CovChurch NOW - A monthly update from the Evangelical Covenant Church
As a Covenant family, we have so much to be thankful for as we continue the work God has called us to—to join God in God’s mission to see more disciples among more populations in a more caring and just world. We are all learning to pivot to stay on mission.
This month John Wenrich, president of the Evangelical Covenant Church, sits down with Al Tizon, executive minister of Serve Globally, to discuss the changes we can make—both personally and congregationally—to remain missional in our new reality.
Learn more by visiting CovChurch.org/what-we-do/sg
Mission Priority Updates
We invite you to join us for Covenant World Relief and Development Sunday on November 22 (or on another Sunday during the year that works best for your church). This is a day when your congregation can participate in celebrating and highlighting the ways God is powerfully at work through our partners around the world. For more information, many resources are available at covchurch.org/cwr/for-churches.
As always, and now more than ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Covenant World Relief and Development needs your generous financial support to continue engaging in transformational development with global partners who are responding to the pandemic as well as other natural and human-caused disasters.
To learn more, visit covchurch.org/cwr.
Covenant Outsourced Accounting is a network of trained accounting professionals working closely with local financial leaders to serve your church by providing timely and accurate financial reports each month; guiding and educating local church financial leaders about contribution deductibility, clergy payroll, best recordkeeping, and reporting practice; relieving local church financial leaders of learning software; and being available to advise and train local church volunteers serving as treasurer or financial secretary. All network team members are active in Covenant churches and understand Covenant benefit systems, funding schedules for church plants, and mission support options. Learn more here or by visiting covchurch.org/what-we-do/develop-leaders.
LOVE MERCY DO JUSTICE
To mark Indigenous Peoples Heritage Month in November, Love Mercy Do Justice is honoring the voices of our Indigenous and First Nations brothers and sisters. As the late Richard Twiss, educator, author, and reconciler of Native Americans and evangelicals, said, “Come be our friend. Come and talk to us. Get to know us. Get to know what makes us laugh and what makes us cry. And when you find out what we care about, then make our concerns your concerns. Make our struggles for justice your struggles for justice.” We invite you to hear from TJ Smith of the Dakota and Lakota Nations and president of the Covenant Indigenous Ministers Association here. And to hear from more from our Indigenous brothers and sisters, we invite you to subscribe to our weekly email updates here.
MAKE AND DEEPEN DISCIPLES
Announcing our newest Embrace resource: Embrace for Youth Case Studies! These Embrace youth ministry case studies have been compiled by a team of Covenant youth workers. They invite quality discussion among leaders about how to better care for people in your churches and communities who identify as LGBTQ+. These case studies are based on real-life situations happening in our churches, camps, and ministry contexts across the Evangelical Covenant Church in North America. They are designed not to provide official answers to the questions raised, but rather to help you explore and gain clarity about how you would like to approach complex situations in your unique context.
START AND STRENGTHEN CHURCHES
Despite the uncertainty around gatherings in this season, the Lord continues to call church planters. We have completed two virtual church planter assessment centers and one online edition of church plant training. These new Covenant communities of faith will plan to launch next summer and fall. Between the ongoing work of assessing and training church planters and the short-term resources of mission vitality, Start and Strengthen Churches is experiencing the truth of Isaiah 43:19: “See I am doing a new thing. Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” For more information on church planting or resources to strengthen an existing church, visit Start and Strengthen Churches Church Planting and Start and Strengthen Churches Missional Vitality, or email SSCAdmincore@covchurch.org
Pivoting for Mission
In the midst of the continued coronavirus pandemic, we are all learning how to pivot together to serve our mission. Our mission remains the same: to join God to see more disciples, among more populations, in a more caring and just world.
This month John Wenrich, president of the Evangelical Covenant Church, sits down with Lance Davis, executive minister of Develop Leaders, to discuss how we can help the church not only to survive but to thrive in our current setting. Lance shares ways our pastoral community is growing and staying strong during this challenging year. Learn more by visiting CovChurch.org/what-we-do/develop-leaders.
