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John Alexis Edgren (February 20, 1839 - January 26, 1908) was a Swedish-American Baptist Minister. Edgren began what eventually evolved into Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota.[1]


Johan Alexis Edgren was born at Östanås, in Älvsbacka, Värmland, Sweden. He was the son of Axel Edgren and Mathilda Berger and the brother of noted Swedish American linguist August Hjalmar Edgren. He attended and completed elementary school in Karlstad. He qualified for the rank of Captain in the navigation school of Stockholm. He went to America in 1862, and received a commission in the Union Navy during the American Civil War. He subsequently trained at Princeton Theological Seminary and the Baptist Theological Seminary in Hamilton, New York.[2][3][4]


Edgren served at First Swedish Baptist Church in Chicago starting in 1871. Edgren opened a department for Scandinavian theological students in the fall of 1871 in the basement of his church for ministerial students. The Baptist Theological Union of the University of Chicago invited Edgren to house a seminary at their location. The Seminary was housed with the Baptist Theological Union from 1871 until 1884 when Edgren resigned. Subsequently, the seminary moved to the facilities of First Swedish Baptist Church in St. Paul, Minnesota where it became a seminary of the Baptist General Conference.[5][6][7]


  1. Rev John Alexis Edgren (Mountain View Cemetery. Oakland, California) [1]
  2. Founding Dean (Baptist General Conference Archives)
  3. An Extraordinary Heritage (Bethel Theological Seminary. St. Paul, Minnesota) [2]
  4. On Whose Shoulders Do We Stand? (by Virgil Olson, Professor Emeritus, Bethel University) [3]
  5. A Legacy of Leadership (Heart & Mind Volume 22 No 2 | Spring 2009)
  6. Cousins: Betelseminariet Sweden & Bethel Seminary St. Paul (Baptist General Conference History Center) [4]
  7. Missionsskola, Baptist Theological Union, University of Chicago (Baptist General Conference Archives)[5]

Primary Source[]

  • Ahlstrom, Louis John John Alexis Edgren, soldier, educator, author, journalist: A biography (Conference press. 1938)

External links[]