This section contains general information about the history of Christianity and Lutheranism and also a detailed history of our church.
Christianity and Lutheranism
We use many different symbols as Christians within our churches and other places too. Did you ever wonder what is the significance of the fish symbol on the back of some people’s cars? Or did you ever ask what does IHS stand for? READ MORE.
He was a missionary who brought the Christian message to Scandinavian countries in 826 A.D. where he began his work with a school. Read more about the missionary to Denmark and Sweden.
He was a German theologian and a major leader of the Protestant Reformation in the 16th-century Reformation. He is one of the major figures of Christianity and of Western civilization and one of the major branches of Protestantism, Lutheranism, was named after him by his adversaries. Read more about Martin Luther.
Lutheranism appeared in Europe after a century of reformist stirrings in Italy under Girolamo SAVONAROLA, in Bohemia under John HUSS, and in England under the LOLLARDS. The personal experience of the troubled monk Luther gave shape to many of the original impulses of the Protestant REFORMATION and colours Lutheranism to the present. Read more about Lutheranism or follow some links to the ELCIC website information about Lutherans.
History of St. Ansgar Lutheran Church, Toronto
The first part of this history of St. Ansgar Lutheran Church covers the inception to around 1975 and was was written around 1970 by Carl Larson, Philip & Irene Jorgensen. The recent additions to this history section relate to “Housing The Church” and our recent building extension and improvement and also the period from 1978 to 1999.
The character of our Church has been shaped by its mission to the Danish immigrants, broadened to include the local community, and now a metropolitan Church. In our history there have been those who had a vision they considered worth struggling to realize: gathering into our Christian community the thousands of Danish and Scandinavian immigrants, reaching and serving the immediate local community and gathering Lutherans and other Christians from all sectors of this cosmopolitan city. The vision has always been large, although at any one time we have always been a small congregation. READ MORE.
The Mission To Toronto (1925-1954)
In July of 1925 Pastor Jensen conducted an experimental service in a dance hall where some 50 Danish immigrants indicated an interest in future services. He reported his findings to the Atlantic District of the United Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church who decided to attempt the establishment of Churches in Toronto and Montreal. READ MORE.
The Era Of Danish Immigration (1925-1935)
During its first years, St. Ansgar looked to the multitude of Danish immigrants for growth and development. They came by the hundreds in the early years but the number dwindled during the depression. However, the transiency of the newcomers did not lend to building a large strong congregation. Many went back to Denmark after a short unsatisfactory stay while others moved on to other parts of the province and country. READ MORE.
The Depression Years (1930-1939)
The Danish immigrants were still settling in and our Church was barely started when the Great Depression descended upon us. The hopes and plans for both the individual members and for the Church were reduced to survival, – to “just getting by.” READ MORE.
The War Years (1939-1945)
Both Canadian and Danish Patriotism became very strong in the congregation during the war years as we became informed and involved in the war as it pertained to Canada and Denmark. The 1941 budget shows expenditures supporting The Danish Red Cross and the Canadian Red Cross as well as Norwegian Relief, British War Victims, and gifts for men in Service. READ MORE.
St. Ansgar Danish and/ or Canadian Lutheran Church (1925-1947)
Our congregation was started to serve the Danish immigrants of the 1920’s and the Church functioned in Danish, by 1943 English and Danish had equal status and by 1958 the ability to speak Danish was no longer a requirement in the Pastoral Letter of Call. READ MORE.
Housing the Church (1926-1948)
We had no church of our own for the first 21 years and renting churches or buying parsonages never replaced the desire to have an appropriate place of worship of our own. In 1943 a building fund was started and construction began in July 1947 at our current location of Avenue Road and Lawrence Avenue. READ MORE.
Housing the Church (1948-1975)
During the post-war era our congregation was growing rapidly and the new building was over-crowded for both worship and Sunday School and it became evident that the second unit a larger church, must be built. Shortly after pastor Paulsen began his ministry committees were again organized to proceed with plans for building. In 1959 an architect was engaged and a fund raising dinner resulted in 3 year pledges of $45,000. This was a time of rapid church growth generally, a n d there were encouraging signs of growth at St. Ansgar and so it was decided to build a church to seat 400 worshippers and accommodate a Sunday School of 300 and a choir of 40 voices. It was further proposed to build in a modern style of architecture reflecting the changes in church architecture that had taken place in only 10 years. READ MORE.
The Post-War Growth Era (1946-1966)
The decade that Pastor Christensen (1948-1958) served was a time of great growth and activity for the congregation and also when the Lutheran Church became the fastest growing major denomination in Canada, largely due to the heavy post-war European immigration.
In 1961 we became part of the merger of synods of Danish, Norwegian and German background to form the American Lutheran Church and we now found ourselves in a large Eastern District rather in the small fellowship of a dozen congregations that made up the old Atlantic District. No sooner had this merger been achieved than the congregations of this synod in Canada began to press to become an autonomous Lutheran synod in Canada and in 1968 we became part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada and again found ourselves in a very small Eastern Conference. READ MORE.
The Era of New Directions and Commitment (1967-1972)
While membership fell over this period the church began to show greater concern for our community. We helped initiate an inter church helping agency, Care-Ring, which became a model for many churches and communities. We also organized a group of senior citizens which brought together both Church members and people from the community. Thirdly, we opened our building to an Alcoholics Anonymous group. Toward the close of this period, lay people assumed more responsibility for the work of the Church and its auxiliaries and this strengthened our total work. READ MORE.
Growing Strong through the Seventies 1978-1999
By the time Pastor Phil Jorgensen resigned as pastor of St. Ansgar to serve as Director of Congregational Life of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada (King Cong, as some wag called him) in the summer of 1978, the congregation had recovered from the difficult years of declining membership and financial stress in the early seventies. The place was humming. This period of church history was written by Glen Nelson who served as our pastor from 1979-1998. READ MORE.
Access For All (1998-1999) Access For All (1998-1999)
To integrate the church with all members of the community, we needed to make the church more assessable. The congregation supported a project to modify the entrances and install an elevator to allow easy access to each floor including the choir loft. This section of our faith journey is currently being updated. READ MORE.
Chronology of Pastors
Two banners, made by the members of the congregation, hang at the front of our church. One banner represents a view of the history of Christianity, the other depicts St. Ansgar Church as it is today. READ MORE.