History of Columbia Baptist Conference 1889 to The Present


Olaus Okerson     During the flood of immigration from Europe in the late 1800’s, many Scandinavians settled on the Pacific Coast. Among them was Olaus Okerson, a roving pioneer apostle, who organized the First Scandinavian Baptist Church in Portland in 1884 (now Temple Baptist Church).  There were at this time six churches in the Pacific Northwest and it was felt a need to bring these scattered groups and churches together, organizing them for increased and more effective work.  The First Swedish Baptist Church of Seattle invited the other churches to a meeting on December 27, 1989.  On December 28, 1889, The Swedish Baptist Conference of the North Pacific Coast was organized, which included churches in Portland, Tacoma, Dogfish Bay, Dakota Creek and Seattle. The purpose of the organization would be, "Mutual edification and the pursuance of missionary activity according to conditions and ability."   In 1890, Rev. August Sandell was called as missionary leader.  Members of the Conference churches were asked to contribute 25 cents each for three months.  This would go to pay the missionary salary of $50.00 a month.  Within three months a group of believers residing in New Whatcom (Bellingham) was organized into a church.   In 1893, the name was changed to the Swedish Baptist Conference of Washington when four churches including, Tacoma, Rolling  Bay, Seattle Norwegian-Danish and Portland, asked for and were granted dismissal.  At this time, 1894-1930, Oregon and Washington became two conferences. A.H. Johnson came as Conference Missionary and served from 1923-34.  During this time, many of our churches made the decision to start holding some services in English, so as to not lose the hearts of their young people.  Ole Larson was Conference Missionary from 1935-1946, and Lake Retreat Camp was established during this time.  Gordon Carlson served from 1947 to 1961 and Wesley Lindblom from 1961-70.  Jack Bergeson was Executive Secretary from 1970 to 1985, and John Hoeldtke served in this position from 1985-1990.  Rick Sturm became District Executive Minister in 1990 and served until his death in 1999.  Richard Bergstrom served as Interim District Executive Minister from 1999 to 2001. Dr. Samuel Rima became District Executive Minister in May 2001.  The past four decades have brought major expansions in church planting, the establishment of Camp Bighorn, and the formation of the British Columbia Baptist Conference.
    In 1996 the CBC went through a restructuring process that separated the district into four corporate entities which serve churches together. CBC Church Ministries helps churches through planting, renewal, focusing ministries and support services.  The CBC Church Growth Fund provides funds to churches so that they may acquire property, refinance debt, build, remodel or expand facilities.  Lake Retreat Camp in Ravensdale, WA, provides a safe environment for campers to have an encounter with Christ.  Camp Bighorn in Plains, MT, provides opportunity for the Holy Spirit to teach truth to campers through adventure oriented camps.  All four divisions of the CBC are accountable to the member churches and seek to serve them for the advancement of the Kingdom of God in the Northwest.
     Today, The Columbia Baptist Conference is a denominational association of 80 churches in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Alaska. It is one of 13 districts of the Baptist General Conference. The CBC operates out of the Ministry Center in Seattle and is directed by District Executive Minister Dr. Sam Rima.  
     Click on the blue underscore text to See Web Site for the Columbia Conference

    Information for the above text was taken from the Columbia Conference Web Site and Rev. Gordon Carlson's book "Seventy-Five Years."

Early Washington State Missionaries

    The church leaders realized that it would be necessary and profitable to engage a missionary to work in the area occupied by the Conference.  His assignment would be to visit the churches and unorganized groups, assisting them by preaching and teaching, and instructing them in matters pertaining to church management, solving problems, promoting united effort of expansion, and generally encouraging them.  He would also be on the lookout for opportunities to start new churches, choosing field that seemed most promising, concentrating his effort there.
    As stated above, in 1890, they called August Sandell to be the first Conference Missionary.  It seemed to be a sort of pilot attempt.

