Unbeknownst to me, my father had also written them, and they answered him! They were also very nice to send copies of my great-great grandfather's baptismal record, showing he was born September 10, 1871 and baptized on September 18, 1871. They also sent a copy of the recording of when his parents joined their church, and in that record it said that Emil's father died in 1875.
This brings me to my other elusive record -- my great-great-great grandfather's death record. The only thing I knew about his death came from an interview for a report my father wrote in grade school in the 1940's when my gg-grandfather was alive. My father was told that Emil's father, Samuel, had died while out to sea, off the coast of South America. Samuel had climbed the mast of his ship to make a repair and fell to his death. Emil said he was four years old, which meant this happened in 1875. And now, we know this date is correct. However, here comes the frustration: the Church sent my father the birth record for Emil and the record showing his parents joining the Church, which included his father's year of death... but NO death record. The frustrating part is that they obviously have one because in their correspondence with my father they said Samuel died June 3, 1875 and that he had drowned and disappeared at sea. The record for joining the Church only mentioned he died in 1875 and nothing more. Of course, I asked my father to write back asking for a death record, but nothing yet. However, the vicar did very kindly say he would be glad to talk to us this summer in person, in Norway, and even give us a tour. So, I may have to wait until then to get my hands on this prize. One might say I know the date now and that he really did die at sea... but genealogy is all about the record... sources... proof.
One thing I have learned about this hobby of mine is that patience is truly a virtue:-).