The First Swedish Baptist Church in America
Rev. Gustaf Palmquist became the first pastor at the founding of the first Swedish Baptist church in America at Rock Island, Illinois on August 13, 1852. It consisted of only three members, two men and one woman. It had been commissioned by the Baptist church at Galesburg, IL where Palmquist, formerly a Lutheran, had been baptized in 1852 and ordained. The true honor however must go to Palmquist’s dear mother. Gustaf was born on May 26, 1812, into a family of seven children during a time of great spiritual dearth in Sweden. His mother came under deep conviction and turned to the parish priest who told her that her piety was sufficient. Having no peace she turned to an old widow who was considered spiritually odd who pointed her to Christ. Mrs. Palmquist began earnestly praying for the salvation of her children, though Gustaf and his brother Per did not come to full assurance until eight years after their mothers death. By now, at 32, Gustaf was a professor in a teachers’ college in Stockholm, and his vocal witness brought him into contact with F.G. Hedberg of Finland and Rev. F.O. Nilsson, the exiled Baptist preacher. In Helsingland in northern Sweden, there was a group of believers who, in an attempt to escape persecution, determined to imigrate to America. They asked Gustaf to go with them as their pastor which he did and they landed in N.Y. in August of 1851. He was soon disheartened to learn that his flock was scattered over three states so he went westward and settled in Rock Island, Illinois. He heard of a wonderful moving of the Spirit of God in the Baptist church in Galesburg and went to examine it for himself. This is where he was baptized and ordained into the ministry.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon: From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 332-34.
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