August Sandell, 1890
The area of Bellingham, Washington was in need of a Baptist Church to care for the spiritual needs of the immigrants that had come to live there.  August Sandell, sent by the newly organized Conference, came in March to meet that need.  He began in the same manner employed in Judea and Galilee, visiting from house to house, holding Gospel meetings in homes where he was welcome.  Soon a Baptist family moved into the community, others were persuaded that baptism was for believers who by their own decision would obey this Christ's command.  Ten brave men and women ventured to form a Baptist church.  Sandell, the missionary stayed on to with the new church to be the pastor for one year.  
  From pg. 5 and 118 from Gordon Carlson's book, "Seventy-Five-Years of the Columbia Conference"

He attended the S.A.B.S. (Swedish American Bible Seminary now known as Bethel) 1884 to 1885.  Is listed in the class of 1885.  He was Pastor, at Bellingham, Washington, in 1890 to 1891.  Retired. Deceased.  (Nothing else is said about him.)
     This information is from page 99 from the book, "Seventy-Five Years - Bethel Theological Seminary"

F.R. Goranson, 1893-1895

Paul Johnson, 1901-1904
Paul Johnson was born on August 21, 1858, in Frölinge, Jämtland, Sweden.  He was baptized in Kiron, Iowa. in 1877.  Attended B.U.T.S. (Baptist Union Theological Seminary) from 1881 to 1884.  Graduated in 1884.  He was Ordained on January 21, 1885, and was pastor in Sioux City Iowa from 1885 to 1886.  He was a missionary in Iowa in 1886 and 1887, a pastor in Burlington, Iowa from 1887 to 1888, Grantsburg, Wisconsin in 1888 to 1890, Cokato, Minnesota from 1890 to 1893, Village Creek, Iowa, from 1893 to 1895, Lansing, Iowa from 1895 to 1897, Swea City, Iowa from 1897 to 1898, Fargo, and North Dakota from 1898 to 1900.  He was a missionary in the state of Washington (according to this publication) from 1900 to 1903.  Then he was pastor at Seattle, Ballard, Washington 1903 to 1905.  Then he went on to Texas to be a missionary there in 1905 to 1907.  In that year 1907 he retired.  Rev. Paul Johnson died on January 7, 1930.
    This information is from page 96 from the book, "Seventy-Five Years - Bethel Theological Seminary"

E.O. Olson, 1909
Erik Olof Olson was born March 19, 1853 in Torp, Medelpad, Sweden. He married Lisa Martha Olson and they had seven children, Alfred, Jenny, Edith, Ellen, Edgar, Eldon, and Ester.  He was converted on January 2, 1871 in Torp, Sweden and baptized on June 20, 1872 in Torp. He attended C.B.S. (Central Bible Seminary) 1885-1886.  He is listed in the class of 1886 at Bethel.  He was ordained in Albert Lea, Minnesota in 1882.  He was the pastor at the Danish Church in Albert Lea, Minnesota in 1882, Forest City Iowa in 1883, Esteina, Nebraska in 1885-1887, Kiron, Iowa in 1887-1895.  He was a missionary in Minnesota in 1897-1898 and pastor, at Spring Vale, Minnesota in 1898-1899, Milaca, Minnesota in 1900-1905, Delta and Badger, Washington in 1905-1907.  He was pastor at the little church in Pearson, Washington in 1908 to 1912, Matsqui British Columbia Canada in 1912-1916, then Des Moines, Iowa in 1917-1918.  He retired in Ferndale, Washington and died on January 30, 1946 at the age of 93.
    This information is from page 100 from the book, "Seventy-Five Years - Bethel Theological Seminary"

N.J. Thornquist, 1899-1900, 1905-1909

Andrew Johnson, 1904
Andrew Johnson was born January 2, 1853, in Sköllersta, Örebro län, Sweden.  He was converted on Andrew Johnson, Picture from pg. 269 of "Seventy-Five-Years of The Columbia Conference." January 1, 1877 in Sköllersta, Sweden and was baptized, also in the same location, at Sköllersta, Sweden on November 7, 1877.  He married Ellen Berg, a missionary at St Paul First, on November 7, 1883.  They had five children: Paul Andrew, Elna Alfrida, Olga Victoria, Eleanor Christina, and Hugo Nathanael.  He attended S.A.B.S. (Swedish American Bible Seminary) in 1884 - 1885 and C.B.S. (Central Bible Seminary) in 1885 - 1887.  He graduated in 1887.  He was ordained on July 12, 1887, in Big Springs, SD.  He then became the pastor at the Big Springs church and served 1887-1891.  He then served at Bellingham, WA, 1891-1897 and then to Mt. Vernon and Cedarhome 1897-1899,  Pearson and Cedarhome1899-1901.  He then perused other occupations for some years.  In 1908, he became pastor at Cedarhome and then Cherry Grove, OR. 1912-1914, Delta and Sunrise, WA. 1916-1922.  He then became pastor at Everett, WA after he retired to Pinehurst, WA and died April 3, 1936.
    This information is from page 102 from the book, "Seventy-Five Years - Bethel Theological Seminary"

