Tag Archives: North Dakota

Henry H. Ness: The Norwegian Immigrant Who Became an Influential Assemblies of God Pastor and Educator

Ness

Henry H. Ness (right) and Ed Eliason traveled together as Assemblies of God evangelists in the 1920s. They were called the ‘Banjo Twins.’

This Week in AG History — March 22, 1970

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 22 March 2018

Henry H. Ness (1894-1970) immigrated to America in search of wealth and opportunity. When he dedicated his life to Christ in the 1920s, however, his focus changed from accumulation of wealth to sharing the gospel. He followed God’s call into the ministry and became an influential Assemblies of God pastor and educator.

Ness was born in Kristiania (Oslo), the capital city of Norway. His parents were devout Christians and were members of the Filadelfia Church, the first Pentecostal congregation in that country. Ness knew the power of God from firsthand experience. He grew up in the midst of the emerging Pentecostal revival, and he spent much of his free time during his teenage years in prayer meetings and church services.

Like many of his friends, Ness felt the lure of America. From 1820 to 1920, about 720,000 Norwegians immigrated to the United States. That was a sizeable portion of the nation, as Norway had a population of 2,653,024 in 1920. In 1911, when Ness was only 17 years old, he left Norway and set sail for America.

Ness initially settled in Chicago and then moved to Minneapolis, where he operated his own drug store. After several years, he sold the business and took a job with Standard Oil Company, where he was promoted several times and held a good position. In 1919, Ness married a young Danish immigrant, Anna, and they began a family together. They were living the American dream.

In his rush to achieve success, Ness neglected his spiritual life. He replaced the heart-felt Christian faith of his Norwegian upbringing with American materialism. Deep inside, he knew that he needed to get right with God, but he suppressed the sense of conviction he felt from the Holy Spirit. He became consumed with the daily activities of life and did not have time for God.

One Sunday evening in the early 1920s, Anna attended a Pentecostal service in Minneapolis and committed herself to God. She came home with a radiant countenance, exclaiming to her husband, “I am saved! Oh, I am saved! You too must be saved. It is so wonderful!” Ness could tell that she had a genuine conversion experience. Anna’s newfound faith brought back memories of the early Pentecostal revival in Norway. Two weeks later, Ness knelt down in his home and consecrated himself to the Lord.

Ness felt called to the ministry and, in 1925, he accepted the pastorate of a small Assemblies of God church in Brainerd, Minnesota. The following year, he moved to Fargo, North Dakota, where he pioneered Fargo Gospel Tabernacle (later First Assembly of God). Ness related well to the city’s large population of Scandinavian immigrants. During the seven years of his Fargo pastorate, the church grew to 500 members. He united several groups of Pentecostals in the region, including a group of former members of the Swedish Free Mission in neighboring Moorhead, Minnesota, where people began experiencing the gift of speaking in tongues in the 1890s. Ness documented the story of this early Scandinavian-American Pentecostal revival in his book, Demonstration of the Holy Spirit.

In 1933, Ness accepted a call to pastor another congregation of Scandinavian immigrants – Hollywood Temple, located in Seattle, Washington. The congregation emerged from a Pentecostal revival among Baptist churches in Seattle in the early 1920s. Founded in 1927 by former members of Elim Swedish Baptist Church, the new congregation was initially called Hollywood Temple Full Gospel Baptist Church (now Calvary Christian Assembly).

Ness led the congregation to affiliate with the Assemblies of God in January 1934. Later that year, he founded Northwest Bible Institute (now Northwest University), which was initially located on the church property. The college flourished, and the church planted several daughter congregations across the area. He served as pastor and college president until 1948, when he was appointed by the Governor to be chairman of the Washington State Board of Prison Terms and Paroles, a position he held for six years. Ness was a respected minister and community leader. He authored several books, including the widely-read Dunamis and the Church (GPH, 1968).

Ness parlayed his background as an immigrant into a platform for building bridges across the religious and national divides. Following World War II, he made frequent trips to other nations and met with religious and political leaders. His obituary in the Pentecostal Evangel noted that Ness had a 30-minute private audience with Pope Pius XII, which helped win religious freedom for the Assemblies of God in Italy.

When Henry H. Ness went to be with the Lord in 1970, he left behind numerous institutions and countless people impacted by his extensive ministry. The young Norwegian immigrant had turned from a life of materialism, consecrating himself to God. Instead of building his own kingdom, Ness helped to build the kingdom of God.

