A Brief History of the Evangelical Free Church of America, plus the History of the First Evangelical Free Church of Los Angeles

A quick overview of the history of the Evangelical Free Church of America. Both the traditional narrative and what I would propose would be a church discovery that is older than what the EFCA has on record. Plus the history of the First Evangelical Free Church of Los Angeles.

“We are not makers of history. We are made by history.”

Martin Luther King

“There are people in every time and every land who want to stop history in its tracks. They fear the future, mistrust the present, and invoke the security of a comfortable past which, in fact, never existed.”

Robert Kennedy

But then I recall all you have done, O Lord;
    I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.
12 They are constantly in my thoughts.
    I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works.

Psalm 77:11-12 NLT

The roots of the Evangelical Free Church of America exist in the Swedish and Norwegian-Danish history. The traditional historical narrative is that the Swedish Evangelical Free Church began as the Swedish Evangelical Free Mission in Boone, Iowa in October of 1884. This fellowship came out of the Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Ansgar Synod, the Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Mission Synod and some independent congregations as well. Meanwhile in 1884 two Norwegian – Danish groups formed in both Boston, Massachusetts and Tacoma, Washington, began to fellowship together. By 1912 they had formed the Norwegian –  Danish Evangelical Free Church Association. Those two organizations – the Swedish and the Norwegian/Danish – merged in June of 1950 at the Medicine Lake Conference Grounds near Minneapolis, Minnesota. At the time of the merger there were 275 local congregations at the time. The first President of the Evangelical Free was Dr. E.A. Halleen who had served as the president of the Swedish association for 28 years. he served as president for 1 year.  In many Evangelical Free early in the history the services were in the local languages of the Swedes, and Norwegian. They transitioned into English in the 1950’s for a number of congregations and started to become more inclusive. The culture is important to know and history is important in moving forward.

Now the traditional explanation deals with the history of the church in Tacoma, Washington; Boston, Massachusetts; and Boone, Iowa. However it appears there could be an even older church in the EFCA that what is said. If I am wrong then I invite correction. But there is an older church that I don’t see mentioned in the historical narrative that I believe deserves to be mentioned. Eagle Valley Evangelical Free Church in Christine, North Dakota began in 1882. You can read about it online on their webpage. My question is this…does the EFCA know about this?

I write about all that because you can see some of those themes in the video that the First Evangelical Free Church of Los Angeles put together for their 100th anniversary. When I did my post about EFCA West I wish I had known about this video. I would have loved to insert it. So I decided to do a quick post to feature it. I would encourage you to watch the video. The First Evangelical Free Church of Los Angeles is led by Scott Yetter who leads the English congregation. Carlos Pizarro leads the Spanish congregation. Scott got involved in the church as a college student in 1993 and eventually became the Assistant Pastor in 2001. This will be a brief post but I wanted to feature that video as I thought it was too good to ignore, especially for a blog that writes about the EFCA. Take care guys I love you!