    Andrew was the first of four generations of Columbia Conference Baptists.  He was a pioneer - missionary serving the churches, Sunrise and Bellingham, Northwest, walking afoot between them the fifteen miles of road-less wilderness.   
    From pg. 269 from Gordon Carlson's book, "Seventy-Five-Years of the Columbia Conference"

Andrew Swartz, 1904-1909
Andrew was born on January 15, 1860 in Elfvestad, Östergötland, Sweden. He was converted in Västerlösa, Östergötland, Sweden in April, 1875, and baptized into the Pentecostal Church in 1880 at Mjölby, Östergötland.  Church and Parsonage in Cedarhome, Washington-1900+ - From pg.9 of Seventy-Five-Years History Columbia Baptist Conference.He attended S.A.B.S. (Swedish American Bible Seminary) in 1884-1885 and was in the class of 1885.  He was pastor at Isanti, Minnesota from 1886-1887, during that time in Isanti on April 2, 1887 he was ordained.  After he was called to be pastor at Worthington, Minnesota in 1888-1890,  Sioux City, Iowa 1890-1892, Big Springs, South Dakota 1892-1895, Seattle, Washington 1895-1898.  He was a missionary, South Dakota, in 1898-1901, was pastor at Arthur, Iowa in 1901-1903, was a missionary in Western Washington 1903-1904.  He was pastor at Mt. Vernon, Washington 1904-1910.  He was a missionary in Washington, 1910-1915, pastor Spokane, Washington 1915-1919, Cedarhome, Washington 1919-1923, South Bend, Washington 1923.  He was pastor at Hartford Washington 1923-1926, Mt. Vernon, Washington 1926, Hartford Washington 1930.  Pastor Swartz died in Hartford, Washington on November 21, 1930.
    This information is from page 100 from the book, "Seventy-Five Years - Bethel Theological Seminary"

    Andrew Swartz along with F. O. Nelson, Axel Lingren and Andrew Johnson spent two months in the community of Hoquiam, Washington and was able to organize Immanuel church in 1904.  Andrew Swartz was chairman.
    From pg. 137 from Gordon Carlson's book, "Seventy-Five-Years of the Columbia Conference"  

    During the time he was pastor at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Mt. Vernon a new church building was dedicated on July 30, 1905.
    From pg. 143 from Gordon Carlson's book, "Seventy-Five-Years of the Columbia Conference"
In 1895, Andrew Swartz, "close Bible student, practical in his efforts," discovered a bargain, bought a church and two houses for $4,500.00, where the Medical and Dental Building stands in the Frederick and Nelson block.
    From pg. 162 from Gordon Carlson's book, "Seventy-Five-Years of the Columbia Conference"
In 1947, Mrs. Otto Bentley was appointed as the GMG (Girls Missionary Guild) chairman of the Columbia Conference.  She was born Harriet Swartz the daughter of Andrew Swartz. 
    From pg. 221 from Gordon Carlson's book, "Seventy-Five-Years of the Columbia Conference"

Oregon Conference

    Even though they formed new churches and increased their total membership in this period, Swedish Baptists found it difficult to take root in Oregon outside of Portland.  One reason was that Swedes never settled in such number in Oregon as in Washington and Minnesota.  A second reason was that, unlike Swedes in many other sections of the nation, they did not settle, as a rule, in compact communities but tended to be dispersed among the native American population.   This made mission activity among them much more difficult.  Another factor which hindered Swedish Baptist progress in the State was that a number of their churches were rather isolated from each other and were difficult to reach.  This militated against both missionary efficiency and effective inter-church fellowship.  Another hindrance was the lack of ministerial leadership.  Many of the Swedish Baptist churches in Oregon were often left without regular pastoral oversight and frequently were forced to depend for pastoral services upon the irregular visits of a missionary or the pastor of the Portland First Swedish Baptist Church,  Another difficulty confronting the Swedish Baptists was that many of their fellow countrymen, having been baptized as Lutherans, were frequently very prejudiced and even hostile towards the Baptists.  Missionary G. A. Osbrink reported in 1900:
    In a number of places the Baptists are not well thought of by other denominations and we hear many deprecating remarks of our work.  All such must be cleared away if we will be able to accomplish any mission work worth mentioning.  It can be said our tent meetings have been very successful in this regard.  One now hears. "The Baptists also have pastors who are worth hearing," and in places where people said that they did not want to come and hear us, in spite of this, they have attended and thought the meetings had been good.........

