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Adam London HSTY 7390 May 14, 2012 L.E.

Ost and the Early Alaska Covenant Church In his book, Grandpa: A Mission in Alaska, Jan-Olov Schroder chronicles both the ministry of L.E. Ost, (whom went by the nickname Grandpa for almost 70 years) but also the Covenant mission and the Eskimo lifestyle from the mid 1850s to the 1970s. However, for the purpose of this paper, we will focus of the ministry of Ost and will dabble occasionally into the great Covenant mission. L.E. Osts legal name was Ludvig Evald Ost, although at birth he was named simply Evald Ost. Ost was born in 1886 in Morberget, Sweden.i When Ost immigrated to America as a 15 year old, he found that Americans could not pronounce Evald correctly, and took the legal name of Ludvig instead.ii Ost worked alongside his father in a country farm, always active in the Covenant (Mission Friends) church. As a boy, Ost made it known to his family that his greatest ambition was to become an evangelist or a pastor. As Ost grew old enough to complete his primary school studies, he began looking for ways to achieve his dream. Ost soon decided that; His goal should be attainable through North Park College in Chicago, the Covenant's own school for the training of evangelists.iii Ost saved every penny from his farm work for many years so that he could afford the $400 tuition for his time at North Park (in addition to the work study program he participated in). In the fall of 1906, Ost began his studies at North Park. While at North Park, Ost excelled in his studies, and was even picked to go on a mission trip to Palestine, and with one of two of the original Alaska missionaries, Axel Karlson nonetheless. Schroder reports the event: In the summer of 1907 Mellander undertook a journey to Palestine together with a Covenant missionary to Alaska, Swedish born Axel E. Karlsson from the Eskimo village of Unalakleet. It was Karlsson who funded the trip with money he received from a gold deposit in Alaska.iv Around the time of his graduation from North Park, Ost also had the opportunity to meet the other of the two original Alaska missionaries, Adolf Lydell. Lydell had returned to America because of failing health, but continued to advocate for the cause of the Eskimo mission. Ost was witness to a speech given by Lydell and afterward had a grand conversation with him. According to Schroder, Evald was totally fascinated by what he heard from Lydell.v Ost graduated from North Park the spring of 1910 and submitted himself to the Covenant to send him into a ministry location of their choosing. Osts interest in Alaska was not easily missed, however, and it came as no surprise that Ost was called to serve in Golovin, Alaska. Along with a church and a reindeer station, There the mission managed a children's home with board and room for about fifty childrenvi

However, before diving into Alaska, Ost quickly married his sweetheart, Ruth Elin Hall from Ashland, Wisconsin, whom he had met while he was doing an internship the summer of 1908. They were married on July 14, 1910. Evald and Ruth were married for 43 happy years.vii A few days later, the newlyweds were on their way to Alaska. Arriving in Golovin, Ost took over for O.P. Anderson who had taken over for P.H. Anderson. Interestingly, Paul H. Anderson left the Mission to pursue riches in gold, while O.P. Anderson came to Alaska to pursue gold, but gave it up to join the Mission. P.H. Anderson would strike it rich, but was soon entangled in a very messy legal battle with the Covenant church which essentially robbed the Alaska mission of money that should have gone to them and instead went to the Lower 48. According to Schroder, Serious discord had arisen in the American Covenant because of missionaries becoming involved in the gold business.viii Certainly claims that P.H. Anderson had molested and Eskimo girl did not help the situation. O.P. Anderson, on the other hand went on to marry a skilled nurse, Amanda Johnsson and together they managed the Golovin mission station with great faith from 1901-1910. Thankfully, Ost was also not alone in Golovin to manage the church, the reindeer, and the orphanage. Fortunately, a training teacher and nurse, Anna Hadberg and Mary Westdahl were already at work when Ost arrived and were always ready for other duties.ix Interestingly, even after 23 years of Covenant ministry, Ost noted in 1910 that the people in the most isolated villages were still devotees of the primeval shaman religion.x Ost had his work cut out for him. Of course Ost first had to try to break down the language barrier between himself and the Eskimo. However, Ost devoted himself to the task as Schroder reports: Like most of the mission workers in the early years, Grandpa Ost soon learned enough of the language of the Eskimos to carry on simple conversations with them. All of Ost's eight children also learned the Eskimo language more or less well It was more important for the Ost children to understand the language of the aboriginal population than to try to learn Swedish.xi During their early years as a family, Ost was known to bring home odd pets for his children. On one occasion Ost brought home 2 baby porcupines, although One of them died but the other became for several months the pet of the whole family.xii Another pet was a goat that for three years was a member of the family just like any of the others.xiii Ost also tells a story of bringing home a crane one time even. From the beginning of his service, Ost always placed a very high value on the Eskimo in church leadership. Of course, Ost inherited the tradition of the Alaska Covenant in this area. Speaking of the founding of the Golovin mission, Schroder writes; In the spring of 1892 August Andersson went up to Golovin in a little sailing schooner from Unalakleet. He had Stephen Ivanoff with him, one of the first Eskimo workers.xiv Later, Schroder also write of Ivanoff; Stephen Ivanoff was August Andersson's right hand man on many occasions on his travels in the villages.xv Schroder also listed several other Eskimos that were invaluable to the church: Frank and Misha Kamaroff, Andrew Kakorin, the siblings Misha and Kaitcha Ivanoff, Fred Walker, Peter and Dora Egelak, Samuel Anarick, and David Paniptchuk were other Eskimos that the Swedish missionaries could hardly have done without in the building of the work At a later period others joined as established Eskimo workers, such as Julius Pleasant, Paren Wilson and Minnie Gonongnan, Reuben and Katherine Paniptchuk,

