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Covenant Missionaries Go to Alaska


God has been leading his servants to do his work in Alaska through a process that has a continued impact many Alaskan natives. The Mission Covenant of Sweden first began its work in Alaska when a Swede by the name of A. E. Nordneskiold went to the North Pole in 1878. On his expedition, Nordneskiold noticed the need for missionaries to witness to the Eskimo people of Alaska and Siberia. The period beginning with Nordneskiold’s discovery continued through the beginning of the nineteenth century established a strong basis for God’s work. It is visible that God has used people to reach out to the native population in Alaska in several ways. Some of these ways include the establishment of churches, schools, children’s homes, and the saving lost souls for the Lord.

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Many people were drawn to Alaska after it became part of the US On March 30, 1867; the Russians sold their arctic colony to the United States for $7,200,000. This price broke down to about two cents per acre. The United States called this colony Alaska, which meant "the Great Land" according to the Aleut word. In fact, Alaska is two and one-fifth larger than the area of Texas. This new territory brought the US more coastline than all of the "lower 48" states combined. Alaska was able to bring the US wealth for a number of reasons and this attracted many people to Alaska. But some went to Alaska with a different purpose: sharing the Gospel. Almquist said, "…where there are men, there is a need to know God. Theirs is the certainty that he can be known in Jesus Christ, his son, who died on a cross for the sins of men, who lived as a man among men, and ‘who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sinning’ (Heb.4:15)."

From 1880-1930, the foreign mission enterprise was a massive affair in United States history. Thousands of Americans abroad and at home were involved in foreign missions affair. On the whole, missionaries that went abroad were college-trained males, and usually educated beyond college. The first twenty years of missionary service in Alaska showed an increasing missionary effort, in which advance and conquest occurred. A great way to evaluate the success of the Alaskan missionaries is by viewing the success of the public school system. The public school systems where the missionaries had laid the foundations turned out to be more successful than the schools that were begun by the US Bureau of Education.

The mission movement in Alaska had a tremendous impact. The missionaries have helped many native Alaskans. Most importantly the natives were saved in the name of Jesus Christ. 


Almquist, L. S. Covenant Missions in Alaska. Chicago: Covenant Press, 1962.

Hutchinson, William R. Errand to the World. Chicago: U. of Chicago Press, 1987.

Series 14/0, box 9, Folder 3, "Motivation in Early Missionaries To Alaska." Covenant Archives.

Researched and Written by: Carol Poterek
December 17, 1998

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