Pre Azusa Outpouring

Rodgers, “Rediscovering Our Diverse Roots”


Rediscovering Our Diverse Roots: Pentecostal Origins in Scandinavian Pietism

in Minnesota and the Dakotas


Darrin J. Rodgers, Fuller Theological Seminary

Presented at the 33rd Annual Meeting of the Society for Pentecostal Studies

Revivals at Topeka and Azusa Street may have been the focal point of early

twentieth-century Pentecostalism, but prior revivals, including those among Scandinavian

settlers in the northern Great Plains, provided precedents and leaders for the emerging

movement. The first chroniclers of modern Pentecostalism documented these

Scandinavian enthusiasts in Minnesota and the Dakotas, but later histories often

minimized or omitted these revivals, discounting their significance or deeming it

unverifiable oral history. However, recently-discovered evidence verifies these early

accounts and suggests that these approximately two dozen pre-Azusa Scandinavian

congregations that practiced tongues-speech and healing may have made a greater impact

on the Pentecostal movement than previously thought.1 This paper aims: 1) to document

pre-Azusa Scandinavian evangelicals who practiced tongues-speech and healing in the

northern Great Plains; and 2) to address related historiographical issues.

Scandinavian settlers in Minnesota and the Dakotas experienced a spiritual

awakening in the late 1890s and early 1900s, spawning a number of congregations that

practiced speaking in tongues and healing. While some of these revivals predated the

Topeka and Azusa Street revivals, many of these plains enthusiasts soon identified with

the larger Pentecostal movement, including: Carl M. Hanson, an evangelist who.Rodgers, “Rediscovering Our Diverse Roots”


witnessed glossolalia in a revival in Grafton, North Dakota in 1895, and John Thompson,

pastor of the Moorhead (Minnesota) Swedish Free Mission, which experienced several

protracted revivals in the late 1890s and early 1900s. The Moorhead congregation

yielded Mary Johnson, the earliest-known Pentecostal missionary from America to

venture overseas. Several regional networks of congregations that practiced tongues-speech

and healing emerged, including the Scandinavian Mission Society (Sällskapet).2

Claims of an early Pentecost on the plains should be backed up by hard evidence.

The earliest Pentecostal historians cataloged numerous oral histories of early glossolalic

revivals.3 Pentecostal journalist Stanley Frodsham, in his 1946 history, assembled a list

of at least 11 claims of tongues-speech in the U.S. between 1850 and 1900, occurring in

New England, Ohio, Minnesota, South Dakota, North Carolina, Tennessee, and

Arkansas. Frodsham recounted stories of turn-of-the-century revivals told long after their

occurrence, and did not cite any sources pre-dating the Azusa Street revival.4 Carl

Brumback and William Menzies, in their 1961 and 1971 histories of the Assemblies of

God, repeated Frodsham’s list, providing little additional evidence.5 Menzies,

minimizing the importance of the revivals recorded by Frodsham, remarked, “These were

1 Portions of this paper were adapted from: Darrin J. Rodgers, Northern Harvest: Pentecostalism in NorthDakota (Bismarck, ND: North Dakota District Council of the Assemblies of God, 2003).

2 Another pre-Azusa Scandinavian Pentecostal network, later known as the Assembly of God Missionary

Fellowship (Guds forsamling in Norwegian), also existed. See: Rodgers, pp. 58-62, 177, 245-46.

3 B. F. Lawrence, Apostolic Faith Restored (St. Louis, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1916), pp. 46-47;

also published in serial form as “Apostolic Faith Restored” [Article V] Weekly Evangel, January 29 and

February 5, 1916, p. 4; Henry H. Ness, Demonstration of the Holy Spirit as Revealed by the Scriptures and

Confirmed in Great Revivals of Wesley, Finney, Cartwright, Whitfield, Moody, etc. (Seattle, WA:

Hollywood Temple, 1940s?), pp. 6-7.

4 Stanley H. Frodsham, With Signs Following [rev. ed.] (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House,

1946), pp. 9-17.

5 Carl Brumback, Suddenly from Heaven: A History of the Assemblies of God (Springfield, MO: Gospel

Publishing House, 1961), pp. 12-17; William W. Menzies, Anointed to Serve: The Story of the Assemblies

of God (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1971), pp. 29-33..Rodgers, “Rediscovering Our Diverse Roots”


all isolated, however, and did not seem to have more than local significance.”6 Later

histories entirely omitted these early revivals,7 possibly discounting them as unverified

oral history or wishful thinking by early enthusiasts who might have embellished stories

or incorrectly recalled dates.

