Covenant Executive Board Updates
The Covenant Executive Board announces decisions and actions made due to the cancellation of our Annual Meeting, Gather 2020. These actions are according to provisions made by the constitution and bylaws of the Evangelical Covenant Church to carry out actions on essential business until decisions can be ratified at next year’s Annual Meeting, Gather 2021. Essential business includes budget, credentialing of clergy and commissioning of global personnel, elections of new members to various boards, and other important matters.
SAT Update | March 2021
On March 17 the Evangelical Covenant Church’s Executive Board approved the Strategic Alignment Team’s proposal for a new organizational model which realigns the denominational team to better serve our local churches and conferences. The recommendation will be presented at the 135th Annual Meeting this June, and delegates will vote on key elements of the reorganization proposal, including the purpose of the denominational team, overall operating philosophy, leadership structure, and a bylaw amendment.
If the proposed model is adopted, the organizational structure of the denominational team will increase missional effectiveness and contribute to future financial sustainability. The reorganization will also allow the denominational team to be more responsive and nimble in discerning and implementing the needs of the Covenant moving forward.
In the current structure, the mission and the five mission priorities (Develop Leaders, Love Mercy Do Justice, Make and Deepen Disciples, Serve Globally, and Start and Strengthen Churches) are the central organizing principle of the denominational team. The proposal is for the denominational team to reorganize to follow a functional model where staff would encompass one collaborative team all working together to fulfill the whole mission of the Evangelical Covenant Church: “To join God in God’s mission to see more disciples among more populations in a more caring and just world.”
Through the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit, all teams would deliver on all five mission priorities. The Engagement Team would contain Mobilize and Connect personnel who would engage around items such as credentialing, pastoral care, leadership development, relief and development, events, curriculum, marketing/communications, technology, and so forth. The Mission Infrastructure Team with Fund and Organize personnel would include finance, accounting, governance, and operations functions. All teams would contribute to and advance all five mission priorities in a more streamlined system. This would enhance the ability to provide better customer service to constituents, one of the key concerns identified through denominational listening efforts.
The new proposed structure becomes less top-heavy and more financially sustainable, moving from the current model of five elected and five appointed executives to two elected and two appointed vice presidents. Two elected vice presidents would oversee the Mobilize and Connect teams, and two appointed vice presidents would oversee the Fund and Organize teams. In addition, the current role of executive minister of Ordered Ministry would be elected and retained as part of the Mobilize personnel.
“Ultimately, denominations exist to serve their churches,” said Jon Bonkoski, chair of the Covenant Executive Board. “And that is why the denominational team is here—to serve the Evangelical Covenant Church as a whole and do what we can to help the Covenant thrive. The realignment of the denominational team will greatly help us increase our ability to serve the denomination more effectively and efficiently in furthering God’s Kingdom.”
The Strategic Alignment Team (SAT) was created as a discernment body. The SAT listened to the wider Covenant, assessed the financial stability and health of the denominational team, collected information and analyzed opportunities to determine and recommend how the denominational team can better serve the needs of the entire Covenant church body. The proposal resulted from a seven-month process and strongly aligns with the needs identified through the listening efforts with conferences, ethnic associations, boards, and members of the denominational team, as well as the Ministerium, denominational staff, and many more. Twenty-nine sessions took place with focus groups; more than 700 people engaged between surveys and in-person interviews; and the online survey generated 3,000 individual, hand-typed comments.
The proposed model does not include a significant reduction in staff but rather a reorganization and realignment designed to better position the denominational team. The majority of the denominational team would have the opportunity to shift to new roles or embrace new responsibilities. The proposed model’s structure and reporting patterns would aim to reduce bottlenecks and increase missional clarity for better collaboration.
We are grateful to the Strategic Alignment Team for their service and work. The members of the Strategic Alignment Team are: Dierdra Clark, John Fanous, Greg Jao, Glenn Peterson, Doug Stevens, Gustavo Torres, Diane Leavitt, Claire McClun, Angela Yee, and John Wenrich.
Materials for delegates to the Annual Meeting regarding details of the proposal, including a video and supporting documents, will be available online in mid-April at Gather.CovChurch.org, and delegate Q&A sessions will be held in April and May.
Please pray for the denominational staff and for the upcoming vote at the Annual Meeting this June.