    From "Baptists in Oregon" by Albert W. Wardin Jr. Pages 338-339.  

G.A. Osbrink, 1899
See picture and text on Pastor Osbrink.

Gustaf Johnson, 1901
See picture and text on Pastor Johnson

 Rev. Carl Axel Boberg, 1906
Pastor Boberg was born on April 29, 1867, in Dalarne, Sweden,  He was converted in 1880 and baptized in Falun, Dalarne, Sweden, on April 28, 1883.  Attended B.T.U.S. (Baptist Union Theological Seminary) now  known as Bethel, from 1889 to 1892.  He graduated in 1892.  He was Pastor in Osage City, Kanasas, in 1893 to 1895, Concordia, Kansas from 1895 to 1897.  He then was a missionary in Kansas from 1897 to 1898 and pastor in Spokane, Washington from 1898 to 1903.  He then was a missionary in Kansas and Oregon.  Pastor Boberg died in Spokane Washington on June 28, 1921.
    From pg.107 of "Seventy-five Years of Bethel Theological Seminary"  

A.G. Sandblom, 1907-1912

   See picture and text on Pastor Sandblom  

Return to Church History 1907

 August Olson, 1913-1919
From an annual report he made at Portland in June 1915, as read by the secretary:  "Missionary August Olson has during the year traveled 6,089 miles and has visited 21 fields within the state and southern Washington,  He has received $132.72 and for foreign (Hedna Mission) missions $26.00.  He has also seen some saved, and also that the Lord has kept him and given his happiness in the work."
    Another paragraph tells us that, "Conference Missionary August Olson has received information that there are in the state of Oregon: 20,374 Swedes, 13,920 Norwegians, 7,463 Danes and 6,890 Finns.  The Oregon Conference had at that time (1915) 450 members.                      J. Samuelson, Sect'y."

    August Olson carried a guitar and was a forceful evangelistic preacher "enforcing his views unrelentingly, a regular John the Baptist."  He worked with A.G. Sandblom at Warren Baptist Church in its beginnings.
    From pg. 19 and 209 of Gordon Carlson's book, "Seventy-Five-Years of the Columbia Conference"

    August Olson was born September 8, 1855, in Asker, Sweden.  Married Anna Sandberg, in Los Angeles, California, on March 29, 1899.  He was converted February, 18, 1874 and baptized September 11, 1878, by Lindblom, Stockholm First.  He took the job as a colporteur (peddler of religious books), under A. Wiberg, and was missionary pastor several places in Sweden.  He was pastor at Willmar and Lake Elizabeth, Minnesota in 1883-1885.  Was ordained at Willmar on April 1884.  C.B.S. (Central Bible Seminary)1885-1887 and graduated in 1887.  He was pastor at Lake Elizabeth, Minnesota 1887-1888; Los Angeles, California 1888-1889; San Francisco, California 1889; Seattle First, 1893.  He organized a church in Spokane in 1894 and was pastor there from 1896-1898.  He was a missionary in Iowa from 1892-1902.  He was pastor at Concordia, Kansas from 1902-1908; field representative, Sunset Home, Concordia, Kansas 1908-1910.  He was pastor at Elim, Seattle, Washington from 1910-1912 and missionary in Oregon from 1912-1918.  He died on January 21, 1942.
    From pg.102-103 of "Seventy-five Years of Bethel Theological Seminary"

Emanuel Bjorkquist, 1920-1924
See picture and text on Pastor Bjorkquist

Columbia Conference Missionaries

A.H. Johnson    

AH Johnson's picture from pg. 91of "Seventy-Five-Years of Columbia Conference"     A. Helge Johnson was born in Mattars Parish Jamtland, Sweden, in 1885, and left his home at eighteen years off age to arrive in Revelstoke, British Columbia, in 1905.  He had become a Christian at the age of nine, and was baptized in 1907, and became a charter member of the Revelstoke Baptist Church,  The call to Christian service was experienced only after his baptism, and caused him to seek preparation for his life's work.  For this purpose he entered Brandon College, Manitoba, from which he graduated in 1911.  After further studies he graduated from McMaster University in 1915, with the degree Bachelor of Arts.  Helge tells of his experience.  They were rewarding, happy years.  Young men of that day rejoiced in the privilege of going to school.  But days and nights were filled with labor and the midnight lamp was kept burning,  Helge was handicapped because he had received a scanty grammar school education in Sweden due to the necessity of going to work as a child.  But by dint (because of) long, long hours over the books, he caught up and graduated with honors.  His three sons and two daughters all have college diplomas and teachers' certificates.
    Johnson's first pastorate was at Mataqui and Vancouver, British Columbia, after arriving in the Columbia Conference.  In 1918, he accepted a call from the Mount Vernon Baptist Church (Emmanuel).