However, early published sources do verify that speaking in tongues was

practiced prior to Azusa Street. The Azusa Street periodical, Apostolic Faith, printed a

1906 letter making this claim. A. O. Morken, a Norwegian from Audobon, MN, noted

that Pentecost in Audobon predated Azusa by two years:

A copy of the Apostolic Faith has been sent to us, and were much blest

when we read and saw that God baptized his children with the Holy Ghost

exactly the same way as He has done here. It is two years ago since God

began to baptize His children in this place and some are talking with

tongues, some have the gift of prophecy, etc.8

Morken testified of this early instance of tongues-speech in a February 25, 1904

letter to a Norwegian-language evangelical newspaper, Folke-Vennen:

Praise our God – He has also blessed us abundantly with all spiritual

blessings in Christ, as some did in the apostolic times, the gift of grace

appeared among us when a portion received grace to speak in divers

tongues. It was perceived that it was not common speech, but rather

angelic language; those under the Spirit’s effect, gripped in a power that

seized them completely in the endeavor. What they tell is

incomprehensible for themselves and for the others, but the Spirit Himself

has given [the interpreters] a share, so that all indicate an encouragement

and admonition to the children of God who will be staying awake and

imploring that Jesus comes soon.9

6 Menzies, p. 29.

7 For instance, Edith Blumhofer did not refer to the revivals recounted by Frodsham in her two recent

histories of the AG: The Assemblies of God: A Chapter in the Story of American Pentecostalism

(Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1989) and Restoring the Faith: The Assemblies of God,

Pentecostalism, and American Culture (Urbana, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1993).

8 Apostolic Faith (Los Angeles), December 1906, p. 3. For additional information on the Audobon

congregation, see: Gordon and Linda Bakken, Bakkens in America (Wichita, KS: the author, 1995), pp. 8,

16-17; Rodgers, pp. 5-6, 58-60.

9 A. O. Morken, “Fra vor egen Loesekreds” [trans. Erik L. Williamson], Folke-Vennen, February 25, 1904,

p. 4..Rodgers, “Rediscovering Our Diverse Roots”


Morken proceeded to note the outpouring was not confined to Audobon: “but we

hear that at the main places are the same blessings.”10 Descendants of Morken date the

revival as beginning in 1902 or 1903. 11

According to later accounts, these early Pentecostals were located in west central

Minnesota (Alexandria, Audobon, Detroit Lakes, Evansville, Fergus Falls, Lake Eunice,

Moorhead, and Tordenskjold), northwest Minnesota (Argyle, Fosston, Hallock, Holt,

Karlstad, Lake Bronson, Stephen, Thief River Falls, and Warren),12 eastern North Dakota

(Grafton and Hillsboro),13 and southeast South Dakota (Greenfield).14 This list included

both organized churches and unorganized home meetings. The history of this network or

networks is sketchy, and it is likely that additional, undocumented early Pentecostal

groups existed. It is unknown where the Pentecostal fire first fell, but it seems that

evangelist Carl M. Hanson, apparently spirit-baptized in 1899, had some influence among

these groups.

Carl M. “Daddy” Hanson, a spiritual father to many early Pentecostals on the

northern Great Plains, earned his Pentecostal stripes on both sides of Azusa Street. His

brand of radical Scandinavian pietism prefigured the emerging Pentecostal movement, in

which he became an early leader. Hanson traversed Minnesota and the eastern Dakotas

10 Ibid., p. 5.

11 For a 1902 claim, see: M. Earl Johnson, “A Godly Heritage: The Family of Earl and Darliene Johnson,”

Assemblies of God Heritage (Fall 2000): 26-27. For a 1903 claim, see: Gordon and Linda Bakken, p. 8.

12 Ness, pp. 6-7; Anna Vagle, “When Pentecost Fell in Minnesota,” Full Gospel Men’s Voice, September

1960, pp. 9-11. For a history of the early Pentecostal movement in northwest Minnesota, see: Rodgers, pp.

58-62, 181-82. For west central Minnesota, see: Rodgers, pp. 216-18.

