Mary Johnson and Ida Anderson

“Free-Free” Missionaries of the Scandinavian Mission Society USA to Natal, South Africa

in Pneuma
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Mary Johnson (1884–1968) and Ida Anderson (1871–1964) are described in pentecostal historiography as the first pentecostal missionaries sent from America. Both of these Swedish-American missionaries experienced baptism of the Spirit, spoke in tongues, and were called as missionaries to Africa by God, whom they expected to speak through them to the native people. They went by faith and completed careers as missionaries to South Africa. But who were these two figures of which relatively little has been written? They were Swedish-American “Free-Free” in the tradition of August Davis and John Thompson of the Scandinavian Mission Society—the first Minnesota district of the Swedish Evangelical Free Mission, known today as the Evangelical Free Church of America. This work examines the lives of these two female missionaries, their work in South Africa, and their relationship with Swedish Evangelical Free churches in America, particularly its pentecostal stream of Free-Free (frifria).

Mary Johnson and Ida Anderson

“Free-Free” Missionaries of the Scandinavian Mission Society USA to Natal, South Africa

in Pneuma




Vinson SynanThe Century of the Holy Spirit: 100 Years of Pentecostal and Charismatic Renewal 1901–2001 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson2001) 88.


Ogbu KaluAfrican Pentecostalism: An Introduction (New York: Oxford University Press2008) 47.


G.B. McGee“Missions, Overseas (North American Pentecostal),” in The New International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movementsed. Stanley M. Burgess (Grand Rapids MI: Zondervan 2002) 887.


Darrin J. RodgersNorthern Harvest: Pentecostalism in North Dakota (Bismarck: North Dakota District Council of the Assemblies of God2003) 13.


David M. Gustafson“August Davis and the Free-Free: Pentecostal Phenomena among the Swedish Evangelical Free,” Pneuma 37 no. 2 (2015): 201–223. The Scandinavian Mission Society of Minnesota incorporated in 1898 as the Scandinavian Mission Society USA. For differences between the Scandinavian Mission Society (“Free-Free”) and the wider Swedish Evangelical Free see: “Protokoll” Missions-Posten August 1905 1–2. Among others Josephine Princell distinguished between “Free-Free” (frifria) and Free (fria). Josephine Princell ed. Skogsblommor: Illusterad Kalender för 1901 (Chicago: Martenson 1900) 170.


“Ida Anderson [joined] 1902missionär i Afrika.” Församlings Bok för den Svenska Fria församling i Kost [Minn.] 1; E.A. Halleen et al. Golden Jubilee: Reminiscences of Our Work under God of the Swedish Evangelical Free Church of the USA 1884–1934 (Minneapolis: Swedish Evangelical Free Church 1934) 118; Diamond Jubilee 75th Anniversary Kost Evangelical Free Church North Branch Minnesota June 22–25 1961 (North Branch: Kost Evangelical Free Church 1961) 9.


HalleenGolden Jubilee41; “Ida Anderson och Mary Johnson” Räddningslinan September 1909 1; David M. Gustafson “Ellen Modin: The Swedish Lady Missionary” Pietisten 28 no. 1 (Spring-Summer 2014): 10–12.


Della OlsonA Woman of Her Times (Minneapolis: Free Church Press1977) 44–45.


A.E. Strand ed.A History of the Swedish-Americans of Minnesota (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co.1910) 236.


HalleenGolden Jubilee196.


Naemi Reinholdz“En Guds plöjersak: Mary Johnsons liv och verksamhet,” Trons Segrar 34 (August 23 1968): 10; Olson Woman of Her Times 61; Missions-Posten September 1902 6; Kimbro Evangelical Free Church: 50th Anniversary 1897–1947 Kimbro Texas (Kimbro Evangelical Free Church 1947) 5; James Christianson ed. Swedes in Texas in Words and Pictures trans. Christine Andreason (New Sweden: Austin Area Committee 1994) 88 118.


