Church Spotlight: A Renewed Legacy

Kingdom Covenant Church

Chicago, Illinois
Attendees: 120
Established: 2016

While 2020 brought a lot of loss, pain, and grief, I’m grateful that it also gave me a front row seat to witness our miracle-working God in action.

I serve on the ministerial team of Kingdom Covenant Church, a four and a half year old church plant located in Chicago’s Roseland community, on the far Southside. Roseland is one of many predominantly Black communities that suffered the economic devastation of white flight during the 1960s and 1970s when white homeowners and businesses fled neighborhoods as Black people moved in. In the 1980s, I watched as our booming business district—full of department stores, grocery stores, and restaurants—slowly declined into currency exchanges, liquor stores, and a food desert. Many on our launch team and leadership team shared our pastor’s “Moses calling” to partner with God in liberating “our people” in this area.

When we first launched Kingdom Covenant, we rented space from a neighborhood elementary school. By early 2020, we had moved our worship twice more. Each week we spent a great deal of time on setup and breakdown, and our rental agreement gave us access to the space only two days a week. We often had to rent other spaces to do additional ministry activities.

So at a congregational meeting in February 2020, our pastor, David Washington, announced that we would be taking steps to purchase our own building in order to better steward our time and finances. In that first month we raised $7,500. On March 2, 2020, we officially announced our $60,000 capital campaign via social media. We were all excited about this next step in our journey.

Then came the coronavirus.

My faith in God is usually pretty strong. However, I have to admit that it wavered pretty quickly when we found ourselves in a pandemic just eight days after launching this campaign.

As we got further into the pandemic and saw the devastating economic impact throughout our communities, you might as well have called me Doubting Thomas. I experienced financial loss firsthand, so I found myself echoing the father in Mark 9 asking Jesus to heal his son when he cried out, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

Yet throughout the year, God truly did the impossible. Our little church plant met our $60,000 capital campaign goal in September—in fact, we exceeded our goal by $5,000 through a collaboration between our members, partner churches, and external donations, including two anonymous $5,000 matching gifts. With these funds and a generous loan from National Covenant Properties, we had enough to make an offer on a Lutheran church building.

But the journey wasn’t over.

We had started conversations with the seller in January 2020. At that time, they hadn’t received many offers on the building. By September, however, they had lowered their asking price and had attracted multiple buyers, many whose offers were closer to the asking price than ours. Our pastor, standing on his faith, wrote a letter to the Illinois leadership team of the Lutheran Church. He shared with them our church’s history in Roseland and our call to this community, along with his personal story. He told them that Kingdom Covenant wanted to be a part of the legacy they were leaving in that space.

Their response? They told him to send them our best offer. This past January we closed on the building!

We have now moved to phase 2 of our capital campaign—to raise $100,000 by 2022. These funds will cover capital reserve to handle general and emergency renovations, our 2022 ministry budget, and it will help us furnish the classrooms, offices, and meeting spaces. As of March, we had raised about $15,000.

While we have been actively engaged in ministry and community outreach since our pre-launch days, we were restricted by limited space and limited access to that space. We are now able to have regular Sunday school classes, which is an important part of our life as a church. Because the new building comes with a large kitchen, we hope to open a food pantry as well as host a once-a-week hot meal for people in the community who are food insecure. While many of these things are still in the not-so-near future because of the pandemic, we didn’t wait to start connecting with the community. Though we were still worshiping online, we held two Holy Week outreach activities. On Good Friday, we hosted a prayer walk and passed out Bibles in the neighborhood. We also invited people to attend our Easter Sunday event as a way to introduce ourselves to the community. The socially distanced event included a raffle, photo wall, and giveaway of 200 Easter baskets.

This summer, we’ll host more prayer walks and outside outreach activities as well as some spiritual care services for neighborhood police officers. Once we return to in-person ministry, activities will include a gang intervention program, a video game lounge to provide neighborhood kids a safe place to gather, and a social enterprise. Our large space will also allow us to host community events such as funerals, community meetings, and CAPS (Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy) meetings.

Witnessing this miracle certainly strengthened my faith. And I see God affirming our call as a congregation. In June, delegates to the Annual Meeting will vote on our officially joining the Covenant. We continue to experience God’s greatness!

About the Author

Nilwona Nowlin serves on the ministerial team at Kingdom Covenant Church in Chicago as well as in several other roles throughout the Covenant. When she is not overthinking or procrastinating, she is working on her long overdue first novel, Closer to Love.

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  1. Very heartening, Nilwona, and an inspiring example for us all. Thanks for your faithful perseverance. Greetings to Pastor Washington. What a team.

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