    In 1923, he became the Missionary of Washington Swedish Baptist Conference which, when joined with Oregon in 1930, became Columbia.  He was one of the committee to name the United Conference, "Columbia Conference."  The Swedish language was still being used, a practice that was stoutly defended by many.  But it limited the opportunity to that of serving people who could understand Swedish, and immigrations had practically ceased.  We stated this to be better able to understand the duties of the Missionary and the conditions under which he worked.  There was no longer any Sunday School Missionary engaged, so the General Missionary had to assume his duties.  There were small groups of Swedish settlers who had never learned the English Bible language very well who required his service.  There were also small churches that were without a pastor, which became the responsibility of the Missionary.
    Mr. Johnson was also the corresponding secretary for twenty-three years.  This office (whether he was the Missionary or not) required that he keep the records, which he did accurately and promptly.  Some readers can still remember A H Johnson at the annual meetings reading the reports from the churches--with an eloquent flip of the paper he would turn to the next letter, changing the pitch of his voice to make it a brand new chapter.
    Perhaps his most satisfying years were spent in Ferndale where he was pastor for twenty years.  There his children grew up; the family became an integral part of the community and the church.  There he associated with congenial friends.  There he was needed, wanted, and loved.  Ferndale was home.
    In 1954, Johnson accepted the call to become Superintendent of the Baptist Rest Home in Seattle.  He administered this work with sympathy and understanding, appreciated by management and guests alike.  He was then a deacon and vice chairman of Central Baptist Church of Seattle, and teacher of an adult Bible Class in its Sunday School.
    In 1939, the fiftieth anniversary of the Columbia Conference was celebrated at the Ballard Church in connection with the annual meeting.  A. H. Johnson, corresponding secretary, was selected to give the historical lecture in the evening meeting that climaxed the celebration.  Emil Friborg and P Benson (visiting from California) also spoke in that meeting.  Let us quote from A. H. Johnson's lecture:
    "Today streamlined comfort, convenience and beauty is seen on every hand.  Fifty years ago the ... Swedish  Baptists on the West Coast were challenged to great endeavors.  Life was real.  The virgin forests, the tall trees, the unbroken land...the simple dwellings, the board walk, the muddy streets...homes, hamlets, and cities to be built.  What a challenge!"
    "The challenge was met.  What a change in fifty years.  Fertile fields, rich gardens, handsome homes and beautiful cities and towns.  Many churches from which ascend the praise of thanksgiving unto Almighty God.... We are standing on hallowed ground today.  Let us make a full surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ who loved us and gave himself for us; let this day be a day of real consecration for the great future work before us." 

From pg. 241 and 242 of Gordon Carlson's book, "Seventy-Five-Years of the Columbia Conference" 

Return to Church History 1923

Return to Church History 1930

Ole Larson

Ole Larson's picture from pg. 91of "Seventy-Five-Years of Columbia Conference"        In 1935, Ole Larson became Conference Missionary.  He was a man willing to live frugally for the sake of the gospel and the churches.  Under Larson's ministry a new era of church planting began.  He went to live in Clatskanie, Oregon for a time, to get a church going.  Larson also pioneered a church among shipbuilding households in Bremerton, Washington.

    From a pamphlet called "The Columbia Story" by the Columbia Baptist Conference.

    Ole Larson was born on December 22, 1884, in Järna, Dalarne, Sweden.  He was converted on January 6, 1904, in Midale, Saskatchewan, Canada and was baptized by Fred Palmborg, in Midale in January, 1908.  He attended Brandon College in Manitoba, Canada in 1908-1912.  Then he attended Bethel Academy and Theological Seminary from 1914-1916.  On November 6, 1912, Eva Leah Hawkes and Ole got married in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  The had seven children named Gordon, Sydney, Halo, Dwight, Paul, Brace, and Glenn.  He was a Student Missionary in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, Canada from 1909-1911, a student pastor, Calgary, Alberta, Canada from 1912-1914, and Enfield, Minnesota1914-1916.  Ole was ordained on October 28, 1916, in Opstead, Minnesota.  He was Pastor at Opstead, Minnesota from 1916-1920,  Midale Saskatchewan in 1920-1922.  In 1922-1935, he was a Missionary in Alberta, Canada.  During this time period, he started Alberta Baptist Bible Academy, and a number of new churches.  In 1935, he became a Missionary For the Columbia Conference.

