by John Peterson, Special Contributor
The Rev. Dr. Eugene L. Fevold, professor emeritus of church history, died Oct. 29, 2011. He was a highly respected research scholar and teacher, concerned with the use and collection of primary resources in the study of church history and conscious of his responsibility to the church as well as to his students and the seminary. He retired in 1988 as professor emeritus.
Born in 1918 in Minnewauken, N.D., he was a graduate of St. Olaf College, Luther Theological Seminary and the University of Chicago Divinity School. He was a member of the religion faculty at Concordia College--Moorhead from 1947--1956, and was a pastor in West Fargo, N.D., during that same period. He spent a year in Norway from 1954--1955 as a Fulbright scholar. He was ordained in 1948. He married Dorothea Asper in 1949. She died in 2000. He is survived by their children, Constance, Karen, Carol and David, as well as many grandchildren, greatgrandchildren, nieces and nephews.
Fevold came to Luther Seminary in 1956 as a guest professor of church history. He was named professor of church history in 1958. Faculty were not only seen as teachers at seminary but also as "teachers of the church." At that time, they were elected to professorships by the General Convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. With Fevold's death, there are now only two church-elected faculty members remaining on Luther Seminary's emeritus list.
In 1954, Fevold and fellow faculty member Dr. E. Clifford Nelson were asked by the ELC to prepare a comprehensive history of the church. The two-volume project, "The Lutheran Church Among Norwegian Americans--A History of the Evangelical Lutheran Church," was published in 1960, just as the merger creating the American Lutheran Church was moving toward completion. The work has been an inspiration for many similar volumes on denominational and immigration church history, including Fevold's "The Lutheran Free Church: A Fellowship of American Lutheran Congregations, 1897--1963," published in 1969. He contributed to "The Lutherans in North America" (1969) and wrote a variety of articles on church and immigration history and the seminary.
Shortly after World War II, Fevold visited many historically important Norwegian-American congregations and filmed their records. This was the beginning of what came to be an extensive congregational record microfilming program in the ALC.
Those of us who were privileged to know and learn from fine American church historians at Luther, like Fevold--as well as Nelson, Sonnack and Flesner--over the past several decades, are grateful for them and their varied insights and expertise. Our church is better--historically and theologically--because Fevold and his associates were with us. Thanks be to God for all of them--and for the current faculty and staff members as well.
For John Peterson's full obituary on Eugene Fevold, visit
www.luthersem.edu/memorybook. Here you can also read others'
tributes to him as well as leave your own.