Covenant Leadership Team

Meet the COVENANT Offices LEADERSHIP TEAM
gary walter
GARY WALTER

President of the Evangelical Covenant Church

Rev. Gary Walter Walter has served as President of the ECC since 2008. He previously served as a pastor at Newport Covenant Church in Bellevue, Washington, and Clairemont Covenant Church in San Diego, California. Before becoming president, he served as the executive minister of the Department of Church Growth and Evangelism of the ECC. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of California-Berkeley and a Master of Divinity from North Park Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Nancy, are founding members of DeerGrove Covenant Church in Palatine, Illinois, and have three daughters (Amy, Alissa, and Lauren) and several grandchildren.

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richard-lucco
RICHARD LUCCO

Interim Executive Minister of Develop Leaders;
Executive Director of Ministry Development

Rev. Richard Lucco serves as the executive director of ministry development and interim executive minister of Develop Leaders. He was the superintendent of the Great Lakes Conference of the ECC from 2002 to 2011. Before becoming superintendent, he served 22 years as pastor in Covenant churches in Kewanee and Elgin, Illinois, and in Salem, Oregon. He and his wife, Valerie, have four sons and two grandchildren.

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michelle-sanchez
MICHELLE SANCHEZ

Executive Minister of Make and Deepen Disciples

Rev. Michelle Sanchez is executive minister of Make and Deepen Disciples for the Evangelical Covenant Church denomination. Her dream is to foster a multiethnic movement of disciples who make disciples across all ages. Prior to this role, Michelle served as Pastor of Christian Formation and Mission at Highrock Covenant Church in the Boston area. She has previously served in leadership for the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, launched ministries to international students with a multiethnic Cru team (Campus Crusade for Christ), and worked as an investment banker for Goldman, Sachs & Co. Michelle has earned an M.Div. and Th.M. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, an international business degree from New York University (NYU), and certification in spiritual direction from Boston College. Michelle is married to Mickey, a staff worker at Northwestern University with InterVarsity Graduate and Faculty Ministries.

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al-tizon
AL TIZON

Executive Minister of Serve Globally

Dr. Al Tizon is executive minister of Serve Globally, the international ministries arm of the ECC. This position includes a faculty appointment as Affiliate Associate Professor of Missional and Global Leadership at North Park Theological Seminary also in Chicago. He has engaged in community development, church leadership, advocacy, and urban ministry both in the Philippines and the United States. He earned a PhD in Missiology from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, is the author of two books—Transformation After Lausanne: Radical Evangelical Mission in Global-Local Perspective (Regnum, 2008) and Missional Preaching: Engage, Embrace, Transform (Judson 2012); co-author of one—Linking Arms, Linking Lives: How Urban-Suburban Partnerships Can Transform Communities with Ron Sider, John Perkins, and Wayne Gordon (Baker 2008); co-editor of two—Honoring the Generations: Learning with Asian North American Congregations with Sydney Park and Soong-Chan Rah (Judson 2012) and Following Jesus: Journeys in Radical Discipleship (Regnum, 2013); Al and his wife, Janice, are parents of four grown children. In addition, their oldest daughter and husband have three children, and four grandchildren.

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john-wenrich
JOHN WENRICH

Executive Minister of Start and Strengthen Churches

Dr. John Wenrich serves as executive minister of Start and Strengthen Churches for the Evangelical Covenant Church. Prior to this role, he served as the director of congregational vitality for ten and a half years. He also serves as adjunct professor at North Park Theological Seminary in the Certificate of Congregational Vitality program. John travels extensively both nationally and internationally as an inspirational speaker and leadership coach. John has a bachelor’s degree in communications from Villanova University (think basketball!), a master of divinity degree from Denver Seminary, and a doctor of ministry degree from Fuller Seminary. He has pastored and planted churches around the country and was ordained by the Covenant in 2002. John and his wife, Julie, have been married for 30 years and live near Chicago. They have three sons and a daughter in-law who all live in Portland.

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cecilia-williams
CECILIA WILLIAMS

Executive Minister of Love Mercy Do Justice (LMDJ)

Rev. Cecilia Williams serves as the executive minister for the Love Mercy Do Justice (LMDJ) mission priority of the Evangelical Covenant Church. Before stepping into this role, she served as director of ministry initiatives for LMDJ. Before coming to the ECC denominational offices, Cecilia served as interim senior pastor for Sanctuary Covenant Church in Minneapolis, and as the associate pastor for engagement and care, evangelism and outreach. Prior to her ministry service at Sanctuary, she served as program coordinator and director for a number of nonprofit institutions, and taught graduate courses at Bethel Theological Seminary, at which she was also seated as director for multicultural affairs. She also served as associate dean/director for the office of intercultural student programs and services at Bethel University’s College of Arts and Sciences. Cecilia received a bachelor of arts degree in psychology from the University of Minnesota, and earned an MDiv in pastoral care and counseling from Bethel Theological Seminary. She and her husband, Troy, have two adult children.

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steve-dawson
STEVE DAWSON

President of National Covenant Properties

As NCP president since 2007, Steve helps Covenant churches and ministries grow through loan and investment services. Previously, Steve worked 18 years as director of Technical Services for the ECC’s Department of Church Growth and Evangelism (coaching church plants through the land and facility processes). His strong financial services expertise includes leadership positions at FirstBank, Charter Bank and Trust, and AmBank—all in Colorado. Steve graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Economics from Colorado State University, Ft. Collins, and is a graduate of the Prochnow Graduate School of Banking, University of Wisconsin-Madison, a three-year banking program conducted by the American Banking Association. He and his wife Mary Jane have two adult sons.

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rebecca-gonzalez
REBECCA GONZALEZ

Executive Director of Operations

As executive director of Operations, Rebecca has direct responsibility for the ECC’s human resource functions and governance administration, as well as oversight of IT, Events, and Building Services. Before coming to the ECC, she served as vice president for operations and programming at Casa Central, the largest non-governmental provider of social services in Chicago. She also has leadership experience with World Vision and other church-based and retail contexts. She holds a master’s degree in management from North Park University. Rebecca and her husband, Jeorge, have two sons.

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Paul-hawkinson
PAUL HAWKINSON

Executive Director of Finance

Since 2014, Paul has served as treasurer and executive director of finance for the ECC. He earned a bachelor of accounting degree from North Park University and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Prior to his current role, he spent more than 20 years on Wall Street and beyond, where he served in various finance and executive capacities including senior investment banker, hedge fund partner, non-profit board chair, entrepreneur and impact investor. He brings a sincere passion for faith and finance to all that he does, with strategic lens towards building financial sustainability. He and his wife, Kristin, have four children.

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ed-gilbreath
EDWARD GILBREATH

Executive Director of Communication

Ed has served as the ECC’s executive director of communication since July 2013. In that role, he provides leadership for all of the ECC’s media, marketing, and public relations. Ed earned his bachelor’s in communication arts from Judson University and a master’s in history from Olivet Nazarene University. Prior to his current role, he served as a journalist and editor at Christianity Today, Charisma Media, and Urban Ministries Inc. The author of several books, Ed’s mission, both professionally and personally, is to be a bridge-builder, bringing people together across racial, denominational, and cultural lines. He lives in the Chicago area with his wife, Dana, and their two children.

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