June, 2006

Dear Phil:

Reading your letter to the Companion this morning, I went to check on the June Eklund tribute and found that perhaps my subscription has lapsed. I want to correct that in hopes the back issue(s) can be sent...

The mention of Mead prompts me to pass along to you some more tidbits I have come across lately about that community. Their centennial book contains some good church histories that fill in some blanks about the Swedes there. While in Kearney, MO, at the conference annual meeting this spring, I had occasion to ask my old friend Lyle Person, who is pastor in Mead now and whose family comes from that area, about the Estina Baptist church and Fredrik Franson. He surprised me by saying that he had been up to Estina and visited the cemetary which remains there. A few days later a copy of an Estina history arrived in the mail which revealed that the Estina church building still survives (!) as a shop on a local farm. Included was a picture of some of the original ornate decoration of the interior surfaces. Franson was initially interred at that cemetary, but was later moved to a Chicago cemetary (which one, I do not yet know). We are resolved to visit these sites soon!

The Estina history goes on to relate how the congregation declined in numbers early and several joined the Mead Swedish Baptist congregation. That group built an initial structure which I believe survives as a dwelling in Mead, and later a fine brick church. The Covenant purchased this after WW2 and occupied it till their new church was built in the 1990's. (In Sioux City, the Covenant and Baptist Swedes jointly built a church which they shared!) I have a picture of Chris Gustafson and can see clear family resemblance to Joanne Spjut's dad, who was on our Covenant Home board while we were in Stromsburg.

S.G. Larson was the first Augustana pastor in Nebraska. Sandahl's history gives the story from their point of view. Larson homesteaded just south of Mead and founded their church there. Hallners lived in this area, and went from being a charter member at nearby Swedeburg to becoming the catalyst for the Mission congregations at both Swedeburg and Mead. According to Sandahl, the effect on the Augustana work was severe. (Sandahl tells the story that the first Augustana service at Swedeburg was conducted from the platform of an overturned lumber wagon box) The Mead centennial book relates that one of the Hallners walked down from Minnesota to stake a land claim near Mead and then walked back! Their homestead location is identified in this book. (Hallner was the forebearer of our friends the Kronbergs. He was a state senator and the first signer of the Nebraska constitution, as well as being on the first Covenant national board)

In the same book, it is told that the Missions first built south of town, then later in Mead. The old building was I believe converted to a dwelling which still exists and is identified in the centennial book. If memory serves, S.G. Larson was later pastor in Omaha, and sent new Swedish immigrants out to Mead routinely (it is just west of Omaha). My great-grandparents followed this route. That the Augustana and Mission people were still very similar at this point is illustrated by the fact that A.N. Sweders once served the Mead Lutheran congregation. A bit further west is Wahoo, the county seat. No mission congregation located here, but there was a Baptist group. Here the Nebraska Augustanan's built their Luther College at considerable sacrifice. I will attach a copy of my letter to Lyle.


Letter to Lyle Person, pastor at Mead concerning Fredrik Franson

Dear Lyle: A Big "tak so mycket" for the pages you sent and it was so good to see you and Diane at the conference! I attach a copy of our Christmas letter (a little late!), but from it you can see why I asked about Estina. The other attachment is some bedtime reading, but also has to do with Franson.

Here is what Stephenson's book has to say of Franson: (p. 126 ff.) "Franson was born on June 17, 1852, in Nora, Vastmanland, of God-fearing parents. He attended school and showed special aptitude for linguistics. In 1869, when he was seventeen years of age, his parents fell victims to the "America fever" and settled on the prairies of Kansas, a state then attracting many Swedish immigrants. Within a short time the family moved to Nebraska, not far from Omaha. After a serious illness, from which he recovered very slowly, Franson was converted, in 1872, to the Baptist faith, and he at once appeared in the role of evangelist.

In 1875 he went to Chicago, where he became a disciple of Moody and adopted his and Finney's methods: the mourners' bench, after meetings, and instant conversion; in 1879 and 1880 he worked as a missionary among the Mormons in Utah; later he extended his activity to other parts of the country. He made his appeal especially to the Baptists, the Methodists, the Mission Friends, and others who did not hesitate to step over denominational boundaries in order to join together in free Biblical congregations.... In April, 1881, Franson arranged a "prophetic conference" in Chicago, at which the discussions centered around the second coming of Christ. (here I must tell that Bjork at the North Side Church was unhappy that F. announced his meetings there without consulting him, so the church was not open to him...Skogsbergh did welcome him at the South Side Tabernacle -Bob) In the autumn of that year Franson visited Sweden, where he was already known through his connection with the Chicago conference.

