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Los Angeles Covenant Church

  • Mission Friends

    About 20 Mission Friends were gathering on Towne Avenue, known as "Swedish Hill." They were attending Swedish Methodist, Swedish Baptist and Swedish Lutheran churches, "but we did not feel really at home with them. We longed to have our own work and have Holy Communion together" (25th anniversary book, p. 1). Rev. Adolph Lydell, who had retired from missionary service in Alaska, regularly preached the Word with this small group in Swedish.
  • First Communion Service of Mission Friends

  • First Pastoral Visit

    First Pastoral Visit
    Olov Ostlund, who had been saved at a revival in Minneapolis where Carl Anderson preached, wrote a letter to Pastor Anderson, urgently asking him to preach for the friends in Los Angeles. He came to Los Angeles for one week, preaching in homes and small gatherings. On the final night of his visit, they rented the Grand Army Hall and had 200 Swedes in attendance. This Sunday night service was the impetus that led to the Mission Friends deciding to organize as a church.
  • First Sunday school

    First Sunday school
    "The Sunday School within this congregation is older than the congregation itself. Before the congregation was organized, the small children were gathered together to teach them the word of God. Brother Warner was the first superintendent and his helpers were J.S. Sheld and O. Ostlund" (25th Anniversary book translated from Swedish, p. 17). There were five children attending the first class.
  • Tabitha Society Formed

    The Tabitha Society began as the Women's Sewing Society and was founded at the time of the founding of the church.
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    Name: Swedish Christian Mission Church of Los Angeles

    Over the years, the church was known by several formal and informal names. These timespans are estimated.
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    Language: Swedish Only

  • The Congregation was born.

    The Congregation was born.
    After reading God's word and prayer, it was decided to organize a congregation by the name of "Swedish Christian Mission Church in Los Angeles, California."
    Brother Lydell, Chairman
    Brother O.H. Peterson, Secretary
    Additional Founders:
    A.J. Warner, Josephina Warner
    Bernhard Swanson, Edla Swanson
    O.H. Peterson, Erica Peterson
    J. Sheld, A. Sandell,
    Eva Ostlund, Olivia Olson
    Kristina Ostergren and Kristina Monson
  • Pastor: S.O. Lindgren

    Pastor: S.O. Lindgren
    The first full-time pastor. Coming from Muskegon, Michigan, the pastor served for a short time until he needed to retire and go home north to care for his health. At this time services were being held in a hall on 454 S. Hill Street.
  • "The Old Church"

    "The Old Church"
    A lot was purchased on Eighth Street between Grand Avenue and Olive for $1,800 and a church building that seated 300 was built for $2,000. It was dedicated in February 1894 on the first Sunday of the new pastor.
  • Pastor: J.E Bjorklund

    Pastor: J.E Bjorklund
    "If God will be quiet with my mistakes, I will keep quiet about my good deeds." - Pastor Bjorklund
    "Brother Bjorklund engaged the work with enthusiasm. His preaching and singing gripped people's hearts and many came to faith in the Lord. The congregation grew considerably during his pastorate. There was life and growth in all the branches of the congregation" (25th Anniversary book, p. 7). The first home missions venture was recorded and a choir and string band were formed.
  • Pastor: E. M. Carlson

    Pastor: E. M. Carlson
    "Brother Carlson's time of service can rightly be called a time of spiritual maturity and improvement. By his Godly and quiet manner and his earnest preaching, he won the confidence and love of everyone. No great revivals happened during his time in the church, but it was a much needed time of spiritual growth and maturity. After nine years of service, brother Carlson tenured his resignation to take up the work in the Fresno Congregation" (25th Anniversary book, p. 9).
  • Pastor: A. G. Delbon

    Pastor: A. G. Delbon
    Under brother Delbon, the work became renewed. He actually drew the plans himself for the church on the corner of 8th place and Fransisco. The interest in missions grew at this time. He served faithfully as long as his health allowed. The membership doubled under his five year leadership.
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    Name: Swedish Tabernacle Congregation of Los Angeles

