By Chris Hoskins
SANTO DOMINGO, ECUADOR (February 1, 2017) – Pastor Franklin Riera was elected to be the new president of the Evangelical Covenant Church of Ecuador (IPEE) during the denomination’s national gathering held January 22-23.
He will continue to serve as pastor of Bethel Church, in Ibarra, where he has ministered since 2006. Riera also has held district leadership roles and with the denomination’s community development foundation.
He succeeds Henry Burbano, who stepped down after serving 10 years as vice president and president.
The gathering took place at a local camp that had been hit by hard rain. “We gingerly stepped around the muck and puddles as best we could,” said missionary Chris Hoskins. “Elderly church ladies being assisted by all, trying not to have their heels sink into mud. The rain continued to pour, heavily, for 32 hours. Yet we all made it safely to Santo Domingo and the Covenant Camp here, delayed, wet, with stories of years and floods past.”
The inclement conditions caused the Friday-night service to be delayed until 11 p.m. During the service, delegates celebrated the graduation of 130 seminary students. Many had traveled great distances to complete their programs, Hoskins said.
On Saturday night, at another delayed service, the gathering celebrated the ordination of three pastors. “We sang and celebrated, prayed and encouraged these three who have already given so many decades to the work of the church,” Hoskins said.
Overall the tenor and movement of the business of the church moved forward, as always with moments of contention and difficult dialogue, but a unified voice to move forward in the mission of the church to see Ecuador experience the kingdom of God.
Hoskins said attendees were enthused to hear from members of the National Police of Ecuador, who along with other police officers of faith, had petitioned the Ministry of the Interior to start a national initiative to help families that are experiencing domestic violence. Through the initiative, police responding to a call can ask a family if they would like the assistance of a pastor after processing
“The police have learned intervention techniques but need the assistance of trained counselors and pastors available to the families for continued support and healing in emotional and spiritual wounds,” Hoskins said.
The pastors and lay counselors who want to serve in this capacity will be able to register with their local precinct and receive further training for the program. The IPEE will offer a course in March, Hoskins said.
There are more than 90 churches, seven schools, and numerous community development projects that make up IPEE. The denomination also recently began a new church-planting initiative with the hope of starting 50 new faith communities in the next five years.