John Herner“Texas bref,” Missions-PostenSepember 1902 6. One observer reported: “G.F.J. had not spoken long … [when] from the door to the platform people everywhere were kneeling and weeping. People were stopped in their path of sin and the Holy Spirit took control of the meeting.” Carlstig Gustaf F. Johnson 20. For Gustaf F. Johnson’s account of pondering the apostle’s exhortation “Be filled with the Spirit” and an encounter with “Holy Jumpers” (heliga hoppare) see Carlstig Gustaf F. Johnson 69–70.


William Melin“Mary Johnson,” Bref-Dufvan (April 1918): 4; Bref-Dufvan was the organ of the Scandinavian Mission Society USA which began publication in 1909 and ended 1933. When the Society discontinued the publication information was communicated in Missionsvänner in the section titled “Från Brevduvans horn.”






Ibid. Cf. David BundyVisions of Apostolic Mission: Scandinavian Pentecostal Mission to 1935 (Uppsala: Uppsala Universitet2009): 113–115.


Gustafson“August Davis and the Free-Free,” Pneuma219.


William Melin“Strödda drag ur John Thompsons lif och verksamhet,” Missions-VännenFebruary 1940.


ThompsonPentecostal Evangel8.


ThompsonPentecostal Evangel8.


Harry and Ester Thorell“Mary Johnson: In Memoriam,” Trons Segrar 28–29 (July 12 1968): 13; Reinholdz Trons Segrar 35 (August 30 1968): 6.


ThompsonPentecostal Evangel8. It appears that H.H. Ness confuses (fuses together) details of Augusta Johnson and Mary Johnson. Ness Demonstration of the Holy Spirit 11.


Ida Anderson“Det mörka Afrika,” in Missionsröster: Illusterad Missionskalendered. John E. Melin 1919 29. In this article Ida reported how God often revealed himself to people through an experience when “heaven was opened” to them.


ThompsonPentecostal Evangel8.


Mollie Hansen“ ‘Halleen, Edwards’ Are Passwords for Mollie Hansen on Missionary Trip,” Evangelical Beacon (March 7 1944): 7; Halleen Golden Jubilee 245.


HansenEvangelical Beacon11.


RodgersNorthern Harvest14. For Swedish Pentecostalism in America see Mark A. Granquist “Smaller Religious Groups in the Swedish-American Community” Swedish-American Historical Quarterly 44 no. 4 (October 1993): 224–225. Further study is needed to determine if these two pentecostal impulses were spontaneous and independent or had some historical connection prior to 1904. Clearly the overall religious milieu at the turn of the century was sociologically fluid and complex and correspondence between Swedish Free churches in Sweden and America and the Parham-Seymour movement was intense and swift early in the movement.


KaluAfrican Pentecostalism47. For example Andrew G. Johnson a Swedish immigrant took part in the Azusa Street revival in 1906 and experienced Spirit baptism. Jan-Åke Alvarsson “Pingstväckelsens etablering i Sverige: Från Azusa Street till Skövde på sju månader” in Claes Waern et al. Pingströrelsen vol. 1 (Örebro: Libris förlag 2007) 13 16–17. A.G. Johnson held that Spirit baptism results not only in tongues-speaking (glossolalia) but also the ability to speak other known foreign languages (xenolalia) in mission service. Mary Johnson had this same experience two years earlier.


HalleenGolden Jubilee38–40.


Ibid.100; Table I Tabulation of Doctrinal Survey. While ninety-two (95.8 %) of respondents held that the infilling of the Spirit is possible after conversion three (3.1 %) held that a “pentecostal” type of infilling was necessary and one (1 %) held that it was possible.


Roy A. Thompson“Pentecost: A Normal Experience,” The Evangelical Beacon 3 no. 17 (May 22 1934): 2. This stood in contrast to classic Pentecostals whose doctrine was “both central and specific as a boundary line separating them from others.” Ulrik Josefsson Liv och över nog: Den tidiga pingströrelsens spiritualitet (Skellefteå: Artos 2005) 130–132 414.


RodgersNorthern Harvest14; The Minneapolis Star August 20 1964 13D.


RodgersNorthern Harvest14.


McGee“Missions, Overseas,” The New International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements887.


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    Figure 1

    Ida Anderson and Mary JohnsonRäddningslinan, Minneapolis, Sept. 1909, Minnesota History Center, St. Paul, MN


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