13 See: Rodgers, pp. 58-62, 154-55, 177.

14 Ness, p. 7. Frodsham repeated Ness’ account in With Signs Following, p. 16. Ness wrote, “Another

remarkable outpouring of the Spirit took place at Greenfield, S.D., in the First Methodist Church where

Rasmus Kristensen was pastor. This was in 1896. As Brother Kristensen was preaching the power would

fall, the people being filled with the Holy Ghost and speaking in other tongues; and many other wonderful

manifestations of God being witnessed.” Rasmus Christiansen of Greenfield, SD (I assume this is the same

person, despite spelling differences) wrote two pre-Azusa articles: “De aandelige Gaver” (spiritual gifts),.Rodgers, “Rediscovering Our Diverse Roots”


during the late 1890s and early 1900s, spreading glossolalic revival even before the

Topeka and Azusa Street revivals. Hanson, born in 1865 in Minnesota to Norwegian

immigrants, converted to Christ as a student in the college preparatory program at

Augsburg Seminary, a Lutheran school in Minneapolis.15

Shortly after being healing of blood poisoning in 1895, Hanson set out as an

evangelist. Hanson recorded that he witnessed a small girl speak in tongues in one of his

meetings during that first year of ministry:

In 1895, while holding meetings and preaching the full gospel, as I saw it,

with a full consecration, sanctification and Baptism in the Holy Spirit, one

came clear through and spoke in tongues, as in Acts 2. 16

Significantly, the tongues-speech witnessed by Hanson occurred a decade

prior to the Azusa Street revival. The 1895 instance of tongues took place during

services he held on a farm near Grafton, North Dakota. G. Raymond Carlson,

former General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God, traced the origins of his

own family’s Pentecostal faith to that meeting.17

Hanson also received this experience in 1899. Hanson continued to itinerate as an

evangelist. In 1900, Hanson and his family moved from Lemond, Minnesota to

Minneapolis, where Hanson attended Zion Tabernacle, a congregation pastored by

Frederick A. Graves and affiliated with faith healer John Alexander Dowie.18

Folke-Vennen, May 12, 1904, p. 1 (the article, which has not been translated, contains numerous references

to 1 Cor. 12-14); Folke-Vennen, March 8, 1906, p. 5 (untitled, untranslated letter).

15 Carl M. Hanson, 1900 MN census records, E.D. 105, sheet 16, line 97; Irene Hankin, phone

conversation with author, October 1, 2002, notes from conversation; “Rev. C. M. Hanson at Home with the

Lord,” North Dakota District Echoes, July-August 1954, pp. 2, 7.

16 Carl M. Hanson, “My Personal Experiences of the Graces of Salvation, Healing and Baptism in the Holy

Spirit,” tract, 1906.

17 G. Raymond Carlson, “When Pentecost Came to the Upper Midwest,” Assemblies of God Heritage

(Spring 1984): 3. For additional information on the Grafton outpouring, see: Rodgers, pp. 154-55.

18 Carlson, p. 3; “Anna C. Berg,” in Historical Sketches of the Minneapolis Gospel Tabernacle

(Minneapolis, MN: The Church, 1930), p. 13; Anna Hanson Berg, interview by Wayne Warner,

September 23, 1980, audio recording. According to Anna, the Hansons attended Graves’ mission for four.Rodgers, “Rediscovering Our Diverse Roots”


Hanson itinerated as a Free Mission evangelist in Minnesota, the Dakotas,

Wisconsin, and Iowa, preaching his brand of radical evangelicalism, making converts,

and seeking funds and workers for a rescue mission he had opened in St. Paul in late

1904. In late February and early March 1905, Hanson held meetings in the Gotland

neighborhood near Fergus Falls, MN. Seizing upon local gossip, a reporter wrote:

Several young people have been attending these meetings and it is reported that

they work themselves into a perfect frenzy, rolling on the floor, endeavoring to

climb up the walls, tossing chairs about and talking oddly in what is supposed to

be ancient or peculiar languages, imagining that they have the gift of tongues.19

The irate father of one of the young people at Hanson’s meeting swore out a

warrant for Hanson’s arrest on charges of disorderly conduct.20 At the hearing, several

boys testified that Hanson seemed to hypnotize his converts. According to the reporter,

[Hanson] claimed the testimony was somewhat exaggerated, although

cheerfully admitting that he and his converts roll about on the floor

whenever the spirit so moves them. He vehemently denied any

insinuations as to hypnotic influence, and claims that the violent actions

just described are the results of the working of spirits either of good or

evil, and in some instances of the conflicts of the powers of light and

darkness as described in the Scriptures. He also states that converts are

frequently given the gift of tongues, as they were of old, and that they talk

in whatever language the spirit directs. He claims further that he knew

one lady who had no knowledge whatever of German who has able to talk

this language when thus moved, and that the converts know exactly what

they are doing at all times.21

In 1906, Hanson printed a tract, in which he testified to having already lived with

the Pentecostal blessing for over seven years.22 C. M. Hanson soon identified with the

emerging Pentecostal movement in Chicago, which had roots in the Azusa Street

years. Articles from Dowie’s periodical placed Graves in Chicago in late 1902, where he served as an elder

in Central Zion Tabernacle, then in Minneapolis as early as March 1903 through at least June 1905. Leaves

of Healing, December 6, 1902, p. 223; Leaves of Healing, March 7, 1903, p. 635; Leaves of Healing, June

24, 1905, p. 349.

