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Region 1 Archives of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Foss Family

  • 2.3.2
  • Family

Ludvig C. (L.C.) Foss (1858-1943)

Born in Romerike, Norway in 1858, L.C. Foss immigrated to Wisconsin in 1880. He had graduated from Akers Teachers Seminary in 1880, and after learning English and attending River Falls Normal School in Wisconsin Foss taught in parochial and public schools in Black River Falls and Eau Claire, Wisconsin from 1882-85. In 1885 he married Ida P. Hanson in Eau Claire. Foss attended Luther Theological Seminary from 1888-1891, and upon graduation received a call to serve as a missionary in Washington and Oregon. The family moved to Fairhaven, near Bellingham, and Foss ministered to Norwegian communities in the Northwest, including some in British Columbia. This involved extensive travel as he walked, rode his horse, and swam to fulfill his many duties. Ida Foss remained in Bellingham with their family, which would grow to include seven daughters and two sons.

In 1894 Foss accepted a call to serve as pastor of Our Saviour's Lutheran Church in Stanwood, WA, and then of Our Saviour's Lutheran Church in Everett, WA from 1903-12. In 1912 the Foss family moved to Seattle.

L.C. Foss was present at the groundbreaking of Pacific Lutheran University, and served on the Pacific Lutheran Academy Board of Trustees from 1903-04 and 1906-12, and on the Board of Visitors from 1912-15. In addition, several of his children attended Pacific Lutheran Academy. Carl went to the Academy from 1904-08, Jennie graduated from the stenographic course in 1911, Halfdan attended from 1914-15, Clara studied music during 1914-15, and Magda went to PLC in 1922-23.

In addition to ministering to congregations, Foss became Vice-President of the Pacific District of the Norwegian Synod from 1895-1900 before serving as President from 1900-17. After the 1917 merger that created the Norwegian Lutheran Church of America, Foss was elected President, serving until 1924 when he resigned to work as a city missionary in Seattle. Foss held this position until 1937, as well as being pastor at the Sunset Home in Seattle. In 1935 Foss was awarded an honorary doctorate by Luther College, and from 1937-39 he served a Port Madison congregation. In addition, during this time he continued to preach at the Sunset Home and worked as an interim pastor at Prince Rupert, British Columbia. L.C. Foss died on March 26, 1943.

Carl L. Foss (1886-1976)

Carl was born in 1886 in Eau Claire, WI to L.C. and Ida Foss. He attended schools in Stanwood and Everett, WA before studying at Pacific Lutheran Academy from 1904-08 and graduating from Luther College in 1912. Carl Foss graduated from Luther Theological Seminary in 1915 and was called to serve as pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in San Francisco. In 1917 he and Ella Caroline Tvete (1889-1980) were married.

During World War I he worked as a chaplain in the Army stationed in Allery, France. From 1920-21 Carl Foss was a pastor of Our Saviour's Lutheran Church in Bremerton, WA, and of Trinity Lutheran Church in Tacoma from 1921-22, when he also taught bible and French at Pacific Lutheran College. Carl studied at the University of Washington from 1923-26 in addition to serving as pastor of Phinney Ridge Lutheran Church in Seattle from 1924-27. He was president of Spokane College from 1926 until its closing in 1929. From 1929-31 Carl returned to Pacific Lutheran College to work as a field agent. He worked as pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Silverton, OR from 1931-35, and became a chaplain for the Civilian Conservation Corps in Montana during the 1930s. After the outbreak of World War II, Carl served as chaplain in United States Army hospitals in Abilene and El Paso, TX. He continued to work in veterans hospitals at Fort Harrison, MT until 1951 and Seattle, WA from 1951-56 when he retired at age 70. Carl died in Tacoma March 28, 1976.

Halfdan L. Foss (1894-1969)

Halfdan was born in 1894 in South Bellingham, WA, the fourth child of L.C. and Ida Foss. He attended schools in Everett and Seattle before studying at Pacific Lutheran Academy during 1914-15. Although he left school in 1915 to work in an Alaska gold mine and then as a boiler maker in San Franci-sco, he returned to enter Luther Theological Seminary in 1916. Halfdan Foss and Elise Helen Iverson were married in 1919.

