Swedish Mission Church
in Cambridge, Massachusetts United States

Swedish Mission Friends

The editor of these archived articles is the great-grandson of Bengt Johnson, the founder of the Swedish Evangelical Mission church in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  This is the church which in 1965 moved to Lexington, Massachusetts, and affiliated with the Evangelical Covenant Church of Chicago, Illinois.  The Lexington church is known as Trinity Covenant Church.

Articles chosen for this archive relate to the Swedish Evangelical Mission church in Cambridge, to the Swedish immigrants of Cambridge, to the Johnson and Anderson families of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and to the roots in Sweden of the Swedish Mission Friends which ultimately became the Evangelical Covenant Church in the United States and Canada.

I am proud to be the fourth consecutive generation in my family to be a member of what is now known as the Evangelical Covenant Church

  - Rolf Fredrik Anderson.



Giv oss, o Gud, ett dagligt bröd,
Förskona oss för hungersnöd;
Förläna oss vad nyttigt är,
O du vår Gud och Fader kär.

Låt upp, o Gud, din milda hand,
Gjut ner till detta folk och land
God frukt, god hälsa och god tid,
Gjut ner välsignelse och frid.


Du föder djurens myckna hop,
Du hörer ock korpungars rop;
Ty hör och märk, o Fader kär,
Vad barnens mun av dig begär.

För låt vår synd och giv oss nåd
Att bättre följa dina råd
Och låt oss din barmhärtighet
Förspörja i all evighet.


Svenska Missionsförbundet


Covenant Foundations

    The Svenska Missionsförbundet (Swedish Mission Friends) was founded on August 2, 1878 at a free-church meeting in Stockholm, Sweden composed of delegates from mission societies throughout Sweden.  It had begun first among the evangelical followers of Carl Olof Rosenius (1816-1868) within the National Evangelical Foundation which was part of the Svenska Kyrkan or Lutheran Church of Sweden, and later among the followers of Paul Peter Waldenström (1838-1917), who gathered in intimate religious meetings, also called conventicles.

    From 1874 to 1876 these meetings grew into local, regional, and provincial mission societies.  Both ordained pastors and licensed lay preachers led these societies.  The piety and convictions of these leaders were warmly expressed by the spiritual songs they wrote and sang, their passion for mission at home and abroad, and their deep commitment to personal, relational experiences.  Religious revivals swept over Sweden in 1876 and 1877.  Greatest enthusiasm for the revivals was in Värmland and Småland provinces and especially in the municipality of Jönköping.  These revivals appealed strongly to rural people and others of the lower middle class who felt ignored by the Swedish Lutheran Church.

    The Church of Sweden increasingly perceived the followers of Rosenius as radicals.  By the mid 1870s, two convictions held by the Mission Friends defined them outside historic Lutheranism: (1) the believers' church is closest to the New Testament and (2) the Bible is the only authority.  In response to negative pressure from the leaders of the Svenska Kyrkan (Swedish Church) towards this evangelical congregational movement, the Svenska Missionsförbundet (Swedish Mission Friends) was formed on August 2, 1878 in Stockholm at a free-church meeting of delegates from mission societies throughout Sweden.

    Peter Paul Waldenström, born in 1838 in Luleå, Norrland, became the leader of the Swedish Mission Covenant although he did not attend the organizational meeting in Stockholm in 1878.  Waldenström was aware of the political friction within the church and was careful to appear to be friendly to the established church.  In fact his sermons differed little from those given in the Swedish Lutheran Church.

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  1.     The Religious Aspects of Swedish Immigration. Stephenson, George M.;  The Mission Friends in Sweden, Chapter VII pages 103-115; New York: Arno Press & The New York Times, 1969.
  2.     P. Waldenström, Genom Norra Amerikas Förenta Stater, Stockholm, 1891, pp 395-397.

Cambridge Chronicle Co.,
573 Mass Ave.,
First in News    First in Advertising
First in the hearts of Cambridge People
Established in 1846


Cambridge Chronicle
Saturday, August 11, 1900


To the Christian People of Cambridge:

    It is perhaps not as generally known as it should be, that there are several thousand Swedes in this city, and that they are without a church edifice to worship God In.  Why this is so, is not because they are not a God-fearing and a church going people, but that they are poor and in need of aid for this cause.  Therefore, the Swedish Evangelical Mission church (Congregational) submits this plan to the Christian people of this place.