19 “Too Much Excitement,” Fergus Falls Daily Journal, March 10, 1905, p. 3.

20 “Fined $35,” Fergus Falls Daily Journal, March 11, 1905, p. 3.

21 Ibid..Rodgers, “Rediscovering Our Diverse Roots”


revival.23 On September 25, 1909, Chicago Pentecostal leader William Durham ordained

Hanson as a minister with the Full Gospel Assembly.24 Durham served as pastor of the

North Avenue Mission, where F. A. Sandgren, editor of Folke-Vennen, was an elder.25

Hanson transferred his ordination to the Assemblies of God (AG) on September 11, 1917.

Participants at the 1922 organizational meeting of the North Central District Council

(AG) unanimously elected “Daddy” Hanson, revered as one of the region’s Pentecostal

pioneers, to serve as the District Council’s first Chairman (1922-23).26

The Swedish Free Mission in Moorhead, a leading congregation in the

Scandinavian Mission Society (Sällskapet), a small association of Scandinavian free

church congregations in Minnesota and the Dakotas, experienced a period of revival at

the turn of the century, during which many people accepted Christ, received bodily

healing, and spoke in tongues.27 Throughout most of the 1890s, congregations in the

Scandinavian Mission Society did not have permanent pastors. Instead, a plurality of

elders, including Thompson, rotated between the various churches.28

22 Carl M. Hanson, “My Personal Experiences.”

23 It is unknown when Hanson identified with the Chicago Pentecostals. He may have been influenced by

his close friend and former pastor, Frederick A. Graves, who had moved to Zion City, IL in 1905 or 1906

and became an early Pentecostal. In a 1908 letter, Hanson recounted a trip to Detroit Harbor, Wisconsin,

during which he apparently met with Chicago Pentecostals. Carl M. Hanson, untranslated letter, Folke-Vennen,

September 24, 1908, p. 5. For another account of Hanson’s trip, see: John Ommundsen,

untranslated letter, Folke-Vennen, November 12, 1908, p. 4.

24 Carl M. Hanson, ministerial file, Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center, Springfield, Missouri.

25 Richard M. Riss, “William H. Durham,” in New International Dictionary of Pentecostal and CharismaticMovements (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), pp. 594-95.

26 “Minutes of meeting held at Brainerd, Minn., November 10, 1922 for the purpose of forming a District

Council,” Minnesota District Council (AG) Archives, Minneapolis, MN.

27 Ness, pp. 6-7; Brumback, p. 14;. Menzies, p. 30.

28 1883-1958, Diamond Jubilee, Evangelical Free Church, Moorhead, Minnesota (Moorhead, MN: The

Church, 1958); John Thompson, interview by author, June 1998, Springfield, MO, transcript of audio

recording. For one critic’s view of the Scandinavian Mission Society, see: Frank Theodor Lindberg,

Looking Back Fifty Years: Over the Rise and Progress of the Swedish Evangelical Free Church of America

(Minneapolis, MN: Franklin Printing Co., 1935), pp. 61-66..Rodgers, “Rediscovering Our Diverse Roots”


The Moorhead congregation experienced one or more protracted periods of

revival. At some point during this period of revival, believers began to manifest

Pentecostal gifts. Thompson’s son wrote:

God graciously poured out His Spirit with signs following. Many received

the glorious Baptism in the Holy Ghost speaking in other tongues as the

Spirit of God gave utterance. At that time we had not heard of any other

places having received a like experience, but later we heard of people in

California and Winnipeg, Canada, having received a like precious

outpouring of the Holy Spirit . . . Praise God, the spirit of revival was

manifested in every service.29

The chronology of this revival is uncertain. Henry H. Ness wrote that the revival

began in 1892. 30 Several historians repeated Ness’s account, which did not distinguish

between the beginning of the protracted period of revival, which lasted years, and when

