Paul Victor Bjorklund

by Mark A. Nilson

“I’ll give you five more years in this museum and then you better start thinking about what you want to do.” This is how I remember that first conversation with Paul upon being installed as pastor of First Covenant Church, Seattle. He further emphasized his position concerning our hundred-year-old church home by sending me weekly articles from the Seattle Times business and real estate sections urging me to “get with the times.” The articles ceased only after the congregational vote to remodel and refurbish our Skogsbergh-designed, domed house of worship on Pike and Bellevue on the edge of the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Always forward-thinking and with entrepreneurial flair, Paul was a “churchman’s churchman.” Meticulously dressed and later wielding a golden tipped cane, he enjoyed his position as elder statesman and he filled those shoes well.

Paul Victor Bjorklund was born to Victor and Anna Bjorklund in September of 1916 in Negaunee, Mich. Both parents had emigrated from Finland (Victor in 1910, Anna in 1913) only a few years prior. Paul would want you to know that he was proud of his heritage. He would later become an active board member of the Swedish-Finn Historical Society and the Nordic Heritage Museum, both located in Seattle. Although born in Michigan, he grew up in Everett, Wash. then moved to Seattle where he finished high school. An active member of the Young People’s Society at First Covenant Seattle, he played coronet in the church orchestra. It was music that brought Beatrice Johnson (a violinist) and Paul together. Paul left Seattle in 1937 to attend pre-seminary courses at North Park College in Chicago. After graduation from both the college and theological seminary, Paul assumed his first pastoral post in Chetek, Wis. But Chetek was no place to be alone and in October of 1943, he returned to Seattle to marry Bea and start a new life both at his church and in the community of Chetek as a married person. Together Bea and Paul would go on to serve churches in St. Paul, Pittsburgh, Orlando and Chicago. He would also serve the Evangelical Covenant denomination in the Office of Development of North Park College as well as many assignments as chaplain or visitation pastor at Covenant Retirement Communities and surrounding churches. Bea and Paul have two daughters: Carol (and John) of Cumberland, Md., and Julianna of Seattle. Theirs was a beautiful marriage, with Paul commenting on how beautiful his wife was just hours before his passing.

A churchman’s churchman, entrepreneur, loving husband and father, and faithful life-long servant of Christ, our prayers are ones of gratitude at the celebrating of this his final homecoming. Peace to his memory.

Mark Nilson is the senior pastor at North Park Covenant.

See all articles by Mark A. Nilson