    This church was organized with 24 members April 28, 1897, and Incorporated June 8th, 1899.  The present membership is 106, and the Sunday school has over one hundred members.  There are 25 families belonging to the church, of which only five own their houses.  The place of worship is at the East End Christian union chapel. No. 7 Burleigh street.  As this chapel is inconveniently located and too small, occasionally, steps have been taken toward erecting a church building.  A lot has been secured on the corner of Hampshire and Norfolk streets for $2,400, of which sum $I,200 has been paid.  When sufficient means have been raised a brick house will be erected with a seating capacity of 6OO.

    All members and friends of the church are willing to contribute to the extent of their ability, but as this Is inadequate, it is hoped that the American Christians irrespective of denominational affiliations will liberally subscribe for a Swedish church edifice.

    We expect to raise among ourselves $5,000, and plan to spend not more than $15,000 in all.

    The Rev. C. W. Holm, a man of energy and consecration, has been pastor of the church since March 1, 1897, and under his care the work has continually prospered.  It is hoped that the benevolently disposed citizens upon whom he may call will manifest their substantial interest in this cause.

Carl W. Holm, J. L. Landahl. Gustav Wilson, Emil Fredrlckson,
S.A. Johanson, Olof Olson, subscription committee.

~ ~ ~

    Such men as the following manifest their deep interest in the welfare of this church by endorsing the above.

    The Swedes in Cambridge, under the wise leadership of Rev. C. W. Holm, have carried on their church without aid from the Massachusetts Home Missionary society, but they need and I think ought to have aid In their present effort to secure a church home.  I have known Bro. Holm for years, and have great confidence in him.

Joshua Coll, Sec.
Mass. Home Miss. Society.
June 12, 1900.

    I cordially endorse this appeal.  It seems to be a necessity that there should be services In the Swedish language, otherwise many of these intelligent and industrious Swedes will have no service which they can understand.  Dr. Coll's testimony deserves all confidence.

Alexander McKenzie.
South Framingham,
July 24, 1900.

    It has been my pleasure to preach to the Swedish Evangelical church In Cambridge.  It was their usual Sunday evening congregation and the hall was full.  Everything bore witness to the earnest, faithful work being done.  I have known of Bro. C. W. Holm's work in Fltchburg, Mass., and he and his people in every way deserve the support of the Christians in Cambridge.

F. E. Emrlch, Pastor
First Cong. Church.

    I have known Pastor C. W. Holm for about three years, as an earnest, consecrated worker, and, through his energy and zeal, the Swedish people of our city have been led to organize a church of the Congregational denomination.  The outlook for its future is bright, as there are several thousand Swedes in Cambridge.  Their present need is a house of worship for which they are willing to sacrifice and for which they justly ask our aid.  Surely our contributions to this work will be well placed.

Rev. C. M. Carpenter.

    I have been personally acquainted with the Rev. C. W. Holm, pastor of the Swedish Congregational society, for several years that they have worshipped in the hall of the East End Christian union.  Under the leadership of Pastor Holm the society has had a rapid growth and requires a larger church home to worship in.  I gladly recommend and ask the benevolent public to aid them in the good work of securing a church home.

John H. Walker, Supt.,
East End Christian union.

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1    This article represents the first official public record of the founding of the Swedish Evangelical Mission church in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

    Sometime in 1889, Rev. P. Vincentins began preaching to a small group of Swedes in a room in the Wood Memorial church located at ___ in Cambridge.  This was the year that Bengt Johnson and his wife Maria Lovisa Hörling and their four daughters moved to Cambridge from Worcester.  The Swedish Evangelical Mission Society was formed by Bengt Johnson in October 1895 with 14 members.  Rev. Carl W. Holm was called to be the first permanent pastor on March 1, 1897.  On April 28, 1897 the society named Bengt Johnson as Chairman.  The society was officially incorporated on June 8, 1899.  In 1900 John L. Landall became Chairman of the society.  Starting in the autumn of 1901 the Swedes met to worship at the East End Christian Union Chapel on Burleigh Street until the end of 1902.

    The Swedish Evangelical Mission church was built at the corner of Hampshire and Norfolk streets.  The cornerstone of the church was laid on 26 October 1902.  When the basement was finished, the Swedish people began worshiping there on January 3, 1903.  The Swedish Evangelical Mission church in Cambridge celebrated its 10th anniversary in 1907.  The church edifice was completed in 1910.

