Christ Above All
Augustana Synod Luther League, 1949.
All documents the Thirteenth International Youth Conference of the Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church’s Luther League, held in Duluth, Minn., June 22-26, 1949.
The Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church, an ELCA ancestor body formed in 1860 to serve Swedish immigrants, recommended in 1907 that local congregations organize Luther Leagues. The first national Augustana Luther League convention was held in 1912. Reorganized in 1924, the biennial conventions were held in various locations throughout North America every other year from 1924 until 1959.
Attended by 3500 youth from 26 states, four Canadian provinces, and ten other nations, including China, Germany, and Finland, the 1949 convention claimed to be the largest gathering held in the air conditioned “convention city” (Duluth) to that time. The 1949 convention also held the largest communion service within the Augustana Church to that time. It was also the first Augustana Luther League convention to draw large numbers of attendees from throughout the U.S. and Canada, due to the lifting of travel restrictions due to the Depression and World War II. Among the speakers were Minnesota governor Luther W. Youngdahl, Augustana Lutheran Church President P.O. Bersell, and artist Warner Sallman. Sallman, noted for his popular religious paintings, including Son of Man, was called the “best-known artist of the 20th century” in 1994 by the New York Times. Many of the overseas visitors were representatives from Augustana mission fields, while others presented information on post-war relief work in Europe and Asia. Walter Trobisch of Germany told of Christian youth work under Hitler and Stalin, while Pastor W.E. Wallner from Poland described the struggles of the Christian church under communism.
The film was scripted by a Luther League member, Mary Sandberg of Rock Island, Ill., narrated by Pastor N. Eugene Larson of Centerville, Iowa, and shot and edited by the staff of the Augustana Lutheran Church’s Audio-Visual Service. Completed within months of the convention, the film was circulated to district, conference, and local Luther League meetings. The film features footage of convention speakers, overseas delegates, hotel lobby singspirations, and council meetings, as well as scenes of Duluth and the 300-mile optional post-convention bus tour taken by several hundred Leaguers through scenic Arrowhead country of Minnesota.
Holding one deteriorating print, the archives received a National Film Preservation Foundation grant to preserve the film through the creation of new film elements and a digital transfer.