Monroe Covenant Church was founded on November 14, 1905 by Mr. & Mrs. Morris Johnson as the “Swedish Evangelical Mission Church.” There were two other founding members, Hjalmar Borlin, and Hans Anderson.
The Johnsons donated the land for the building where it stands today. Morris Johnson oversaw the construction which was completed on April 10, 1906. On September 15, 1906 this congregation joined the Covenant Denomination.
In the early years, the church did not have a permanent pastor but was served by a series of itinerant pastors. In 1924, the first permanent pastor, Erick A. Ohman arrived, seen above with an early confirmation class.
As with many immigrant churches, services were conducted in Swedish until the 1930’s. Even the minutes of early meetings are recorded in Swedish, making our early history subject to “interpretation”.
That was soon to change. A new generation growing up in America preferred to “fit in” by speaking English and happily, as the church grew, new members were not always Swedish. The residual effects of World War I, too, sometimes aroused angry sentiment, as spoken Swedish was confused with German. Soon “The Swedish Church”, as we were then referred to by most of the population of Monroe, began to “Americanize”. English became the language of worship though we still might try to sing a verse of a favorite Christmas carol in Swedish to remember our heritage and the faith and generous service of those early members.
Through the years, there have been a number of modifications to the building. There was no basement until 1924, when the strong, intrepid members dug out from beneath the sanctuary - by hand - to create more space. In the 1960’s a western addition was added providing a “choir loft” and pastor’s study. Upon, and in recognition of, our 75th anniversary, the sanctuary was remodeled to its present day appearance.
MCC again celebrated a significant anniversary - its First 100 Years of Ministry in October of 2005. We were blessed to have many former members and pastors return to help us celebrate this great event.
In 2005, Monroe Covenant took a leap of faith and inaugurated a new ministry, Take the Next Step, using the church parsonage as a community resource center. Each year The Next Step aids thousands of people in times of urgent need.
Take the Next Step's weekly Community Dinners are served in the basement of Monroe Covenant. Every year, more than 5,000 dinners are served followed by Life Skills Classes. Everyone is welcome to the Next Step dinners and classes, but sadly, because of injuries and disabilities, some of our neighbors in need were not able to come in.
A generous bequest became the foundation for our Total Access Project. We raised over $90,000 in three months and with the help of many volunteers, we added an elevator / lift to reach our basement (for dinners) and sanctuary (for classes) and handicapped accessible restrooms. We celebrated the dedication of our Total Access project on February 26, 2012 and threw open our doors to everyone.
Read more in a Monroe Monitor article...