ESTES PARK, CO (June 29, 2011) – Delegates to the 126th Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Covenant Church welcomed 11 churches into membership, representing a cumulative average attendance of 2,157.
Following are the new churches, grouped by conference, including brief comments on each one. Click here for video coverage.
Fountain Life Ministries, Madison, Wisconsin. Pastor Alexandar Gee, Jr. – approximate attendance 225.
The church was founded in 1977 as a Church of God in Christ. The multiethnic congregation is 65 percent black and 35 percent white. “We have committed ourselves to being a diverse congregation for the past 20 years,” says Gee. Fountain of Life attracts many unchurched families without calling itself a seeker church, Gee adds. “Ours is a ministry to the disenfranchised people in our society: children, recovering drug abusers, sexual abuse survivors, sexual addicts, AIDS patients, single mothers, formerly incarcerated men, fallen spiritual leaders and affluent individuals with deep pockets, yet empty hearts.”
The Storehouse Evangelical Covenant Church, Chicago, Illinois. Pastor Michael Miller – approximate attendance 45.
The Storehouse Evangelical Covenant Church is a multicultural congregation in the South Loop neighborhood. “The Storehouse is committed to being a visible sign of the new humanity in Jesus Christ through the work of reconciliation, evangelism, prayer, study, and worship,” Miller says.
Great Lakes Conference
Morning Star Church, Middleville, Michigan. Pastor G. David Korsen – approximate attendance 70.
Morning Star started in 2009, meeting in a local middle school. It currently meets in a former auto parts facility on the city’s main street, just south of downtown. The church has renovated the space and will use it also as a LifeTree Café for outreach ministry.
Morning Star held its grand opening in April with a coffee house style worship. The congregation also is launching “Compassion by Design,” which draws upon connections within the community to determine specific needs where they can share the love of God.
Vox Veniae (Voice of Grace), Austin, Texas. Pastor Gideon Tsang – approximate attendance 175.
The mostly Asian congregation emerged from Liquid, a college ministry at Austin Chinese Church in North Austin. Members tend to be college students and young professionals. The church meets in its multipurpose building it calls Space12. The congregation hosts art shows, concerts, slam poetry events, computer classes, dance classes, and a book exchange program to inmates, while partnering with neighborhood associations and varying organizations. Tsang has been a featured speaker at conferences across the country, addressing ministry among Asian Americans. In a 2008 Covenant News Service story, Tsang said friends suggested he consider encouraging the church to join the denomination. “Being a non-denominational type community, we weren’t interested. By the third referral, which was unrelated to the first two, I decided to make a phone call.” The church was impressed with the denomination’s commitment to ethnic ministry and church planting.
Crossroads Church of Greeley, Greeley, Colorado. Interim Pastor Brent Bromstrup – approximate attendance 115.
Crossroads church was planted in Greeley in 2007 in partnership with its parent church, Crossroads Covenant of Loveland, Colorado. The congregation meets weekly at St. Michael’s Event Center in Greeley.
Logos Central Chapel, Denver, Colorado. Pastor Matt Kim – approximate attendance 125.
Logos Central is an English-speaking 1.5 and second-generation Asian American church. A non-denominational congregation ministering to Asians in Denver planted the church in 1999. The church is seeking to join the Covenant in order to minister to others, have appropriate accountability, and avail themselves of resources. “The ECC is doing phenomenal work in the areas of missions, racial reconciliation, social justice, and local outreach,” Kim told his congregation as they considered joining. “If we join the ECC, we can partner in the many global and local missions and outreach activities that are being pursued through the denomination.” Kim added that being part of a larger church and ministerial organization was important for accountability. “Just as individual Christians are not meant to be isolated from other Christians, churches are not meant to be independent from the larger body of Christ.”
The Gallery Covenant Church, St. Paul, Minnesota. Pastor Brad Kindall – approximate attendance 82.
The Gallery is a daughter church of Crossroads Covenant Church in Woodbury, Minnesota, and held its first public services in January 2010. The church meets at the SteppingStone Theatre. Outreaches to the community have included, “Be-the-Church-Days” during which the congregation does not have a regular Sunday service, but serves in the community instead.
Kindall stresses the importance of being part of a larger body of believers. “There is an intangible value in simply being together with other brothers and sisters in Christ on the same mission,” Kindall told delegates to the Northwest Conference Annual Meeting. “As The Gallery was officially welcomed into the Covenant, I was reminded we are not alone. We are surrounded by such a ‘great cloud of witnesses’ in the Covenant and in the Northwest Conference.”
Pacific Southwest Conference
Lighthouse Covenant Church of West Sacramento, Sacramento California. Pastor Don Bosley – approximate attendance 130.
The Lighthouse is a merger of two churches planted by different denominations. The Church of God (based in Anderson, Indiana) had planted River of Life in 1998. Through First Covenant Church of Sacramento, the denomination had launched Westside Covenant in 2002. The two churches developed a close relationship while working on projects through the years. They began exploring the idea of a merger in the spring of 2010.
The merger discussion ignited a study of the Covenant’s code and character and ultimately the realization that this like-minded denomination was a more precise answer to River of Life’s prayers than any of us might have believed possible,” says Bosley. “In particular, the passionate commitment to true spiritual formation and ministries of compassion, mercy and justice were right in line with the heart of River of Life believers.” The merger was completed earlier this year and has enabled the start of vibrant ministries. The church is especially interested in reaching out to the many at-risk youth of in the city. The congregation also has “a revitalized involvement in global missions.”
Nueva Esperanza Covenant Church, Antioch, California. Pastor Filomena Nesta – approximate attendance 160.
The church was planted in 2008 with seven people meeting in an Antioch café. New Life Covenant Church in San Jose has provided assistance. The congregation meets at Antioch Covenant Church on Sunday and Monday evenings. The church’s outreach into the community includes its “sidewalk ministries” in cut lawns, clean yards, and help paint homes. Their Good Samaritan program provides bags of food to people who are struggling financially.
Bayside Covenant Church of Citrus Heights, Citrus Heights, California. Pastor Craig Sweeney – approximate attendance 900.
The congregation held its first services as Bayside in 2008. Previously, it had been a 50-year-old independent congregation that had suffered a sudden steep decline in attendance, and its building was in foreclosure. The congregation approached Bayside of Granite Bay to see if it might be interested in purchasing the building. Instead, the Bayside leadership suggested that Sylvan Oaks become the multi-site congregation’s newest church plant.
The congregation has continued to grow and extend its outreach into the community.
Edgewater Covenant Church, Pittsburg, California. Pastor John Fanous – approximate attendance 130.
Families began meeting in 2006 to plant the multiethnic church. It celebrated its grand opening in 2008. It meets at a local elementary school.