Harry and Carrie Soxie, Axel and Clara Oyoumick, Joshua Avinona and many, many more.xvi Eskimos also were charged with taking care of the reindeer herds, freeing up Ost to focus on other ministry. When Ost arrived, it was reported that about 13,000 reindeer were owned by the mission, which had grown from a herd of 100 that had been given by Sheldon Jackson. The Eskimo herders at the time were reported by Schroder; Misha CharlesSigfrid Aukongauk, Jacob Kenick, Wilson Gonongnan, and Reuben Paniptchuk.xvii Of particular note were the latter three who became the first Native missionaries and pastors more than a decade later. Although Ost is not personally credited with encouraging the three toward ministry, the simple facts speak for themselves that Ost must have had a hand in it. An interesting side story was that of the Norwegian Lapp reindeer herders that retired in Unalakleet from Teller Mission, the Lutheran mission station. Schroder records: These two are Maria Bahr and Andro Bango, both born in Alaska a few years after their parents came to Unalakleet from Kautokeino in northern Norway in 1898... Andro Bango was born in Unalakleet in 1903. His father was Isak Andersson-Banch, a Laplander from Kautokeino.xviii As part of the Golovin churchs attempt to support Ost in his ministry, he was given 500 reindeer upon his arrival.xix Ost had the unfortunate honesty about himself to remark to the Covenant headquarters in Chicago (who was at the time in the midst of trying to rip the Alaska gold out of P.H. Andersons hands) that he might sell his own personal herd to fund the ministry in Golovin. However, the Covenant powers in Chicago sold those same reindeer without permission or consultation from Ost before he had a chance to sell them himself. Schroder reports; The Executive Board in Chicago itself decided to sell this surplus to get money for the school at North Park in Chicago which was in financial difficulty at that time. As Ost lamented, the Alaska mission did not even receive a red cent red cent out of this transaction which amounted to several thousand dollars. That he was deeply disappointed by what had happened is an understatement. xx This underhanded act was carried out by the Chicago Covenant, despite the Chicago Covenant being aware of the harsh financial realities that faced the Alaska Covenant.xxi The financial condition of the Alaska missionaries was bleak, dwellings for the Ost family as well as for the other missionaries, was in very poor condition.xxii Besides financial woes, in 1913, Ost was faced with huge storm that decimated the Norton Sound region. Hundreds of Eskimos on the coast lost their lives, and Golovin was no different. Fearing for their safety, Ost led the people of Golovin to relocate their village. Schroder reports; During the hectic and busy weeks and months before the coming of winter, Grandpa organized and carried out the move from Golovin. Grandpa gave the place the Biblical name of "Elim", which it retains to this day, a living and well established Eskimo village.xxiii Ost lived and ministered in Elim for 15 years until in 1928 the village of Golovin began to be resettled. The new settlement was dubbed new Golovin.xxiv Ost was always disappointed by the Covenant churchs financial support of the Alaska mission and as a result when he moved back to Golovin, he tendered his resignation as an official missionary in the Covenant. But this was only on paper. In spite of the fact that the support of the family was now

