From Humble Start Came 125 Years of Fruitful Ministry

Post a Comment » Written on November 18th, 2008     
Filed under: News
NORTH EASTON, MA (November 18, 2008) – The first meeting of people who would form the Covenant Congregational Church might not have inspired them about the future prospects of starting a church, but the congregation celebrated its 125th anniversary over the weekend.

On Friday night, members gathered for an Old Brown Hymnal Society hymn sing led by Bob Dvorak. Jay Phelan, dean and president of North Park Theological Seminary, spoke at a formal banquet. Former and current pastors led the Sunday morning worship service.

In 1871, a small group of Swedish immigrants in North Easton, Massachusetts gathered in the home of Andrew Erickson to hear a traveling preacher named J. G. Princell, according to Johnny Agurkis. “There was some disappointment at the turnout that evening,” he notes.

RainbowOnly four to six people seemed to have turned out at Erickson’s invitation. “But from that initial gathering came a process of vision and discernment that would ultimately lead to the formation of a congregation 13 years later,” Agurkis says.

On December 20, 1883, that initial small group had grown to 39, and a church was officially born.  It began with the name, “Swedish Christian Evangelical Ebed-Melek Church of North Easton,” (Ebed-Melek risked his life by asking King Zedekiah for permission to raise the prophet Jeremiah from the cistern into which he had been thrown and left to die. The story is told in Jeremiah 38:1-11.)

For its first 100 years of existence, Covenant Congregational Church was housed on Main Street in North Easton. Just a few months after officially forming, the young congregation was given the opportunity to purchase a building and property on Main Street for $1,400.

“That was a huge and impossible sum of money for this small group of people back in 1884,” Agurkis says.  However, the minutes from that initial meeting reflected the group’s determination: “It appeared to be an insurmountable barrier, but after much discussion and prayer, in faith the group decided to move forward.”

Those words have become a common refrain throughout the church’s history, Agurkis says. “Through years of war, through years of the Great Depression, through years of prosperity, through years of social upheaval, through the tragic death of a pastor in the midst of the building of a new church facility back in the early 1980’s, the Covenant Congregational Church of North Easton has faced these challenges in faith . . . and decided to move forward.”

Editor’s note: the accompanying photo of the church captures an unusual double rainbow display.

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