After his 1919 ordination, Halfdan served in parishes in Bellingham, Ferndale and Custer, WA until 1927, when he went to Silverton, OR to work as pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church. In 1931 Halfdan Foss was elected president of the Pacific District of the ELC, serving from 1931-64 before working as president of the North Pacific District of the ALC from 1960-64.

In addition to his responsibilities as district president, Halfdan Foss served as chairperson of the Pacific Lutheran University Board of Trustees from 1942 to 1964. Foss received an honorary Doctor of Laws from PLC in 1957.

Foss Family

Jennie Foss Michelson taught school in Port Madison for several years. Clara Foss Fixen and Elise Iverson Foss, Halfdan's wife, were active in the Pacific District Women's Missionary Federation. The other Foss sisters were Ida Foss Johnson, Agnes Foss Hellickson, Margaret Foss Syre, Magda Foss, and Lillian Foss.

Oscar A. Tingelstad

Some documents and photos from Oscar and Alfield Tingelstad were found in the Foss collection. Ella Tvete Foss, wife of Carl Foss, and Alfield Tvete Tingelstad, wife of Oscar Tingelstad, were sisters. Photos from the Tvete family from Arlington, WA are also included.

General Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America

  • ELCA 1.1.1
  • Corporate body
  • 1867-1917

Ten Lutheran Synods joined to form the General Council in 1867 in opposition to what was seen as more a more relaxed "Americanized Lutheranism" accepted by the General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the United States of America. In 1917, the General Council merged with other groups to form the ULCA.

Lutheran Church in America

  • ELCA 1.10
  • Corporate body
  • 1962-1987

The Lutheran Church in America was formed at a 1962 meeting in Detroit, Michigan as the result of a merger of the AELC, the Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church, and the Suomi Synod. Discussions about a possible merger had begun in 1955. The LCA was organized into 33 synods. In 1987, it merged with the Association of Lutheran Churches and the American Lutheran Church to form the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

United Lutheran Church in America

  • ELCA 1.3
  • Corporate body
  • 1918-1962

In 1918, three German-language Synods (General Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America, the General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the USA, and the United Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the South) merged to form the United Lutheran Church in America. These groups had worked together for some time prior to the merger, issuing a Common Service in 1888, forming a Home Mission Arbitration Commission in 1907, and removing doctrinal differences by constitutional amendment in 1911. The Evangelical Lutheran Zion Synod joined the ULCA in 1920, followed by the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of North America in 1942. In 1962, the ULCA became part of the newly formed Lutheran Church in America.

The Pacific Synod of the United Lutheran Church in American included Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, and British Columbia.

Evangelical Lutheran Joint Synod of Ohio

  • ELCA 1.4.1
  • Corporate body
  • 1818-1929

On September 14, 1818, the General Conference of the Evangelical Lutheran Preachers in Ohio and the Adjacent States was organized in Somerset, Ohio. In 1820, declined an invitation to join the General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the USA. The group established a seminary in Canton, Ohio in 1830, which was transferred to Columbus the following year. In 1831, the body divided into an Eastern and Western District. The districts began meeting as a joint body for general conventions, leading to the name "Joint Synod" being adopted by the 1840s. Leaders of the Iowa Synod and the Joint Ohio Synod began meeting in 1883. The two synods merged, with other groups, to form the American Lutheran Church in 1930.

Norwegian Synod

  • ELCA 1.5
  • Corporate body
  • 1853-1958

The Norwegian Synod was formed by Norwegian Lutheran dedicated to theological orthodoxy and preserving the traditions and teachings of the Church of Norway. The synod was organized in 1953 by clergyman JWC Dietrichson. In 1857, the Synod decided to establish Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, which opened in 1861. In 1876, a seminary was established in Madison, Wisconsin. In 1917, the Norwegian Synod merged with the Hauge Synod and the United Church to form the Norwegian Lutheran Church in America. Thirteen out of 351 synod pastors objected to the merger. Those pastors formed the Norwegian Synod of the American Evangelical Lutheran Church. The first president of this new synod was Bjug Harstad. In 1958, as more congregations moved away from Norwegian language and traditions, the Norwegian Lutheran Church in America became the Evangelical Lutheran Synod.

