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During the period of 1926-40, the work of the MISSION UNION flourished perhaps to a greater extent than at any other time in its history. The difficult and trying times of organization were passed. The local churches were more strongly rooted and grounded in the faith, and with the experience gained, the leaders could forge ahead in the task of bringing the gospel to their countrymen in all parts of this great land.
The advancement of the MISSION. UNION at this time was, in a large measure, due to the success of the local churches. The work of the MISSION UNION and the churches were closely related. Therefore, we do not consider it out of context here to mention some of the achievements of the local churches. The records reveal, for example, that during the early ninteen-twenties some of the churches erected larger buildings to meet the needs of the expanding work, mortgages on church properties were paid off and in some cases improvements on existing facilities were undertaken and one or two of the weaker churches became self-supporting.
The membership of the BAPTIST MISSION UNION has never been large, nor has it had any great financial resources to back up its missionary program. Therefore the administrative work of the organization has always been carried on by pastors and laymen without remuneration, in addition to their other work. For this reason almost 100 percent of every dollar collected has gone directly to the work on the field. We cannot here mention the names of all the men and women, both pastors and laymen, who have given freely of their time and talents in administering the affairs of both the MISSION UNION and THE MISSION POST, but God shall surely reward every service rendered in His name.
During part of this period only two full time workers were sent on the field by the organization. However, to supplement the work of the missionaries, pastors from the larger churches would often visit sister churches which were without leaders, and also hold meetings at outstations on the field, where the need was the greatest.
From 1908 to 1931, Rev. Andrew Blomquist served as colporteur and missionary in the states of Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, and also made periodic trips to the Middle-east and the West Coast. Rev. Blomquist was a dedicated and energetic worker with a cordial and warmhearted personality which made friends for him wherever he went. He was wellknown and wellliked by all our countrymen.
Rev. Alfred Holmgren spent nine years as missionary on the West Coast, mostly among Swedish-speaking Finlanders. During the years 1935-44, regular visits were made to various out-stations in the states of Washington, Montana, Oregon and California, and during the summer months to churches in Mid-Western and Eastern states. During part of the time on the West Coast he also served as pastor of the Grace Baptist Church in Seattle, Washington.
At this time the West Coast field was one of the most needy, since there were large numbers of Finlanders in most of the cities and communities in the area, with only one MISSION UNION church, namely the Grace Baptist Church in Seattle. The only contact, therefore, many of these countrymen had with the fellowship of the MISSION UNION was through its missionary, and by monthly visits of its publication, THE MISSION POST. It can also be stated to Rev. Holmgren's credit that the greatest part of his salary was received in offerings and gifts from the field, and by his own personal efforts. Undoubtedly the importance of the ministry of THE MISSION POST has been stressed in earlier portions of this book and will be taken up again in subsequent chapters, but it must be emphasized that next to a personal visit by the missionary, THE MISSION POST was the most appreciated and most important contact our people on the West Coast had with the fellowship of the MISSION UNION. And largely through the efforts of Mr. Holmgren, the circulation of THE MISSION POST in this area was larger than at any other time in its history.
At the time the MISSION UNION and most of the member churches were organized the Swedish language was used almost exclusively both in the Sunday School and the regular church services. The newly organized churches were called Swedish-Finnish Baptist churches and the MISSION UNION had the prefix, "Finnish" in its title. But time marches on, bringing inevitable changes to every phase of our lives, and with the changing times adjustments also had to be made in the methods and planning of the missionary work.
Since the ministry and outreach of the MISSION UNION and the member churches had been greatly enlarged, and our young people and persons of other nationalities began to join our fellowship, it became necessary to carry on the work in the English language which could be understood by almost every one. Most of the churches at this time found it advantageous to drop the old church name and choose a new one, which was related to the community in which the church was located, or one with a Biblical connotation. The prefix in the name of the MISSION UNION was also dropped at about this time.
Persons whom we like to link up with our church work in this period are:
Dan and Floyd Ankerberg, who became members of our Bethel Church in Chicago. They are sons of Joe Ankerberg, well - known soulwinner, especially in the Greater Chicago area. God has used these men in a marvelous way in the Youth For Christ movement and High School Evangelism. Presently Dan directs Chicago Gospel Tract Society, and Floyd pours his energy into the Greater Chicago Sunday School Association.
Two other brothers, Edward and Walter Midura, also entered our church in Chicago at this time. God has used Edward greatly in the Youth for Christ Evangelism. He is an able teacher and preacher of God's word. Mrs. Midura is of the Bakk family from Cook, Minn.
Walter prepared himself to go out as a foreign missionary, but was hindered by a throat ailment. However God has used him and his wife Alexa to teach and direct youth work for Christ. The last years they have lived and worked in Minneapolis, Minn.
Felix Ronnquist was born and raised in Poular and Wentworth, Wis. He has served the Lord as pastor in several churches.
Natalie Haag (Stormans), daughter of Andrew Stormans, has been wonderfully used in the musical field. For years her Godgiven talent thrilled the membership in several of our churches, especially in Chicago. The last decade has found her and John busily engaged in the Souls Harbor Church in Minneapolis, where their talents have inspired thousands over television and in church activities.
Oscar Gunnerfeldt, pastor and evangelist, was called and served as General Secretary in the Union and blessed our churches for some years. His visits and contact with our Baptist Churches in Finland and Sweden has been of special inspiration to our work.
A Women's Organization was formed during the years. Ladies from several of our churches were busy in this work. At the annual meeting in Duluth in 1949, the following were elected to serve: Mrs. E. W. Anderson, Mrs. Herman Kasen, Mrs. L. Daley, Mrs. C. Johnson, and Mrs. Oliver Lund. Since then others have served, among them Mrs. Albert Westerberg, and Mrs. Floyd Ankerberg, who have contributed greatly during the years in song and music.
A Memorial Tract Committee also worked a few years, spreading the gospel in English, Finnish, and Swedish. The following served in that group: Gordon Johnson, Reuben Fagerstrom, Ruth Haglund, Toivo and Helena Tervonen, and C. Wessman.
Published in Sixty Years of Christian Stewardship 1901-1961. Prepared in commemoration of the Sixtieth anniversary of The Baptist Mission Union of America. 1961, p. 15-18.
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