    Over the years, the church was known by several formal and informal names. These timespans are estimated.
  • The Tabernacle

    The Tabernacle
    "Many Swedes moved to the city and ...[t]he old church could not hold the people. It became necessary to acquire a larger gathering place. The congregation decided to sell the church and the parcel of land for $18,000 and to build a new church. A parcel of land was bought for $10,000 and our present beautiful Tabernacle was built was a seating capacity of about 800" (25th Anniversary book, p. 11). It was on 8th place and Fransisco and was constructed largely with volunteer labor.
  • Missions: Oscar Johnson

    Missions: Oscar Johnson
    The church undertook support of its first missionary, Rev. Oscar Johnson, who served one term in China before his death in 1913. This started a long tradition of sending missionaries all over the world.
  • Church Plant: San Pedro, CA

    The church began their first home missions project in 1908 by calling an evangelist to hold meetings in San Pedro. This led to its church plant in the following year.
  • Pastor: F. L. Kling

    Pastor: F. L. Kling
    Pastor Kling was appointed before Pastor Delbon departed. The work progressed steadily during those years, with the church accepting many new members. The debt was paid down considerably as well.
  • Church Plant: San Diego

    “Leaders and teachers for the Sunday schools and charter members for the new congregations came from these mother churches, and financial assistance for the new work was also given. Covenanters in Southern California are much indebted to the First Covenant Church of Los Angeles for its generous assistance in starting new churches.” Our Covenant 1957, v32, p.75-76
  • Dorcas Society

    Dorcas Society
    The Dorcas Society, an organization for young women, was formed. The members pay dues and participate in fund raising. they support missionaries, contribute to building funds and are "always ready to extend a willing hand and financial aid when a worthy cause is presented to them" (50th Anniversary book).
  • Church celebrates 25 years!

    Church celebrates 25 years!
    This is the board of the church in 1914.
  • Music

    Music
    Miss Helen Olson and Peter Olson led the music ministry at this time. Music was always an important part of worship.
  • Missions: Rev. Albert Dwight

    Rev Dwight was called as a missionary to China.
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    Name: Mission Covenant Church of Los Angeles

    Over the years, the church was known by several formal and informal names. These timespans are estimated.
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    Language: Swedish to English Transition in Sunday school

    In the Sunday school, the transition from Swedish to English was gradual throughout these years, culminating with only one class in Swedish for the elderly.
  • Pastor: P.B. Wellander

    Pastor: P.B. Wellander
    During his pastorate, the membership increased to over 500. Rev. Wellander oversaw the beginning of the language transition to English and successfully brought the church out of debt. It was a time when Swedes were moving from the East, and Rev. Wellander was consistent in calling on the newcomers and welcoming them into the fellowship of the faith at the church.
  • Language: Swedish dominant

    Language: Swedish dominant
    The services and Sunday schools were all conducted in Swedish up until the 1920's. At the 25th Anniversary, the book was written in Swedish and later translated into English by Carl Carlson.
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    Language: Swedish to English in Church services

    In 1920, one Sunday evening service per month was in English. By 1934, all Sunday services were in English except for one in Swedish.
  • Covenant Women's Auxilary Formed

    Covenant Women's Auxilary Formed
    This women's group was formed with 35 members. This group was the center of activity for women in their work for the Covenant and the California Conference. Their dues and fund raising contributed to North Park College, the Tabernacle at Mission Springs, hospitals and churches.
  • Church Plant: Pasadena

    In 1915, Rev. Kling began holding services in Pasadena. Various pastors after him continued to visit the friends there. Rev. Wellander encouraged them to organize a church, which they did in 1922, with him as a moderator of the meeting.
  • Miss Minnie Larson