    From pg.159 of "Seventy-five Years of Bethel Theological Seminary"

Return to Church History 1935 

Gordon Carlson 

Gordon Carlson's picture from pg. 91of "Seventy-Five-Years of Columbia Conference"      In 1947, Gordon Carlson became the district missionary, who came from a pastorate in Bellingham, Washington.  Gordon actively pursued church planting.  He covered thousand of miles to get churches under way.  His first totally new one, in 1947, was First Baptist Church, Ephrata, Washington.  His last one, in 1961, was Calvary Baptist Church, Coquitlam. British Columbia.  In all, 27 of Columbia's existing churches came into being or applied for Conference affiliation under Gordon Carlson.  Carlson was also a super-promoter for Lake Retreat.

    From a pamphlet called "The Columbia Story" by the Columbia Baptist Conference.

    Gordon Axel Carlson was born January 28, 1895, in Nysund, Värmland, Sweden.  He was converted March 7, 1914, in Minneapolis, Elim, and baptized there by Jacob Peterson in May, 1914.  He attended Bethel Academy and Theological Seminary in 1922-1928. He graduated with a Th.B. (Bachelor of Theology) in 1928.  He was a student pastor at Herndon, Kansas, - Des Moines, Iowa, - Spring Vale, Minnesota and Holmes City, Minnesota.  On July 27, 1928 he married Hilma Christina Abrahamson in Minneapolis.  They had two children, Dennis Gordon and James Norris.  He was ordained on October 13, 1928 in Kiron, Iowa.  Pastor at Kiron, Iowa from 1928-1935 and Bellingham, Washington from 1935-1943.  At that time he took a "Leave of Absence" to be a part of the US Chaplaincy.  He served in The United States, France and Germany from 1943 to 1946.  He then returned to Bellingham, Washington (Northwest Baptist) in 1946.

    From pg.179 of "Seventy-five Years of Bethel Theological Seminary" 

    Gordon Carlson was born in Nysund parish in the province of Værmland, Sweden on January 28, 1895.  Both of his parents were devoted Christians, his father being a lay preacher.  From early childhood he gad an insatiable hunger for knowledge, was a great reader, a student and in the words of the late Dean, K.J. Karlson of Bethel Seminary, "a stubborn thinker."
    In 1913, he came to America and found employment in a furniture factory in Minneapolis, where he learned the trade of cabinet maker,  In 1914, he was converted and baptized in the Elim Baptist Church,  Under the leadership of his faithful pastor, Rev. Jacob Peterson, and through earnest self-study of the Word, he soon caught the vision of "fields white unto harvest." 
    In 1917, when America went to war, he was drafted and experienced the horrors of war as a foot soldier.  During World War II, he enlisted as a Chaplain.
    Academically, he holds a graduate diploma from Bethel Academy in St. Paul, and a degree in Theology from Bethel Seminary.  Upon graduation in 1928, he became pastor of the First Baptist Church in Kiron, Iowa.  During this pastorate he was married to Hilma Abrahamson and two sons, Dennis and James, were born.  He also served the Champion Street Baptist Church in Bellingham, Washington, for twelve years.  
    It was thus with a life rich in experience as a cabinet maker, soldier, Chaplain, Minister, that Carlson took up the work as Columbia Conference Missionary-Secretary.  The work was hard and discouraging, but because of his dedication to God and to the responsibility to which the Conference had called him, that period became characterized by home mission advance.
    In 1947, there were 23 churches in the Conference when Carlson began to lead us out in this advance movement.  In 1961, when he resigned because of retirement, five mature churches had joined and 26 churches had been organized, making a total of 55 churches in our fellowship.  Because of the financial lack, he was the lone servant in our Conference, so all the many facets of our Conference outreach had to be included in his concern.
    His patience, prudence, his great capacity for work, his evangelistic emphasis in his preaching, his genuine friendliness toward all people, are some of the factors that spell out the success on Gordon Carlson's administrative leadership. But above all, Gordon's heart is in tune with God.  His faith in a great God often provided buoyancy for greater ventures as we confronted new opportunities in the Pacific Northwest.

    This account was written by Bror Lundgren in Tacoma, 1964, as Forward to the book,
"Seventy-Five-Years of the Columbia Conference", written by Gordon Carlson.

