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John Wenrich Gives Final Presidential Address

On Saturday, June 25, 2022, President John Wenrich presented the final report of his term to the assembled delegation of the 136th Annual Meeting in Kansas City, Missouri.

President Wenrich began by addressing the theme for Gather 2022, “Above All Else,” elevating the importance of the Holy Spirit’s leading and guidance in all facets of the life of the church. He recognized the value of gathering in person after being unable to do so in 2021, emphasizing that our active partnership is more effective when we are gathered together.

Recognizing the nearing end of his term, Wenrich reflected on the origins of his Covenant identity and call, including serving in locations in Colorado and Oregon. He described his various roles in pastoral ministry and assisting other church leaders, professing his love for the church and its mission.

He enumerated the various accomplishments, both tangible and intangible, of the Covenant Church, including its five mission priorities, affiliates, and subsidiary organizations.

Wenrich made it a point to honor the Covenant’s commitment to gender equality, affirming that women are called and gifted to serve in all aspects of church life, including his successor, President-elect Tammy Swanson-Draheim. He also honored the many women who played roles in his spiritual heritage. “I am grateful for the women who mentored me, pastored me, coached me, and served with me throughout the journey,” he said. “I invite all the male pastors in the room today to answer this question, ‘What is your next step in encouraging women to lead in your congregation and around the Covenant?’”  

Returning to many of the themes of his term, Wenrich described the Holy Spirit as the “blazing center” of Covenant ministry and linked the themes of Covenant heritage with the future of Covenant inclusion. “The ethos of mission friends is our past; the mosaic of mission friends is our future,” he said. “The work of the beloved community that Jesus intended is both beautiful and messy. Just because we don’t always get it right, doesn’t mean that it isn’t right.” He also highlighted the Six-Fold Test for Multiethnic Ministry: population, participation, power, pace-setting, purposeful narrative, and practicing solidarity.

On the necessity of developing emerging leaders, Wenrich highlighted the 30-for-30 leadership cohort and the variety of Unite-themed summer youth ministry events. He discussed the various communication initiatives to inform Covenant people about the goings-on of the church, highlighting the weekly CovChurchNow email produced by the Marketing and Communications team.

President Wenrich closed his address by imploring the church to continue to be activated synergy locally, nationally, and internationally, highlighting a need for “mission from everywhere, to everywhere.” He concluded with a blessing of exhortation to all in attendance:

Now I commend you to God and to the Word of his grace, which can build you up. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Watch the full speech here >>

About the Author

  • Jelani Greenidge is the missional storyteller for the Evangelical Covenant Church and ministers in and around Portland, Oregon as a worship musician, cultural consultant, and stand-up comic.

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