CHICAGO (July 8, 2020)—Today the Executive Board of the Evangelical Covenant Church announced its decision to sell its Chicago office building as a part of a new chapter moving forward. The Executive Board approved the decision to sell the 8303 W. Higgins facility in Chicago on June 27. The building will be placed on the market this week.
While there were many reasons for the decision, primarily it was due to the current COVID-19 situation, finances, structure, and a renewed focus on mission. Like many businesses, organizations, and ministries around the country, COVID-19 has impacted Covenant churches, conferences, camps, and affiliate ministries in some way, as well as its Covenant Office. Due to COVID-19, social distancing guidelines, and travel restrictions, Covenant Office staff have successfully been working virtually for most of the year. They will continue to do so while the sale of the Chicago facility is finalized.
“The Covenant is not a building,” said John Wenrich, president of the Evangelical Covenant Church. “We are a people, a mission, and a movement. We believe this action will enable us to be more strategic and focused on our global work even during the current COVID-19 climate and beyond.”
The Covenant Office leadership team, together with the Covenant Executive Board and other key leaders, has been strategizing for some time the best way to move forward in light of current events while safeguarding the future of the Covenant’s mission and goal of remaining financially healthy.
Jon Bonkoski, chair of the Executive Board, added, “Being flexible will provide greater opportunities to serve the local church now and in the future. Analyzing the Covenant’s real estate needs is a step forward in optimizing flexible ministry support, leadership, and growth to advance the kingdom of Christ.”
The Executive Board’s decision to sell its building is reflected in Evangelical Covenant Church Bylaw Article VIII, Section 8.1.g. “The Executive Board shall approve the acquisition, encumbrance, and disposition of the property and assets of the Evangelical Covenant Church.”
In addition to approving the decision to sell its Chicago office building, the Executive Board also voted to establish a Location Advisory Committee, which will focus on researching and considering all options for what the Covenant workplace will look like in the coming months and years. Members of the committee include Steve Dawson, Alice Lee, Dr. Georgia Hill, Greg Yee, Rev. Gpe. Dany Flores, Jim Sequeira, Karen Stein, Dr. Robert Owens, Peter Hedstrom, Anita Eyer, John Wenrich, Angela Yee, Steve Klimkowski, and Rebecca González.
Updated July 17 with Frequently Asked Questions
Who made the decision to sell the Covenant Office building in Chicago?
On Saturday, June 27, the Covenant Executive Board voted in favor of selling the 8303 W. Higgins facility in Chicago and established a Location Advisory Committee. This is reflected in Evangelical Covenant Church Bylaw Article VIII, Section 8.1.g. “The Executive Board shall approve the acquisition, encumbrance, and disposition of the property and assets of the Evangelical Covenant Church.”
When did it go on the market?
The building was placed on the market in July.
Why was this decision made now?
There were many reasons for the decision, but they are primarily: missional, structural, situational, and financial. The Covenant Office leadership team, together with the Covenant Executive Board and other key leaders, have been strategizing for some months the best way to provide financial viability and solvency, and these entities believe this action will enable the Covenant to be more strategic and focused on the global, missional work even during the current COVID-19 climate and beyond. This decision enables the Covenant to free up finances tied up in real estate to provide flexibility, funding, and responsiveness to our ever-changing environment so that we can do mission well into the future.
How quickly do you anticipate the building will sell?
Most commercial real estate properties in the Chicago area close within 30 – 120 days of a purchase, but the length of time a property is on the market is unknown as buildings along the O’Hare airport corridor rarely go on the market. Even with a quick sale it is likely that the Covenant will remain in the building for the next 12 – 15 months to facilitate a good transition.
Is there a transition plan in place?
The Covenant Executive Board has established a Location Advisory Committee (LAC) that will research and consider all options for what the workplace will look like in the coming months and years. The LAC is expected to meet for the next five months, and their work will inform the transition process to be led by the 8303 Management Team.
The members of the Location Advisory Committee are Steve Dawson, Alice Lee, Dr. Georgia Hill, Greg Yee, Rev Gpe. Dany Flores, Jim Sequeira, Karen Stein, Dr. Robert Owens, Peter Hedstrom, Anita Eyer, John Wenrich, Angela Yee, Steve Klimkowski, and Rebecca González.
How was the Location Advisory Committee selected?
The people selected for the Location Advisory Committee were identified specifically for their strategic, business, and real estate experience with a desire to balance the team with people from different roles and representation of the Covenant. The Covenant Executive Board approved the members of the committee with equal clergy and lay, male and female, and ethnic representation from the Covenant.
How will this impact Covenant staff based out of the 8303 building?
At this time, there will be no change in staffing. Staff who have elected to work from home during COVID-19 will be able to continue to do so. Staff who have been approved for field-staff status will continue to be allowed to continue to work from home in accordance with our policy.
Will staff be able to access the 8303 facility?
Staff will be able to access the 8303 facility in accordance with social distancing and prevention guideline/protocols established by the Evangelical Covenant Church Emergency Readiness and Response team.
Will services to the local church and conferences be interrupted?
All current services needed and deemed responsive will remain available to all constituents.
How does this decision better serve the denomination?
We believe there will be even greater Covenant cohesion and identity by offering staff the opportunity to be located near those they work closely with. For example, working with a regional or conference office often offers the opportunity to become more integrated with what is happening on the local church level. The Covenant will also be able to hire and retain staff across the U.S. who may normally have turned down the opportunity to join the Covenant due to formal relocation requirements. Finally, we believe that stewardship of resources will improve by minimizing travel expenses and leveraging virtual platforms.