Waymart, PA— Commissioner B. Donald Ødegaard, international secretary for program and special guest for the annual Scandinavian Heritage Conference held at Camp Ladore, proclaimed in Norwegian “Tusen takk” (“a thousand thanks”) to 125 delegates, most of whom had Scandinavian roots. But he didn’t stop there. “Asante sana, that’s ‘thank you’ in Swahili;” he continued, “Tinotenda, that’s ‘thank you’ in Shona; Siyabonga—that’s ‘thank you’ in Zulu.”
Ødegaard and his wife, Commissioner Berit Ødegaard, international “Sally Ann” coordinator, have spent 23 years—more than half of their officer careers—in Africa. So it was no surprise when Commissioner Donald Ødegaard said, “We know Africa better than we know Europe…. It has been a great privilege and adventure to serve in Africa. That is where our hearts are.”
Ødegaard, who was just a month away from retirement as an active officer, also made it clear that he was looking forward as he and his wife return to Norway.
“Now we are here [at the Scandinavian Congress] to praise God!” he said. “And to listen to His voice. What will He say to us today and into the future? It is our prayer that the Lord will fill us and bless us so that we can still be useful in His service.”
Each message delivered by the Ødegaards gave delegates more reason to thank God for His many blessings. Later in the weekend, Commissioner Donald Ødegaard gave this challenge to those who would continue after his retirement from active service.
“God is calling for new workers in the corps, territory, and the world. And there is no question of age; He wants to use you as a witness. You must find your place [in ministry]. Forgiven and restored, you must now set out on your journey of service and growth!”
Delegates repeated the congress theme, “Tack Min Gud” (thank my God), in a variety of songs, particularly at breakfast meetings and at the conclusion of evening meals. Commissioner Lawrence R. Moretz, territorial commander, reflected on his Scandinavian roots and called the weekend “a family experience; a family reunion; a refuge.” He led delegates in many spirited choruses, such as “It is no secret what God can do,” that evoked rich memories.
Not everyone attending the conference was Scandinavian. As is common today in the Nordic countries of Denmark, Norway, Finland, Iceland, and Sweden, many people from other cultures have become part of the Scandinavian demographic.
Joanna Malantino, a 6th–grade teacher from Pelham Parkway in the Bronx, came with her mom, who has been a member of the old Central Citadel Corps (Tvaan) for many years. Yolanda Hastings, who is African American, has been bringing her family ever since Major Ralph Hansen invited her to join the celebration. Warren L. Maye, Good News! editor and also an African American, sang “His Eye Is On the Sparrow” during one of the meetings.
As always, the weekend was filled with tradition: singing grace in Swedish or Norwegian before each meal and “tack for maten” (thanks for the food) after it; “Singspirations,” hymns, and choruses in English and Scandinavian languages; an evening “smorgasbord”; a Youth Night with many people in traditional Scandinavian clothing; and a “Hemlands Toner” celebration; with a Maypole dance, the roll call of Scandinavian corps, and a stringband with 86–year–old Alice Peterson playing second cornet.
Sunday afternoon highlighted the retirement of Majors William and Anita (Hedlund) Pingrey, officers of the Adult Rehabilitation Centers Command (ARCC). During his remarks, Lt. Colonel Timothy Raines, ARCC commander, reflected on the Pingreys’ 56 years of combined service. He thanked God for their heartfelt ministry of helping people in need.
Commissioner Nancy A. Moretz, territorial president of women’s ministries, led morning prayer meetings. She also led a new feature, a St. Han’s Fest, where delegates gathered around a camp fire.
Said Major Betty Anderson of the weekend, “We have our rich heritage that has been blessed by the Lord.” She and her husband, Major Sidney Anderson, are Scandinavian liaisons to the Mission and Culture Department and organizers of this year’s conference. Major Sidney Anderson has missed only one Scandinavian Congress in his entire life.
On the final morning there was a memorial service for those who have been promoted to Glory.