Sunday, December 27, 2009

"The Scope and Scale of Our Missional Momentum": Grateful for the ECC


From time to time I mention how grateful I am for my denomination, the Evangelical Covenant Church. Having grown up a little wary of denominations, it's been a pleasant surprise to discover a group of likeminded people who are making a huge impact for God in this world... together. In fact, we do things together that we could never do on our own as individual churches.

A while back our new president, Gary Walter, sent out his annual report, and I was reminded again why I am excited and privileged to be a licensed minister in the ECC. Here are a few of the highlights:

Doing big things for a big God is ultimately, and merely, the accumulation of countless faithful acts carried out by faithful people. That is why I am so proud of the ECC - our congregations, clergy, lay people, and denominational and conference leaders. We have an abundance of people who understand what it means to serve with obedience, humility, and a servant heart. And that’s why we are seeing an abundant harvest in service to God.

The scope and scale of our missional momentum is real. Hundreds of thousands of real people in real places are impacted every single day all over the world through this partnership we call the Evangelical Covenant Church. But as I recount some of the markers of our collective momentum this past year, in your mind’s eye imagine all of the faithful personal efforts that have gone into each one:
• Attendance grew for the 17th consecutive year, up a strong six percent. We are touching more lives with the hope of Christ than at any other point in our history.
• Twenty people were commissioned for missionary service at the 2009 Annual Meeting, the largest number in many years. That group includes four long-term missionaries, the first we have sent out following a six-year gap.
• Twenty church plants were initiated - on average, one every two to three weeks. Sixty-nine church plants are under development. One-half of churches being planted are among populations of color or intentionally multiethnic. As a result, the percentage of diversity in the ECC has risen again. Twenty-four percent of all congregations are among populations of color or intentionally multiethnic.
• Seminars offered by Covenant Offices served 330 churches.
• Following four successive years of modest decline, the base of established churches in the aggregate showed full stability with no combined loss in attendance.
• Nearly 900 individual pastors have benefited from the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence initiative aimed at investing in vocational development for those in ministry.
• More than 5,000 people attended this summer’s CHIC - our youth convention - which once again powerfully challenged students to live deeply rooted in Christ.
• Thirty-one projects were supported through Covenant World Relief, directed to the poorest of the poor around the world.
• More than $33 million in free care was provided by Covenant Ministries of Benevolence through our hospitals, retirement communities, and enabling residencies.
• Paul Carlson Partnership received a $658,000 grant to develop micro-enterprise projects in Congo.
• More than $300,000 has been donated to the Break the Chains initiative to combat human trafficking.
• North Park University weathered a campus flood and graduated one of the largest classes in history. North Park Theological Seminary saw the highest incoming class in five years this fall.
• Covenant Trust Company and National Covenant Properties had exceptional results in an exceptionally challenging economic environment.
Quite simply, we are countering most trends facing denominations today. We are growing - growing more diverse, growing more in conscience, and growing more aware of the world.

And looking ahead? Signs point to continued strong momentum. Early indications for our 125th Annual Meeting next June point to an unprecedented number of new churches, an unprecedented number of people to be commissioned for missionary service, and an unprecedented number of clergy ordinations. Indications also point to the annual attendance survey showing growth for the 18th consecutive year.

You can read the whole report here. Thank You, God, for my sisters and brothers in this remarkable church...

How about you? Are you a part of a denomination? What do you like or dislike about it?

I start a new venture in February: Seminary! Redeemer and SemConnect are making it possible for me to start taking classes through North Park Theological Seminary. I'll start with New Testament, specifically studying the gospels. I'm really excited about this.

3 comments:

Meghan said...

Love the Cov!!
Didn't know you were starting seminary - awesome!!

andrew.vanover said...

Gary's last name is just "Walter" - no "s" at the end.

Matt Nightingale said...

Thanks, Andrew. I knew that... But apparently I had forgotten. :) it's fixed now.

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