Pentecostal gifts began to be manifested.31 Likewise, Thompson’s grandson believed the

revivals started in the 1890s and was uncertain when people started speaking in

tongues.32 Some evidence suggests that the Pentecostal gifts, and speaking in tongues in

particular, began occurring in about 1903. Thompson’s son wrote in 1937 that “the

Latter Rain outpouring as on the day of Pentecost” in Moorhead occurred “thirty-four

years ago,” “in the beginning of this century.”33 If Pentecostal manifestations began

occurring in Moorhead at about the same time as they did in other pre-Azusa revivals in

Minnesota and the Dakotas, then it is unlikely the Moorhead manifestations began as

early as 1892. In Minnesota and the Dakotas, scattered reports of tongues-speech exist

29 Peter B. Thompson, “Pentecostal Outpouring of Thirty-four Years Ago,” Pentecostal Evangel,

November 27, 1937, p. 8.

30 Ness, pp. 6-7.

31 Brumback, p. 14; Menzies, p. 30.

32 John Thompson, interview by author, June 1998.

33 Peter B. Thompson, “Pentecostal Outpouring,” Pentecostal Evangel, November 27, 1937, p. 8. Citing

Thompson’s article, historian Wayne Warner concluded the revival occurred in 1903. Wayne Warner,

“Pentecostal revival stirs Swedish church,” Pentecostal Evangel, April 21, 1996, p. 27..Rodgers, “Rediscovering Our Diverse Roots”


from 1895 to 1899, followed by documentation of more than a dozen tongues-speaking

congregations from 1899 to 1906.

Mary Johnson, the earliest-known Pentecostal missionary from North America to

venture overseas, was raised in the Moorhead congregation. Johnson and Ida Andersson,

who had been an evangelist in the Scandinavian Mission Society for thirteen years,

traveled together as evangelists for several years, then felt a call to serve as missionaries

to Africa. At the Society’s annual meeting at Lake Eunice, Minnesota in November

1904, Johnson was spirit-baptized and spoke in tongues. Andersson had the experience

several years later. From Lake Eunice, the two women set out in faith, without a definite

budget, and arrived in Durban, Kwa-Zulu Natal on January 16, 1905. 34

The Scandinavian Mission Society (Sällskapet) wielded some influence in the

northern Great Plains. According to one pioneer, it was the “controlling power” among

Scandinavian free churches in Minnesota at the turn of the twentieth century.35 August

Davis, who served as an early Society Chairman, endorsed Fredrik Franson’s training

courses for women ministers.36 One critic of female ministers lamented that the Society’s

“many groups and churches” had only four resident pastors, and that about fifty women

were preaching in the pulpits. The critic derided the Society as not well-organized,

charging that “the women evangelists and a few others” controlled the election of officers

at the annual meetings. Davis was succeeded as Chairman by John Thompson, pastor of

the Moorhead Swedish Free Mission.37 It is not known how widespread Pentecostal gifts

were among Scandinavian Mission Society congregations. However, the practice of

34 Naemi Reinholdz, “En Guds plöjerska: Mary Johnsons liv och verksamher,” Trons Segrars, undated

clippings of a serialized biography. The clippings and a translation of the articles by Lyndon Johnson from

Swedish to English are in the author’s possession.

35 Lindberg, p. 61..Rodgers, “Rediscovering Our Diverse Roots”


rotating elders between the various congregations must have spread Pentecostal teachings

across the fellowship, since some of the elders (including Thompson) practiced speaking

in tongues and healing. Further research into the history of the Scandinavian Mission

Society would be a valuable addition to the study of Pentecostal origins.

Importantly, the revivals in Minnesota and the Dakotas testify to Pentecostalism’s

roots in Scandinavian pietism. This genesis, separate from the Topeka and Azusa Street

revivals, underscores the plural nature of the movement. Early Scandinavian

Pentecostals hailed from pietist traditions, such as the Haugean movement in Norway 38

and the Awakened and Laestadian movements in Finland 39 and Sweden.40 Early

36 Ibid., p. 58.

37 Ibid., pp. 61-63.

38 In Norway, Hans Nielsen Hauge pioneered a revival movement at the turn of the nineteenth century.

Hauge’s experience of a spiritual awakening in 1796, identified by several Lutheran historians to be a

