November 16, 2015

2013 GAA – Donald W. Sjoberg

Donald W. Sjoberg was born on a farm near Scandinavia, Manitoba, a colony sometimes referred to as New Sweden. The Sjobergs immigrated there in 2905. Bethlehem Lutheran Church, in the heart of the settlement, is where don was baptized and confirmed. His childhood memories include services in Swedish, especially the early morning Julotta service when people arrived in horse drawn sleds. Later services were in English and led by the younger pastors from the States who inspired Don and his cousin, Vern Sundmark, to prepare for the ordained ministry.

After completing an Arts degree at the University of Saskatchewan and the Divinity degree at the Lutheran Seminar in Saskatoon, Don was ordained in 1954 and began pastoral minister at Augustana Lutheran Church in Edmonton, Alberta. In 1960, he became director of Canadian Missions of Western Canada. In 1970 he was elected Bishop of the Western Canada Synod. At the merger of the two Lutheran Churches in Canada in 1985, he was elected as the National Bishop. Following his retirement in 1993, Don and his wife, Trudy, have volunteered in congregations, hospitals and community organizations. The enjoyed their participation in the Scandinavian Centre and the Swedish Cultural Association in Winnipeg, the latter where Don served on the Board and as President.

Realizing that a comprehensive history of Swedes in Canada was needed, Don phoned Elinor Barr in Thunder Bay to ask whether she had ever thought of writing that history. “Of course,” she said, “but I do not know how to go about it.” Later, the two met and developed the plan with Don helping gather the research material and the fundraising. The Swedes in Canada project will come to fruition in early 2014with the publication of the book.

The Swedish heritage lives on through the congregations which trace their beginnings in North America to the Augustan Lutheran Church – sometimes called the daughter of the Church of Sweden. Though that church merged with other churches in 1962, the spirit of “Augustana: lives on as has been shown in the activities of the Augustana Heritage Association. Don served at its President 2008 – 2012.

Don and Trudy now live in Edmonton near their four married children. Five grandchildren and four great grandchildren have all attended the Swedish Children’s Camp As he had done for many years, Don leads the annual Julotta service at Augustana Lutheran Church. Having on moved back to Edmonton two years ago, Don and Trudy are gradually getting involved I the Scandinavian cultural activities there.