Swedish colonists arrived in America in 1638, settling first in present day Wilmington, Delaware. In 1643, a second group arrived upon the ships Fogel Grip, and Kalmar Nyckel, and settled in the area between Trenton, New Jersey, and the Delaware Bay. Their leader, Governor Johan Printz, established the area as New Sweden. The colonists were unique in that they kept good relations with the Native Americans who were already settled in the area by showing exceptional friendliness and respect for their neighbors.
The Swedes were not able to retain power in this area, eventually the colony was thought under Dutch, and then British control. New Sweden did not flourish, but the Swedish churches survived. As the Swedish settled among the Delaware from Tinicum to Wicaco (a Native American name meaning 'peaceful place' for the area now known as South Philadelphia) a site was needed for a permanent place to worship. The first church was a modified log house (owned by Sven Svenson) which was completed in 1677. To satisfy the Swedish colonists who settled along the Schuylkill, as well as those living on the Delaware, the church moved to the site where Gloria Dei was built in 1698.
Under the 1701 Charter of Privileges the Swedish Church continued to thrive in Penn's colony where religious tolerance was law.
Last updated: February 26, 2015