From James Bratt
I’m on the road conferencing this weekend, hangin’ with the Swedes at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota. More precisely, giving a talk at the eighth biennial gathering of the Augustana Heritage Association, the Augustana Lutheran Synod having been, in its century of life (1860-1962), the largest Swedish-American organization in the United States. Augustana was a Goldilocks on the American Lutheran scene: not confessionally minimalist and over-assimilated like the east-coast General Synod, but not so propositionally dogmatic about the Augsburg standards as the Missouri Synod folks. Combing a heartfelt Scandinavian piety with an impressive range of institutions of mercy and social involvement, Augustana had an important and admirable role to play on the American scene until it was absorbed by successive mergers into the current Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. There’s some wistfulness in histories and memoirs written by those reared or ordained in its fellowship. Something unusual was lost, or stranded in history, when the mid-sized Swedish store got absorbed into the big American corporation.