirken for the Tuesday events. Each normally has a cultural/religious bent. Speakers generally receive a small honorarium.
Pastor Kristin Sundt, who has been at the church about two years, is a member of the committee. The Rev. Mike Edwins is a member of the committee and arranges for devotions which follow the lunch and precede the programs; they are usually based on the ELCA devotional booklet “Christ in Our Home.” Lunch is served at 11 a.m., and is varied except for the Norwegian waffles that are a constant and a real attraction. Devotions are at 11:45 a.m., followed by a one hour program at noon. The Tuesday events are held in the church’s Fellowship Hall because of the ambiance; however, some musical events have moved to the church’s sanctuary because of the superior quality of the upstairs piano and the anticipated attendance.
No tickets or reservations are required. However, this fall the suggested donation to cover lunch and program costs will rise from $5 to $7. Tuesday Open House is generally self-supporting, though food and other costs have been challenging this past year, resulting in the suggested increase.
Program year for the Tuesday Open House runs from the first Tuesday in September until Memorial Day. Each year in January, Tuesday Open House participants present a “birthday gift” to Mindekirken, which is now 90 years young.
Stories of Norwegian culture and faith
Pastor Sundt and Marilyn Sorensen agree that Tuesday Open House really reached its present stature while the Rev. Jens Dale from Norway was pastor of the church. The open houses trace their roots back to about 1994.
People attend for a variety of reasons. Sundt said for some it’s a reason to be involved with Mindekirken even if they are members of other congregations. “It’s a way to be part of us,” she said. Known speakers and musical programs tend to attract the largest attendance. Programs generally fall into five categories: Norwegian literature, historic and contemporary Norwegian life, music, theology and faith life, and art.
Lorraine Berger of Minneapolis says, “I don’t know how I got involved. But, I’m overwhelmed by the quality of the programs and how they do this week after week.” She related her involvement to “wanting to learn more about my heritage.” For her, some especially memorable programs have been about “Norwegian involvement in World War II and the bravery of the people during the occupation by the Nazis.”
Marian Aaker and Thelma Johnson, both of Edina, Minnesota, regularly attend together. Johnson recalls the early days when Sorenson made the waffles; some translating was done and often a film was shown. She continues to come because those attending usually have a “Norwegian connection and conversations come easily.”
Rodger Hole and John Hegge are in charge of making coffee for Tuesday Open House. Hole says that the weekly coffee consumption is about eight and a half gallons — and people begin arriving around 10 a.m. for coffee and socializing. “It’s the socializing that brings me back,” said Hole, who is an associate member of Mindekirken and regular member of St. Andrew Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. Hole also helps with other chores including setting up tables. He continues to be amazed by the quality of programs week after week.
Generally Tuesday Open House programs for the coming two months are listed on the website: tuesdayopen firstname.lastname@example.org. Those interested can also call the church office: 612/874-0716. Mindekirken is located at East Franklin and 10th Avenue South in Minneapolis.
Tags: ELCA, Jens Dale, John Hegge, Kristin Sundt, Lorraine Berger, Marian Aaker, Marilyn Sorensen, Mike Edwins, Mindekirken, Norwegian art, Norwegian culture, Norwegian faith, Norwegian literature, Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church, Pastor Kristin Sundt, Rev. Jens Dale, Rev. Mike Edwins, Rodger Hole, St. Andrew Lutheran Church Eden Prairie, Thelma Johnson, Tuesday Open House