The immense crowds that gathered to hear the eccentric and inspired Swedish-American missionary were the harvest of the religious revivals that had preceded his advent. During the two years of his stay in Sweden he visited more than half of the cities and towns and everywhere aroused interest, some of it hostile... After Franson left Sweden he visited Norway, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Asia Minor, and Russia."

If he is right, Stephenson also has this remarkable thing to say about Franson: (p.289) "It was just at this time, when the future of the free congregations was uncertain, that the Congregational church attempted to absorb them. In New England particularly, a number of Swedish congregational churches were organized in the eighties and nineties, and in 1890 efforts were made to organize the Mission Covenant into a conference of the Congregational church. Among the Swedes, Franson was the principal exponent of this plan, which he regarded as an aid to his program for the evangelization of the world." Stephenson also tells of the Franson China mission, but I want to switch to By One Spirit for this: (p. 435 ff)

"Franson's linguistic interest is a key to his method. Convinced of the literal truth of our Lord's promise that he would return when the gospel had been proclaimed throughout the whole world, Franson's emphasis was upon reaching as many people as possible in the shortest space of time. Like Hudson taylor, he was not primarily interested in the conversion of the natives if this required a long process of instruction, and he was not immediately concerned about their nurture in the faith. He wanted to shoot one bullet straight and true... (!!) In 1889, for example, Franson heard that Hudson Taylor had challenged the Protestant churches of the West to provide one thousand new missionaries for China within the next five years. This was the kind of dramatic specificity which inspired Franson. Returning to America in 1890, he set to work to schedule missionary Bible courses for the purpose of recruiting and training workers for the China field. The conferences, of a few days duration, were subsequently held in Brooklyn, Chicago, Minneapolis, and Omaha in the period...

As a direct result of this project no less than fifty missionaries were recruited for the China field. The climax of their training was a two-week "Samaritan" course designed to train the missionary volunteers in the rudiments of first aid and the emergency treatment of disease. This course was conducted by Dr. G. Holmquist in the Covenant church of Omaha, Nebraska." (J.A. Hultman, pastor) Karl goes on to tell how Franson's recruitment outstripped the Taylor organization's ability to pay so many missionaries! He also tells how this complicated the Covenant's own missionary work. The Free Church history tells about the same story. The Baptist history has little to say other than he was a great missionary, and recruited many from "other" organizations. The extent of Covenant interest can be seen by those who served on Franson's board: August Pohl, Skogsbergh, Bjork and Hogfeldt.

K.O. has another insight about Franson: his home area in Sweden and those who also were from the same area and may have shared the same dialect: the Nyvalls, Nils Frykman, Skogsbergh,Hjerpe, and Hogfeldt.

We read that Franson's funeral service filled the Moody church in Chicago, where he was a member. It was revealing that his Estina grave is empty (!!) The other remarkable thing about your pages is that the building appears to survive! Bonekullen (hill of prayer) makes one think of Mosebake! In the Nebraska Augustana history is mentioned a "Hallner schoolhouse"...this might be hard to find, it was made of sod. But I am wondering if the Swedeburg Lutheran country church is still there? All the Lutherans in that area lived in fear of Hallner!

Aug, 2006

Dear Phil:

Here is a good thought from one of our Nebraska Mission Friends:

"These friends will gladly receive visits from any brother who believes in and serves Jesus. They desire to be one with all who are the brothers and sisters of Jesus, recognizing that together with them they make up one and the same body. They consider that variant concepts about points not vital to the life in Christ ought not to hinder in any way brotherly love or the extension of full brotherly fellowship. Consequently, they have left to each believer individually such questions as, for instance, the various doctrines about the mode, time, and meaning of baptism, so that on these questions each believer may believe and act in accordance with his own best understanding of the Word of God without having to feel even the slightest strangeness from his fellow believers in the flock." (28 year old F. Franson in the context of 1879)

This ideal, particularly regarding baptism, resonates even over a century later to us as Covenanters. Ironically, his other notions that each congregation could be a "synod unto itself" ran aground for (among other reasons) the difficulty of producing its own preachers. He might be forgiven this oversight considering his own immense talents coming from a tiny Baptist Missionhus in Saunders County...not every missionhus was so blest.

