Picture of the founder of Evangelical Covenant Church of America,
Carl August Björk
Swedish immigrants breaking off from the Lutheran (State Church of Sweden) began the Swedish Evangelical Mission Covenant of America (now ECC) on February 20, 1885, in Chicago, Illinois.
A pietistic religious awakening had swept through Sweden around the middle of the 19th century. Before leaving their homeland some Swedes met in people’s homes, as they felt the state church was becoming overly powerful. There they conducted private services including hymn singing accompanied by guitars and read scripture from their Bibles, but they’d often hear an ominous authoritative knock at the door from a church official. This only reinforced their yearning to be in a church where they could worship freely. With this awakening and reformation came the Swedish Mission Church in 1878. The state church discouraged the gathering of these believers. It was people from this movement who emigrated to America and formed the Swedish Evangelical Mission Covenant of America. Early leaders and influences included PP Waldenström, 1838–1917 and David Nyvall, 1863–1946, among others. They desired to create a voluntary “covenant of churches” that were committed to sharing the Gospel of Jesus, as well as provide means for ministerial training. The name was changed to the Evangelical Covenant Church of America in 1954 and the "of America" was eventually abandoned because the denomination includes a Canadian conference.