Erna Claire Jensen, confirmed in St. John's Lutheran Church, Cozad, Nebraska, 1948

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Erna Claire Jensen, confirmed in St. John's Lutheran Church, Cozad, Nebraska, 1948.

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Confirmation: Coming of Age in Denmark and the US

The daughter of Lemvig-native Peter E. Jensen and his wife, Marie Nielsen, born in America to Danish parents. Erna graduated from Cozad NE high school in 1952, has a Bachelor of Science from UN of Nebraska at Kearney, from 1956, and a masters from University of Northern Iowa, from 1965. She taught high school chemistry, physics and mathematics at Loup City, NE for four years, taught four years at Cozad High School, and taught one year at Lamar CO community college.

Confirmation Memory

“In the fall of 1947, 13 young people began confirmation class under the tutelage of Pastor Howard Christensen at St. John’s Lutheran Church, AELC, northeast of Cozad, Nebraska. We were all born in the US with a variety of Danish backgrounds. Seven of us were in the 8th grade; the others ranged from 7th to 11th grade. We attended five different rural schools.

What did being confirmed mean to me? Confirmation was a rite of passage such as the 8th-grade exams which we country kids were all required to take. We had confirmation classes every Saturday from 9am until noon in the parsonage living room. The first part of each session we always sang hymns and then discussed our lesson. We used a book called The Story of the Bible, and given an assigned amount of reading each week. It apparently was difficult to get a group of kids to read, so the pastor began giving us tests on our required reading. I suspect that we received many lectures on life survival. My main memory was “God gave you a brain, now use it.” Most of us had been in Sunday School from age 5 and had also attended a strong summer school program so we were well versed in the basics such as the 10 Commandments and the Lord’s Prayer. We were not required to memorize Luther’s small catechism. Our last assignment was to memorize the Apostles’ Creed. I remember sitting in my desk at District 18 working on it.

Confirmation was something that was done. One benefit was that we were now eligible to go to the YPS or Young People’s Society. All of the young people who were confirmed and older were active in the YPS until they married.

A few days before Confirmation Sunday in May the pastor came to talk to my parents; he could not find the registration of my baptism in the church book. Fortunately, my sponsors were able to verify the occasion.

As I was growing up, I listened to my parents discussing "Inner Mission" versus Grundtvigian philosophy. We were of the Grundtvigian influence so our life style differed from others, there was more freedom of choices and consequently more responsibilities. Perhaps that explains why we didn't spend as much time memorizing bible verses but instead sang from the "World of Song" and folk dancing. For our YPS meeting the pastors insisted that we always had devotions.

On confirmation day my parents along with those of a friend held a big dinner at my home in honor of our confirmation. I have no memory of what we ate, not even the dessert. The sun was shining. In my scrapbook from 1948 there are many cards of congratulation, but no certificate." (courtesy of Erna Jensen, Des Moines IA).