In the Covenant we affirm 1) the centrality of the word of God, 2) the necessity of the new birth, 3) a commitment to the whole mission of the Church, 4) the Church as a fellowship of believers, 5) a conscious dependence on the Holy Spirit, and 6) the reality of freedom in Christ.
These are the affirmations that tie us together in wonderful tension and give us a framework for our common ministry. They give us valuable grounding as we join God in God’s mission to reach more people among more populations in a more caring and just world. Our affirmations root us in our communal life together and enable us to wholeheartedly pursue God’s mission, while holding us to the essentials of our faith. Part of the beauty of our affirmations is their ability to help us have good conversations even when we hold differing perspectives around viewpoints that can feel like hot button topics. It is even more compelling when we can disagree about things that matter without being disagreeable people. It has often been said, “In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; in all things, charity.” Whether or not that statement completely defines us in this moment, I like to think it is something we aspire to live out when we are at our best.
How do we think about the stories found in Scripture—their meanings, theology, interpretation? How do we seek clarity on how God moves us forward together through topics that can divide us? Why do we believe the things we do, and how can we talk about them with our neighbors, friends, and other believers or non-believers in meaningful ways, with a genuine curiosity and a posture that does not diminish someone else’s point of view or lived experience
What makes us Covenant is how we ask the questions. It is what has made our posture among other denominations unique. We don’t have a set list of doctrines, but our affirmations, along with our governing documents and decisions made by the Annual Meeting, serve as a guide for us as we follow Jesus and pursue his mission together. Our founders asked questions like, “How goes your walk with Christ?” and, “Where is it written?” The early mission friends engaged hard questions for the mutual benefit of conversation, spiritual growth, and connection. That is not to say there were not tense times, but it is the work that brings us through the tensions that makes us special. We trust in God to see us through, even when the answers are not always clear and solutions are not immediately obvious. It is our trust in God during these times that demonstrates our faith in a good God who cares for his church. We don’t need to be anxious about the future because God has our future already charted out. We are invited to lean in, listen to each other, follow the leading of the Spirit, and trust. It’s not easy work, but it is good!
Many have noted that this has been a challenging season for the church, and the Covenant Church is no exception, but I have a renewed sense of hopefulness in what God is doing and will do in our midst. Thank you for sharing your stories; for asking good questions, filling out surveys, and taking the time to write to me; and for praying with me and for me throughout this first year as your president. I am grateful for your honesty, even the challenges, and especially for the stories of God’s faithful work through his church.
I am praying that we enter a renewed season of hopefulness by praying together for God’s provision and direction. I can’t think of a more beautiful expression of the church than this intentionally multiethnic, multicultural, Jesus-centered, biblically grounded, discipleship focused, mission driven, justice-oriented church family we call the Covenant.
With great hope for the church today, tomorrow, and for generations to come that exists for God’s glory and neighbor’s good.