History of PCC

Our Heritage: A Brief History Of The Church

From Swedish religious roots came what is now Pilgrim Covenant Church. Around 1897, Swedish families of North Granby 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.

In 1902, 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, a modest structure of 30’ x 25’ and 10’ high. A year later, expansion was already under-way in the form of a steeple, 7’ x 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.

In 1904, when financial aide 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 areas and the church grew. In 1908 a farm was bought for a parsonage at the corner of Vining Hill and Mort Vining Hill in Southwick. The pastor’s salary was set at $50.00 per month. Thus, from its beginnings Pilgrim Covenant Church has served a two state congregation.

In the early 1920s, 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 was moved to Route 10, then 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.”

Reflecting changes in association and composition, the church has since changed its name a number of times:

1902   “The Swedish Free Christians of North Granby”

1903               “The Swedish Congregational Church of North Granby”

1943               “The Swedish Pilgrim Congregational Church”

1948               “Pilgrim Congregational Church”

1964   “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 (1964 — “Pilgrim Covenant Church”)

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 it today, is the result of the last Long Range Plan drafted in 1987 in the report entitled “Planning For A Second Hundred Years.”  In the years following that report membership increased significantly and, as a result, the largest and most costly capital improvement, to date, Jackson Hall, was added in 1993.

Increased membership and participation in the life of the congregation also led to the formation of a second Sunday morning service and to the hiring of full-time youth directors to serve our ever-growing youth program.  In early years, youth directors came as interns from North Park Seminary as a requirement for a Masters of Divinity degree. More recently our youth directors have been hired through a search process.

1993 saw a change in congregational governance from a traditional board format to a council format. This rationale was twofold. First, it spread the multitude of church life responsibilities from three boards to nine ministries allowing for more concentration in a specific ministry. Secondly, it incorporated many more members into the decision making process on the council with increased member participation on each ministry.

The most recent Constitutional change occurred in January of 2008 with the establishment of an Elder Committee, to encourage, nurture and assess the spiritual growth and health of individuals, ministries and the church body.