Part two: Why I think so much of Pietisten

To go beyond just saying so, it is possible to tell why: The editor was my dorm counsellor, who by his example demonstrated that it was possible for an ordinary Swede kid to make it at North Park and in the Covenant (and dream of the extra-ordinary).

Of the regular contributors, Elder Lindahl was my faculty advisor, teacher and example. One Elder story. In Comparative Religions we were on the subject of eastern mystical practices. The meditative device of "breath control" was referenced, and for whatever mischief of the mind, the words came out "birth control." A more vivid example of a Freudian slip has never presented itself to me...as vivid as the shade of red Elder turned.

Art Anderson was both Chaplain and teacher of Hebrew Prophets, my first religion course. What it had to do with prophets I cannot explain, but my best memory of his teaching was the positive and convincing way he spoke about the experience of marriage! That so few male role models had done so in my life was grim testimony to a great deficiency. He helped set it right.

While on internship in Princeton IL, senior Pastor Ron Lagerstrom demonstrated his irenic spirit by allowing the practice of playing recorded sermons of his predecessor, Glen Wiberg, on visits to shut-ins. In that way I was privileged to hear quite a number of Wiberg messages while doing home visits and was duly impressed. His appreciation for the hymnody...words cannot express.

Our library contained three volumes of Booth Tarkington's Penrod series, and I rotated checking them out to read and re-read. Little black Herman and his littler brother Verman are real pictures in my mind, as is the moment when the green-hued black powder revolver discharged in the bedroom. I spent hours and filled pages in my own notebook emulating Penrod's authorship of the Jasper detective series. Who can explain this?

Craig and Dottie Anderson provided the opportunity for Eleanor and I to work briefly with the children of Oakdale Covenant church...an unforgettable experience in that neighborhood of Chicago. His tribute to Jack Lundbom was heartwarming and we share in his pride. He mentions Ed Newton. Ed, Jack and I were all drywall sanders also. The day Ed left to intern in Canada, I remember sitting down on the stairs of the house I was sanding and weeping. Jack bequeathed his sanding job at R & G Drywall to me.

I have already written you concerning the Ecklund family whom I know through roommate Jim. I did not know of the Saunders county connection before, though some of my ancestry came through that part of Nebraska. Even before the Waldenstromian controversy, the issue of regenerate membership set apart the missionfriends in that region. The Augustana history in Nebraska details this area extensively.

Carroll J. Peterson was no doubt your head counsellor at Burgh as he was mine. He offered some memorable illustrations of how not to be patronizing from his own experiences. As fellow member of the Albany Park church with our landlady, Hazel Johnson, C.P. always looked after her as would a son. She for years was teacher of their Bible class. I believe Ed Nelson was Burgh Hall counsellor when my brother attended NPC. Tredway was teaching then, and Niebuhr's insights received with glad hearts.

Yes, I surely could go on. Frankly, I hated to leave NPC. The people whom I had not yet met can now also become my friends and acquaintances through the pages of Pietisten. Their children and grandchildren can now also be known to me. That is why I think so much of Pietisten.

Christmas letters


"Nu gladjens timme inne ar" - OUR DAY OF JOY IS HERE AGAIN

So wrote hymnwriter A.L. Skoog, who also gave us "Bethlehem's Star", "Sing the Glad Carol" and "I Think of that Star of Long Ago." Swedes love Christmas!

Another year has proven fruitful and interesting in uncovering more about the Swedish churches in Iowa. Last year we made the visit northward to the Arthur/ Kiron region with Lorraine Lovain as gracious hostess of which we have already written. This insight into missionfriend and baptist roots served to whet our appetite to make a visit southward to the Essex Covenant church where our friends Jim and Karen Resigue serve (Karen and Eleanor grew up in the same church). We were not disappointed, finding a descendant of the Hultman clan there. J.A. Hultman, the "sunshine singer" and pastor of Omaha First came from the Fremont congregation nearby, now merged with Essex, as did his brother Frank who served Des Moines, Wausa, Stromsburg and Albeton (Sloan). Others claiming the area as home were pastors James Anderson and Elroy Anderson. We were assured that although the Fremont country church no longer stood, its former members were among Essex's greatest assets. Another member who greeted us proved to be a neighbor to the family of Ivar Larson, our friend and board member of Stromsburg Covenant Home who also hailed from here. But there was more. Nearby Stanton is home to a fine Swedish museum which we also visited that same day. The story has gotten too long for a letter, but it is attached to the email versions and there are hopes to include it in the Gronvall website in the future. Swedes also love nature, and often took their surnames from the forests, mountains and shores. See how many names you can make by combining:

