Annual Meeting – What a Way to Start!


Our small denomination is really working hard to be technologically up-to-date and user-friendly. For the past couple of years, we’ve had live video streaming of our Annual Meeting worship services and Bible studies. So, this year, I decided to check it out. Last night’s opening session (though attendance was a bit spotty due to some rather severe storm systems delaying flights from east of Minneapolis/St. Paul – the site for this year’s gathering), was so encouraging. Flags from 39 nations around the globe in which the ECC is working to bring the whole gospel to people and cultures; commissioning of about a dozen short-term and 5 career missionaries for ministry locations on 4 continents; some lovely and intriguing music and dance from students at Alaska Christian College – and a powerful opening sermon from our President, Gary Walter. Here with is my summary of his charge to the church on our 125th Anniversary:

This is the 125th anniversary of the founding of the Covenant church, which began not as a church organization, but rather as a mission society with churches as members. We were formed as a mission society so that together, me might do bigger things for God than we could do alone. We are today still firmly committed to the whole mission of the church. It has been said that, ‘the church has a mission.’ That would be more correctly stated, ‘the mission of God has a church.’

So, what does it mean to be a missional church?

IT MEANS THAT WE ARE TO FOLLOW THE HEART OF GOD INTO THE WORLD.

The Galatians 2 passage from which he preached leads to a ‘mission cubed’ picture – a 3-fold mission:

1. to proclaim God’s unconditional love to a world in need of it

2. to take that unconditional love to ALL the world – across cultures as well as across distances

3. to put hands and feet to that love by living out the good news with truth, justice and mercy, especially to the marginalized and the poor

The world at large – and Gary Walter in particular – is tired of “angry, cranky evangelicals.” So our task, as committed evangelicals who belong to this mission society we call ‘The Covenant,’ is to live out this 3-fold mission. We know that we cannot and do not do this perfectly, in fact we would be the first to declare that we are ‘consciously incompetent’ at a lot of it! BUT we are intentional about our efforts to be faithful to the whole mission and God has blessed us with 18 years of consistent growth, growth both in numbers and in diversity.

Gary’s summary of who we are and what we’re about at this point in our history is this:

The Evangelical Covenant Church of the United States and Canada seeks to build more disciples in more populations in a more caring and just world.

This is a big mission from a big God. But what we must never lose sight of is the powerful truth that doing big things for a big God always, ALWAYS involves little things being done for people. THAT’S how it happens – an endless series of small acts, faithfully done in the name of Jesus.

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