Tag Archives: Scandinavian Pentecostalism

Early Pentecostal Revivals Among Scandinavian Immigrants in Fargo-Moorhead

FargoThis Week in AG History — November 29, 1930

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 27 November 2019

Few Assemblies of God congregations in 1930 could boast an attendance of 1,000 people in a service. Yet when Fargo Gospel Tabernacle dedicated its new building on Oct. 8, 1930, over 1,000 people attended the services. The Nov. 29, 1930, issue of The Pentecostal Evangel reported on the event held in North Dakota’s largest city, then with a population of 28,619. British-born, Oxford-educated evangelist Charles S. Price was the dedication speaker, and long-time local pastor John Thompson also delivered a sermon in the Swedish language.

Fargo Gospel Tabernacle (now Northview Church) was organized in 1926 and by 1933 claimed approximately 500 members. How did this congregation grow so quickly in this northern city known for its large Scandinavian immigrant population? At least two factors played a part in the church’s rapid development.

First, Fargo Gospel Tabernacle was built upon the foundation of earlier Pentecostal revivals and churches in the region. The congregation’s most significant Pentecostal predecessor was the Swedish Free Mission, which was located in neighboring Moorhead, Minnesota.

John Thompson previously served as pastor of the Swedish Free Mission before becoming a member of Fargo Gospel Tabernacle in his later years. The Swedish Free Mission was a leading congregation in a network of Scandinavian congregations in Minnesota and the Dakotas in which speaking in tongues and healing commonly occurred as early as the 1890s. Many early members of Fargo Gospel Tabernacle had been previously involved in this indigenous Scandinavian-American Pentecostal revival.

Second, Fargo Gospel Tabernacle was organized by a Norwegian immigrant, Henry H. Ness, who proved particularly adept at unifying existing Pentecostals and engaging the local community in high-profile activities.

Ness was a gifted orator and organizer, he held a number of successful evangelistic events, and he also produced two weekly radio programs, the Sunshine Hour and the Back Home Hour, broadcast over local radio station WDAY. Ness left Fargo in 1933 and moved to Seattle, Washington, where he pastored an Assemblies of God congregation, Hollywood Temple, and also founded Northwest University.

Today, Northview Church is the second largest Assemblies of God congregation in North Dakota, with Sunday morning attendance of about 1,000 people.

The history of early Pentecostalism in Fargo demonstrates that the Pentecostal movement did not originate solely among English-speakers in revivals at Topeka, Kansas (1901) or Azusa Street, Los Angeles, California (1906-1909). Rather, people from various national and denominational backgrounds, all of whom had experienced a common touch of the Holy Spirit, coalesced to form what we know today as the Pentecostal movement. While revivals at Topeka and Los Angeles were among the most prominent points of Pentecostal origin, early Scandinavian Pentecostal revivals in Minnesota and the Dakotas remind us of the movement’s diverse origins.

Read the report of the dedication of Fargo Gospel Tabernacle on page 21 of the Nov. 29, 1930, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Three Phases of Sanctification,” by Donald Gee

• “Is it Possible to be Happy?” by J. Narver Gortner

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

For additional information about the Pentecostal revival among Scandinavian-Americans in the 1890s and early 1900s, read “Rediscovering Pentecostalism’s Diverse Roots: Pentecostal Origins in Scandinavian Pietism in Minnesota and the Dakotas,” by Darrin Rodgers. The article was published in a Norwegian journal, Refleks, and is accessible by clicking here.

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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Review: Scandinavian Pentecostal Mission

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Visions of Apostolic Mission: Scandinavian Pentecostal Mission to 1935, by David Bundy. Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis. Studia Historico-Ecclesiastica Upsaliensia, 45. Uppsala, Sweden: Uppsala University Library, 2009.

Scandinavian missionaries have played an important role in the spread of Pentecostalism both in Europe and in the southern hemisphere. That is one of the major conclusions of David Bundy’s recently-published dissertation: Visions of Apostolic Mission: Scandinavian Pentecostal Mission to 1935. Among many other things, Bundy underscores the achievements of T.B. Barratt, the Norwegian pastor and Pentecostal pioneer.

The Pentecostal revival spread across the globe following the Azusa Street outpouring in 1906. From the very beginning Scandinavians took part in this process. By 1906-1907 a foothold had already been established for the revival in Sweden and Norway. In contrast to the development of the movement in North America, the advent of Scandinavian Pentecostalism did not initially cause splits and the founding of new denominations. Many viewed the new revival as a continuation of the earlier international Holiness movement, which in the Scandinavian countries was influenced by Lutheran pietists, Methodists and Baptists. In Sweden the largest Baptist denomination became the center of the Pentecostal revival.

Bundy shows how Scandinavian pietism influenced not only the character of Pentecostalism in Scandinavia, but also Pentecostalism in other parts of the world through the work of Scandinavian Pentecostal missionaries. One of the characteristics developed by Scandinavian Pentecostalism was an emphasis on the autonomy of the local church. This peculiarity arose from the heritage of Baptist congregationalism in Sweden. Through the missionary strategy of the emerging leader of Swedish Pentecostalism, Lewi Pethrus, this ecclesiology was exported with remarkable success, particularly to Brazil. Bundy’s research using early Pentecostal primary sources in the native Scandinavian languages is unparalleled. His painstaking scholarship has resulted in a great narrative of early Pentecostal revival and missions and is recommended reading for everyone interested in the formative years of global Pentecostalism.

Reviewed by Torbjörn Aronson, Livets Ord University

Paperback, 562 pages. To order, contact the publisher: Acta@ub.uu.se

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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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