forest: Ek (oak) Gren (branch) Lund (grove)
Gran (spruce) Quist (twig) Skog (woods)
Hult (wood) Man (man) Blom (bloom)
Lind (lime tree) Blad (leaf) Dahl (dale)
Al (elder), Palm, En (juniper), Bjork (birch)

mountains: Hag (high) Dal (valley) Berg (mountain)
Hed (moor) Sten (stone) Eng (meadow)

shore: Sjo (sea,lake) Strand (shore) Holme (islet)
O (island) Beck (brook) Strom (stream)
Ny (fresh) Kall (pronounced "shell", spring)

I got 100!
Best wishes from the Gronvalls ("green grassy incline") for the new year!

Christmas 2005: Intertwining Roots

A highlight of our year, and of our sojourn in Iowa, was a visit to Lorraine Lovain up the road in Arthur. She sometimes accompanied Bert on his trips from Wausa to Stromsburg to the Covenant Home Board meetings, which he chaired. She wrote the wonderful book, Swedish Roots, the story of her Swedish Baptist family. She was on the phone when we arrived, and we began to feel the roots intertwining when we learned that her call had come from her former Trinity schoolmate, whose husband John Gabrielson had served the Waverly Covenant church and had also been a Covenant Home board member. We visited the sites of her book which made them come alive as never before and stood at Bert's grave near the rural Arthur Swedish Baptist church. We were astounded to learn that another of her Trinity classmates was aunt Ruth Rodine! (Marv, her husband was Hugo Rodine from Polk) We were also interested in Swedish Baptist history in Iowa, and her library did not disappoint: there we learned that the immigrant community at Swede Bend (Stratford) had been visited by evangelist Fredrick Franson, the founder of the Swedish Evangelical Alliance Mission...and Eleanor's home church of Westmark. It turns out that Franson had also visited our local Danish Baptist church, Altamount, near the Harlan airport.

On our visit to North Park for our 40th class reunion, a stop at the new library yielded some new information about Franson from a recent biography. (E.P. Torjesen, A Study of Fredrick Franson) His home congregation of Estina, rural Saunders County, had been torn with controversies about which denomination among the American rivals should be chosen. Lutheran, Methodist, and Baptist advocates vied for prominence among others, and Franson in some despair concluded that a solution would be to make each congregation a synod unto itself. Eleanor's Westmark church was one of the first he helped to organize in this way, and although it is now affiliated with the E. Free denomination, it did not formally do so until the 1960's.

Swede Bend, the "cradle of the Covenant" and its earliest congregation under Bjork, conjures up the strong image of a schoolhouse-like "missionhus" (now preserved on the grounds of Twin Lakes Bible Camp). It was startling to read of a Baptist group there as well, and we had already found a picture while in Stromsburg of a Swedish Methodist church in Swede Bend with the same missionhus style. It turns out to be no coincidence; the Bjork group purchased their modest building from the Methodists, who had outgrown it! No doubt when Franson held his meetings in Swede Bend, there were people from each of the denominational groups in attendance. We have come to the conclusion that in this fluid time, they were Swedes first and Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, Free, or Covenant...second!

Which brings us to the trip back from Arthur and a stop at the Onowa museum grounds, where we had heard of a "little Swedish church building" that had been preserved. It was not open, but through the window of the "Albeton Covenant Church - 1875" we could see the roster of its pastors. The last one was our friend Russ Sizemore, from whom we hope to learn much more, but another one of note was F.O. Hultman, who also served the churches of Wausa...and Stromsburg! For the story of F.O. Hultman and his brother J.A. Hultman, we must go down the road to Essex, IA, on a trip we have yet to make. This was the American destination of the immigrant Hultman family, where the early pictures in cowboy boots originated. (We visited with Karen Holen Ressegieu, wife of the Essex Covenant Church interim pastor, at the Westmark 125th celebration this month...also her home church.)

