REV. EDWARD MARTINUS STENSRUD, D. D.
A notable figure among the clergy of San Francisco is the Rev. Edward Martinis Stensrud, founder and pastor of
Trinity English Evangelical Lutheran Church, which is situated at 2222 Howard street. We quote from "California
and Californians," published in 1926: "In the spring of 1924 was celebrated the silver jubilee of the
Trinity English Evangelical Lutheran Church of San Francisco. It was an occasion of much historic interest, reflecting
the growth and progress of a very important religious movement on the Pacific coast. The central figure of the
celebration was Rev. Dr. Stensrud, who in 1897 came to the Pacific coast to be the first all English Lutheran missionary
of the Norwegian Lutheran Church of America, and who since its organization has been the pastor of Trinity Church.
Prior to his coming practically all church work done by the Norwegian group of the Lutherans of America had been
bilingual. There remained only a few congregations making exclusive use of the Norwegian as a medium of speech.
It was with a view to preserving children and young folks in San Francisco for the Lutheran Church that Rev. Stensrud
was sent out, and thus San Francisco became the first experiment of all English missionary work among Norwegian
Lutherans of America. Dr. Stensrud has organized three all English Lutheran congregations, the oldest being St.
Paul's, now Central of Oakland, organized November 3, 1897; the second being Trinity of San Francisco, organized
April 24, 1899; and the third, the Grace Church of San Francisco, organized September 17, 1908.
"The history of Trinity congregation is a record of early poverty, sacrifices and labor on the part of the
pastor and the people. The congregation finally realized its ambition of erecting an edifice that would properly
represent the needs of the church, but three days after it was occupied came the earthquake and fire of 1906. After
that disaster, which was a test for the courage and persistence of the people, Trinity rebuilt and for a number
of years has enjoyed one of the handsome church edifices of San Francisco, at 2222 Howard street. In 1926 a very
elegant parsonage was erected and a pipe organ installed in the church. The congregation has property conservatively
valued at one hundred and fifty thousand dollars.
"Edward M. Stensrud was born August 25, 1868, on a farm near Northfield in Goodhue county, Minnesota, son
of Knut and Ingeborg (Boe) Stensrucl. His parents were born in Norway, and were married in the old country. Coming
to Minnesota in 1866, they engaged in farming, and Knut Stensrud died on his farm in Renville county, Minnesota,
in 1872. His widow survived him until 1914. Of their six children three are still living.
"Edward M. Stensrud acquired a thorough education, beginning in the public schools, and continuing at Luther
College, Decorah, Iowa, where he graduated with the Bachelor of Arts degree in 1893. His preparation for the ministry
was at Luther Seminary, Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he received the degree Bachelor of Divinity. On the 14th
of June, 1926, Carthage College, Carthage, Illinois, conferred upon Dr. Stensrud the degree of D. D. Honoris Causa.
"In February, 1897, Dr. Stensrud married, and in the closing days of April he arrived in San Francisco to
begin his duties as an associate pastor of Our Savior's Scandinavian Lutheran Church to take charge of the English
speaking element of that church community. Dr. Stensrud married at Decorah, Iowa, February 24, 1897, Miss Julia
Louise Brorby. She was born in Iowa, daughter of Jacob and Oline Brorby. Her father was a farmer and stock raiser.
Mrs. Stensrud is an accomplished musician, playing both the piano and pipe organ. Church music is her specialty.
Of her many compositions, 'Arise, Shine,' and `Hark, the Herald Angels Sing' are lately published. She has been
the organist and choir director of Trinity Church for more than twenty five years. Dr. and Mrs. Stensrud have one
child, a daughter, Ingeborg Oline, now the wife of Arthur M. Holter, for many years an employe of the Standard
Oil Company, and in June, 1926, admitted to the bar as practicing attorney. Mr. and Mrs. Holter have a son, Arthur
"Ever since coming to California, Dr. Stensrud has exercised all his efforts and influence towards making
the Lutheran Church and the Norwegian people of America better known with the California public. He has also been
deeply impressed with the value of Norwegian culture and in many ways has used his influence to make that culture
expressed, not only in religion but in literature and art, a more vital factor in the life and progress of the
"When in 1914 Norway declined to participate in the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, to be held at
San Francisco, the directors of the exposition turned to Dr. Stensrud to secure his interposition, and he succeeded
in interesting the governing heads of the three Norwegian Lutheran synods of America, and in that way overcoming
Norway's original refusal to participate. A condition, however, was made that Norwegian Americans should erect
the pavilion for the exhibits, and towards this end Dr. Stensrud organized the Norwegian-American Auxiliary of
the exposition, embracing all the Norwegian churches and societies, religious and secular, in the Bay Cities. He
was elected president of the Auxiliary, wired a guarantee for the money necessary to erect the pavilion, sent a
representative from San Francisco to the Norwegian authorities, and after a tour through the middle western states,
organized thirty finance committees to gather money for the exposition building. It was also through his influence
that the city of San Francisco invited the Norwegian Synod of America to hold its annual convention in the year
1915, and he also secured the Sangerbund of the Norwegian Singing Society of the Pacific Coast to meet during the
same festive week. The celebration came to its climax in Norway Day at the fair when fifteen thousand of the Norwegians
entered the gates. Through his influence one of the notable features of the musical program of the exposition was
the ten days' engagement by the Luther College Concert Band.
