Friday, February 20, 2009

Rasmus Jensen, First Lutheran Pastor in North America,1620

The story of the first Lutheran Pastor in North America is a dismal one.
In 1619, King Christian IV of Norway and Denmark sent two ships and 64 men to search for the Northwest Passage to India. The chaplain of the expedition was Rasmus Jensen. They got as far as the site of Churchill, Manitoba, on the western shore of Hudson Bay. There they became trapped by ice and without adequite supplies the crew began to die of scurvey. P
astor Jensen also fell ill and heir captain, Jens Munk, recorded in his journal:
On the 23rd of January... the priest sat up in his berth and gave the people a sermon, which sermon was the last he delivered in this world.... On the 20th of February, in the evening, died the priest, Mr Rasmus Jensen as aforesaid, who had been ill and kept his bed a long time....
In July, the Captain sailed for home with the only two surviving members of his crew. They reached Norway in September. He published his journal of the his trip. Pffaetteicher in "Festivals and Commemorations" calls it a "moving and melancholy account of hardship, death and bravery" A memorial to the expedition has been erected at Port Churchill.

This is a picture of Port Churchill in the winter in 1955 -
so you can imagine what it was like in 1620

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