Summer Vespers returns to Jenny Lind Chapel in Andover

Claudia Loucks
Rev. Reed Pederson
Rev. Randy Willers

After a year without so many events due to the pandemic, the Summer Vespers Services at Jenny Lind Chapel will return this summer with the first of two services at 7 p.m. on Sunday, July 25.

The Rev. Reed Pedersen, pastor at Augustana Lutheran Church in Andover, will lead the first service, with Debbie Lawyer, Orion, playing the pump organ.

According to Ron Peterson, chairman of the Andover Tourism Council, the upcoming service will be “the first live service to be held at the Chapel since 2019 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The second Summer Vespers Service will be at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 29, and will be led by the Rev. Randy Willers, who retired last year as pastor at Salem Lutheran Church in Moline, where he served for 14 years. Terri Nelson of the Augustana Lutheran Church will play the pump organ for the service.

The Jenny Lind Chapel (JLC) is a memorial to Swedish settlers who came to America in 1849 to found a branch of the Swedish Lutheran Church under the leadership of Pastor Lars Paul Esbjörn, who later became the fist president of Augustana College in Rock Island.

Peterson shared the history of the Chapel and said, “It was a struggle for these pioneers to fund and build this chapel. The congregation grew, and in 1870 they built a much larger church in Andover. The Chapel was given its name in 1948 as it was presented to the Augustana Lutheran Church in America.”

The JLC became the mother church for hundreds of other churches of the Augustana Synod in America; and merged into the Lutheran Church in America in 1962. It is now part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, ELCA, and owned by the Northern Illinois Synod-ELCA.

The Jenny Lind Chapel houses a museum that offers exhibits of the early immigrant experience, as well as audio and video presentations, Peterson said….”The cemetery adjacent to the Chapel is the resting place of the faithful, including Jonas Swensson, the second president of the Augustana Synod.”

The JLC is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day from April 1 through Oct. 31.

Peterson said throughout the year the Jenny Lind Chapel is visited by people from several states and many other countries who are interested in the immigration experience.

In addition to the Vespers Services, the JLC also is the site for the annual Founders Day service in April and the “Joy of Christmas” service with Augustana College. This year, the “Joy of Christmas” service is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 1.

More information is available at the website jennylindchapel.org.