Cambridge Chronicle
Saturday, November 2, 1907


    Special revival meetings are being held in this church, corner of Norfolk and Hampshire streets.  They began yesterday at 7.45 p.m., and will continue over Sunday. Rev. J. A. Johnson, of Lynn; Rev. J. Anderson, of Qulncy; Rev. Aug. Erlkson, of Boston, and Rev. F. A. Llndholm, of Lowell, will take part in these meetings.  Tomorrow morning, at 9.30, one of the pastors will speak to the Sunday school.  The regular meeting be is at 10.30 a.m.  In the afternoon, at 1.30, there will be stirring sermons preached to the young people.  At 7 o'clock the last meeting will be held.  The choir and string band will serve with music in all the meetings.  All who understand the Swedish language are invited to come and take part in the services.

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2    This article is interesting as a record of church services being conducted in the Swedish language.  Eventually two services were given on Sunday.  The Swedish service was in the morning, followed by a dinner at midday, followed by Sunday school (in English ?) and a regular service in English in the afternoon.  It is also worth noting the existence of other Swedish congregations in Quincy, Lowell, Lynn and Boston as indicated by the visiting pastors mentioned.

From the 1910 census it is apparent that there were over 10,000 Swedes, Norwegians, Danes and Icelanders living in the greater Boston area at that time.

Cambridge Chronicle
Saturday, Month 00, 1910 ?


Anniversary Exercises Now Being Held by Swedish Evangelical Mission Society - Steps Taken to Complete Church Edifice

    The Swedish Evangelical Mission church began a celebration of its tenth anniversary, Thursday evening, which was continued Friday night and will extend through today and Sunday - Thursday night, the speakers were Rev. O. E. Beals, pastor of the Prospect Street church, and ?. B. Cook, secretary of the Home Missionary society of Boston.  There was music by the choir and a male quartet, with solos by Albert O. Wilson. An historical sketch of the church was also read.  Last evening, Rev. C.W. Holm, the founder of the church, was the speaker, and tonight Rev. P. Vincentins will make an address on missionary work. Sunday morning, Rev. A. L. Anderson, of Orange, Mass., will give an address on the "Church of Christ."  At 3.30 in the afternoon, Rev. Mr. Erickson will preach, and at 7 in the evening there will be addresses by Revs. Holm, Anderson and Vincentins.  Next week Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings there will be special revival services.

    After four years of service, Rev. Mr. Holm resigned, the membership then being 106.  Rev. John Udd became pastor and began the work of getting together money to build the church.  The church was occupied for the first time January 3, 1903.  The building and furnishings cost $7,275.  The cost of land, building and furnishings was about $10,000, with a debt of $4,775.  Rev. Mr. Udd resigned as pastor on account of poor health in 1904, and went to Colorado.  The present pastor, Rev. C. E. Peterson, became Mr. Udd's successor and has labored with the flock for two and one half years.  The church now has a membership of 220 and the Sunday school has an additional 205.  During the past few years the basement of the church, which is all that was built at the start, has been inadequate to accommodate the people and the necessity of completing the edifice is imperative, but the church does not feel like going ahead until the present indebtedness is paid off.  The debt had been reduced last March to $2,150, and it was determined to raise the balance by next March.  Subscriptions amounting to $1,300 towards that end have been pledged.  As soon as the debt is raised, steps will be taken to build the upper story of the edifice, the cost of which Is estimated at about $15,000.  The church will seat about 700 when completed.

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3    Several things in this article are worthy of comment.  Rev. Holm is listed as the founder of the church.  In fact, Holm "was called" to the position of pastor by the congregation.  In the church's 75th anniversary booklet written by Eugene Lundberg, Chairman, Bengt Johnson is listed as the first Chairman of the church in 1897.  C.W. Holm is listed as the first minister.  The description of the financial planning for the construction of the first church is impressive.  That the founding members were not wealthy people makes one appreciate all the more the amazing accomplishment of raising the money for building the church.

Cambridge Chronicle
Saturday, February 5, 1910


Swedish Evangelical Mission Will Have an Auditorium Seating 600 -To Cost $15,000.

    Plans are being prepared by Architect Charles Herbert McClare for an addition to the Swedish Evangelical Mission building at the corner of Hampshire and Norfolk streets.  Some ten years ago the vestry of the structure was built and now the corporation feels that it is in a position to erect the main church.  It will be about 52 by 51 feet and the auditorium will seat about 610, brick and stone will be the materials to be used, and the architect will give it considerable of a Gothic aspect.  Work will start shortly and it is expected that the auditorium can be occupied in the early fall.  It is estimated that the work will entail an expense of approximately $15,000.

