Skip to main content

Norwegian Churches


NORWEGIAN CHURCHES. Norwegian American churches established in the nineteenth century reflected the Lutheran religious emphases in the homeland. Low-church revivalism, led by Elling Eielsen, a self-taught layman, formed the basis for the Eielsen Synod (1846). This body splintered when the majority organized Hauge's Synod (1876), named in memory of the Norwegian revivalist Hans Nielsen Hauge. Representatives of a more traditional Lutheranism, led by university-trained immigrant clergymen, organized (1853) the Norwegian Synod, which soon formed ties with the German Missouri Synod.

The predestination controversy within the Missouri-influenced Norwegian Synod led to the formation in the 1880s of the Anti-Missourian Brotherhood, which assumed leadership in a union movement that created the United Church (1890). Polity and property disputes in the new body produced the Lutheran Free Church (1897). Negotiations, begun in 1905, brought 98 percent of the Norwegian Lutherans into the Norwegian Lutheran Church of America in 1917. An ultraconservative minority, the Norwegian Synod of the American Lutheran Church, was formed in 1918. The Norwegian Lutheran Church of America was united with the American Lutheran (German background) and the United Evangelical Lutheran (Danish background) churches to form The American Lutheran Church (1960). The Lutheran Free Church joined The American Lutheran Church in 1963. The drift away from an exclusive ethnic identity was all but complete by 1982, when The American Lutheran Church merged with two smaller branches to form the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). With more than 5.2 million baptized members, the ELCA was by 2000 the largest Lutheran church in the United States.


Nelson, E. Clifford, and Eugene L. Fevold. The Lutheran Church among Norwegian-Americans: A History of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. 2 vols. Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1960.

E. CliffordNelson/a. r.

See alsoImmigration ; Lutheranism ; Scandinavian Americans .

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Norwegian Churches." Dictionary of American History. . 17 Jan. 2019 <>.

"Norwegian Churches." Dictionary of American History. . (January 17, 2019).

"Norwegian Churches." Dictionary of American History. . Retrieved January 17, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.