Mission Priority Updates
Through generous support of our pastoral community and donors, the Ministers’ Care and Crisis Fund has been able to award more than $54,000 to pastors since March. Most grants are between $1,000 and $3,000 to help with medical costs or monthly bills if a person is not able to work during a time of illness. ECC clergy who would like financial assistance from the fund, please inquire through this form. Those who wish to donate to this important fund, please do so here. Thank you for your partnership!
LOVE MERCY DO JUSTICE
This month Love Mercy Do Justice has been commemorating Domestic Violence Awareness Month, standing in solidarity with those who endure violence in domestic spaces that should be hospitable and safe. Advocacy for Victims of Abuse (AVA), a Love Mercy Do Justice initiative, has mourned victims, celebrated survivors, and networked advocates through a webinar series (in collaboration with Interfaith Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence). The recordings of these weekly webinars can be found here. Additionally, you can find our latest #FreedomFriday post (Free to Be Safe) here. To receive information on future AVA news or to subscribe to our weekly #FreedomFriday emails, subscribe here.
MAKE AND DEEPEN DISCIPLES
The Embrace webinar series is back! Embrace webinars promote continued discipleship and dialogue around a variety of topics related to faith, gender, and sexuality. Each webinar is hosted by a member of the Make and Deepen Disciples team, and each guest is in harmony with the adopted position of the Evangelical Covenant Church. Upcoming webinars include:
November 11: Webinar #18: Embrace for Youth Case Studies
Even during times of uncertainty, many coffee producers have hope in God and what the Karawa Coffee Project will do to revive the local and regional economy in DR Congo. With your support, the goal to reduce extreme poverty, enhance food security, and build the economy in DR Congo is becoming a reality. Paul Carlson Partnership is excited to announce that you can now pre-order Karawa coffee, which will have a long-term, holistic impact on thousands of lives. Thank you for your partnership with the people of DR Congo!
START AND STRENGTHEN CHURCHES
Many churches are discovering new methods to accomplish their mission—and so is Missional Vitality (formerly “Congregational Vitality”). Start and Strengthen Churches has pivoted as a missional priority, shifting our methods to meet the mission of serving Covenant churches and church planting. Virtual workshops are open for registration as a part of Start and Strengthen Churches’ 30-Day Pivot, the Coach Model training, and Church Planting training programs. To hear more about upcoming opportunities, check out the Missional Vitality page for links and information, as well as the Church Planting page.
As you know, we are living through unprecedented times. The novel coronavirus has dramatically impacted each, and every one of our lives. It has forced us to change the way we work, the way we live and relate to one another, and even the way we worship. But in this time, we can take comfort in knowing that none of these events have taken the Lord by surprise. He remains the unchanging source of our strength. And even now, amid the fear and uncertainty in our world, the Church, His Church, is rising up, in some truly remarkable ways.
We have begun building a COVID-19 resource page, which you can locate at CovChurch.org, where we are compiling resources from pastors and churches as well as businesses and thought leaders around the world on how we as a Church can respond to this crisis. This page will be updated regularly as we navigate through these new realities.
I will be hosting regular, weekly prayer gatherings on our Covenant Facebook page, where I invite you to join and participate. It will be a powerful way our denomination can join together and create community in this uncertain time. We will be praying weekly on Thursdays at 11 a.m. CST.
Our buildings may be closed, but the Church is still wide open. Because we know that the Church has never been a building – but the presence of Christ within us, working through us with the power of His Spirit, to help heal a broken and hurting world. From the Covenant office to our Global Missionaries to the local churches across North America, we are all in this together, and we remain unified in the Covenant.
More than anything, I want you to know that you are not alone. We will get through this together.
As Covenant people, we affirm a conscious dependence on the Holy Spirit. In 2020, we are committed to taking time to focus our attention on the mission that Jesus gave us and the power source he has provided for us to accomplish it.
The Blazing Center resource suite is specifically designed to ignite a passion to see the Holy Spirit moving through our congregations, out of our churches, and into our communities. Every resource in this suite has been intentionally designed to strengthen, or in some cases kickstart, our passion to see the Holy Spirit move through our congregations and communities.
If you were unable to attend this year’s Midwinter, we want to let you know about this initiative and a few actions steps for making the most of the Blazing Center resource suite.