“baptism of the Spirit,” led him to begin preaching. In Norway, Haugean believers attended the state church

on Sunday and held evangelical home prayer meetings during the week. In America, some Haugean

immigrants continued holding evangelical meetings separate from the Lutheran Sunday services, while

others brought their fervent prayer and evangelical preaching into the regular services. Free from the

supervision of church hierarchy, these Haugean believers sometimes developed their own theological

beliefs as they sought to restore Biblical faith. Some of these new churches were explicitly Lutheran and

formed organizations such as the Hauge Synod. Others affiliated with networks of free churches, some of

which became Pentecostal. Magnus Nodtvedt, Rebirth of Norway’s Peasantry: Folk Leader Hans Nielsen Hauge (Tacoma, WA: Pacific Lutheran University Press, 1965), pp. 105; Andreas Aarflot, Hans Nielsen

Hauge: His Life and Message (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House, 1979), pp. 15-43; Robert

Lee, President of the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations, phone interview by author, February 19,

1996, notes from conversation.

39 The pietistic “Awakened movement” in Finland, led by Paavo Ruotsalainen, paralleled the rise of the

Haugean movement in Norway. Like Hauge, Ruotsalainen experienced an awakening in 1796. Unlike

Hauge, historians record that Ruotsalainen spoke in tongues. Recent Finnish Pentecostal scholarship

describes early nineteenth-century Finns as experiencing “a general spiritual unrest in Finland,” in which

“[p]eople were expecting the end of the world and spontaneous revivals sprang up with people speaking in

tongues, falling into a trance, preaching in trance, prophesying and having dreams and visions…” Leo

Meller, “Early Pentecost in Lutheran Finland,” unpublished manuscript summarizing recent Finnish

Pentecostal scholarship, 2004. See also: Lauri Ahonen, “Awakened,” in New International Dictionary of

Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), p. 343; Lauri Ahonen,

Misions Growth: A Case Study on Finnish Free Foreign Mission (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library,

1984), pp. 8-9.

40 In Småland, Sweden, newspapers in the early 1840s published numerous stories of odd religious

manifestations. One ecstasy, termed “preaching sickness,” affected people who attended meetings held by

powerful revivalists. Critics mocked the spasms, jerks, and emotionalism of those affected, but also

conceded that many involved were converted, gave up alcohol, and returned stolen property. David Nyvall,

The Swedish Covenanters: A History (Chicago, IL: Covenant Book Concern, 1930), pp. 36-38; George M..Rodgers, “Rediscovering Our Diverse Roots”


Scandinavian Pentecostals often emphasized continuity with their pietist heritage,

recalling instances of miracles, tongues, and other spiritual gifts that occurred in previous

centuries in Scandinavia.41

By the 1870s and 1880s, a trans-Atlantic revival among Scandinavians in Europe

and America resulted in the formation of networks of Scandinavian “free church”

congregations, many of which later joined what became the Evangelical Free Church of

America and the Evangelical Covenant Church of America. Many leaders in this revival,

perhaps most notably Fredrick Franson, drew heavily from American evangelicalism.

However, historian Frederick Hale warned against regarding Scandinavian free churches

“merely as an outgrowth of American Christianity.”42 Scandinavian free churches were

the product of a “complex tapestry” with “innumerable threads to the pattern,” including

both Scandinavian and American influences.43 Similarly, Scandinavian pietists in

Minnesota and the Dakotas who practiced tongues-speech and healing prior to Azusa

Street should not be viewed simply as converts to American evangelicalism. Perhaps the

most obvious Pentecostal origin is American evangelicalism, but Scandinavian pietism

also provided the Pentecostal movement with leaders and precedents.

Pre-Azusa Scandinavian Pentecostals did have contact with English-speaking

evangelicals. Folke-Vennen published articles by Hauge and Rosenius next to

translations of articles by American Holiness leaders. Faith healer John Alexander

Dowie also may have wielded some influence, as Carl M. Hanson, several years after

receiving the gift of tongues, began attending a Minneapolis mission associated with

Stephenson, The Religious Aspects of Swedish Immigration (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota

Press, 1932), pp. 24-48; Karl A. Olsson, By One Spirit (Chicago, IL: Covenant Press, 1962), pp. 60-64.