his priority, Grandpa and his wife Ruth continued their Christian work but now as volunteer workers.xxv Shortly after their move, Schroder reports: The following summer [1930], Grandpa built a new house for himself and his family in Golovin they kept the house in Golovin until 1946A big and imposing house which to this day is the biggest building in the village. The family moved into it. The biggest room on the ground floor was used for several years as a meeting room for Grandpa's continued services and the church's activity in the village. About twenty years later the "Ost house" was rebuilt to become the Golovin church.xxvi In 1946, Ost moved to Council to seek gold and work. However, he continued his ministry in his new home as well. Ost immediately began a congregation that for many years was recognized by the Alaska Covenant as an official mission station. Ost remained and served in Council until 1951.xxvii During those years, the Covenant Church in Alaska grew rapidly under the wings of the first Native missionaries. According to Schroder; The pioneering work was the establishment at Mountain Village in 1919, but the next step was not taken until 1926. This was Hooper Bay which received its church and its own native missionary The next village to receive a church building and a work was Scammon Bay in 1929Up to 1940 Eskimo missionaries were placed one by one in the village of Mekoryuk on Nunivak Island, in Shaktoolik, White Mountain, Candle, Solomon, and Koyuk, as well as in Bethel later on. Still later a work was started in the little village of Marshall, or Fortuna Ledge, on the bank of the Yukon River. That took place in 1953.xxviii From 1951 to 1953, Ost and Ruth lived in Nome, with Ruths health failing rapidly. Ost stayed by her side until the end. After Ruths death, Ost moved to Marshall. Schroder reported in Marshall; Along side the work of building up a congregation and church work in Marshall, he was soon invited by the State to become juridical deputy for the district of MarshallGrandpa Ost functioned as a deputy for the State in the Marshall District from 1954 to 1959.xxix Ost would remain in Marshall until the time of Schroders book, with Ost still active in ministry. Schroder notes: At the age of ninety and with nearly seventy years on the mission field, Ludvig Evald Ost holds an unbreakable record in the history of Alaska One of the most remarkable adventures Ost was a part of in his early ministry was the chance to bring the Gospel to Russia. Many Swedish Covenant missionaries (most notably Axel Karlson) only dreamt of reaching Siberian Russia. However, Ost was the first Alaska missionary to realize this dream with the help of one Mr. Hoijer. According to Schroder, Grandpa Ludvig Evald Ost and Nils F. Hoijer met for the first time at a mission conference in Chicago in 1917.xxxi Ost would agree to captain the ship which originally took Hoijer to Russia. Though it appears Ost only went on one trip with Hoijer, who went on to spend the rest of his life reaching out across the Bering Sea to the Siberian Yupik Eskimos, Ost had a taste of Russian ministry. Many

years later, the mission to reach Siberia was realized not through a physical presence, but through the airwaves of Covenant radio station KICY. Of particular note is that One of the three at the Covenant church in Nome who were commissioned to create the program was Ruthie Towner, a daughter of Grandpa Ost who had for many years been energetically engaged in missionary work in the district.xxxii Ost was reported to have had many children and grandchildren, both of blood and of adoption, Swedish and Eskimo, who continue to do ministry in Alaska to this day.

Resources Schroder, Jan-Olov (Translated by Sigurd F. Westberg). Grandpa: A Mission in Alaska. Unpublished book, 1979.



P. 10 P. 23 iii P. 23 iv P. 25 v P. 31 vi P. 31 vii P. 30 viii P. 64 ix P. 70 x P. 76 xi P. 83 xii P. 86 xiii P. 92 xiv P. 59 xv P. 62 xvi P. 63


P. 99 P. 99 xix P. 103 xx P. 103 xxi P. 70 xxii P. 104 xxiii P. 105 xxiv P. 141 xxv P. 153 xxvi P. 156 xxvii P. 158 xxviii P. 141 xxix P. 159 xxx P. 147 xxxi P. 117 xxxii P. 128

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