Back in Saunders County Nebraska, a young Andrew Hallner, Augustana prospect and grandfather of our dear friend, Stromsburg Pastor Bob Kronberg, had moved away from the Lutherans and founded a strong Swedish congregation, now Swedeburg Covenant. Iowan Bjork became the first Covenant president, and Nebraskan Hallner the secretary. It was Hallner who discovered the talented Hultmans from Essex, and helped launch their careers in ministry and music. Now I can appreciate why Kronberg could refer to them in such a familiar way as "brother John" and "brother Frank." J.A., the patriarch pastor of the Omaha church, accompanied P.P. Waldenstrom on his 1889 tour, and is known for his hymn arrangements such as "Thanks to God for My Redeemer." It was a moving coincidence earlier this month, when at Peace Church, U.C.C. at Walnut, IA., this hymn was played as introit and later the congregation sang Lina Sandell's "Children of the Heavenly Father." It was not at Greenwall's request either, though he had to remain silent due to "something in his eye." Before serving as a compiler of Covenant Hymnals, J.A. Hultman's hymnbooks were "used widely in several Swedish denominations."

Lina Sandell wrote it, J.A. Hultman arranged it, Karl Olsson translated it, and Royce Eckhardt provided the harmony in the red Covenant Hymnal, here is a verse...as a Christmas thought:

"When all the world is sleeping, God watches through the night
His eyes are in the heavens, we sense their tender light.
When all the world is sleeping, and dark is everywhere,
How blessed to remember, our father's constant care."

Before setting out from the Swedish settlement in Saunders County by wagon, to move their family to Wausa, did our Great-grandparents Nels and Elis Johnson hear the Hultmans' sing, or Hallner or Franson preach? I like to think they did, and that they would be amazed at how the roots have since intertwined.

Letter to Professor Mark Granquist of Gustavus Adolphus College

Feb. 1, 2005

Dear Prof. Granquist:

I want to thank you for the article on the Swedish immigrant church which I read in the Covenant Quarterly. It was my privilege to study the subject under Karl Olsson at North Park Seminary not long after he wrote By One Spirit. The way you describe the era strikes me as wonderfully apt.

My ministry was spent in large part at Midwest Covenant Home in Stromsburg, Nebraska. In addition to the Covenant church there (the oldest in Nebraska), there were two Augustana congregations (rural Swede Home, and in town), a Swedish Baptist congregation (which had the influence to attract the S.B. Seminary to Stromsburg for three years), two Swedish Conference Methodist churches (rural and in town) and an Ev. Free Church! All were going concerns in a village of 1,200. A number of retired clergy lived there also, and their weekly meetings are among my fondest memories. There I began to realize that our Swedish immigrant universe was not so big, and that it was very much intertwined.

My paternal great-grandparents and five children came from Dalarna to Wausa, Nebraska. (website www.walnutel.net/~greenwll ) The family had attended a Baptist group in Dalarna. We belonged to the Covenant Church and Thabor Lutheran. Great-aunt Anna Nordstrom was grandmother to Augustana Pastor David Nordstrom who served in Stromsburg's neighboring town of Osceola while we were there. Another neighboring town was Polk, where two of the Greenwall brothers found their wives. Augustana historian C.F. Sandahl of Swede Home chides the former pastor who discouraged the formation of Lutheran congregations "too close" and allowed the Polk group to go over to the "sectarians" (E. Free) Hugo Rodine, Free Sec'y of Missions, was their brother, and is memorialized in the H.R. Global Missions building on the Trinity campus. My confirmation pastor in Wausa, semi-retired octogenarian Otto Nelson, was a graduate of the Risberg school, the Swedish department of C.T.S. which antedated North Park.

May I take the liberty of including an essay and couple of letters before becoming too repetitive? Phil Johnson of Pietisten magazine (www. pietisten.org) was my dorm counsellor at NPC and friend of Swedish immigrant history. I also enclose a list of books I have accumulated in hopes you might suggest ones along the same lines I do not know of. Is your dissertation, or the work on the "Smaller Religious Groups" available in digital form? I would dearly love to read them.

Tak ska du har, Mark, for your fine work!