    Miss Minnie Larson
    A parish worker for 40 years, Miss Minnie was a central part of congregational life until 1964. Also known as church missionary, she provided information, assistance and counsel on many fronts. She initiated the Christmas outreach at Juvenile Hall. Her tasks were as varied as cooking soup for the ill to teaching classes. She was beloved by many.
  • Pastor: C.G. Westerdahl

    Pastor: C.G. Westerdahl
    Bilingual in English and Swedish, Rev. Westerdahl came to L.A. from Minneapolis with pastoral experience and a gift in preaching. Under his able leadership the church built a Sunday School annex to make room for the growing Sunday School. He also began the first Men's Bible Class, which continued for many years.
  • Building Expansion

    A two-story annex was built to accommodate the growing Sunday school.
  • Missions: Miss Astrid Erickson

    Miss Erickson served in Venezuela until her death in 1958, supported by the Young People's Society and the Dorcas Society.
  • Church Plant: Eagle Rock

    The church was approached by Eagle Rock Community Church in request for help. They took charge of the Sunday School until the California Missionary Conference could come in with financial help. One of L.A. Covenant's young men was recommended to take over the pastorate of Eagle Rock Church, Brother Arvid Carlson. The church became self-supporting after being the third church that L.A. Covenant mothered.
  • Membership: 632

    Prior to 1932, the Covenant Yearbooks were produced in Swedish.
  • Pastor: Rev. C. F. Pihlstrom

    Pastor: Rev. C. F. Pihlstrom
    "With the realization of what it meant to follow the ministry of Pastor Westerdahl, and with great trepidation, and yet withal, an utter dependency upon god for needed grace and help, he accepted the call" (50th Anniversary book). Under Rev. Pihlstrom, the building was redecorated and repaired, new carpets laid, the pipe organ repaired and improved.
  • Membership: 700; Palm Sunday attendance of 2200.

    Membership: 700; Palm Sunday attendance of 2200.
    Photo: Church choir in 1939
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    Name: First Covenant Church of Los Angeles

    Over the years, the church was known by several formal and informal names. These timespans are estimated.
  • Golden Jubilee

    Golden Jubilee
    The church celebrated their 50 years.
  • Ministry for the Deaf

    The church began a ministry for deaf/mute people (because of a connection to a church member in Eagle Rock) – Interpretations into sign language began on Sunday morning in a side room with 10-40 attendees, and 7 became members.
  • Church Plant: South San Gabriel

    Church Plant: South San Gabriel
    LA Cov contributed $10,000.
    “Leaders and teachers for the Sunday schools and charter members for the new congregations came from these mother churches, and financial assistance for the new work was also given. Covenanters in Southern California are much indebted to the First Covenant Church of Los Angeles for its generous assistance in starting new churches.” Our Covenant 1957, v32, p.75-76
  • Membership: 716

  • Wartime Ministry

    The church welcomed servicemen to sleep at the church on Saturday nights, followed by Sunday services. "Of the 8,480 men who visited the church during the war, 965 professed their faith in Christ" (Centennial book).
  • Membership: Beginning of Decline

    "After the war, decentralization took place. Many members moved to the suburbs. With growing families and distance, it was increasingly difficult to continue active membership in a downtown church. However, there was a loyal nucleus who remained and kept things going" (Centennial book). From the sixties forward, the English-language congregation declined while the Spanish-language congregation grew.
  • Church Plant: Inglewood

    Church Plant: Inglewood
    LA Cov contributed $10,000.
    “Leaders and teachers for the Sunday schools and charter members for the new congregations came from these mother churches, and financial assistance for the new work was also given. Covenanters in Southern California are much indebted to the First Covenant Church of Los Angeles for its generous assistance in starting new churches.” Our Covenant 1957, v32, p.75-76
  • Church Plant: Northridge