Read Henry H. Ness’s obituary on page 28 of the March 22, 1970, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “A Corn of Wheat Must Die,” by William F. P. Burton

• “Pressures on the Church,” by C. M. Ward

• “What Chi Alpha Means,” by Johnny Davidson

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: archives@ag.org
Website: www.iFPHC.org

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C. M. Hanson and the Pre-Azusa Pentecostal Revival among Scandinavian-Americans


This Week in AG History — August 22, 1954

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 20 August 2015

Carl M. “Daddy” Hanson (1865-1954), a spiritual father to many early Pentecostals on the northern Great Plains, earned his Pentecostal stripes on both sides of Azusa Street. He experienced the Pentecostal distinctive of speaking in tongues in the nineteenth century, and he became an early leader in the Assemblies of God in the first half of the twentieth century.

The son of Norwegian immigrants to Minnesota, Hanson was converted while a student at Augsburg Seminary and became an evangelist affiliated with the Scandinavian Free Mission (now known as the Evangelical Free Church). The Scandinavian Free Mission, in the 1890s and early 1900s, witnessed a significant revival in which many people experienced salvation, healings, and biblical spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues.

This revival made a deep impression on Hanson, who himself was healed of a terminal illness in 1895. A short time later, he held services in Grafton, North Dakota, where people had a great hunger for God. There, he saw a young Norwegian girl, enraptured in the presence of God, speak in a language she had not learned. Hanson pondered what it meant, studied Scripture, and came away convinced that that the prophecy in Joel 2:28 was coming true before his eyes: “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions” (KJV).

Hanson continued as an itinerant evangelist. His daughter, Anna Berg, recalled, “My father began giving testimony wherever doors were open to him: in churches, schoolhouses, homes, and missions. The response was amazing. Everywhere people were saved. This was usually followed by a consuming desire for more of God’s power in their lives.”

In about 1899, Hanson received the gift of speaking in tongues. In 1904, he opened a rescue mission in Minneapolis, where he sought to give physical and spiritual help to those who were drunken, homeless, and destitute. He traversed the region, raising support and seeking young people to work with him at the mission.

Hanson soon identified with the emerging Pentecostal movement in Chicago, which had its roots in the 1906 Azusa Street revival in Los Angeles. Chicago Pentecostal leader William Durham ordained Hanson in 1909, and Hanson transferred his ordination to the Assemblies of God in 1917. In 1922, when the Assemblies of God organized churches and ministers in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the Dakotas into the North Central District, participants unanimously elected Hanson to serve as the district’s first chairman.

Hanson and his wife, Mathilda, had 13 children, two of whom became Pentecostal missionaries. Esther M. Hanson served at L. M. Anglin’s orphanage in China, and Anna C. (Mrs. Arthur F.) Berg served in Belgian Congo prior to pastoring in Sisseton and Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Former Assemblies of God General Superintendent G. Raymond Carlson also traced his family’s Pentecostal experience back to Hanson’s ministry. It was in Carlson’s maternal grandparents’ home in Grafton, North Dakota, that Hanson first saw someone speak in tongues.

Hanson’s story reminds us that the modern Pentecostal movement emerged from a variety of sources. Revivals at Topeka and Azusa Street may have been two of the most visible focal points of early twentieth-century American Pentecostalism, but prior revivals, including those among Scandinavian settlers in the northern Great Plains, provided precedents and leaders for the emerging movement.

The Pentecostal Evangel published a memorial tribute to Hanson on page 12 of the August 22, 1954, issue.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Tony, the Miracle Boy”

• “Maybe I’m Wrong,” by John Garlock

• “Ride on, King Jesus,” by Zelma Argue

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Read more about Hanson in the article, “Carl M. Hanson: Scandinavian Harbinger of Pentecost,” in the Spring-Summer 2006 issue of Assemblies of God Heritage magazine.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: archives@ag.org

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Review: Mel and Corliss Erickson

Living the Call: Mel and Corliss Erickson, by Karen Koczwara. Beaverton, OR: Good Book Publishing, 2010.

For more than 40 years, Mel and Corliss Erickson have been synonymous with Assemblies of God ministry to Native Americans in North Dakota. Mel, a native of Kulm, North Dakota, and Corliss, from Hallock, Minnesota, met at North Central Bible College in Minneapolis and married in 1967.

The trajectory for their lives was set on one Sunday evening in August 1966, when Mel received a distinct call to minister to Native Americans. He recounted, “I suddenly felt God say to me, ‘I want you to go to minister to the American Indians.’ I was so shocked I nearly bolted out of my seat.” He had little exposure to Native Americans, and he asked God three times whether he had heard correctly. He reasoned that he should go to Africa, India, or South America, instead of remaining so close to home. God confirmed this call, and Mel remained true to it.