Gather 2021 to Be Held Virtually
Gather 2021, which includes the 135th Annual Meeting, will be held June 23-26 as a virtual event due to the continuing Covid-19 pandemic.
The decision was made by the Executive Board with collective input received from Annual Meeting officers, the chair of Board of Ordered Ministry, president of the Ministerium, chair of the Council of Superintendents, executive minister of Ordered Ministry and Develop Leaders, and President’s Office and Governance team staff.
“With the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we continue to shepherd, steward, and pivot well,” said John Wenrich, president of the Evangelical Covenant Church. “I grieve that we will not be able to meet in person, but I remain steadfast that our virtual time together will be engaging and fruitful. As a mosaic of mission friends, we know that our work remains vital in sharing the good news around the world.”
The 2020 Annual Meeting was canceled because of the pandemic. An extra day has been added to the schedule in June in order to address unfinished business from last year.
“A virtual gathering will also make it possible for every church to send their allotted delegates. This will reduce a justice gap that has existed for many years,” Wenrich added.
The Service of Ordination, Commissioning, and Consecration will be livecast the evening of June 26. Because no service was held in 2020, a total of 107 people are expected to finalize their credentials this year, said Lance Davis, executive minister of Ordered Ministry and Develop Leaders.
Bibles, stoles, and certificates will be mailed to each finalization candidate. They will have hands laid on them by an ordained clergy member of their choice. As necessary, local safety guidelines on social distancing and facial coverings will be followed to ensure everyone’s safety.
Some conferences also are considering sites where candidates can gather while following safety guidelines. Candidates would have a choice to attend there or participate from a site of their choosing. Candidates also may choose to opt out and delay their finalization until 2022, when it is hoped that people can once again gather in person.
Davis and Wenrich will officiate the service. Catherine Gilliard, superintendent of the Southeast Conference, will preach.
The ministerium will hold its meeting June 22-23.
“We hope this new format can gather us in creative ways as well as provide increased access for more voices to shape our faithful discernment across our diverse membership,” said Liz Mosbo VerHage, president of the ministerium. “We’re working to craft options for ongoing education, community building, worship and spiritual formation, confession and lament, as well as discuss business agenda items during our two days together. We want the entire Ministerium to feel invited, seen, and heard.”
Budget Update | February 2021
A narrated PowerPoint presentation of the 2021 operating budget for the Evangelical Covenant Church is available below.
The operating budget represents the ongoing activities of the core mission priorities and mission support teams of the denomination. Because the 2020 Annual Meeting was canceled as a result of Covid-19, the Executive Board acted on behalf of the Covenant Church as called for in the denomination’s bylaws.
The board approved changing the Covenant’s annual fiscal year-end from January 31 to September 30.
The $17.5 million budget is “a sizable reduction from the budgets of the last three fiscal years,” says Steve Klimkowski, chief financial officer. He added that the coronavirus pandemic had made it more difficult to produce a forward-looking budget.
The budget is more than $2 million reduction from the 2020 budget and $2.5 million down from what was actually spent in 2019.
The 2021 budget significantly reduces recent reliance on reserve draws. It is the first in five years in which spending growth is less than the growth in giving. The Executive Board passed a resolution calling on the budget to be balanced by 2024.
Operating Budget Expenses
Start and Strengthen Churches – $2.9 million
Make and Deepen Disciples – $858,000
Develop Leaders – $922,000
Love Mercy Do Justice – $675,172
Serve Globally – $5.7 million
Communications – $1.25 million
Shared services – $3.95 million
North Park University support – $1 million
Other – $250,000
TOTAL Expenses – $17.5 million
Projected Sources of Income
Local church giving – $8.15 million
Individual donor support – $2.6 million
Affiliate fand ministry Investment – $4.2 million
Living Legacy Funds draw – $686,669
Annual bequests draw – $818,000
Miscellaneous income – $50,000
Communication sales – $340,000
Rental income – $111,209
Reserves contribution – $574,173
TOTAL Income – $17.5 million
Update | January 2021
The Strategic Alignment Team and the Location Advisory Committee continue to prayerfully seek the discernment and wisdom of the Holy Spirit. In our efforts to fully sustain and enhance the Evangelical Covenant mission by alignment, stewardship and maximizing of opportunities provided, these teams continue to assess, discuss, and interact with many factors. To do this in the midst of an ongoing pandemic and momentous global change and uncertainty is no mean feat. However, we are strengthened by the fact that our God is all-sufficient to provide for the mission to which He has called us. We treasure your prayers!
