Since its founding in 1882, First Covenant Church of Omaha has experienced seasons of growth and joy, as well as challenge and pain. Recently they went through a difficult season of conflict. In 2013 a number of people left the church.
The church committed to prayerfully walk through the season of tension together. Two transitional pastors provided faithful leadership. Then Greg Applequist accepted the call to serve as lead pastor in August 2016. The church intentionally shifted from two services, one contemporary and one traditional, to one blended service in order to foster whole-church unity.
They also initiated a bold plan for staff development in preparation for growth. They intentionally called a woman, Mary Peterson, to serve as associate pastor. They discerned that a full-time youth pastor was important to their mission, so Coby Fisher was brought on in that role. And Lyle Person began serving as pastor of adult care. The structure allowed the church to better care for its youngest and oldest members. The collaborative nature of the staff supports the church’s vision to build loving, caring, and connected intergenerational relationships.
“Our staff genuinely likes each other,” says Peterson. “We laugh and share jokes. We support each other and pray for each other. We have invested time to grow relationally through the Enneagram and StrengthsFinder. The more we understand each other’s motivations, the better we can work together in ministry.”
Centrally located in greater Omaha, the church has extended its hospitality to international congregations in need of worship space. The First Sudanese Covenant Church of Omaha has been meeting in their building for 20 years, and a Burmese congregation recently began using the church for their services. Children from the Sudanese and Burmese churches participate in children’s programming and Bible camp with First Covenant. Conversations with a Latino church about using their space for worship have also begun.
“This church has a rich history. We have members whose families have been around for three, four, and even five generations,” says Peterson. “Now we are in a position to launch a $3 million capital campaign to maximize our building for our community.”
While attendance has remained steady, participation in church ministries is growing. FCC’s leadership team is helping to equip disciples, invest in children and youth, reach the lost, and help the hurting. In the past 18 months, they have sent three teams to Ecuador through Merge for short-term missions. A group of 10 adults also participated on a Sankofa trip and continue to dialogue about racial reconciliation. Children at FCC are learning to listen to the Holy Spirit through interacting with God’s word. Youth are being integrated into the life of the church through small groups, service, and fun.
“I am excited for all that God has done, is doing, and will continue to do at First Covenant,” says Applequist. “I am grateful for the people here and their desire to walk humbly with God, love mercy, and act justly, and share the good news of Jesus with those around them. It is wonderful to be a part of a church that has been through a difficult season and has drawn closer together with open arms to those who need to know Jesus.”
First Covenant Church
Weekly Attendance: 260