Geysir Lutheran Church

Many of the early pioneers that settled in the Geysir district had a strong religious background and were staunch supporters of the Lutheran Church. They had brought with them their most valuable religious books from Iceland, the Bible, the New Testament, hymns books, the “Passion hymns” of Reverend Hallgrimur Pétursson, the Postil of Bishop Jon Vidalin and the “Hugvek- iur”{briet sermons for home devotions) of Rev. Pétur Pétursson and the Lutheran Catechism.

Before the congregation was established, it was a custom for some families to get together on a Sunday for a short devotional period. Hymns were sung and a sermon read from their favorite postil or “Hugvelrjur”.

The infant death rate was very high at the time and often a minister could not be contacted and the funeral rites were conducted by laymen.

in 188?, Rev. Magritte Skaptason arrived from lceland and was sent by the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (E.L.S.l to serve the New lceland congrega- tions and visit nearby communities to perform or— dinary ministerial services when requested. He visited Geysir and had services there in private homes, including baptisms and confirmations.

In the third year of his ministry, Rev. Skaptason began to lean more and more towards Unitarianism. This led to dissension and created a rift within the community.

in the spring of 1890, Jon Pétursson, a devout Lutheran, called a meeting at his home, Fljot- shlib. Interested Lutherans attended the meeting and a decision was made to establish a Lutheran congregation in Geysir. it was called the “Fljot- shl‘ioar Congregation”. Later that summer, a Synodical Convention was held in Riverton and the newly formed congregation joined the E.L.S. Jon Pétursson was the delegate and he reported that there were 66 confirmed and 72 unconfirm— ed members in the Fljéshlioar congregation.

The first years were difficult ones for the new congregation, Alter joining the Synod, the members had expected to receive at least two or three services a year. This, however, was not possi- ble as there were only four Lutheran ministers in the Synod and many congregations had to be serv— ed. Rev. Skaptason was also serving as a Unitarian minister in the district and had many followers.

From 1892-96, the Fljéshlioar congregation did not send a delegate to the Synodical convem tion and, in its reports, it was termed “inactive”,

During these years, Rev. Hafsteinn Pétursson,

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Rev. Jonas Siguroson and Rev. Oddur Gislason had visited the congregation, had the odd service, and baptized and confirmed members (who had been instructed by local laymen).

In the fall of 1896, it was reported that a confir- mation would be performed in a private home in the western part of the district. Three children had been prepared for confirmation in the eastern zone and decided to walk the 4-5 miles to be confirmed. When they came to the home, they discovered that the confirmation would be performed in the Unitarian faith. The father of the three Lutheran children refused to have them confirmed except as Lutherans. The minister complied with the father’s request.

This incident was the spur needed to make the Lutherans realize that their congregation should be reorganized. in 1897, Rev. Jonas Sigurhson and Rev. Oddur Gfslason held a service in Geysir, followed by a congregational meeting. It was decidv ed to keep the Fljotshlibar congregation going.

The following year theology student Runéllur Marteinsson was sent by the Synod to do mis« sionary work in the northern congregation during the summer months.

in 1900, the Fljétshlioar congregation was renamed the Geysir congregation and in 1901 Rev. Runélfur Marteinsson became the pastor of all the New Iceland congregations. Travelling was still very difficult and Geysir received only a few services a year.

In 1908, Rev. Johann Biarnason became the pastor of all the Lutheran congregations north of Amos and served them for twenty years.

At first, all church services were held in the Geysir school but, in 1914, the congregation was

Geysir church in 1928.

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