-Bob Greenwall

Halland Settlement (Stanton, Red Oak etc.) with good links

Phil Anderson: I want to thank you for the book on the Northwest Conference which I enjoyed very much...the picture of the Lake Norden church being towed into town behind two steam engines was unforgettable! Being from Nebraska and now Iowa, I have felt a real lack of NW conference familiarity, and Precious Heritage went a long way toward correcting that. This summer I made two discoveries which gladden a historian's heart. The Swedish Heritage & Cultural Museum of Stanton, IA, is one. Don Peterson, one of their volunteer staff, is a knowledgeable and gracious custodian of that remarkable place which includes a study room with a large collection. Their book, Gracious Bounty, tells of the Halland settlement headed by Pastor B.M. Halland and extending from Stanton to Shenandoah along the Burlington R.R. Stanton, Red Oak, Fremont and Essex are among the Covenant churches which are part of this settlement. Link

The second was an internet find; David M. Gustafson's "Land Agent Victor Rylander and Nebraska Free Churches," which tells of my wife's home area, Phelps County. Link(scroll down to "stories") This was a similar R.R. settlement for religious Swedes including Moses Hill congregation. The paper is linked to the GenWeb site for Phelps County NE. Rylander was tour guide for Waldenstrom on one of his U.S. visits and was involved in the Belt City offer of land for North Park.

Dear Phil:

Again, I appreciate your refreshing my memory on your own background vis-a-vis the Swedish immigrants and their varying beliefs. A week ago last Sunday we fulfilled a goal while still in Iowa to pay a visit to Lorrain (Mrs. Bertil) Lovain of Arthur, IA. About fifteen years ago Lorraine self-published a well-written history of her family aptly entitled SWEDISH ROOTS. Bert was Chairman of our board at Covenant Home in Stromsburg, and pastor of our home church in Wausa at the time, and I saw to it that my family and friends had copies of her story. They served churches in Bradford, PA, Loveland, CO, Scottsbluff, NE, and Upsala, MN, in addition to Wausa.

Her maternal grandfather was a Swedish Baptist minister from Minnesota, (Cloquet I believe) and her father met her mother when they served the Arthur Swedish Baptist church. This church, now closed but still standing four miles south of Arthur, was part of our afternoon tour. Nearby to the south stood the remains of Lorraine's Grandfather John Anderson's farm; four hundred plus acres at its peak and the subject of the jacket photo on her book. To the north was a similarly expansive spread which belonged to the man who gave the land for the church and was its first pastor. Here is a picture of immigrant churchmen: they provided the land, literally built the church, and then oversaw the congregation.

Besides renewing acquaintance with her and seeing Arthur (pop 300 minus), I was in hopes of gleaning some insights about the Swedes in Iowa...Baptist, Free, Covenant and Augustana. When I asked about the Swedish Baptist history book I was interested in, she disappeared into the addition which has one wall of books, one of family pictures and one of musical instruments. We did not find A. Olson's Centenniary History of the Baptist General Conference, but perhaps even better, a substantial volume of Iowa Swedish Baptist history. She and Eleanor then graciously left me to immerse myself while they made coffee.

There seemed to be only a dozen or two churches in Iowa. Pastors were similarly few and circulated in this limited arena, with natural exchange across the Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin borders. The earliest were in the quad cities, and in this conne ction there were some stories involving the names Norelius and Esbjorn in which the stigma of rebaptism arose. One vague memory snippet involved an Augustana brother bent on intervening in the rebaptism of a colleague, encountering him on the very road to the creek and carrying a change of dry clothing...who then in desperate resignation merely greeted him with a "hello" and went his way.

I have read another account from the Augustana side of one of the early pastors who, when receiving a letter from another group that was contemplating rebaptism dashed off a telegram, "I'm coming, don't do anything until I get there!" It would not be impossible that the same story is remembered. The writer exhibited little animus toward the Lutherans, but one had the sense that more than one "brand was snatched from the burning."

Swedish Baptist congregations in communities with Covenant churches seemed few indeed: Swede Bend, Des Moines and Centerville are all that I can recall. Odebolt is now closed, and was but a few miles from Arthur. There was a fascinating comment regarding one of the early Iowa works which suffered from internal dissent: the issues were "atonement controversy" and "adventism." Here, at least, I sensed that the Baptists stood nearer their Reformation heritage than a Covenanter such as myself might suspect.

