Our History


From as early as the 1880s, the Evangelical Covenant Church has sought to bring the love of Jesus Christ to children in need. Out of that desire, the seed was planted in 1919 for a children’s home in Princeton, Illinois at the annual meeting of the Sunday School Association of the Illinois District Conference.

Covenant Children’s Home, 1921-2000

In 1919, the Reverend Gust Nelson, was charged with raising funds for a children’s home in Princeton, Illinois. Less than two years later, more than $20,000 had been raised or pledged to the project. Soon after, a site in Princeton had been selected as the future location for the new children’s home. After remodeling the existing home, and constructing a new addition, the home was dedicated in November 1921. Gust Nelson and his wife were named administrators of the newly opened Covenant Children’s Home, a post he held until his death in 1929. Mrs. Nelson continued as superintendent until her retirement in 1940.

At its peak in the late 1990’s Covenant Children’s Home employed nearly 200 people on the campus and had an annual budget of $5,000,000 with an eighty year history of ministry. During that time Covenant Children’s Home provided care for 1,700 children.

Covenant Children’s Ministry, 2000-present

By 2000, with state funding steadily declining among other factors, the board of directors for Covenant Children’s Home voted to discontinue its residential program. On June 30, 2000, the final children moved out of the Children’s home.

Today, the Princeton campus of the former Covenant Children’s Home is home to a growing number of ministries and programs that benefit children and families, and our grant initiatives fund related services across the country.