Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, Cordova, Nebraska
Originally posted Jul 15, 2015
Cordova is a small community (about 150 residents) – and a Danish stronghold – some 45 miles west of Lincoln in the southwest corner of Seward County. Both of my parents grew up in and around Cordova and are buried there along with my paternal grandparents, various aunts, uncles, and cousins.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that there’s nothing special about either Our Savior’s or the photo, which could essentially be duplicated in communities all over Nebraska. But it’s special to me, and here’s why.
Up until about a half-century ago, 150 population Cordova actually had three Lutheran churches. The Missouri Synod of course had their church, while the other two were part of either the “United” synod or the “American” synod. (You have to be a cradle Lutheran to understand the division, so just don’t try) In any case, the two congregations were known around Cordova as the “Sad Danes” and the “Happy Danes,” though about fifty years ago now, after the several national synods had merged, the Cordova congregations also got together and built one handsome new church.
During all the years preceding merger, however, Our Savior’s fell in the “Happy” category, and it was my Father’s family’s church.
Over a decade ago, when emptying out my Mom’s condo, I came to realize just how much that truly meant. In the cleaning out process, I ran across both my paternal and maternal grandmothers’ bibles. My Grandmother Heers’ (my mother’s mother) bible was in pretty good shape. My Grandmother Jensen’s bible was literally falling apart. That book had been carried and read through a lifetime, and folded in it was my grandmother’s newspaper obituary.
Sophia Jergensen (her maiden name) was born in the latter part of the nineteenth century. She was baptized at Our Savior’s. A few years later, as an adolescent, she was confirmed into the Lutheran faith at Our Savior’s. (A family photo from that period shows her to be both slender and pretty) Not too many years later, she was married to John Jensen II at Our Savior’s, and I’d bet almost anything that they originally met there. Unfortunately, John died of a heart defect (which I’m sure they could repair today) in the early 1920’s at the age of 47, leaving Sophia with five children, and though she didn’t know it at the time, a sixth on the way. John was of course buried from Our Savior’s. All of Sophia’s six children were confirmed at Our Savior’s, and most of them were married there, including my parents.
And finally, in 1948, Sophia – a brittle diabetic most of her adult life – was herself buried from Our Savior’s, a sad day I clearly remember.
Reading that life record of a woman I knew as an even tempered, loving, humorous individual – and a Dane and a Lutheran to her very core – I was struck by how much Cordova’s Our Savior’s Lutheran Church was a critical fixture in her life and her family’s. Everything important, whether good or sad, seemed to happen or find expression there, and her simple lifelong faith was so very much a part of her nature and being.
Today, memories of Sophia – Sophie - Jensen fade just as Our Savior’s sinks disused into the ground around it. But as I hope the photo might convey, more than enough of each remain for them to live inside me, today and always.
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