1. Explore the Blazing Center website – Go to BlazingCenter.org and investigate the available resources. We’ve divided the site into curated content and all-church campaign sections.
2. Practice the Agenda of Thirds in your staff meetings – The Agenda of Thirds is a Spirit-led meeting format, and the directions for it can be found on BlazingCenter.org. For 30 days in 2020 we invite you to try it out in one or more of the meetings you lead.
3. Run the Blazing Center campaign at your church – At some point in 2020, schedule the six-week Blazing Center sermon series for your church. You can find everything you need on BlazingCenter.org. We suggest launching it one or two weeks after Easter and then wrapping it up on Pentecost Sunday, May 31.
As we join together as a movement to engage with this resource suite, we believe the Spirit will ignite our souls as we encounter the extraordinary ways the Blazing Center will impact our churches. The good news is that the Holy Spirit has changed the world before and is ready to do it again!
CovChurch Now is back for 2020! Join President John Wenrich and Lance Davis, Executive Minister of Develop Leaders, as they share about this year’s Week of Prayer resource, “Reconciling Grace.” The devotional booklet, available in English and Spanish, was written by students at Stateville Correctional Center in Illinois who are earning a master of arts degree in Christian ministry with a restorative arts track through the ECC’s North Park Theological Seminary. “Thanks to this year’s Week of Prayer materials,” Wenrich says, “every Covenanter will have an opportunity to be pastored by these students.”
In this November edition of Cov Church Now, Covenant Events Director Marti Burger joins President John Wenrich to give us an exciting preview of Midwinter 2020. Learn about the launch of the Blazing Center resource suite, our inspiring plenary speakers, new interactive spaces and intriguing workshop offerings.
Early registration is now open through December 6 at midwinter.covchurch.org for this week of retreat and renewal for Covenant pastors and ministry leaders. We’ll see you in Chicago for Midwinter 2020, Jan. 27-31!
In the September 2019 edition of Cov Church Now, ECC President John Wenrich invites Marilyn Williams, newly appointed director of women’s initiatives, to join him in ushering in the fall ministry season. Williams and Wenrich explain how the Covenant has launched a model of fostering the flourishing of women in every mission priority, life stage, ministry area and personal call—and why it’s critical for such a time as this.
For the story on female lead pastors referenced in the video, “Confronting the Stained Glass Ceiling,” check out CovenantCompanion.com. To read about how the Covenant is centering women in each ministry area, head to CovChurch.org/women.
Visit our Gather 2019 resources page for Frequently Asked Questions about the ECC Executive Board Recommendation to Remove First Covenant Church of Minneapolis from the Roster of Covenant Churches.
Looking to attend Gather? There is still time to register now.View the Gather 2019 Resources Page ▸
Join us for the May edition of CovChurch Now as Evangelical Covenant Church President John Wenrich describes our initiative for planting 500 Covenant churches in the next decade. Church planting is integral to the expansion of the multiethnic mosaic, to advancing women in leadership and to bringing people into relationships with Jesus. We’ve planted nearly 60 churches since 2017. With the vision of pastors like David Washington, on Chicago’s South Side, the movement continues to grow!
Join us June 27-29 in Omaha, Nebraska, as we focus on the Holy Spirit as the Blazing Center of our mission. Register Today
We are committed to advancing our mission by fostering the flourishing of women. During the month of March we recognize and celebrate Women's History Month.
We are committed to advancing our mission through the multiethnic mosaic of churches. A multiethnic community is central to Jesus’s kingdom vision, and it is pivotal to who we are as the Evangelical Covenant Church. We are not a denomination with multiethnic ministries. We are a multiethnic denomination. Listen as ECC President John Wenrich explains what this means for us as Covenanters and introduces a critical 6th “P” to what has now become the Six-Fold Test.
To hear more about our growing vision for the Evangelical Covenant Church, join us at Midwinter, January 21-25. And if you can't make it to Denver, you can still join us via livestream at midwinter.covchurch.org.Visit Midwinter 2019 ▸
As we prepare and wait for the celebration of Christ’s birth, we hear the words of the prophet Isaiah: “A voice cries out: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God” (40:3). This text reminds us that we have a calling—there is work to be done to make a way for the Lord in the places of brokenness.
