Our Church Heritage
In the early 1920s,
From Swedish religious roots came what is now Pilgrim Covenant Church.
Swedish families of North Granby, Connecticut felt the need for spiritual nurture in their native language. John Nelson started a Sunday School when he hitched up his horse and wagon and made the rounds of Swedish families, gathering up the children for classes.
With guidance from the Swedish Covenant Church of Springfield, "The Swedish Free Christians of North Granby" corporation was formed. The first church building was located on Loomis Street in North Granby, a modest structure of 30' by 25' and 10' high. A year later, expansion began, with the construction of was a steeple, which measured 7' by 11' and 32' high. The corporation charged a membership fee of 25 cents per month in 1902 and 50 cents per month in 1903 when the first pastor arrived. The Reverend John Thunberg was paid $10 per month.
When financial aid was pledged by the Missionary Society of Connecticut, the name of the church was changed to "The Swedish Congregational Church of North Granby". From 1904 to 1908, a number of new Swedish families moved into the area and the church grew. In 1908, a farm was bought next to a parsonage at the corner of Vining Hill and Mort Vining Hill in Southwick, Massachusetts. The pastor's salary was set at $50 per month. Thus, from its beginnings, Pilgrim Covenant Church has served a two state congregation.
Loomis Street was still a dirt road without electricity. To enable members to reach the church during the wet seasons and to fulfill the need for a social room, the church moved to Route 10, already a paved road. The first service in the present building was held in 1926. Until 1932, all services were conducted in Swedish. Then one service a month was conducted in English, and in 1941 all services except one per month were in English. In 1943, the name was changed again to "The Swedish Pilgrim Congregational Church".
The church has had many names since its inception:
The Swedish Free Christians of North Granby
The Swedish Congregational Church of North Granby
The Swedish Pilgrim Congregational Church
Pilgrim Congregational Church
In 1964 the name of the church was changed to its present name, Pilgrim Covenant Church. Swedish founding families and new families no longer used the Swedish language and the church began to serve the entire Granby community. This final name change reaffirmed the association formed at the very beginning with the Evangelical Covenant Church.
The first expansion project at the present church was completed in 1964. The south wing was built to provide much needed classroom and office space. The sanctuary was renovated and rearranged to provide additional seating for Sunday worship.
The mission and building of Pilgrim Covenant Church as we know them today are the result of the most recent long range plan written in 1987 titled, "Planning for a Second Hundred Years". In the years following the publication of that report, membership increased significantly and, as a result, the largest capital improvement, to date, Jackson Hall, was added in 1993.
In the 1990’s, under the leadership of Senior Pastor Denny Moon and Youth Pastor Chris Gradenius, Pilgrim Covenant Church flourished with an influx of young families attracted by vibrant youth programs and engaging Sunday services.
In 2003 Senior Pastor Dennis Anderson and his wife Janine were called to lead our congregation. Under their leadership, the church flourished in new ways. During their 17 year tenure, church life was filled with excellent music, with powerful mission trips, and with ministries to people near and far. Youth Pastor Matt Gillis’ ministry was a strong draw for young families. Dennis and Janine retired in 2018.
Recently, Pastor Matt Marzluft was called as our Senior Pastor. Casey Janser leads our Youth Ministry and directs programs which brings young people in the community together through service and worship. We are excited to be in the midst of a new season of discovery, of seeking what God has for us now!
Our Denominational Home
The Evangelical Covenant Church seeks to form and nurture communities that are deeply committed to Jesus Christ and passionately engaged in Christ's mission in the world.
Our essential beliefs are summed up in what we call Covenant Affirmations:
We affirm the centrality of the word of God.
We affirm the church as a fellowship of believers.
We affirm the necessity of the new birth.
We affirm a conscious dependence on the Holy Spirit.
We affirm a commitment to the whole mission of the church.
We affirm the reality of freedom in Christ.
The Evangelical Covenant Church is a rapidly growing multiethnic denomination in the United States and Canada with ministries on five continents. Founded in 1885 by Swedish immigrants, the East Coast Conference (ECC) of the Evangelical Coenant Church values the Bible as the word of God, the gift of God's grace and ever-deepening spiritual life that comes through a faith in Jesus Christ, the importance of extending God's love and compassion to a hurting world, and the strength that comes from unity within diversity.
We are united to obey The Great Commandments and the Great Commission: to love God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind, to love our neighbors as ourselves, and to go into all the world and make disciples. Pilgrim Covenant Church is a member of the East Coast Conference.
If you would like to learn more about the Evangelical Covenant Church, you may visit the denomination's website at covchurch.org.