Erwin Weber's Christmas Letter 2001
As I'm writing this Christmas Letter, it doesn't feel like Christmas will be here in just three or four days. The sun is shining, it is warm, and there is not one snowflake in sight. That means if winter does come, it will undoubtedly last only a few weeks. And Spring will again be upon us.
Last Spring, I celebrated my 80th birthday at the Holiday Inn in Moline. Gwen and her daughters, Lynda, Lynn and Roberta made all the arrangements. It was a tremendous success. I was very pleased, more than 125 attended the festive event. We are planning another celebration for the year 2011. Hope to see you then.
Other than the birthday party, I devoted the entire year gathering material for the slide presentation dealing with the life and work of Dr. Conrad Bergendoff. It included travels from Shickley, Nebraska where Conrad was born, to his undergraduate study in Middletown, Connecticut, his graduate studies in New York City and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, his seminary studies in New York, Philadelphia and Augustana, his pastoral duties at Salem Lutheran Church in Chicago, his doctoral studies at Uppsala and Lund Universities in Sweden, and Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany, his travels with Archbishop Söderblom in Sweden and Switzerland, his ecumenical activities in Oxford, England, Edinburgh, Scotland, Hannover, Germany, and Minneapolis, Minnesota, his travels after World War II to universities in Heidelberg, Nürnberg, and Tübingen, his trip to Russia to visit Russian Orthodox Churches in Moscow, and other major cities in the Soviet Union.
The church at the left is located in Shickley, Nebraska, the town in which Conrad Bergendoff was born. His place of birth no longer stands. Conrad's father, who came to this country from Sweden at age 21, studied the ministry at Augustana College and its Seminary. This was his first parish after he was ordained in the Augustana Synod, which he served for 40 years.
The next church is Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church on East 22nd Street in Lower Manhattan. Since Dr. Mauritz Stolpe, the pastor of the church, refused to speak in English, and insisted on speaking Swedish. and the church was dying, Conrad Bergendoff, who had an English major, was asked to teach English at the church.
The next picture shows Old Main at Augustana College from the south. The building was erected at the turn of the 20th century. Conrad Bergendoff graduated from Augustana College in 1915 with a major in the classics. He became president of the college and its seminary in 1935 and guided the institution under his leadership for 27 years. After his retirement in 1962, Dr. Bergendoff continued his extensive humanitarian, scholarly and ecumenical efforts until his death in 1997 at age 102.
These were just a few vignettes in the life of Conrad Bergendoff. Aside from the text I gathered numerous interviews on a recorder, so that their voices and memories of Dr. Bergendoff will be preserved for posterity. Thus the emphasis for this project is pictures and the spoken word. It is my hope this program will be completed by the Spring of 2002.
And now I wish you and and your friends Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Gwen and I will be spending Christmas with my family. All of them are happy, and are doing fine. Don't forget to keep in touch.