Gustaf Palmquist was born in Sweden in 1812. While he was still young, his mother was brought under conviction by the Holy Spirit. When she sought advice from her Lutheran pastor, the best he could do was to assure her that church membership and her deep piety was sufficient before God, but this didn’t satisfy her. Eventually she came to know a elderly widow who was considered eccentric by her neighbors, and Mrs. Palmquist learned to trust God’s saving grace. Of course, she began to share the gospel with her seven children.
In the mean time, Gustaf was growing up. At the at of 32, while a professor at a teacher’s college in Stockholm, his mother’s testimony, driven home by the Holy Spirit, resulted in his conversion. When he began to speak of his faith in Christ, the Lord brought him into contact with a small Baptist congregation which was planning to emigrate to America. They encouraged Palmquist to come with them, and he consented, arriving in August 1851.
Discouraged by what he found in New York, Palmquist traveled west, settling in Rock Island, Illinois, where he sought out other Swedish-speaking people to whom he could share the gospel as he understood it. When he heard of a great moving of God in a little Baptist church in Galesburg, he went to investigate. The Holy Spirit began teaching this Lutheran immigrant the truth and in June 1852, he was immersed and joined the Galesburg church. Soon after that he was ordained.
When he returned to Rock Island, he began to share with his friends what he had learned, and on this day (August 13) in 1852 the first Swedish Baptist Church in America was founded. It was a solid fundamental church with a missionary heart, and through it a number of other Baptist congregations were started among the American Swedes.