    LA Cov contributed $10,000.
    “Leaders and teachers for the Sunday schools and charter members for the new congregations came from these mother churches, and financial assistance for the new work was also given. Covenanters in Southern California are much indebted to the First Covenant Church of Los Angeles for its generous assistance in starting new churches.” Our Covenant 1957, v32, p.75-76
  • Covenant Women

    This new group was formed, uniting the Tabitha Society, the Dorcas Society and the existing Covenant Women's Auxiliary.
  • Membership: 623

  • Pastor: Rev. C. Victor Nyquist

  • Church Plant: Norwalk

    LA Covenant contributed $7,000.
    “Leaders and teachers for the Sunday schools and charter members for the new congregations came from these mother churches, and financial assistance for the new work was also given. Covenanters in Southern California are much indebted to the First Covenant Church of Los Angeles for its generous assistance in starting new churches.” Our Covenant 1957, v32, p.75-76
  • Service Project: Construction

    Covenanters volunteered and donated to help build 1st Covenant Church in Norwalk.
  • Fellowship Hall

    Fellowship Hall
    A new building across the street was built with a kitchen, offices and space for youth and social gatherings.
  • Alpine Covenant Conference Grounds

    Alpine Covenant Conference Grounds
    The church was a major contributor to starting the camp. It was dedicated in September 1957 and held its first camps in the summer of 1958.
  • "Invest for Tomorrow" Campaign raised $98K

    $24K for church extension work within the conference
    $10K for Alpine Conference Center
    $18K to pay off the debt on the Fellowship Hall
    $40K reserved for remodeling the sanctuary
    The remainder for local causes.
  • Membership: 540

  • "Rebuild to Serve Tomorrow" Campaign

    The campaign sought to raise the remaining $60K needed to remodel the sanctuary. It was based on a deliberate decision to stay in the downtown area, and not relocate to the suburbs and instead "eliminate problems of safety and obsolescence that had developed over the years" (Covenant Companion Sept. 1961). During construction, services were held in the Fellowship Hall across the street.
  • Eldon Johnson

    Eldon Johnson
    Eldon and Opal Johnson, after serving in South America, began ministry in Spanish. They led a fruitful ministry until 1969.
  • Pastor: Rev. Thomas Erickson

    Pastor: Rev. Thomas Erickson
    Under Rev. Erickson, a sermon series was conducted with guest preachers from Fuller Seminary. As a result of this series, the church began to explore what it looks like to minister in their physical context of downtown Los Angeles.
  • Anton Karlson: member the longest

    Anton Karlson: member the longest
    Anton Karlson was honored as the church member, living at the 75th anniversary, who had the longest consecutive membership. He became a member in 1900 and raised his two children and five grandchildren there.
  • First Bible Study in Spanish

    First Bible Study in Spanish
    Eldon and Opal Johnson, former missionaries in Bolivia, with Mr. and Mrs. Luis Davila began a Bible study in Spanish with a growing network of Bolivians in Los Angeles. The study grew to other hispanic groups as well by doing door to door visits in the area.
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    Language: Spanish congregation side by side with English congregation

  • Hispanic Congregation

    The hispanic ministry of First Covenant became a recognized congregation under the larger umbrella of First Covenant L.A. It would later be chartered in 1989. It began with bible studies on the balcony of the sanctuary, then adding sewing classes, a choir, and an outreach ministry in MacArthur Park. The congregation experienced rapid growth in its early years.
  • Resource Guide for Immigrants

    The church developed a booklet of resources such as emergency services, social and medical services. Containing only a cursory reference to First Covenant, its purpose, more than evangelistic, was to help provide welcome and acclimation to immigrants. 2,000 have been distributed door to door, The LA Board of Education has requested copies, as have local schools. More info: Covenant Companion February 1969.
  • Teen Center

    Teen Center
    In an effort to reach the people who lived in the downtown area of the church, several church members began a basketball group with teenage neighbors. They conducted home visits and got to know the many needs of the neighborhood. In the earliest years, teens accepted Christ and became church members, even some who had been part of gangs. Sam Misquez was called as a director, and the group was named "Agape Center." It remained an important part of the Hispanic church until 1989.
  • Membership: 455

