History – The Mission To Toronto 1925-1954

Our congregation began as an idea of the Atlantic District of the United Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church with synod headquarters in Blair, Nebraska. The District became aware of the large Danish immigration to Eastern Canada and in 1925 appointed Rev. J.M. Jensen of New Denmark, New Brunswick to investigate the need for Danish Churches in our eastern Canadian cities. 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 district and they decided to attempt the establishment of Churches in Toronto and Montreal, and to provide the necessary financial subsidy.

In the fall of 1925, the Atlantic District commissioned Rev. Anton Hansen to work in Toronto for a one year term. In 1926 the congregation was organized with 32 charter members, was named, and a temporary constitution was adopted. When Pastor Hansen’s term expired that fall, the pastoral leadership was turned over to a seminary student, Laurits Pedersen, for a 14 month term. During this term, and the interim pastors that preceded and followed, Pastor John M. Jensen visited the congregation regularly to conduct communion services and annual meetings and to perform baptisms, a confirmation, and other official duties. During Laurits Pedersen’s ministry the congregation doubled to include 64 members and developed a mailing list of 200 addresses for the monthly church paper.

Rev. C.C. Kloth, who was serving as the Atlantic District president became the first regularly called pastor to St. Ansgar Church and he served from 1928-30. By 1930, the ladies aid and Sunday School and regular confirmation classes had been established and by then 133 members had been received, and St. Ansgar was beginning to look more like a Church than a preaching mission.

In 1930, our congregation with the financial backing of the district and now also the synod called Pastor V.W. Bondo, who had experienced a long and fruitful ministry in Racine, Wisconsin and was enabled to have a similar ministry here. During his 17 years of ministry, our congregation grew to the size at which it has since been relatively constant. In 1947, Pastor Bondo’s last year among us, the congregation had 228 confirmed members and 366 baptized. A cumulative total of 598 members had been received, and except for a few Norwegian families, the members were nearly all Danish immigrants or their spouses and children. Pastor Bondo and the congregation also engaged in mission work by establishing preaching points at Oshawa, Sheridan and King City, but none developed into congregations.

Still receiving home mission subsidy, our congregation called Pastor Eric Christensen, a young pastor, who had been serving at Brush, Colorado. As he began his ministry, the congregation was moving into its own first church building. We were tenants no longer and we no longer felt like a mission although we had needed more home mission money in the form of a loan to build the new church. In 1954, our congregation that was now made up of people from the community and Lutherans of other ethnic backgrounds became self-supporting. The district and synod had subsidized our congregation with about $35,000 over a 29 year period. In fact a large share of our synod’s home mission budget was spent in Canada to establish Churches here. In 1935, seven out of every nine home mission Churches of our synod were in Canada and received 85% of the total home mission budget. The home mission work in Canada was the pride of the synod and it waited eagerly for reports of progress. 

Original Credits Carl Larson, Philip & Irene Jorgensen

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