Suomi Synod

  • ELCA 1.7
  • Corporate body
  • 1890-1963

The Suomi Synod was formed by Finnish Lutherans in Calumet, Michigan in March of 1890. In 1896, the Synod founded the Suomi College in Theological Seminary in Hancock, Michigan. The Synod closely aligned with the doctrine of the State Church of Finland. Beginning in 1920, the Suomi Synod began a partnership with the ULCA to form an Immigrant Mission Board which helped support the work of the Finnish Missionary Society. The Suomi Synod was part of the 1963 merger to form the LCA.

Columbia Conference of the Evangelical Lutheran Augustana Synod of North America

  • ELCA 1.8
  • Corporate body
  • 1860-1962

On June 5, 1860 in Clinton, Rock County, Wisconsin, twenty-six pastors and fourteen lay delegates from Lutheran congregations organized the Evangelical Lutheran Augustana Synod of North America. The Augustana Synod became the only Lutheran body in the United States that was supported by the Lutheran immigrants from Sweden. While based mainly in the Midwest, the Synod wanted to expand its outreach to the Western frontier. The Mission Board of the Synod in 1879 sent a call to Pastor Peter Carlson to do missionary work on the West Coast, specifically Portland, Oregon. Peter Carlson spent many years in the Northwest among several congregations. In 1882, the Mission Board was able to establish a Mission District on the West Coast. The Pacific Mission District was under the supervision of the Synodical Mission Board for five years. It included Oregon, Washington, Idaho, California, and Utah. The Mission District was divided into Northern and Southern Districts. Soon the Pacific Mission District felt that the Mission Board was too far away to look after the best interest of the District. They thought that the only was to solve this problem was to organize a conference of their own with the power to act. The Synod gave sanction and at a meeting of the whole District in Tacoma, Washington on April 9, 1888, the District organized itself into the Pacific Conference of the Augustana Synod. The newly formed Conference was divided into four districts which included the Puget Sound, Palouse, Columbia, and Los Angeles Districts.

A problem was discovered with the set-up of the conference, it was found that the long distances between the different districts prohibited regular annual meetings. At the third meeting of the conference it was decided to petition the Synod for permission to divide the conference into separate conferences. At a meeting in the Immanuel Church in Portland, Oregon on March 4, 1893, the Pacific Conference gathered for the last time to dissolve. After the final meeting, the delegation met from the North gathered and organized the Columbia Conference of the Augustana Synod. The constitution was kept the same except for the changed in the name and the territorial boundaries. Permanent officers were elected as well as an executive committee which also served as a Mission Board.

Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church

  • ELCA 1.8.1
  • Corporate body
  • 1860-1962

The Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church traces its beginning to a congregation formed by in 1848 Swedish immigrants in an area of Jefferson County Iowa known as New Sweden. The first ordained Swedish pastor to serve in the Midwest arrived in late 1849 to support the New Sweden congregation and establish Lutheran congregations in Illinois. As more Scandinavian immigrants arrived to the area, more Swedish Lutheran pastors were called. In June 1860, representatives of Swedish and Norwegian congregations met in Rock County, Wisconsin to found the Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Augustana Synod of North America. The Augustana Theological Seminary was soon established in Chicago. In 1870, the Norwegian withdrew from the Synod. Congregations were established in 35 states and 5 Canadian provinces organized into conferences and districts. In 1962, the Augustana Synod joined the AELC, the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the ULC to form the Lutheran Church in America.

American Lutheran Church

  • ELCA 1.9
  • Corporate body
  • 1930-1987

The American Lutheran Church (ALC) was formed through a merger of the Ohio and Iowa Synods, followed by the Buffalo Synod, in 1930. Over the next decades, the ALC began partnerships with other Lutheran synods. This joint group, referred to as the American Lutheran Federation, laid the foundation for a merger in 1960. This merger brought together the United Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church with the ALC, unifying the three largest groups of Lutheran immigrant communities (Danish, Norwegian, and German). The ALC adopted a strong centralized synodical system consisting of 13 geographical districts. In 1987, the ALC merged with the Association of Lutheran Churches and the Lutheran Church in American to form the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

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