  • Pastor: Rev. Worth Hodgin

    Pastor: Rev. Worth Hodgin
    In this period, the church had bilingual and trilingual Communion services. Rev. Hodgin said in 1989, "When many congregations were leaving the central city for the suburbs, where ministry would be easier, you refused to go; in spite of all the discouragements, you persisted...I commend you for your Christian persistence, even though there may have been a little bit of Swedish stubbornness thrown in with it" (Centennial book).
  • Membership: 343

  • Evangelism workshop in Spanish

    Jorge Maldonado translated an evangelism workshop called Your Church Can Evangelize, hosted at First Cov LA
  • Pastor: Rev. Dean Erickson

    Rev. Erickson and his wife Donna returned from the mission field after 25 years and served for the final ten years of the church.
  • Covenant Companion highlights Agape Center

    Covenant Companion highlights Agape Center
    Lyle Stokes of First Covenant wrote an article for the Covenant Companion, detailing the development of the Agape Teen Center and the part that was played by the Covenant fund, H.E.L.P.
  • Membership: 450 (appx. 300 Spanish congregation, 150 English congregation)

    Membership: 450 (appx. 300 Spanish congregation, 150 English congregation)
  • Membership: 281 (appx 130 Spanish and 150 English)

    Hispanic congregation's membership drops. "[The new hispanic pastor] had good ministry credentials, yet he didn't know the Covenant. And one day he left the church and half of the hispanic congregation went with him. It was a tearing time... It was like a divorce. The church asked itself, "Why? How could this happen?" Part of the answer was the lack of training of hispanic pastors in the Covenant tradition" (Cov. Companion Sept. 1989).
  • Listed the property

    Listed the property
    Put the property up for sale with the Covenant Trust.
  • Building sold to a developer.

    The building was sold for over $3 million at the height of the California real estate boom. As of 2009, the property still sat a vacant lot.
  • Property Sale: split three ways

    Part 1) To the hispanic congregation that officially chartered and began services in Bell Gardens.
    Part 2) To establish an endowment for the newly forming Centro Hispano de Educación Teológica. As of 2019, the endowment was covering one third of CHET's operating budget.
    Part 3) To continue to ministry of the English-speaking congregation that was disbanding.
  • 1) La Primera Iglesia del Pacto - chartered.

    The Spanish-language congregation forms a separate entity and begins having services in Bell Gardens in a building that they own outright, providing sustainable ministry for generations to come. The church also is the home of CHET.
  • 3) Continued ministry of English-language congregation

    3) Continued ministry of English-language congregation
    Initially, it was thought that the English speakers of First Covenant would form a new church, also in Los Angeles, but outside of the downtown area. Over time this plan changed to simply using the money to invest in Covenant ministries to which First Covenant had been committed, and the remaining congregants to move on to other churches. Of the $1 million in this portion, $100,000 was given to Alpine Conference Center and the rest to other ministries.
  • 2) CHET

    Centro Hispano de Educación Teológico began with its first 25 students in 1989. CHET "created the synergy and critical mass to jump start the Covenant's multi-faceted approach to Hispanic/Latino(a) ministries...Both a child of, and a ministry from to to the Evangelical Covenant church, CHET grew out of the Covenant's commitment to move beyond its ethnic borders, to better express the mosaic that is the whole people of God" (CHET 20th Anniversary booklet).
  • Membership: 271

    Membership: 271
    At the close of the church, membership registers 271 members of the combined English and Spanish congregations.
  • Close of the church

    "For one hundred years, First Covenant Church of Los Angeles gave its all to serve Christ and God blessed it wondrously. As Mission Friends we share the common bond and goals of furthering God's kingdom. The work was started by a handful of immigrants, nourished by the faithful followers, and is being passed on to another group of immigrants" (Centennial book).