Eielsen, Elling

Eielsen, Elling

Eielsen, Elling, 1804-83, Norwegian-American preacher. After itinerant missionary work in Scandinavia he came to the United States in 1839, preached in Chicago the first Norwegian sermon heard in America, and for many years exercised strong religious influence among Norwegian pioneers in the Middle West. In 1846 he organized the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church.

See J. M. Rohne, Norwegian American Lutheranism (1926).

The Eielsen Synod (originally named the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) was a Norwegian Lutheran church body that was founded in 1846 at Jefferson Prairie, Wisconsin by a group led by Elling Eielsen. The synod dissolved in 1997.

The Eielsen Synod emphasized the importance of repentance, conversion and lay preaching. It opposed ritualism, formal worship, clerical vestments, and clerical authority.

There were church splits in 1848, 1856 and a large split in 1876. In 1876 the synod founded by Eielsen numbered 24 pastors, 59 congregations, and 7,500 members. That year a split occurred and many of the clergymen and congregations left the Eielsen Synod and organized the Hauge Synod. Elling Eielsen and his supporters continued the synod under the 1846 church constitution in Jackson, Minnesota.

The Eielsen Synod had 1,500 members in ten churches by 1953. In 1971, it had 75 members scattered among churches in French Lake and Jackson, Minnesota, Centerville, South Dakota, Taylor and Lodi, Wisconsin. In 1985, there were approximately 50 members at just two churches: Stall Norwegian Church in Jackson and Immanuel in French Lake. The church in Jackson dissolved in 1997.

As of 2007, Immanuel is the only church still active that had been affiliated with the Eielsen Synod. It is now an independent Lutheran church.

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