Iron River (MI) Church Celebrates 125 Years

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IRON RIVER, MI (August 1, 2008) – Grace Covenant Church celebrated its 125th anniversary with a weeklong celebration that began with a worship service June 20 and concluded with the Dusty Larson Memorial Golf Tournament.

Robert BergquistNamed in honor of the late Evangelical Covenant Church pastor, the tournament raises money for Covenant Point Bible Camp in Iron River and Town and Country Ministries for the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC). The Dusty Larson Memorial Fund assists North Park Theological Seminary pastors who graduate and accept a call to a town and country church. The award dates back to 1997.

The celebration, which focused on the theme “Celebrating God’s Faithfulness,” began with a worship service at which Evangelical Covenant Church President Glenn Palmberg spoke. Events throughout the following week included a prayer service led by former pastor Bob Erickson on Friday, and a banquet Saturday night, at which former pastor Robert Bergquist spoke (top photo). On Sunday, ECC Executive Vice-President Donn Engebretson preached. To see additional photos, visit Grace Celebration.

The church, known in its early days as the Swedish Mission Church, started when a Swedish immigrant, Gustav Djupe, initiated a meeting with other Swedish-born worshipers at a boarding house in Stambaugh, now Iron River. Formalized into a congregation a year later, the group met in homes and schools. Worship was conducted in Swedish.

MusicAll services continued in the Swedish language until 1932, when English was allowed once monthly at the evening service. Not until 1944 did English prevail at all Sunday services.

In 1907, the congregation erected and dedicated their own church building at a cost of $4,777.89, with members providing much of the labor. Services continued there until 1960. That building was subsequently sold to St. Peter’s Lutheran Church for $5,000 and currently is still in use by another Lutheran Church.

The congregation acquired land in 1959 and erected a building on its. Dedication services were conducted in 1960, at which time the name was changed to Grace Covenant Church. Additions and renovations have transformed the building to its present size and form.

Thirty-six pastors have served the church since its inception, including its founder, Gustav Djupe, who served during three separate periods.

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