[For those unfamiliar, following is a brief history of the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA) as told on the website of Christ Community Church of Sioux City, Iowa. (http://christccevfree.org/bic/section3.pdf)
By the mid 1800s many believers in the Lutheran church of Sweden, Norway, and Denmark were becoming dissatisfied because of the dominance of the state over the church and what they perceived as the “deadness” of its services, i.e. their lack of spiritual life or vitality. A grassroots movement began in which people sought to return to the Bible and have an experience with God that touched their hearts as well as their heads. Believers began to develop unofficial and informal gatherings within the larger state church. When the state church authorities pressured them to abandon their ways or withdraw from the established church. They chose to withdraw and began establishing “Free Churches” – i.e. churches which were “free” from the control of the state (Lutheran) church.
A few years after this movement began these Scandinavian people started coming to the United States. And in 1884 two different free church bodies were formed: The Swedish Evangelical Free Church began in Boone, IA and The Danish -Norwegian Evangelical Free Church Association began in Boston, MA. In 1950 these two groups combined to form the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA) in Minneapolis, MN.
At that time they had a combined total of 275 churches in the U.S. and Canada. Today there are about 1,300 E-Free churches in the U.S. alone.
A more detailed account of the history and theology of the Evangelical Free Church can be found at: http://www.naha.stolaf.edu/pubs/nas/volume28/Nor-Am Studies Vol 28 Article Four.pdf? WHS]
Remember Our Beginnings
During the summer of 1888 Mr. Lars Haubro, New Haven, CT., started a missionary work among the Danish people in Hartford consisting of weekly meetings in the families’ homes. In October, the Revered N.C. Christensen from Bridgeport came to Hartford. Under his leadership, the small group of believers was organized and called the “Scandinavian Evangelical Free Mission.”
From individual homes, they held public worship services Thursday evenings at 97 Asylum Street in Hartford, the home of the “Swedish Friends.” The Swedish Friends moved to larger quarters in May 1891 and sold the inventory of 165 chairs and a table to the Mission. The Mission continued to use the hall for a rental fee of $8 per month. In October 1893, the Mission’s first constitution was written and adopted. Later that year, the Mission moved to Pearl Street in Hartford.
In the spring of 1894, the Mission moved again to the YMCA building in Hartford. That fall, the Mission joined the Eastern Evangelical Free Church Association.
In the late 1890’s John Christensen, from one of the seven charter families, was called to the mission field (Venezuela). He was our first missionary. His niece, Miss Carrie Mochau, for whom our missionary scholarship is named, followed in his footsteps, as a missionary as well.
In 1904 the Mission changed its name to the Danish Evangelical Free Church of Hartford. August that year the church was incorporated under the laws of the State of Connecticut
During 1905, the church bought the lot at 170 Benton Street in Hartford for $500. Early 1906, construction began and the cornerstone was laid on September 16, 1906. On April 14, 1907 the church was dedicated. During 1934, the church’s constitution and by-laws were translated into English and adopted in 1935. In 1938 the church voted to change their name again to the ”Evangelical Free Church of Hartford.”
January 1960 saw the church purchase property at 495 – 511 Maple Street, Wethersfield, CT and on February 12, 1961. Dr. Arnold Olsen, President of the Evangelical Free Church of America, dedicated the church and the church family as the Wethersfield Community Church – “an Evangelical Free Church.”
1988 saw our name change again to “Wethersfield Evangelical Free Church.”
Our Pastors: 1888 – today: N.C. Christensen (1888), Carl Hansen (1891), A.C. Christensen (1893), S.K. Didriksen (1894), Gabriel Nelson (1904), John Kjobness (1912), C. Kjeldgaard (1914), A. Handle (1919), Carl Berg (1919), N.L. Larsen (1920),,,, A.C. Anderson (1946), Arnold Olsen (1958),Lester Nelson (1962), Jackson Derby (1968), R. Christiansen (1970), Fredolf Anderson (1974), Ves Sheeley (1981), Ross Morrison (1995), Scott Solberg (2003).
About the Author: Robert E. Deasy Jr.
(Please click on each photo for a larger version.)