41 Rodgers, pp. 30-34..Rodgers, “Rediscovering Our Diverse Roots”


Dowie. However, I was unable to find evidence that Pentecostal practices among

Scandinavians in Minnesota and the Dakotas originated with English-speaking

evangelicals. I did not find any evidence that the Scandinavians from Minnesota and the

Dakotas had contact with Parham’s Apostolic Faith band, which operated primarily in

Kansas, Missouri, and Texas. Parham’s group did not grow significantly until 1905, well

after Pentecostal congregations had formed on the northern Great Plains.44 The

Scandinavian Pentecostals themselves testified to a separate origin. Peter Thompson,

recalling the outpouring at the Swedish Free Mission in Moorhead, stated, “At that time

we had not heard of any other places having received a like experience.”45

The pre-Azusa Scandinavian Pentecostals figured prominently in the origins of

the Evangelical Free Church of America and the Evangelical Covenant Church of

America. Minnesota, a hotbed of Scandinavian free church activity at the turn of the

twentieth century, was home to a number of pre-Azusa Scandinavian Pentecostal

congregations. Evangelical Free Church historian Arnold T. Olson wrote that he doubted

“that all of the pioneers would be accepted in our churches today. Some preached ‘a

second blessing’ and some even practiced speaking in tongues.”46

A 1934 history of the Swedish Evangelical Free Church of America recounted:

The so-called “tongues movement” had also a short but lively chapter in our

history. If the writer recalls rightly, this movement had its beginning in one of

our churches in South Dakota. A small group within this church was affected by

42 Frederick Hale, Trans-Atlantic Conservative Protestantism in the Evangelical Free and MissionCovenant Traditions (New York: Arno Press, 1979), p. 13.

43 Ibid., p. 1.

44 Parham attracted sizable crowds in 1901 in Kansas, but by 1902 had lost most followers. Parham next

found success in a fall 1903 revival in Galena, KS, followed by a February 1904 revival in Baxter Springs,

KS. He moved to Texas in April 1905, where he found significant support in Orchard, Houston, and

Galveston. James R. Goff, Jr., Fields White Unto Harvest: Charles F. Parham and the Missionary Origins

of Pentecostalism (Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas Press, 1988), pp. 87-100.

45 Peter B. Thompson, “Pentecostal Outpouring,” Pentecostal Evangel, November 27, 1937, p. 8.

46 Arnold T. Olson, The Significance of Silence (Minneapolis, MN: Free Church Press, 1981), p. 151..Rodgers, “Rediscovering Our Diverse Roots”


it. They thought it was from God and that they were divinely gifted with a special

language and therefore called as missionaries to Africa.47

While this account did not identify the years these phenomena occurred, they

likely took place in the 1890s or 1900s, the period documented by the chapter in which

the paragraph was located. The statement, “If the writer recalls rightly, this movement

had its beginning in one of our churches in South Dakota,” is subject to multiple

interpretations. The author may have intended to identify the earliest-known instance of

tongues-speech among the Scandinavian free churches (but not necessarily elsewhere). A

more tantalizing interpretation is that, from the perspective of the author of the 1934

history, the Pentecostal movement seemed to have its origins, not in Topeka or Los

Angeles, but in South Dakota.

The latter interpretation is supported by a similar account of a revival in South

Dakota reported by B. F. Lawrence in his 1916 history, Apostolic Faith Restored:

Between 1900 and 1903, the Spirit fell in South Dakota upon a band of

people, who afterward went to Africa. I have not been able to get in touch

with the man who could give me full information concerning this work,

but I think that these people were Norwegians. I know that the man who

accompanied them to Chicago was, and that he afterward preached in La

Grange, Illinois. His name was Bakke. These people, at least Mr. Bakke,

did not believe that tongues were the evidence of the baptism, but

regarded them as gifts given in the sovereignty of God.48

Lawrence’s account, in the first published history of the Pentecostal movement written by

an insider, demonstrates that early Pentecostals were aware of the early glossolalic

revivals among the Scandinavians in Minnesota and the Dakotas, and that at least some

viewed them as a precedent to what later happened at Topeka or Azusa Street.

47 Golden Jubilee: Reminiscences of our Work under God, Swedish Evangelical Free Church of the U.S.A.,1884-1934 (Minneapolis, MN?: The Church, 1934?), p. 40.

48 Lawrence, Apostolic Faith Restored, pp. 46-47..Rodgers, “Rediscovering Our Diverse Roots”


Early Scandinavian Pentecostals in Minnesota and the Dakotas, recent immigrants

to America whose primary tongue was not English, maintained significant connections to

their roots in Scandinavian pietism. Judging from a number of letters to Folke-Vennen

from Carl M. Hanson, A. O. Morken, and others, that periodical had some influence

among early Pentecostals. Folke-Vennen, a Norwegian-language non-denominational

evangelical periodical, was published weekly in Chicago. Its articles reflected a broad

spectrum of influences in Scandinavian pietism, ranging from Martin Luther’s sermons,

to devotionals by Norwegian revivalist Hans Nielsen Hauge and Swedish pietist Carl

Olof Rosenius, to translations of writings by American Holiness leaders such as A. B.

