This Week in AG History -- Aug. 22, 1954
Carl M. "Daddy" Hanson (1865-1954), a spiritual father to many early Pentecostals on the northern Great Plains, earned his Pentecostal stripes on both sides of Azusa Street. He experienced the Pentecostal distinctive of speaking in tongues in the 19th century, and he became an early leader in the Assemblies of God in the first half of the 20th century.
The son of Norwegian immigrants to Minnesota, Hanson was converted while a student at Augsburg Seminary and became an evangelist affiliated with the Scandinavian Free Mission (now known as the Evangelical Free Church). The Scandinavian Free Mission, in the 1890s and early 1900s, witnessed a significant revival in which many people experienced salvation, healings, and biblical spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues.
This revival made a deep impression on Hanson, who himself was healed of a terminal illness in 1895. A short time later, he held services in Grafton, North Dakota, where people had a great hunger for God. There, he saw a young Norwegian girl, enraptured in the presence of God, speak in a language she had not learned. Hanson pondered what it meant, studied Scripture, and came away convinced that that the prophecy in Joel 2:28 was coming true before his eyes: "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions."
Hanson continued as an itinerant evangelist. His daughter, Anna Berg, recalled, "My father began giving testimony wherever doors were open to him: in churches, schoolhouses, homes, and missions. The response was amazing. Everywhere people were saved. This was usually followed by a consuming desire for more of God's power in their lives."
In about 1899, Hanson received the gift of speaking in tongues. In 1904, he opened a rescue mission in Minneapolis, where he sought to give physical and spiritual help to those who were drunken, homeless, and destitute. He traversed the region, raising support and seeking young people to work with him at the mission.
Hanson soon identified with the emerging Pentecostal movement in Chicago, which had its roots in the 1906 Azusa Street revival in Los Angeles. Chicago Pentecostal leader William Durham ordained Hanson in 1909, and Hanson transferred his ordination to the Assemblies of God in 1917. In 1922, when the Assemblies of God organized churches and ministers in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the Dakotas into the North Central District, participants unanimously elected Hanson to serve as the district's first chairman.
Hanson and his wife, Mathilda, had 13 children, two of whom became Pentecostal missionaries. Esther M. Hanson served at L.M. Anglin's orphanage in China, and Anna C. (Mrs. Arthur F.) Berg served in Belgian Congo prior to pastoring in Sisseton and Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Former Assemblies of God General Superintendent G. Raymond Carlson also traced his family's Pentecostal experience back to Hanson's ministry. It was in Carlson's maternal grandparents' home in Grafton, North Dakota, that Hanson first saw someone speak in tongues.
Hanson's story reminds us that the modern Pentecostal movement emerged from a variety of sources. Revivals at Topeka and Azusa Street may have been two of the most visible focal points of early 20th-century American Pentecostalism, but prior revivals, including those among Scandinavian settlers in the northern Great Plains, provided precedents and leaders for the emerging movement.
The Pentecostal Evangel published a memorial tribute to Hanson on page 12 of the Aug. 22, 1954, issue.
Also featured in this issue:
• "Tony, the 'Miracle Boy'"
• "Maybe I'm Wrong," by John Garlock
• "Ride on, King Jesus," by Zelma Argue
And many more!
Read more about Hanson in the article, "Carl M. Hanson: Scandinavian Harbinger of Pentecost," in the Spring-Summer 2006 issue of Assemblies of God Heritage magazine.
Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.