One hundred fifty years ago on February 23, 1870, an attempt to establish a church “society” took place. Not much is known about that meeting except that it was called for the purpose of organizing the group into a body corporate. It was decided that the church should incorporate under the name “First Lutheran Scandinavian Church of Lincoln.”  Apparently, the organization was short-lived as there is no further mention of its existence or of any activity. However, it appears to be where we began – one of the first efforts to establish a Lutheran Society or Church in Lincoln, Nebraska.

In 1870 Lincoln was a four year old village of 2500 people. It was in December of that year a second meeting of Lincoln Lutherans was chaired by Rev. S.G. Larson, a pioneer pastor of the Swedish Lutheran Church in Nebraska. The group immediately moved to affiliate with the Augustana Synod. The congregation numbered fifteen members – one married couple and thirteen single persons.

To the determination of this little congregation, we owe not only our gratitude, but our very existence today. It must have required uncommon courage, and above all, a vigorous faith to nurture a struggling little church through the difficulties of a pioneer economy in a frontier social setting. Fortunately, the group persevered.

Today, we take stock of where we are and where we have been. We acknowledge God’s faithfulness, breathing life into our ministries, and all our brothers and sisters who responded to this faithfulness by carrying out the business that God has given us over the past 150 years.

Thanks be to God!

From the Beginning to Today

  • Our first church building was built at 13th & K in 1871, for $1,000, on three lots donated by the State to “build a church”. It was known as the Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church. The name was changed to “The First Evangelical Lutheran Church” of Lincoln, Nebraska, in 1920, but there was no transfer of title for this corporation with Lancaster County. It was voted on at the annual meeting in January, 1930, to officially change the name.
  • In August of 1886, the decision was made to build a new structure at the same location (13th & K). Dimensions of the building were 56’ x 16’ x 20’ and it was built for $3,487.00. At that time the congregation numbered around 24 members.
  • During 1920-21, the congregation transitioned from having services in Swedish to English. The first year the minutes of the annual meeting were recorded in English was for the meeting on January 3, 1922.
  • In 1930, we purchased a church building from Plymouth Congregational at 17th & A Streets. The first service in the Sanctuary was Sunday evening, May 3, 1930.
  • Ground was broken for our current building on May 16, 1965, and it was dedicated on January 23, 1966.

Our 150th Anniversary Celebration

Friday, April 24; 7:00 pm – Reception for Sons & Daughters of First Lutheran

Saturday, April 25; 5:30 pm – Worship with Bishop Brian Maas preaching

Saturday, April 25; 7:00 pm – Reception with Past Vicars of First Lutheran

Sunday, April 26; 8:15 & 10:45 am – Worship with Bishop Brian Maas preaching

Sunday, April 26; 9:30 am – Dedication of Our Welcoming & Accessibility Project

Sunday, April 26; 11:45 am – Anniversary Banquet Dinner (ticket sales begin March 1)

Sunday, April 26; 1:30 pm – Anniversary Program in New Sanctuary

Reserve Your Seat at the Anniversary Banquet Dinner

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the status of the 150th anniversary celebration is unknown. Please know that if you purchase tickets at this time, we will be unable to refund you for your purchase. We highly recommend you wait to buy tickets until we know for sure whether the celebration will be held or not. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Reflections from the Past

“Although it all still seems uncertain to us at this time, God's right hand can nevertheless change everything. We must work also in hope.”

Rev. Gustaf Peters(1886; after persuading the congregation of 24 to build a new building at 13th & K street))

“During the past year we have been made mindful of what the Lord has done for our congregation during the past 50 years. Nothing so significant has happened as a result of our own efforts that we should become arrogant, but we must remember that the Lord has done great things with us.”

Rev. D. Verner Swanson(January 4, 1921, a year following the Golden Anniversary)

“Who knows what a day may bring forth? There is no doubt that whatever happens, events will influence the work of the church. Yet...clouds will pass and then, when skies clear, the Church will abide.”

Rev. G. A. ElliotJanuary 16, 1941

Slowly they came at first,
like a small trickle
But then,
like the rush of mighty waters
they poured across the emerald sea,
sailing their schooners ever westward,
leaving behind a dusty wake of broken grass.

Onward, ever onward,
relentlessly,
unceasingly,
driven by a new spirit,
by foot,
by horseback,
by wagon train after wagon train
and on iron rails
they pushed ever onward.

And when they stopped,
they plowed and planted and reaped,
they toiled in sun and rain and snow.

And they built
a home,
a store,
a barn,
a business,
and a church!

Yes, they built a church
because they knew –

ECCLESIA PLANTANDA –

“The church must be planted!”

They planted well,
and the church grew
and bore fruit to this day.

Thanks be to God!