D. L. Moody and Swedes Shaping Evangelical Identity among Swedish Mission Friends 1867–1899
Abstract: The American Dwight L. Moody (1837–1899) was the most famous revivalist of the late 1800s and exercised a wide and lasting influence on the Protestant world, reaching Swedes in Sweden and America. His influence was felt among Swedes despite the fact that he was of English heritage, never visited Sweden or any Scandinavian country, and never spoke a word of the Swedish language. Nevertheless, he became a “hero” revivalist among Swedish Mission Friends in Sweden and America.Moody’s early ministry was centered in Chicago, the largest urban population of Swedes in the United States. In 1867, he first came into contact with Swedish immigrants in Chicago known as Mission Friends. The church that he founded, Chicago Avenue Church, later organized a Swedish fellowship. Many Swedes who immigrated to America, a land of religious pluralism, were eager to adopt Moody’s beliefs and methods. Fredrik Franson who joined Moody’s church became a proponent of the American revivalist’s beliefs and methods, spreading them in America, Sweden and other countries. E. A. Skogsbergh, a pioneer of the Mission Covenant in America, adopted Moody’s preaching style so much that he became known as “the Swedish Moody.”News of Moody’s large revival campaigns in Great Britain from 1873–1875 traveled quickly to Sweden, making “Mr. Moody” a household name in homes of many Mission Friends. Moody’s sermons published in Sweden were distributed in books, newspapers, and colporteur tracts, and led to the spread of Sweden’s “Moody fever” from 1875–1880. P. P. Waldenström cited Moody as an example of evangelical cooperation in events leading to the founding of Svenska Missionsförbundet (Swedish Mission Covenant). Songs of Moody’s musical partner, Ira D. Sankey, were translated into Swedish by Theodor Truvé and Erik Nyström and sung in homes and mission houses. Moody’s influence extended even to Sweden’s Archbishop Nathan Söderblom who during his college years attended Moody’s student conference at Northfield, Massachusetts. As Mission Friends adopted Moody’s alliance ideal, beliefs, and methods, their religious identity shifted in the direction of Moody’s new American evangelicalism.
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