SILVERHILL, AL (October 21, 2002) - The Evangelical Covenant Church of Silverhill, Alabama, celebrated its centennial October 19-20 as 158 attended Sunday's worship service.
Donn Engebretson, executive vice president of the Evangelical Covenant Church with offices in Chicago, preached at Sunday morning's worship service. Southeast Conference Supt. Kurt Miericke was among the guests during the weekend and gave a greeting from the conference.
The church had 100 people at a special congregational banquet at a local community hall on Saturday, said pastor Jesse Adams. A son of the church, pastor Robert Simmons of nearby New Covenant Church in Foley, was part of the festivities. The church also invited former pastors, members and friends of the congregation to the banquet and the worship service. They included Michael Harper, John Sterling, Bob Hirsch and DuWayne Winters. Another previous pastor, Walter Johnson, had sent a letter than had been written one year in advance. Johnson died last summer at age 101.
The Evangelical Covenant Church of Silverhill is located in a town of 400 on the Gulf coast between Mobile, Alabama and Pensacola, Florida. Its ministry is significant to the small town as the congregation averages 110 in worship. In addition to its many ministries, the church's preschool (3-and 4-year olds) has 25 children enrolled and the Silverhill Christian Academy (K-9) includes 44 students.
"This church actually began the Southeast Conference and it was located (at that time) in a Swedish settlement," said Miericke. "The grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the founding pastor (J.N. Jacobson) came to the church for the whole weekend. This church is stronger than its ever been and it's a very exciting place."
In 1897, a small group of Swedish people came from Chicago to southern Alabama to make their home in the wilderness of central Baldwin County, in Silverhill. They began to meet for worship and were allowed to use the Land Office Company building for their services.
On November 20, 1902, 10 people met there to organize the church, including Mr. and Mrs. J.N. Jacobson, Peter Thorson, Mr. And Mrs. W.G. Monson and daughter Signe, J.A. Isaakson, Mr. and Mrs. Otto Anderson and Mr. And Mrs. P.A. Swenson. J.N. Jacobson was elected president and also called to pastor the congregation. On December 1, 1902, the congregation voted to call the church Svenska Evangeliska Missions Forsamling (the Swedish Evangelical Mission Congregation).