|Source: Living Lutheran|
Peter Friberg was 5 years old when he began attending the Augustana School in Kiomboi, Tanzania. The son of American missionaries from the Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church (AELC), a predecessor church body of the Lutheran Church in America and ultimately the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), he and his five siblings were among the earliest students to attend the school for missionary children and local villagers.
Now a retired ELCA pastor, on June 13, Friberg and other former students of the Augustana School reconnected for their first reunion in over 20 years. Founded in 1953, the Augustana School was a boarding school that existed to service elementary and middle school aged missionary children who did not have access to traditional American education while their parents served abroad.
In existence for 19 years, Friberg recalled, some students boarded from as far as 350 miles.
“We would leave home in September for three months, come home for one month, and then go back to school again for three months,” Friberg said. “So that much time together, you can imagine the relationships we built at that boarding school.”
Lois Danielson Carlson, a “missionary kid” who didn’t attend the Augustana School but whose mother is an alumnus, has worked to keep the memory of the school and families connected. As manager of the group’s prayer chain, she has regular communication with alumni and their families.
One day after a call an emerged about the possibility of a reunion. Carlson said, The idea for a reunion came up several years ago, but we didn’t have enough people to make it happen. I suppose I helped to stir the waters to get the planning going this year.”
Today, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania has nearly 6 million members, which makes it the second largest Lutheran denomination in the world.
Working collaboratively, Carlson and Friberg assembled a team to begin the process of planning what they hoped would be a pan-Lutheran reunion event that would bring together missionary kids from diverse parts of the Lutheran global communion.
Convening at Concordia University in St. Paul, Minnesota, nearly 100 former students and 23 missionaries gathered along with their families. Alumni came from Norway, Sweden, United States, and Germany.
Friberg described the reunion as simply “amazing.”
“You have college and high school reunions, but you never have grade school reunions,” Carlson said. “Because it was a boarding school, this felt more like a family reunion. ”Thanks to the hard work of these missionary kids’ parents, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania has nearly 6 million members, which makes it the second largest Lutheran denomination in the world.
Source: Living Lutheran