Moving forward, the Strategic Alignment Team (SAT) and Location Advisory Council (LAC) will be providing monthly updates.
In January the SAT continued:
- Discussing structural models that create greater missional effectiveness and financial sustainability.
- Evaluating the needs of the denomination as identified through the listening efforts this past fall, as well as the financial impacts of aligning the structure for long-term sustainability.
- Engaging with external constituent groups, ministry partnerships, and leaders that intersect with the efforts of the denominational team to discuss, analyze, and explore a variety of structural models.
The SAT also is evaluating the pros and cons of a distributed workforce model and the impacts of different options in serving the denomination and supporting staff operations.
The LAC has continued to monitor and discuss what the current work model will be.
Regarding the sale of the building:
- A leaseback of the current 8303 building is still a part of the sale of the building and would allow the Covenant time to decide if staff will go fully virtual.
- There has been no further activity on the sale of the building in November and December. This is typical of the real estate cycle during the holidays.
- Leasing a couple of floors of the building would help it sell.
As the LAC discusses a future location, it is possible that they may be facility needs required to support the operational work of the staff. This is a great opportunity to envision what would work well and determine the purpose of the building.
The LAC is also considering options for a virtual work structure. Technological and personnel infrastructure is needed to connect and afford people the opportunity to engage effectively with their work and with the office. Digital infrastructure requires the most financial investment right now. What the virtual culture looks like and how staff can be given the best opportunity to thrive also need to be considered. How do we stay connected and remain face-to-face in a digital environment? We need to transparently communicate with constituents, so they know what is happening and feel engaged in the process. The next meeting for the LAC will take place in February 2021.
There is more to come on the conclusions for these areas, but it is a priority for the SAT and LAC committees to make these recent updates available.
We are grateful for a prayer team that regularly lifts up these efforts as we seek the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Please pray for the work of these teams, for the Lord's guidance, clarity and wisdom of all involved through this process, and for the work of the mission to be furthered and sustained in whatever outcomes is determined.
Update | October 2020
These past few months, the SAT has conducted many listening mechanisms and received significant input from the denomination. The team heard inspiring examples of God at work, sat with the pain of those who are hurting, and was honored to hear the hopes and dreams of those who call the Covenant home. The team received thousands of comments. To better align and serve the growing and changing needs of Covenant conferences and churches, the SAT identified areas of growth, development and improvement, including the need to: improve communication (coordination, cohesion, transparency and frequency), strengthen customer service (responsiveness and speed), resource the denomination (additional tools and support across many areas), and better connect the Covenant with each other (cross-denominational opportunities). Read the full story in Newswire by clicking below.
Angela Yee, team facilitator of the SAT and chief ministry officer of the Evangelical Covenant Church, shares a video update.
Strategic Alignment Team
The overall task of the strategic alignment team is to listen to the wider Covenant to assess needs and opportunities in the present reality in order to determine how the denominational team can better serve the needs of the entire Covenant church body. The overall goal is to assess and realign methods to better serve the local church and conferences in order to further the Covenant mission.
This process will include reviewing what the Covenant is currently doing—through resources, initiatives, curricula, etc.—and how those efforts can be more streamlined and collaborative in key areas in order to be as effective as possible for decades to come.
In order to move the mission forward, we must address the increasing needs of pastors, churches, and conferences. COVID-19 has disrupted the world and accelerated every concern. The denominational team at Covenant Offices will be evaluating how to increase efficiencies and continue to seek ways to increase income while decreasing expenses.
The Evangelical Covenant Church must proactively adapt so it is not forced to make changes in an emergency. Rather, we seek to be forward-thinking and plan ahead. Now is the time to identify how we can bring all areas of the Covenant into greater alignment so we are well-resourced to continue with the mission of impacting the world with the gospel.
The members of the strategic alignment team are: Dierdra Clark, John Fanous, Greg Jao, Glenn Peterson, Doug Stevens, Gustavo Torres, Diane Leavitt, Claire McClun, Angela Yee, and John Wenrich.
Questions can be directed to SAT@covchurch.org
Frequently Asked Questions
Location Advisory Committee
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.