Lloyd Dahlquist was serving as pastor of Northwest Baptist Church in Chicago when the conference chose him to fill the vacancy created by Bill Tapper’s early death, at the same time creating a new title, General Secretary of the Baptist General Conference. As Harold Christenson wrote in the Standard, “Lloyd came to the office in its infancy when the lines of responsibility were only beginning to be drawn. During his years, he has been peculiarly led by God in shaping and leading not only our trustee board but our denomination as a whole” (Standard, August 1969).
Dahlquist was born in Wheaton, Minn., in 1906 and grew up attending Temple Baptist Church in Duluth. He received a Th.B. degree from Bethel Seminary, St. Paul, Minn., in 1928, a B.A. from Macalester College in St. Paul, in 1930, and served student pastorates in Eveleth, Minn., and Deapolis, ND. His home church, Temple Baptist, ordained him in 1928 and he pastored churches in Clinton Falls, Minn. (1927-31), Little Falls, Minn.(1931-35), Montclair, NJ (1935-40), and Waukegan, Ill. (1940-42). During the war, Dahlquist was a U.S. Army Chaplain, serving overseas for much of his three and a half years of service. In 1946, released from military service, he was called to be the pastor of Northwest Baptist Church in Chicago, where he also gained experience as Chairman of the BGC Foreign Mission Board and President of the Board of Trustees. After 13 years in Chicago, he was chosen as General Secretary, and entered into the office well aware of the programs of the Baptist General Conference. Dahlquist returned to the pastorate in 1969; after interim work in Whittier and San Jose, Calif., he pastored Calvary Baptist Church in Evanston, Ill., retiring in 1977. He and his wife Ruth continued to attend Calvary until they moved to Windsor Park in Carol Stream, Ill. Lloyd died in 1993; Ruth passed away in 1997. They are survived by their daughter, Merilyn.
When Dahlquist became General Secretary, donations to the BGC were a little over one million dollars. By the time he stepped down, that had almost doubled. The conference grew from 516 churches to 661 (28%), and the overseas missionary force grew from 112 missionaries to 148 (32%). The conference had to bring home or relocate their American missionaries in India due to government opposition, but that work was successfully transitioned to Indian leadership. In many other fields, leadership was also shifting to nationals, and missionaries were adjusting to new roles and relationships. Also during Dahlquist’s tenure, an evangelical breakthrough took place in the Ethiopian field after years of little growth.
Theological issues of the Dahlquist era focused on the inerrancy of Scriptures and questions regarding tongues and charismatic gifts. Ecumenism was also an issue, and the BGC reaffirmed its long-term relationship with the Baptist World Alliance in a resolution at the 1966 Conference. At the same meeting, a resolution was passed that the BGC seek membership in the National Association of Evangelicals. The end of that decade saw the conference pursuing an active study of whether to join with the North American Baptist Conference.
During Dahlquist’s tenure as General Secretary, Bethel purchased a new campus property in Arden Hills and moved the seminary to the site in 1965. Planning began that would lead to the relocation of the college in the early ’70s.