Paxton church celebrates 140-year anniversary

PAXTON — The Evangelical Covenant Church of Paxton, located at the intersection of Orleans and Union streets, is celebrating its 140th anniversary. 

Its beginnings are traced back to a visit in September 1878 by the evangelist Rev. E.A. Skogsberg of Chicago, who came to Paxton and conducted revival services. For some of the Swedish immigrant families who had joined the local Lutheran church, these messages stirred their desires to form a new church. 

In November 1878, a number of friends, probably representing 10 or 12 families, met for the purpose of discussing the possibility of organizing a new church. The resulting decision was the beginning of The Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Mission Church of Paxton. The first services were held in homes and a meeting room on Market Street.

The original cost of the two corner lots was $750, and in 1879, a wooden church was built there for the sum of $1,839. In 1891, the church was built out to the north to enlarge the auditorium to accommodate the larger congregation. 

The congregation, having outgrown the original church, built the present brick church in 1921 for about $50,844. The education wing to the north was added in 1956.

An interior renovation of the sanctuary was completed in 2018. The focal point in the sanctuary remains the painting “The Ascension,” which was given to the church in 1908 by the Young People’s Society.

Through time, the first parsonage, directly west of the church, was sold and moved one block west. In November 1937, the current parsonage in the block east of the church was purchased.

In 1885, there was an organizational meeting of Swedish evangelical churches held in Chicago. A covenant was drawn up with the object being to bring these churches together to further the gospel of Christ and development of Christian life. At that time, the Paxton church was affiliated with the Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Mission Synod.

On Sept. 26, 1885, Paxton and 39 other Midwestern Swedish churches were accepted into the covenant. In 1946, the official name became The Evangelical Mission Covenant Church. It was revised in 1959 to the current name, The Evangelical Covenant Church. The local church belongs to the Evangelical Covenant Church of America, which has its Seminary as part of North Park College in Chicago.

Through its 140 years, 27 pastors have served the congregation.  Currently serving as pastor is David Parker. There have been various church organizations and activities through the years. The church has supported missionaries in foreign fields and in the U.S. In recent years there have been groups from the church that have done a special mission projects. There have been numerous fundraising activities through the years, but most remembered are the annual chicken pie suppers, more recently the Lucia Fest, and currently the Memorial Day BBQ. 

All are welcome to attend church activities. Sunday school for children ages 3 and up begins at 9:30 a.m. Church follows at 10:45 a.m.  

The church’s website is

On Sunday, Nov. 11, following the church service, there will be fellowship and a meal to commemorate the 140th anniversary of the church.

Categories (2):News, Religion
Location (3):Local, Paxton, Ford County


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