Emmy Evald and the blessings of buildings
Emmy Evald was president of the Women’s Missionary Society (WMS) of the Augustana Synod from its founding in 1892 until 1935. With a high-point membership of nearly 70,000 women, a budget of millions and Evald’s leadership, the society’s influence was felt worldwide. During her four decades as president, Evald launched and wrote hundreds of articles for the newspaper Mission Tidings (first published in Swedish as Missions-Tidning) and spread news of living in Christian faith to countries all over the world. But perhaps she best recognized her call by constructing many buildings to benefit the communities in countries including Africa, China, India, the Holy Land and the United States.
Evald’s father Erland Carlsson was a minister well loved by the Swedish-American community, and was the first chairman of the Augustana College Board of Trustees. The Woman’s Building at Augustana, opened in 1928, was re-named for him in 1960, when it became a men’s residence.
The issues historically surrounding the naming stem from a couple of areas. First, Evald and the WMS raised more than half the funding to build and furnish the so-called Woman’s Building. Second, the necessity of physical structures in realizing important community goals was deeply felt by Evald. In the article “Among Ourselves,” published in a July 1935 issue of Mission Tidings, she writes, “It is overwhelming to acknowledge the blessing from on high: the sixty-three buildings built during these forty-three years.”
To recognize her profound impact on the global community and the connection of her work to the mission of the college, Augustana will re-name and dedicate the building as Emmy Carlsson Evald Hall in October 2008, when its transformation from a student residence to an academic building is complete.
(Acknowledgement goes to “The Global Impact of Emmy Evald and the Women’s Missionary Society,” copyright 2006 by Lennart Johnsson, for information used in this article.)
The Augustana Women's Missionary Society and the women of Augustana on the stairs of Old Main, circa 1915.