"In 1916 Dr. Stensrud published a book entitled 'The Lutheran Church and California.' He had undertaken this
work as a means of enlightening the public not only as to the status of the Lutheran Church in California, but
also to provide reliable scientific information for Lutheran people elsewhere. The book contains a complete scientific
description of the state's resources, and three thousand copies of the volume were distributed throughout California
and the middle western states. The book accomplished the purpose of the author, and has proved an invaluable guide
to thousands of colonists of the Lutheran faith who have come to California and made settlement throughout the
Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys.
"During the World war the Lutheran churches of America had not only the extra routine of war duties, but also
had to combat the ignorant prejudices and passions aroused by war times and conditions. Trinity congregation was
the first in California to organize a chapter of the Lutheran Brotherhood of America, and through the efforts of
Dr. Stensrud was organized `The Committee of Thirty,' representing all the Lutheran synods in the Bay Cities for
the purpose of welfare work for Lutheran soldiers and sailors in the army and navy. The committee consisted of
five members, from each of the six synods, and Dr. Stensrud served as president of the committee throughout the
entire war period, Trinity Church being the headquarters of the committee. This committee promoted a great Lutheran
rally at the Civic Auditorium when a campaign for the Third Liberty Loan was launched, reaching three million,
four hundred thousand dollars. And through the committee every phase of the patriotic program was advanced. In
addition, the committee by appeal to the State Council of Defense forced the retraction of many unjust rumors and
accusations which had been made against the Lutheran people, and through personal representation to the governor
and the legislature the committee did much to prevent the passage of the King language bill.
"The Norwegian Lutheran Church of America has done charity work in San Francisco since 1872 in the form of
the Seamen's Mission, City Mission, Slums, Poor Farms, Hospitals. About 1922 a Community Chest in San Francisco
was organized. Dr. Stensrud was instrumental in presenting the cause of the Norwegian Lutheran charity work before
the city authorities in a way to secure the inclusion of such work in the Chest, this work being now a recognized
unit in the Chest program under the name of the Lutheran Welfare Agency. Dr. Stensrud is the executive head of
the Agency with the title of executive secretary
"Dr. Stensrud has served his church and community in many capacities. Since 1898 he has been secretary of
the Seamen's Mission; for eighteen years, secretary of the California Conference; vice president of the Pacific
District, Norwegian Synod of America, for ten years; since 1917, president of the California Circuit, Norwegian
Lutheran Church of America; in 1921 was elected executive secretary of the Elementary Christian Education, Pacific
District, Norwegian Lutheran Church of America, and still holds that position; he has edited and published a book
on Elementary Christian Education and was assistant editor of Menigheds Kalenderen' (Calendar of congregations),
a history of the three thousand, three hundred congregations of the Norwegian Lutheran Church of America; for four
years he was agent of the Transportation Bureau of the Norwegian Lutheran Church; was the chief force in starting
the City Mission of San Francisco of the Norwegian Lutheran Church, of which committee he was president five years.
Besides other services already noted he was during the late war appointed by the National Lutheran Commission for
Soldiers' and Sailors' Welfare as civilian chaplain at Camp Fremont, and when General Pershing wanted one hundred
middle aged chaplains to go to France, Dr. Stensrud was chosen as one of the candidates. His name had gone into
Washington and he would have gone across but for the early signing of the armistice. In 1925 Rev. Stensrud caused
the Norwegian Lutheran Church of America to establish a Commission on Soldiers' and Sailors' Welfare for the military
posts of San Francisco Bay. The Doctor is chairman of the commission."
The History of San Francisco, California
Lewis Francis Byington, Supervising Editor
Oscar Lewis, Associate Editor
The S. J. Clark Publishing Company
Chicago-San Francisco 1931
San Francisco, CA
For all your genealogy needs visit Linkpendium