J. G. Princell
Johan Gustav Princell was born in Sweden, in the province of Smaland, and the parish of Tolg, September 18, 1845, exactly a century ago. He was the eldest of nine children, and his father's name was Magnus Gudmundson, later changed to Gunnerson. He arrived in America, when he was ten years old, May 21, 1856, in the company of his parents. His parents stayed in Chicago for a year, after which they moved to Princeton, Illinois. In 1858 his parents settled on a farm near Princeton, and young Princell hired himself out to a farmer for a yearly wage of a pig, a calf, and a colt.
It was while he stayed in Princeton, before going to school, that he changed his name from Gunnerson to Princell.
Princell was converted at the age of seventeen, in the spring of 1862. In the autumn of 1862, he registered at the Augustana Theological Seminary, then located at Chicago, and pursued studies there until 1867, when he accepted the call to be associate editor of "Hemlandet," a Swedish weekly. It was during this time that he first got acquainted with the Mission Friend movement in America. In 1870 he went to the German Lutheran Seminary in Philadelphia in order to complete his theological training. He spent "two strenuous, but happy years there." He was graduated in 1872 and ordained by the German Lutheran Ministerial Council of Pennsylvania.
After his graduation, he accepted the call to the Gustavus Adolphus church, in New York, and served there until 1879. It was during this time that the religious controversy in Sweden started, relative to the atonement and the Lord's Supper. Princell heard about this controversy only indirectly, but he started to study his Bible anew and became convinced that Waldenstrom's interpretation of the atonement was Biblical, and that the Holy Communion was instituted for true Christians only.
At the annual meeting of the Augustana Synod, in Princeton, 1878, Princell was accused of heresy, questioned and suspended for a year, and at the annual meeting, 1879, he was excluded from the Augustana Synod and deprived of his ministerial rights. In 1879 he visited Sweden and held a three-day conversation with Waldenstrom and other Mission Friend leaders. After his return to the United States, he served the Bethesda Mission church in New York and did some pioneering work in Campello and other places on the east coast.
In 1880 he received two important calls: to the Tabernacle church in Minneapolis, and to the presidency of the Ansgar College, Knoxville, Illinois. As the teaching profession had always appealed to Princell, he accepted the call to Ansgar College and remained at the head of that school until 1884, when the school was closed. In the autumn of 1884, Princell moved to Chicago and became associate editor of Chicago-Bladet.
Before the organizational meeting in Chicago, Princell wrote eight articles in Chicago-Bladet. Three of these dealt with conditions and policies in Sweden, and five with conditions in America. These articles voiced disapproval of the proposed union, couched in strong language. At the organizational meeting he was asked to modify certain expressions and harsh statements. When he was unwilling to do that, he was denied the privilege of the floor, seeing that he was not a delegate. A few years later, the annual conference of the Mission Covenant apologized to Princell. Princell had strong convictions and a certain proclivity for controversy, which made it hard for him to fit smoothly into any denomination.
In 1889 Princell started the publication of the magazine "Frihet och Frid" (Liberty and Peace). He translated three of Dr. Waldenstrom's books into English and published his scholarly work: "Chief Events in the Jewish History." In 1894 the Temple church in Minneapolis called him as pastor, and in 1896 we find him in Franconia, Minnesota, as pastor of a little country church. there he remained for six years and preached some of his best sermons.
In October 1903, Princell moved to Chicago to become teacher in the Swedish Bible Institute. He served remarkably well until failing health compelled him to resign in 1914. The last year of his life Princell spent in his home in Chicago, and on May 1, 1915, he went to be with the Lord forever.
Makers of Covenant History, April 20, 1945 (probably)