Simpson. Stanley H. Frodsham reported that evangelist F. A. Sandgren was spirit-baptised

in 1907, after which he spread the news of the Pentecostal outpouring through

the columns of Folke-Vennen.49 However, the periodical printed testimonies of tongues-speech

as early as February 1904 (Audobon, MN).50 Folke-Vennen began publishing

news of the revival stemming from Azusa Street in 1906, including articles by Norwegian

Pentecostal leader Thomas B. Barratt,51 early Pentecostal missionary to India, Minnie

Abrams,52 and Chicago Pentecostal leader William H. Durham.53 Durham served as

pastor of the North Avenue Mission, where F. A. Sandgren was an elder.54 Further study

of Folke-Vennen would be a valuable addition to the study of Pentecostal history.

49 Frodsham, With Signs Following (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1926), p. 42. Sandgren

served as pastor of the North Avenue Mission in Chicago in 1917 and later affiliated with the Pentecostal

Assemblies of the USA. F. A. Sandgren, Chicago, to E. N. Bell, Springfield, MO, November 19, 1921,

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

50 A. O. Morken, “Fra vor egen Loesekreds” [trans. Erik L. Williamson], Folke-Vennen, February 25, 1904,

p. 4.

51 Folke-Vennen, December 13, 1906, p. 1; Ibid., January 16, 1908, p. 2; Ibid., July 2, 1908, p. 2.

52 Ibid., February 20, 1908, p. 4; Ibid., February 27, 1908, p. 2; Ibid., March 5, 1908, p. 2; Ibid., March 12,

1908, p. 2; Ibid., June 25, 1908, p. 3; Ibid., September 3, 1908, p. 5.

53 Ibid., March 26, 1908, p. 4.

54 Riss, pp. 594-95. Edith Blumhofer, in an excellent biographical essay on William H. Durham, noted that

Sandgren and Durham had been friends since 1903. Edith L. Blumhofer, “William H. Durham: Years of.Rodgers, “Rediscovering Our Diverse Roots”


It is possible that early Pentecostals in Chicago first became aware of

contemporary tongues-speech, not from news of Azusa Street, but from news of prior

glossolalic revivals in Minnesota and the Dakotas. Durham and Sandgren may have read

about pre-Azusa tongues in Folke-Vennen as early as 1904. Likewise, Frederick A.

Graves, an early Pentecostal and noted musician in Zion City, IL,55 must have been aware

that his friend, Carl M. Hanson, claimed to possess the gift of tongues when Hanson

attended Graves’ Minneapolis mission for several years at the turn of the twentieth

century.56 These multiple connections between Chicago Pentecostal leaders and pre-Azusa

glossolalic revivals on the Great Plains point to the need to further study

Pentecostalism’s diverse roots. Azusa Street may have been the focal point of early

Pentecostalism, but prior revivals, including those in Minnesota and the Dakotas,

provided precedents and leaders for the emerging movement.

The genesis of the pre-Azusa Scandinavian revivals in the northern Great Plains,

separate from the Topeka and Azusa Street revivals, underscores the plural nature of the

Pentecostal movement. This study challenges the historiographic assumption that the

modern Pentecostal movement began on January 1, 1901 in Topeka, Kansas, and

augments the growing body of scholarship identifying Pentecostalism’s non-American

roots, in order to better tell the full story of the full gospel.

Creativity, Years of Dissent,” in Portraits of a Generation: Early Pentecostal Leaders, ed. James R. Goff

and Grant Wacker (Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas Press, 2002), pp. 127, 131.

55 Gordon P. Gardiner, Out of Zion: Into All the World (Shippensburg, PA: Companion Press, 1990), pp.

41-42; Charles Edwin Jones, “Frederick A. Graves,” in New International Dictionary of Pentecostal and

Charismatic Movements (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), p. 680.

56 Anna Hanson Berg, interview by Wayne Warner, September 23, 1980, audio recording. According to

Berg, her father, Carl M. Hanson, attended Graves’ mission for four years. Articles from John Alexander

Dowie’s periodical placed Graves in Chicago in late 1902, where he served as an elder in Central Zion

Tabernacle, then in Minneapolis as early as March 1903 through at least June 1905. Leaves of Healing,

December 6, 1902, p. 223; Leaves of Healing, March 7, 1903, p. 635; Leaves of Healing, June 24, 1905, p.