Return to Church History 1946 


Wesley Lindblom 

Wesley Lindblom's picture from pg. 91of "Seventy-Five-Years of Columbia Conference"    Wesley Lindblom was born in Kulm, North Dakota in 1920.  He grew up in the Baptist Church there and played a lot of baseball in his youth. He graduated from Bethel  College and Bethel Seminary still playing baseball.  He married Ruby Swenson whom he had met at Bethel College.  They served Conference churches at Elk River and Thief River Falls in Minnesota and Montrose in South Dakota before they came to Elim.  They served at Elim for three years.  They left Elim Baptist, Seattle, to succeed Gordon Carlson in 1962, at the Columbia Conference.  A new title had been created.  The Conference Missionary had become the Executive Secretary.  The Conference rented office space at the Seattle Central Baptist Church, which has since been closed and dismantled.  The Central Baptist Church location was Wesley Lindblom's work center through his entire administration.



Jack Bergeson

John Bergeson's picture from pg 219 "The Fourth Quarter" by John Bergson.    John Henning Bergeson was born May 10. 1919, in Ashland, Wisconsin.  John/Jack was converted at the Spirit Baptist Church in Ogema, Wisconsin on September 27, 1929, and baptized by Willard Samuelson, in Ogema, Wisconsin.  He attended Bethel Jr. College. The University of North Dakota, A. B. 1943.  He then attended Bethel Theological Seminary D.B. in 1944.  He was a student pastor at Jessie Lake, Minnesota, Alma, Wanger and Eagle Point, Minnesota.  He married Gladys Victoria Peterson in Chicago at the Elim Church on June 10, 1944.  They had one son, John Joel.  He was the Pastor at Opstead, Minnesota, since 1944.
    From pg. 214 of "Seventy-five Years of Bethel Theological Seminary"         

    At the 1970 Columbia Baptist Conference annual meeting at Late Retreat in May, the Conference bade farewell to Wesley and Ruby Lindblom and also voted to extend a call to John and Gladys Bergeson in who were in Minnesota.  During a brief interim in the summer, Cliff Gustafson served as interim executive secretary, a role which he had also filled between the calling of Gordon Carlson and Wesley Lindblom.
    John Bergeson came from eleven years of serving as director of missions and church extension for the Minnesota Baptist Conference.  Before Minnesota for six years he was the executive minister for Great Plains and Rocky Mountain Conferences in Nebraska. Colorado and Wyoming (1953-1959.)
    John or Jack as many people know him, grew up in Ogema, Wisconsin,  His wife Gladys spent her childhood and youth in Chicago's south side.  They met at Bethel when they were students in the Junior College.  Gladys later graduated from Macalester College and Jack from the University of North Dakota.  The both studied at Bethel Seminary.  Jack graduated in 1944.  They were married and served at Opstead Baptist Church in Isle, Minnesota, for nine years (1944-1953).
    After 15 years in the Columbia Conference they retired and went to help British Columbia Baptist Conference set up its operation (1985-1987).  this concluded 34 years of executive ministry in five districts of the Baptist General Conference.  John was involved in planting a number of new churches in each of these districts.  Since August 1987, John has been director of field education at Bethel Seminary West in San Diego.
    From page 213 from the book Fourth Quarter by Jack Bergeson.

