Scandinavian Work Begins
In 1871, Mr. and Mrs. Hans
Shogren arrived with their family from Minnesota and in 1872 were received, by
letter into the membership of the First Baptist Church. Mr. Shogren was a
carpenter and engaged in carriage making in Portland until the daughters years
later had become well established in their high class tailoring business.
Mr. Shogren was an uncle of Mrs. Emanuel Bjorkquist of Warren and she
relates that he together with his sister, Mrs. Bjorkquist's mother, were
baptized in Chicago in 1856, by the Rev. Gustaf Palmquist, one of the earliest
of Baptist pioneer preachers. Mr. Shogren also had a brother that lived in
In 1875, the First church reported to the Willamette Association that gospel work was being done amongst the Scandinavians under the leadership of a Brother Sandstone, In this he was no doubt encouraged by the Shogrens.
When in January 1881, Rev Olaus Okerson and his family arrived in Portland to take up missionary work amongst the Scandinavians, it was the Shogren home to which they were welcomed and kept until located elsewhere.
The following is a detailed account on the life of Olaus Okerson and his role in missionary work in the Northwest.
Rev. Olaus Okerson was born in Lincoln's birthday, February
12,1836, in Norra Vrom parish, Skane, Sweden. He was converted in October
1856 and baptized November 28, 1858. He preached extensively in Sweden and
many souls were led to Christ in the old country.
In May 1864, he and his family and accompany of friends boarded a sailing vessel bound for America. Seven weeks of sailing ended in a shipwreck on Anticarta Island off the coast of Canada. After two weeks on the island a steamer arrived and conveyed them to Quebec and from there they journeyed to Minnesota.
Under appointment by the American Baptist Home Mission Society, Okerson labored first on one field and then another without sparing himself. He was described by a contemporary as "a clear thinker and a forceful, convincing speaker, with burning zeal and of ceaseless activity, who considered no obstacle too difficult to over come in his efforts to reach men with the gospel."
"Traveling with horse and sleigh through the snowdrifts in winter, he would stable the horse wherever the roads were impassable and proceed on his skiies. The gospel message must be delivered some how and he counted it as his special mission to open new fields and so the preparatory work for the ingathering of spiritual harvests.
In 1896, we find Okerson as the pastor of the church in Moline, Illinois, but here he stayed only ten months because the needs of the "regions beyond" were calling him.
In December 1880, Okerson wrote a letter which appeared in Evangelisk Tiaskrift in which he says:
"I shall now direct my
steps to Oregon and shall, the Lord willing, start tomorrow. Such a
journey will probably be troublesome at this time of the year, but if the Lord
is with me all will go well. And then I hope that many of the
brethren are remembering me in prayer."
"I do expect difficulties because travel in a newly settled frontier, through dense forests without roads, where our countrymen live widely scattered many of them unwilling to listen to the word of Truth does not present itself a being easy."
"I hope however, that the Lord has people to save and children that need shepherding. For their sakes and my dear Savior's sake I am undertaking the labors that are connected with the presenting of the Bread of Life to these country men who live as far away."
"I long to announce to the captives that the year of Jubilee has came and that they may again possess their beautiful inheritance. May the silver trumpet sound during the coming year and be heard through out the land from east to west, and may many souls be made ready to meet God, and the Bride be prepared for her Bridegroom."
After his arrival in Portland in January 1881, Okerson writes again to Evangelisk Tidskrift:
"When we left Minnesota
in December 29th, the cold was severe. It took us two and one half days to
reach Omaha and from there to San Francisco, nine days. White we waited
there for two days for a steamer we had an opportunity to hear Moody and Sankey;
and then we proceeded by steamer for two days in heavy seas. Many were
sick. On the third day we steamed up the Columbia River. Upon
Arrival I looked up a brother, H. Shogren, whose hospitality we enjoyed for two
days. Meanwhile I rented a house, with four small rooms, where we are now
living. Through out the whole journey we have clearly seen God's fatherly guidance
and watch-care and we are all well."
"I have preached part of the time in an Episcopal Chapel and part of the time in a Baptist Church. On Sundays we have good audience but only a few on week day evenings. I have found only four families, one young man and and older lady that belong to our denomination. Most of these belong to the American Church."
"At present there is no opportunity to organize a Swedish Baptist Church but we pray and labor and hope, and the Lord is able to do more than we can ask or think. I am not able to give accurate information as to the number of Scandinavians that live here, but from my observations there must be about 500 besides a good many who live in the surrounding country."
E. Bjorkquist visited the Shogrens on East Grand Avenue in 1905, when he attended the dedication of the 15th and Hoyt Street Church
The above account was copied the notebook titled miscellaneous notes for Temple's Golden Jubilee, 1934. Written by Harley Hallgren.
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