The first worship service was conducted at Lutheran Service Center, Jackson Place, Washington D.C. on the 30th of March in 1947. The Seamen’s pastor stationed in Baltimore at the time was given the task to further his work to include Washington DC. There were to be ten monthly services held per year, the second Sunday in every month, following the school-year (September through June).
In 1963 the church-coffee-hour was instituted; what is a church-service without church-coffee? This in turn made an organization necessary, and the Church committee was formed. The committee was responsible for the business operation as it now had fiscal obligations: the salary of the organist and kitchen expenses, plus a pre-determined donation to the host church, all of which was covered by the monthly offering. The congregation could celebrate baptism, confirmation and marriage in their traditional manner, as well as Constitution Day.
In 1980 it was time to move and the church took up residence at Grace Lutheran Church on Varnum and 16th street in Washington DC. The choir was organized following year, which added valuable dimension to the services and special occasions. (Currently, the church is without a choir.) The church moved to its current home in 1997, the Emmanuel Lutheran Church on Bradley Blvd and Seven Locks road in Bethesda, MD.
- Welcome Back & Familiedag (Family get-together)
- Thanksgiving “Høsttakkefest” vi dekorerer kirkerommet (Harvest display in the Church)
- Christmas Bazaar at Emmanuel Lutheran Church (Friday/Saturday)
- Veterans Day / Minnedag
- Christmas Celebration (Lucia procession/Christmas Play) (Social event includes traditional carols and Christmas tree)
- (Dec. 24th) Nordic Christmas Celebration at Augustana Lutheran Church, DC
- Happy New Year
- St. Valentine’s Day Celebration / Såmannssøndag og fastelavn.
- Fastetid (Lent). Maria budskapsdag (The Annunciation)
- Easter (singing Påskemorgen slukker sorgen)
- Mother’s Day / 17th of May Celebration (Singing The National Anthem – Ja vi elsker)
- Confirmation Sunday (Last service before the summer)
- No service – Summer Vacation
- No service – Summer Vacation
The church year starts in September with Family Day in the park on the Saturday preceding the Sunday service. It is well attended and fun for the children and welcomes new Norwegians arriving in the Washington DC area who is working for Norwegian companies and the Embassy.
Communion is served each of the ten services the children attend Sunday school during the service, taught in Norwegian.
One of the big events of the year is the Christmas Bazaar held at Emmanuel on the Friday and Saturday, preceding the service in November. The New York pastor, accompanied by most of their staff, arrives with a truck load of imported food for sale, among many other things.
December is an exciting time with Santa Lucia procession, nativity play, and singing and dancing around the Christmas tree, and a time for Santa and Norwegian Christmas cookies.
On Christmas Eve, the Norwegian church joins with all the Nordic communities in the area for a layman’s service conducted in Danish, Finnish, Icelandic, Norwegian and Swedish.
The Constitution Day, May 17th, has been celebrated at the church with a parade, flags and accordion music, and a very special display of goodies. Now it is a larger collaboration with many Norwegian organizations in the larger Washington Metropolitan area celebrated in the weekend close to May 17th in Carderock Park with parade, brass band music, hot dogs, ice cream, and children’s games.
The end of the year culminates with Confirmation in June. The recent introduction of reading the Scripture and the announcements in both English and Norwegian (and a translation in the printed program) has proven to be helpful.
In 2016 the Norwegian Church of Washington DC and Norwegian Society started a close collaboration with a shared website and then officially merged into one organization in 2019.