    My first introduction to Jack Bergeson took place when I was to register a bus load of youth who had journeyed with us across the country from Seattle to Speculator, New York.  Jack was serving as registrar for Gunnar Hoglund's Quadrennial.  My first impression, which was later more clearly verified, was that Jack was a person who accounted for every detail.
    Jack Bergeson was born in Ashland, Wisconsin.  It was at Ogema, Wisconsin where Jack found the Lord and was baptized.
    Bethel College and Seminary were in his plans.  While at Bethel, Jack served as the dining hall steward, thus early in life he learned managerial skills.
    Pastoral experience began as a student pastor at Jesse Lake and Argyle, Minnesota and his first full-timeJack and Gladys Bergeson from the book Fourth Quarter. pastorate was at Opstead, Minnesota.  While at Bethel Jack met Gladys Peterson whom he married in 1944.
    Jack served as a field missionary for Platte Valley Baptist Conference and Church Extension Director for Minnesota Baptist Conference before coming to Columbia Baptist Conference to serve as Executive Secretary in 1970.  This office he held until retirement in 1985.  Upon retirement from that office he moved to Surrey, B.C. where he served for two years as the Executive Director of Columbia Baptist Conference of British Columbia.  At present Jack serves as Director of Field Education for Bethel West Seminary in San Diego, California.
    When Jack came to Columbia significant changes were taking place.  At Lake Retreat, Okerson Lodge was being constructed and the Central Baptist Church (Seattle) property had been sold.  The funds were being made available for a foundation to be established for helping new churches purchase property.  Because CBC was renting office space from Central Baptist Church, it became necessary for Columbia to seek other facilities for an office.  During Jack's third year in Columbia, property was purchased for the development of the Conference Center.
    Jack has an open door policy which meant that at any time one of the staff members wished to seek his wisdom all one would have to do is knock on his door and Jack would respond, "Come on in."  He was always open to another's viewpoint of creative ideas as to any facet of the district's ministry.
    In Jack's first year, he and I spent three days in a small cabin on Fidalgo Island praying together, making plans for future ministries in the district and considering personal aspirations.  This annual event became a source of personal refreshment and development of relationships.  It was out of such times that further plans for Lake Retreat, new churches, office expansion and additional staff for expanded ministries were considered.
    Though Jack worked long hours at the Conference Center yet he arranged his schedule so that he could participate in significant events of local churches as well as that of the district.  Jack was asked to serve on numerous committees and boards of the Baptist General Conference.  His wisdom was often sought.
     Western Conservative Baptist Theological Seminary of Portland, Oregon, recognized Jack's quality ministry by honoring him with a Doctor of Divinity degree in 1983.
    Jack and Gladys' home was always open to folk who came to Seattle for board and committee meetings as well as friends who might drop by.  Winston Sherwick considered the Bergeson home as his place of refuge.
    Gladys was most supportive of Jack in all facets of his ministry ~ not only with an open door to drop-ins but also by attending many of the special meetings in which Jack was involved on week ends.
    Jack kept a personal diary of his daily activities as well as that of the ministry of the district.  Thurs he was an excellent choice to write the 25-year history of Columbia Baptist Conference.
    You will find the exacting details of dates, people and events in Jack's account of Columbia the last twenty-five year most interesting and encouraging.  God has indeed blessed Columbia and Jack had significantly expressed this in his fascinating record of God's providential supervision of the district.

    This account is the Forward written by Clifford Gustafson in the book," Fourth Quarter" of the Columbia Conference by Jack Bergeson.

Return to Church History 1985

John Hoeldtke

John was born in 1936, in Cuba, New York.  His father was a pastor in Buffalo, New York.  He came to Minneapolis to study at Northwestern College after which he enrolled at Bethel Seminary and graduated in 1961.  At Northwestern he met DeLores Hoff from Venturia, North Dakota.  John and DeLores were married just before John matriculated at Bethel.  At graduation John was called to Elim Baptist Church in New Britain, Connecticut.  While serving there he took graduated studies at Teachers College in Columbia University in New York City.  Four years later he was called to Olivet Baptist Church in Minneapolis for a fourteen-year ministry.  The Hoeldtke family was introduced to the Columbia Conference when John was called to First Baptist Church of Ephrata in 1979.
    When John was called to be the first full-time director of church extension in 1982, a fourteen-year-old Columbia Conference dream was being fulfilled.  Ever since 1968, the C.B.C. could afford a full-time person directing church extension who did not have to carry the responsibility of being the executive minister.  John was called at the 1982, C.B.C. annual meeting in Anaconda, Montana, for a beginning two-year term to start October, 1.  The Hoeldtke family moved from Ephrata to Seattle in September.
    The new church extension position lasted only three years.   When John Bergeson, the executive minister, retired in 1985, John Hoeldtke was called to be Columbia's sixth executive minister, and the title executive secretary was no longer used.  The twenty churches in British Columbia were forming their own district conference removing seven extension stations and a chunk of budget support.  It fell to Hoeldtke to serve in the dual capacity  of executive minister and church extension director like all of his predecessors had done, and the dream from 1968, was put back on hold.  Gil Anderson picked up several more responsibilities making it possible to John to fill both offices.  

Rick Sturm

Rick Sturm became District Executive Minister in 1990 and served until his death in 1999.

Richard Bergstrom

Richard Bergstrom acted as Interim District Executive Minister in 1999 to 2001.

Dr. Samuel Rima 
Dr. Samuel Rima became District Executive Minister in May, 2001.

Rev. Corbit Magby

Rev. Corbit and Anita Magby - photo taken from 'Vision Northwest Newsletter' Autumn 2003    Rev. Corbit Magby became District Executive Minister as of October, 2003.  The Columbia Conference now has 82 churches in the district.





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