Remembering our history

The Swedish Songbird

Winifred Larson didn't begin singing in ministry until age 23, but she had a significant impact on our musical heritage.

From the beginning of our movement, gifted musicians have shared in our churches across the country. One of the most well-known musicians in our history was Winifred Larson. Singing in Swedish and English, her style was slow with excellent enunciation, allowing people to hear and understand as they worshiped.

Winifred’s father, W.O. Larson, was the owner of the first Ford dealership in Minnesota and later became a pastor and evangelist, focusing his ministry on Skid Row in Minneapolis. Winifred began singing with her father at seven years old.

Group of boys and girls in Sunday best
Winifred Larson's confirmation class, 1928

Growing up at First Free in Minneapolis, she started singing in ministry at the age of 23. This was an era when traveling pastors, evangelists and musicians ministered in our churches for week-long special meetings on a regular basis. She was usually joined by one of two women as accompanists, Frances Blomberg and Evelyn Dennison.

During her 65 years of ministry, she sang in at least 500 churches across the United States and Canada, while also making 18 trips to Sweden. She appeared with Billy Graham during the early days of Youth for Christ as well as with other evangelists.

Because of her influence in the Free Churches, she became known as the Apostle of the Merger for the joining of the Swedish and Norwegian/Danish Free Churches in 1950.

Winifred Larson and her album cover
Winifred Larson album

Larson died in 2003 at the age of 88 years old, but many still remember the significance of her impact on our EFCA musical heritage. Enjoy these samples from her albums: “Meeting in the Air,” “Children of the Heavenly Father” and “He the Pearly Gates Will Open.”

Tom Cairns

Tom Cairns is the archivist for the EFCA. A physician who worked for 19 years in Congo, Tom later served as director of international ministries for the EFCA mission, now known as ReachGlobal. Since retirement, Tom enjoys sharing stories about the history of the EFCA, answering questions from our churches and helping the churches with their own stories. He also uploads our historical books, photos and documents to our archive website. Tom’s great desire is to bring glory to God as we celebrate the history we have in the EFCA.

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