The recently published book Aging in Grace: The Growth of Covenant Retirement Communities 1886-2011 opens with a quote from Karl A. Olsson, Covenant theologian, historian and president of North Park from 1959 to 1970.
From a small mustard seed planted with love and hopefulness more than a century ago, a giant tree has come. Now what matters is the vital essence of the tree, the life expressing itself in branch and leaf..., an unceasing outpouring of love in compassion and caring.
Into One Body...By the Cross, 1986
With this quote Olsson reflects on the work of the Evangelical Covenant Church which celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2010. Benevolent institutions, local churches and conferences started shortly after the denomination was formally organized in 1885. The Northwest Conference, organized in 1884, celebrated its quasquicentennial in 2009. The Midwest Conference celebrated in 2010 and the Midwest Conference in 2011.
Aging in Grace tells the story of the Covenant Church's tradition of benevolence beginning with the opening of the Home of Mercy in 1886 in the Bowmanville neighborhood of Chicago. Read more about the Home of Mercy in this earlier post. The book traces the story of the Home of Mercy which grew to become the Covenant Home and goes on to tell about the fifteen other retirements homes and communities that have served the needs of aging Covenanters and many others across the country.
Eloise Nelson, frequent researcher and friend of the Archives, spent many hours here gathering photographs to write the histories of several of the retirement communities for the book. In coming blog posts we will feature some of the materials Eloise discovered that did not make it into the book.