In this season, we offer a gift to the ECC community. Bearing the Wait: An Advent Companion is a daily devotional guide compiled from the pages of the Covenant Companion. These meditations on the hope and good news of “the Word made flesh” are our gift to you.Download Your Advent Devotional ▸
What a joy it is to love and serve the Lord together! I’m praying for all of you that this Thanksgiving you will be filled with gratitude for God’s faithfulness and that you’ll experience his joy in this season.
As we reflect on all that God has given us, let’s remember our call to be people of hope and generosity by helping those in need. Please watch the video above for how you can help us respond to the refugee crisis by giving back on Giving Tuesday.Join us in Responding to the Refugee Crisis ▸
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It is estimated that one in three females and one in six males are survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, abuse, or harassment. The sins of domestic violence, sexual assault, abuse and harassment break God’s heart. Watch this video to hear ECC president John Wenrich’s message to the church on this sensitive topic.View the Resolution on Domestic Violence ▸
This month marks the start of John Wenrich's role as the new president of the Evangelical Covenant Church. Watch his message above to hear more about his vision and commitment to continue building on the kingdom momentum that we’ve been blessed with as a movement.View the Covenant Offices Leadership Team ▸
Last month at CHIC, students learned about the global refugee crisis that has left more than 68 million people displaced from their homes. Students gave $50,000 to the Project Unite offering at CHIC. Now we are asking Covenant churches and individuals to match the CHIC offering so that we can increase our work with refugees around the world.Support our work with Refugees ▸
July 2018Visit the CHIC Conference site ▸
Join us June 21st-23rd in Minneapolis at Gather 2018. We will come together as a church family to worship, fellowship, and participate in the important work of the ECC’s highest constituted authority–our Covenant Annual Meeting. We will welcome new churches; ordain, commission, and consecrate ministers and missionaries; and together make decisions about our shared mission and ministry.Learn more about Gather 2018 ▸
The Global 6K is a wonderful discipleship, outreach, and community-building event that has a profound impact. As a Covenant church, your race will benefit the Covenant Kids Congo program, blessing children and families in Gemena, DR Congo with the beautiful gift of clean water. Register at TeamWorldVision.org/ckc6k or visit our resources page at CovChurch.org/6k/.Learn more about the CKC Global 6k for Water ▸
Watch the video above to learn more about MissionInsite, a new resource for local congregations. Sign up now to receive your free activation code.Register for MissionInsite ▸
To honor Gary and Nancy Walter for their sacrificial service to the ECC, we're inviting the Covenant community to submit letters of appreciation that will be compiled into a special book and presented to the Walters at the Covenant Annual Meeting. Anyone who has been touched by Gary's ministry is invited to participate. All letters must be received by March 30. Photos are also welcome, especially if you have a photo of yourself with Gary and/or Nancy. Please go to covchurch.org/thanksgary to submit your letter and photo online or send an email and photo attachment to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters and photos can also be snail mailed to: Gary Letters, 8303 W. Higgins Road, Chicago, IL 60631.Submit a Letter of Appreciation for Gary ▸
In 2018 we encourage your church to host a BLESS Sunday on or before March 18! BLESS equips us to engage in five simple missional practices to effectively reach those in our lives who are far from God. Order your free bulletin inserts at CovChurch.org/BLESS.Order Your Free BLESS Bulletin Inserts ▸
Christmas greetings, friends. Please watch the video above to be reminded that, indeed, Jesus is Immanuel – God with us – regardless of whether we are in a season of angelic announcements at conception or smelly barns during delivery.
December also reminds us that the calendar year is drawing to a close, and so I want to thank you deeply for your support for this partnership. Across the United States and Canada, and in more than 40 additional countries, this pretty obscure fellowship has sought to follow the heart of God into the world. Not only has God worked through your congregation, God has used your congregation’s partnership with your regional conference and the Covenant as a whole.
So let’s stay 3StrandStrong: congregation, conference, Covenant. Pray. Engage. Serve. And if possible, a special year end gift will make a real difference to make sure we are able to fund all of our commitments for this year and be poised for a strong start to the next. Remember your congregation and conference in your generosity as well.Make a year-end gift ▸
This holiday season we invite you to join us in declaring that no matter what is going on in the world, we care. In this year's Covenant Cares giving guide, you will find gifts that showcase ministries from each of our five mission priorities.
