History Center

Iowa Historic Sites

Historic Churches

Burlington, IA

Historic Significance: Nilsson and Palmquist were both involved in the starting of this work in 1854. In 1855, however, the whole group picked up and moved to Minnesota and united with the Scandia church there. The present Conference church in Burlington was begun in 1881.

Address and Directions: 2500 West Avenue, Burlington, IA

Center Baptist Church, Lansing, IA

Historic Significance: Center Baptist Church in Lansing, IA is the oldest church in the Baptist General Conference. Pioneers from the first Swedish Baptist Church in America in Rock Island, IL, a church which eventually closed,  traveled up the Mississippi River in 1851 to Lansing, IA. They walked 10 miles back into the country till they found a pleasant valley along the banks of Village Creek. There they planted their homes and in 1853, under the leadership of G. Palmquist 12 people were baptized and the Swedish Baptist Church of Village Creek was organized.. It was the site of the formal organization of the Swedish Baptist General Conference in 1864.  The 150th Anniversary of the Village Creek Church took place in the summer of 2003.  Many significant figures in BGC history are buried in the church cemetery including Henry Wingblade, second President of Bethel University.

Address and Directions: P.O  Box 241, Lansing, IA, 

From Decorah, IA in Northeast Iowa, travel east on Highway 9. Turn right at the stop light in Waukon, IA. Go 6-7 miles to abandoned store and Village Creek sign. ( The speed limit is reduced to 45 just before the turn.) Go 1 mile on gravel and at next Center Baptist Sign turn left. Go 2-3 miles on gravel until you see the church. 

New Sweden, IA

Historic Significance: Gustaf Palmquist held meetings as early as 1851 in New Sweden at the home of Olaf Peterson and later in the Hogman log house which was called the Log Chapel. They organized a church in 1854, preceding the church in Rock Island by one year and claiming the title of oldest Swedish Baptist church in the new world. The original building was torn down in 1893. The congregation no longer exists today.

Address And Directions: A historical plaque, at the site of the New Sweden Church, can be found 42 miles West of Burlington, IA in the current town of…….

Stratford, IA

Historic Significance: Gustaf Palmquist, in 1852, traveled west to Swede Bend on the Des Moines River, northwest of Des Moines. The Star families from the Rock Island church had settled there. After a number of other visits by Palmquist, a church was organized under the leadership of A. Norelius in August of 1856. Through difficult times, the Swede Bend Church has survived to today. It is now called the First Baptist Church, Stratford, IA

Address and Directions: Take I-35 north out of Des Moines to the Ames, IA exit on Hwy 30. 23 miles to the West is Boone, IA. Take Country Rd 17 north out of Boone. Stratford is about 30 miles north.