Jens Christian Pedersen
When Jens Christian Pedersen was seven years old, he knew Luther's Small Catechism by heart and could read Bible history. Later his aspiration to become a teacher, combined with his fervent pietism, charted a course for his life that would find him bringing the teachings of Jesus and the catechism to believers and nonbelievers across five continents, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.
Jens Christian Pedersen was born January 24, 1856, in the Danish province of Jutland. Jens Christian was the third of six children and the only child to survive. He began attending country school at seven and continued until he was fourteen. At that time his father, a farmer, was no longer able to provide financial support for his education. A group of Christian men and women later provided him with financial support, enabling him to stop working as a tailor and devote himself full-time to his studies. This support was provided with the understanding that Jens Christian would become a missionary.
Jens Christian Pedersen's first missionary work was in Australia in 1880, ministering to Danish and German immigrants. He was ordained in Queensland, Australia, on November 30, 1881. In 1887 he returned to Denmark on furlough. He had arranged to marry his fiancée upon his arrival, but instead was informed she had died while he was en route. He returned alone to Australia in 1889 and spent a year as the mission superintendent of his field. He suffered a severe case of sunstroke and was encouraged to leave the field and return to Denmark. In January 1891 he set sail for South America, where he spent time in Chile and Argentina. While in Buenos Aires, Argentina, he learned of an epidemic of yellow fever from which Scandinavian sailors were dying. Pastor Pedersen traveled to the affected region and stayed for three months, comforting the sick and dying. He then stayed with the mission approximately two years until a replacement minister arrived.
After hearing of a need for Danish pastors in the United States, Pastor Pedersen emigrated to the United States in 1895. In 1907 he accepted a call from the General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the United States (GS), Board of Foreign Missions, to work in its mission field in Liberia. He arrived in Monrovia, Liberia, on April 23, 1907. He started a station at Kpolo Pelle in 1908. During his tenure in Liberia, he was responsible for introducing the indigenous Liberian languages into the mission's educational and evangelistic work. While in Liberia, he twice contracted blackwater fever. His poor health necessitated his leaving Liberia in 1916.
After spending time recuperating, Pastor Pedersen received a call in 1918 to work in the United States' Virgin Islands. He remained in the Virgin Islands until 1923 when it was discovered he spoke Spanish. He was then asked to assist with mission work in Puerto Rico, and did so until 1927, with his official resignation occurring in 1930. When he retired from active ministry in 1932, the Lutheran Missionary Conference of Puerto Rico elected him as its president emeritus.
This collection covers the years 1881-1940 and includes biographical material, an autobiographical account of Pedersen's life until approximately April 1918, correspondence, Pedersen's obituary, and photographs. It is also available on microfilm.