Lorraine expressed some regret that her Baptist church and the Odebolt Covenant church had closed simultaneously; defaulting to the Arthur E. Free congregation. Had either remained open, they would have benefitted from the other's members who held one another preferrable to their ultimate alternative. Upon her family moving into Arthur proper years ago, they attended the Methodist church, which I do not recall as being a Swedish Conference church but so suspect. I did not encounter a local Augustana presence at Arthur.

At last we toured the cemetary...one with almost exclusively Scandinavian surnames and I found myself standing at Bert's grave; November '04. He had expressed a preference for burial in his native Chicago, but at a fraction of the cost agreed to Arthur. (Lorraine earlier mentioned her desire to attend Bethany College, but settled on Trinity for economic reasons) Is there an unwritten chapter on "economics and the mission friends?" As we had arrived, Lorraine was on the phone with a friend, wife of Covenant Pastor John Gabrielson whom we knew in Nebraska...they had been Trinity classmates. We left with a desire to meet again, members of a family greater in scope than we often realize.

-Bob G.


The spring booksale at Library of Religious Thought brought a bounty of books on the subject including the Olson volume I mentioned last time. J. Beverland, the proprtietor, thanked me for the mention in the Pietisten letters to the editor, which a relative of his had "googled". To read the historical works of the Swedish Baptists is like travelling in a parallel universe. I want mainly to quote verbatim the entry on one pastor named Soneson, from SEVENTY-FIVE YEARS, BETHEL THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY, Adolph and Virgil Olson, 1946:

Soneson, Nels

Born Febr. 20, 1883, Allerum, Malmohus Lan, Skane, Sweden. Converted July 31, 1904. Bethel Academy 1905-09. Graduated 1909. Southern Baptist Theo. Seminary 1909-10; Sw Dept D.S.U. of C. 1910-12. Graduated 1912. Student pastor, Red Wing, Minn., 1906; Cokato, Minn., 1906-07; Milaca, Minn., 1907; St. Paul Second, Minn., 1908; Fullerton, N.D., 1909; Anoka and Enfield, Minn., 1910; Kulm, N.D., 1911. Married Mabel Isabella Bergstrom, Cokato, Minn., Sept. 25, 1913. Children: Doris Marina, Eldreth Ellerine, Joseph Mellburn (note: our beloved North Park philosophy professor), and John Gaylord. Ordained July 26, 1912, Great Falls, Mont. Pastor, Great Falls, Mont., 1912-13; Grass Lake, Minn., 1013-14; Rush City, Minn., 1914-17; farming, Cokato and Braham, Minn., 1917-21; pastor Lake Elizabeth, Minn., 1921-23; Norway, Mich., 1923-27; Forest City, Ia., 1927-32; Cook, Leander and East Little Fork, Minn., 1933-35. Residing, Cook, Minn.

A good feature of this book, which continues a practice found in an earlier volume in Swedish, is to provide a biographical sketch of each seminary student along the lines of the above summary of Nels Soneson's. I wish there were such a collection for Covenanters. Most are more brief than Nels'. The connections with recognizable people and places become easily made...I couldn't put this book down! Some of the connections are with people from Stromsburg, where the Baptist seminary was located from 1886-88 (and where a Baptist encounter with Waldenstromian ideas occurred). Other names appearing are Paul Holmer, Haddon Klingberg and Chas. G. Meyers.

I remember Mel Soneson's vivid description of the little chapel of his childhood memory...with gospel banners on the walls and the intense pressure for "decision." He could describe the manipulation and deviousness of that situation in a way that was wonderfully liberating to me. I remember that he used the word, "seduction." At the other extreme of the Swedish Baptist spectrum there is some very respectable scholarship which reveals, as suggested, a "parallel universe" to ours.

Here are some "common threads" with the mission friends which come to mind:

-the Conventicles Edict


-the Atlantic crossing (the Bethel ship in NY harbor, Erland Carlsson's Chicago)

-ethnic cohesiveness (they appear in locales with Mission or Augustana presences)

-helpful "brethren" in American denominations

-the Moody phenomenon, including Fredrik Franson

-resistance to education for clergy, or a denominational school

-an independent religious press alongside the institutional one

-doctrinal aberrations (adventism, charismatics, "Waldenstromians")

-transition to English language and the "second generation"

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