Cambridge Chronicle
Saturday, May 7, 1910


Corner of Hampshire and Norfolk streets, Cambrldgeport.

    Rev. K.F. Ohlson, pastor. Sunday services will be as follows: Sunday school. 9.30 a.m.; sermon by the pastor, 10.45; evening service. 7 o'clock.  There will be an extra service at 3.30 p.m. at which there will be several speakers.  A collection will be taken for the benefit of the ?. home. East Boston.  The Thursday evening prayer meeting is at 7.45 o'clock.  Rev. K. F. Ohlson, the pastor, was pleasantly surprised at a social held in the church last Tuesday evening, the occasion being his ?2nd birthday.  A neat sum of money, together with the well wishes of the congregation, was presented him.  At a meeting earlier in the evening bids for finishing the church building were opened.  The contract will be awarded to Gustave Wilson, of this city, who was the lowest bidder.

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4   This article makes the first mention of Gustave Wilson, who, with his wife, Matilda Crossberg Wilson, were Swedish immigrants and early members of the society.  Gustave Wilson was the founder of a building construction company that is still in business more than 100 years later in 2018.  Son Albert O. Wilson grew up in the church, had a fine singing voice, became the Choir Director, and was responsible for significantly expanding the family business.

 The editor of these pages has great admiration and warm feelings towards the Wilson family.  It was Albert O. Wilson who sang several songs at the funeral of Bengt Johnson, my great grandfather, and founder of the Swedish Evangelical Mission society.

Cambridge Chronicle
Saturday, Janaury 25, 1913


    Gustavus Wilson, a well-known builder (Gustav Wilson Structural Company), died Monday night at his home, Columbia Street.  He was 68 years old.  He was appointed a cemetery commissioner by Mayor A.J. Daly and served six years.  He was for years a member and vestryman of the Swedish Evangelical Mission church, Hampshire and Norfolk streets.

    Mr. Wilson leaves a wife, Matilda Crossberg, and six children, Albert O., Axel D., Oscar G., Misses Hilda V., and Edith M., all of this city, and Esther v. Wilson, Mrs. Joseph Landahl of Providence.

    The funeral was held yesterday afternoon, at 2 o'clock.  Services were held at the Swedish Mission church, conducted by the pastor, K.F. Ohlson.  Selections were rendered by the church choir, under direction of Mrs. Landall and also a quartet under direction of Mrs. Landall.  Six members of the executive committee of the church were pallbearars: Emil Frederickson, Olaf Anderson, S.A. Johnson, Olaf Olson, S. Ekmark and Karl Manson.  Burial was at Cambridge cemetery.  There was a profusion of floral tributes.

Cambridge Chronicle
Saturday, Feb 21, 1914


Corner Hampshire and Norfolk streets.

    Rev. K. F. Ohlson, pastor, 8 St. Paul street.
Tomorrow, the Sunday school meets at 9.30 a.m.  At 11 a. m., S. W. Hogquist, a missionary of the Alliance mission, will speak prior to his departure to China.  At 6 p. m., the Young People's society will have a patriotic service In commemoration of Washington's birthday.  At 7 p. m., the pastor will preach and there will be special singing.  Somervilie branch, Sunday school meets at 2.30 in the Third Universalist church, corner of College and Morrison avenues, Somerville.  Thursday at 7.46 p.m. at the prayer meeting, the pastor will continue his talk on Revelation, his topic being Christ's Message to the church of Smyrna.  Rev. E. A. Skogsbergh, of Minneapolis, Minn., a well known evangelist of the west, will hold revival services March 12 to 15 Inclusive.

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6    This article gives the home address of Pastor Ohlson, gives evidence of the church's missionary work in other countries, as well as the growth of American patriotism within a Swedish religious and cultural society.  This is also the first mention of a branch of the society existing at the Universalist church in nearby Somerville.  Lastly, the presence of Rev. Erik August Skogsbergh is significant.  Since coming to Chicago in 1876 from Värmland, Sweden where he had developed a great reputation as a preacher, Skogsbergh founded the Evangelical Mission Covenant Church in America, with which the Swedish Evangelical Mission church in Cambridge became affiliated in 1945.

- Rolf Anderson, Editor