Selah Covenant Church, Then and NowIn 1907 the Naches-Selah Irrigation Company completed the Naches Selah Canal, opening up new farmlands in the previously arid lands lying north and West of what is now Selah, WA. With this new land open for farming, a steady influx of settlers arrived to transform the bleached hills of the cattle and sheep range into orchards and gardens.
In the fall of 1907, C.E. Fogelquist from Sioux City, Iowa and S. A. Matson from the Minneapolis, MN were each looking for good land in which to settle. They both met each other on their journey in, a small “cow town” of Selah. At that time there was a blacksmiths shop, and few “ram-shackle stores” and a post-office, but they agreed that there was great potential there and went back to bring their families and relatives to this land.
On March 8, 1908, the first Swedish immigrants arrived by train in Selah WA. They were the Fogelquist family from Sioux City, Iowa, where they had originally settled near the end of the 1800's. The Matson Family came later that year and started farming when they arrived.
Gust Remington, a Swedish immigrant and entrepreneur, who would later become the first mayor of Selah, met these early Swedish families with open arms. They first gathered for church above Remington’s Selah Trading Company (General Store) with Reverend Hjalmar Sundquist preaching on that first Sunday after Easter. On October 4, 1908, they decided to organize the Svenska Evangeliska Mission Forsamlingen of Selah. With great financial sacrifice on the part of the initial 23 members, the men of the congregation constructed the church building, dedicated in October of 1910, with Reverend Danielson as their first pastor.
By 1920 the church membership had grown to 85. The church steadily increased in membership and they added an east wing onto the church in 1938. At that time there was a membership of 181 and over 200 children in Sunday school.
During the 1930's these Swedes sensed a need to expand their ministries, so they began conducting their services in English. Though they continued to have Swedish worship services in homes through the 1940s, the move to primarily minister in the English language was a significant change in their ministry focus.
In 1951 they remodeled the church again and added an “education wing” onto the North side of the church.
In the early 1960's the name of the church was changed to the Evangelical Covenant Church now known as Selah Covenant Church.
On Wednesday, August 29, 2001 a fire began in the annex of the church building, doing about $800,000 worth of damage. The church decided to commit to a new building campaign and on June 12, 2005 the first service was held at the current location on McGonagle Ave.
God has been gracious and has granted Selah Covenant Church a long and fruitful ministry. What role will God call you to take as He continues to sustain this community?
Written and compiled by: Robert S. Nass