The Ericksons spent the first twenty years of their ministry as pastors of Tokio Assembly of God, located on the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation near Devils Lake, North Dakota. Mel became the coordinator of the North Dakota District’s outreach to Native Americans. After resigning from the Tokio church in 1987, Erickson oversaw the planting of All Tribes Assembly of God in Bismarck and the construction of new church buildings for Native American congregations in Belcourt and Fort Totten.

Living the Call tells the engaging, faith-inspiring story of the Ericksons and their six children, as they learned to live and minister in their cross-cultural calling. This book will be of interest to those who knew the Ericksons and to those who desire to know more about life and ministry in the rural Great Plains and among Native Americans.

Reviewed by Darrin J. Rodgers

Paperback, 230 pages, illustrated. $15 plus postage. Order from: Dakota Missionary Evangelism

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Review: Marcus and Elva Mae Bakke

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Marcus and Elva Mae Bakke: On Divine Assignment, by Virginia Dohms. Minot, ND: Grace Publishing, 2008.

North Dakota has produced many outstanding leaders within the Assemblies of God, and Marcus Bakke is one of them. After almost sixty years in ministry, Marcus and Elva Mae Bakke continue to let their lights shine brightly for Jesus. On Divine Assignment is an engaging account of this Norwegian-American couple’s life and ministry in North Dakota, with stories of changed lives and miracles, and vignettes of life in the rural Great Plains worthy of Garrison Keillor. In our age of impermanence and rootlessness, it is remarkable that the Bakkes have had only three ministry assignments: thirty years in pastoral work in Bowman County, nineteen years as District Superintendent, and their current ministry in Selfridge. The Bakkes have served their communities, the Assemblies of God, and their family well, demonstrating warmth, humor, and faithfulness.

–George O. Wood, General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God

Paperback, 221 pages. $14.95, plus $4 shipping. Order from dakotabooknet.com or from the author: Virginia Dohms, 701 46th Ave NE, Minot, ND 58703. Contact the author by phone (701-852-2339) or email (dohms@srt.com).

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Review: Out Behind the Barn

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Out Behind the Barn, by Jon Liechty. Jamestown, ND: the author, 2008.

The Liechty family has been a fixture in the Assemblies of God in North Dakota since before the North Dakota District Council was organized. Spirit-baptized in the Egeland Free Mission (Egeland, ND) in the 1910s, John H. Liechty helped to organize a small but sturdy independent Pentecostal congregation, Minnewaukan Gospel Tabernacle. Of Liechty’s seven children, Jon, Paul, and Silas went on to become ministers or layleaders in the North Dakota District, using their business acumen, work ethic, and heart for ministry to build the church in the state.

In Out Behind the Barn, Jon Liechty tells his heart-warming testimony, which demonstrates the provisions and faithfulness of God. Liechty reminisces about people, places and events that will be familiar to many in his corner of the world. This book will be welcomed by the numerous people whose lives have been impacted by the Liechty family and by those who are interested in learning more about the development of Pentecostalism in North Dakota.

Reviewed by Darrin J. Rodgers

Paperback, 232 pages, illustrated. $12.99 postpaid. Order from: Jon Liechty, PO Box 758, Jamestown, ND 58402.

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Review: Northern Harvest

rPentecostalism in North Dakota

Northern Harvest: Pentecostalism in North Dakota, by Darrin J. Rodgers. Bismarck, North Dakota: North Dakota District Council of the Assemblies of God, 2003.

Northern Harvest documents the rise of Pentecostalism in North Dakota from a few scattered congregations at the turn of the twentieth-century to its present status as the state’s fourth largest religious group. While many historians contend that revivals in Topeka, Kansas (1901) and Los Angeles, California (1906-09) became the focal point of the emerging worldwide Pentecostal movement, Rodgers unearthed evidence that earlier revivals in Minnesota and the Dakotas provided it with precedents and leaders. North Dakotans, Pentecostals, and historians will be intrigued that a network of Scandinavian immigrant churches on the northern Great Plains practiced tongues-speech and healing before the better-known Topeka and Azusa Street revivals. This is the first significant study of Pentecostal origins in Scandinavian pietism in Minnesota and the Dakotas, exploring the movement’s roots outside the American Wesleyan and Holiness traditions. Continue reading

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