On This GivingTuesday, November 28th, we are highlighting one of the many CovCares gifts. This summer thousands of high-school students will gather at CHIC to unite in Christ. Our dream is that every student could be there! But not every church has the resources to get to CHIC. Let’s unite on GivingTuesday to help all students experience God in a new way at this special Covenant event. Invest in a Future Leader through CHIC today.Visit CovCares ▸
Watch this video greeting above from our Executive Director of Finance Paul Hawkinson as you prepare to think through your mission support for next year with both the ECC and your regional conference. We never have and we never will believe that the ministry of your congregation, your conference, and your Covenant is easy. We need each other now more than ever, just as the world needs Christ as much as ever. That’s what 3StrandStrong is all about: Congregation, Conference, Covenant interwoven in support of one another for faithful and fruitful ministry.Visit 3StrandStrong.org ▸
Love Mercy Do Justice works in coordination with Covenant World Relief, regional conferences and local congregations who have partnerships with organizations on the ground in affected areas, to respond immediately to those in need during sudden onset disaster.Support Domestic Disaster Response ▸
Every three years more than 5,000 students from across The Evangelical Covenant Church come together in one place to glimpse how they fit into the bigger picture of God’s kingdom. At CHIC, a Make and Deepen Disciples event, lives are changed as students are inspired to dive deeper in their faith together. CHIC 2018 will take place July 15-20 at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.View the CHIC 2018 Website ▸
Gather 2017 is over, but you can watch highlights from this year’s event here. It was an inspiring time together in Detroit as we celebrated all that God is doing through this partnership of 850 congregations, 11 regional conferences, and the Covenant as a whole. We are impacting more lives in more ways in more places than at any point in our history. You can download the Annual Meeting Delegate Summary. And every moment is available on video at Gather.CovChurch.org.View the Gather'17 Archives ▸
The Covenant Communications team will be covering Gather ’17 and the Annual Meeting in a variety of ways, including daily reports from the Covenant Newswire, regular updates on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and a video live-stream of the meetings and worship services. Visit Gather.CovChurch.org for more information.
Also, the summer issue of the Covenant Companion will be arriving in mailboxes soon. This special edition of the magazine features the 2016-17 Covenant Annual Report, as well as stories from all the ECC ministries and mission priorities. Copies will be available to all Gather attendees, but you can also subscribe at CovenantCompanion.com.Visit the Gather'17 Website ▸
The Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC) has received a $1,000,000 grant from the Lilly Endowment to address the financial and economic struggles that can affect pastors’ ability to lead congregations effectively.
The Financial Leadership initiative is committed to help sow seeds for ministerial excellence by 1) providing assistance for credentialed Covenant ministers to overcome long-term financial distress; and 2) equipping and empowering Covenant clergy to continue to grow in their ability to nurture environments for generosity and mission impact.
This initiative is a cooperative venture between ECC Finance, Develop Leaders, National Covenant Properties, and Covenant Trust CompanyLearn More about Financial Leadership ▸
The Covenant as a whole will be gathering in Detroit June 22 – 24 for our 132nd Annual Meeting and related events. Make plans to attend both your conference and Covenant gatherings. It is about much more than the important business that takes place. Make new friends and strengthen old bonds, celebrate what God is doing, and be inspired by meaningful worship and learning opportunities.Learn More about Gather ▸
In the book of Judges, God raised up Deborah to lead the people as a trusted judge, prophet, and military leader. Through Project Deborah we seek to move the Covenant to a place where we recognize, mentor, and celebrate called and gifted women in our midst. Will you stand with these women to disciple them and lift them up in ministry?Learn More about Project Deborah ▸
Make and Deepen Disciples is launching a new intentional evangelism initiative called BLESS, which focuses on five missional practices we can use to naturally introduce people to Jesus: Begin with prayer, Listen with care, Eat together, Serve in love, and Share your story. Prayer and Evangelism Sunday is March 19!Learn More about BLESS ▸
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