Founders’ Day 2019 at Jenny Lind Chapel

Bishop Clements preached from Lars Esbjorn’s pulpit when he was the featured speaker on Sunday, April 28, for the Founders Day observance at the Jenny Lind Chapel in Andover.

The service celebrated the founding of Augustana Lutheran Church in Andover, Augustana Lutheran Church in America, and Augustana College and Theological Seminary in Rock Island.

Pam Edwards, Geneseo, well-known area musician, offered special music on the recently renovated 160-year-old melodeon that was used for services at the Jenny Lind Chapel in the 1850s and 1860s.

Information from May 1855 minutes in the chapel’s archival collection translated from Swedish states: “The Pastor’s melodeon will be used as before and John T. Esbjorn (Pastor Esbjorn’s son) accepts to be organist from the Midsummer this year till the summer of 1856. His salary will be four collections a year, namely on Midsummer’s day, the first Sunday in October, New Years and Easter day; however one-fourth of this collection is used as compensation for the melodeon’s wear.” The recent renovation to the melodeon was completed by Watson Organ Co., Galesburg.

Other special music was provided by the Quad Cities Celtic instrumental group with John Kinser, drums; Jenny Garner, flute; Kristin Stambaugh, fiddle; and Chris Dunn, guitar. Deanna Swanson, Andover, was the organist.

After the service, light refreshments were served by members of Salem Lutheran Church, Moline.

Ron Peterson, dean of the Jenny Lind Chapel, said the chapel, constructed in the early 1850s, is named for celebrated Swedish singer Jenny Lind, who gave a generous donation to Pastor Lars Paul Esbjorn, leader of the Swedish immigrants in western Illinois.

The chapel was completed in 1854 and had a plain and prosaic form, with no hint of ”churchly architecture,’ Peterson said. ”The church, without a steeple and a bell, attracted thousands of Swedish immigrants to Andover. It became the mother church for hundreds of other churches of the Augustana Lutheran Church in America.”

The lower level of the chapel houses a museum highlighting the Swedish immigration and ancestry of the Augustana Synod. The chapel is open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from April through October.

The Jenny Lind Chapel Museum seeks to tell the interrelated histories of Swedish immigration to Andover and the history of the chapel and the life of Jenny Lind and her influence on the chapel, Peterson said. “The chapel is listed in the National Register of Historical Places and has been a treasure to our community for more than 160 years. It is a ministry of the Northern Illinois Synod.”

More information about the Jenny Lind Chapel is available at