It’s been a busy summer for Covenant churches around the nation and in our neck of the woods. You may have already heard what happened at the Covenant Annual Meeting in late June and about plans for the Latina church plant in the Rockford area, but I want to provide some updates so we are all aware of what God is doing in our larger community of believers.
Covenant Church Plant in Rockford: As you may remember, Broadway agreed at our May congregational meeting to help financially support the Central Conference’s vision to plant a new church in the Rockford
area to reach the fast-growing Latino community, and we offered to host the new church in our building.
The other local Covenant churches have also offered financial and ministry support to this vision. While no firm decisions have been made by the Central Conference, they are seriously considering our offer to host the
church plant at Broadway. Church plants require a great deal of time, energy and financial support to develop from a vision into an
actual worshipping church filled with people. Most of all, church plants need prayer. Please join me in praying that God would direct this process and that He will grow in each of us a love for the Latino community in
Rockford and a deep desire to see more people come to Christ.
Covenant Annual Meeting: Over 1,000 delegates from Covenant churches across North America gathered for the Covenant Annual Meeting the last week of June. This record turnout was largely motivated by agenda items related to same-sex marriage. After a long and spirited debate, and in agreement with the recommendation of the Covenant Executive Board, the Annual Meeting voted to dismiss First Covenant Church of Minneapolis. This church has openly dissented from the Covenant’s position on human sexuality and marriage and had locally ordained their pastor after his ordination was suspended by the denomination. In separate votes, the Annual Meeting also removed the credentials of two Covenant pastors, including the lead pastor at FCCM. While these were hard votes for me and many delegates, I believe the Annual Meeting did the right thing.
It’s sad to see a sister church removed from our denominational family and to dismiss two ordained pastors. Their attitude and actions over the past several years, however, made their continued relationship with the
The aftermath of this stressful process has left a few scars on the Covenant, especially within the Ministerium, where pastors have expressed strong opinions on both sides. May God bring healing and unity to His
church, and may His word continue to guide us.
It’s important to reiterate the Covenant’s long-held view on human sexuality: “Heterosexual marriage, faithfulness within marriage, abstinence outside of marriage – these constitute the Christian standard. When
we fall short, we are invited to repent, receive the forgiveness of God, and amend our lives.” We also affirm that we love and welcome all people in our church and desire to see everyone find new life in Jesus Christ.
Changes to Covenant Pension Plan: Another important vote at the Annual Meeting authorized significant changes to retirement benefits for Covenant pastors. For decades, the Covenant has managed a traditional pension
plan that provides defined benefits for retired clergy and spouses. While the pension plan has been well managed, a new model is needed to care for pastors long into the future. The new system will include 403b accounts, similar to 401k benefits offered by for-profit businesses. Church contributions will continue to be mandatory for all credentialed clergy.
Covenant Pastors and Missionaries: As happens every year, the Annual Meeting also approved the ordination and commissioning of men and women called to full-time Covenant ministry. There were 51 pastors
ordained and 8 missionaries commissioned. May God’s grace and strength be with these servants of Christ.