Federated Covenant Church reaches milestone anniversary

DOWAGIAC — One local church celebrated a major milestone this week.

Early this week, Federated Covenant Church celebrated its centennial anniversary, marking 100 years in the community. To celebrate the occasion, the church hosted a “birthday party” Sunday, featuring food, games and fellowship.

Aaron Lohr, vice chair of the church, said that he was excited to be a part of the church during its centennial celebration.

“This is rather a big deal,” Lohr said. “[The church] has a very loving, welcoming atmosphere, and we are still thriving.”

The church, located at 202 Center St., Dowagiac, actually has a history dating back past 100 years. Around 130 years ago, there was a Baptist church on the property. Thirty years later, the Baptist church combined with a congregational church, which is what the Federated Covenant Church was celebrating Sunday. Federated Covenant Church is a part of the Evangelical Covenant Church, a multiethnic denomination in the United States and Canada.

“There has been a church presence here for over 130 years,” said Melissa Phillips, chairperson of Federated Covenant Church. “That’s a long time to be part of the ministry to Dowagiac.”

Over the last 100 years as a federated church, Phillips said the church has built a strong base to minister to the people of Dowagiac.

The church offers a number of ministries to the community, including Celebration Recovery, a group for people with “hurts, habits and hang-ups,” both men and women’s recovery groups, a youth group, children’s ministries and even a yoga class.

“There is a strong dedication to the community,” Phillips said. “Personally, that is one of the things that drew us here. This is a church right in the community, which gives us an opportunity to really impact the people around us with our evangelistic efforts.”

To Phillips, the fact that the church is celebrating its centennial anniversary is proof of God’s love for the city of Dowagiac, she said.

“He’s placed and sustained a group of people here who actively try to reach out to this community and draw them closer to Him,” she said, attributing the church’s longevity to God’s work. “We can’t do anything with our own power. There is no magic key to making a church live. It has to be that infusion of the Holy Spirit into everything that you do.”

Phillips’ husband, Jonathan, agreed, adding that the Dowagiac community has also embraced the church for many years, for which the church is grateful.

“There is a need here,” he said. “If there wasn’t a need, the church wouldn’t exist. The people and the community need this church, which is why it is here.”

Going into the future, Phillips and Lohr said they hope Federated Covenant Church will continue to reach the community, and hopefully, last another 100 years.

“We want to continue to draw people to Jesus,” Phillips said. “Our mission statement is ‘leading people to Jesus, who lead people to Jesus.’ That is truly what we want this to be. We want this to be domino effect where we bring people in, disciple them, teach them how to follow Jesus and then send them out, so that they can do the same thing all over again.”

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