Evangelical Covenant Church

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Evangelical Covenant Church
Classification Protestant
Orientation Moderate[1] Evangelical
Region United States, Canada
Origin 1885
Chicago, Illinois
Congregations 840+
Members 178,000
Official website www.covchurch.org
Covenant Yearbook, 2011–2012

The Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC) is an evangelical Christian denomination of more than 800 congregations and an average worship attendance of 178,000 people[2][page needed] in the United States and Canada with ministries on five continents. Founded in 1885 by Swedish immigrants, the church is now one of the most rapidly growing and multi-ethnic denominations in North America.[3] Historically Lutheran in theology and background, it is now a broadly evangelical movement.

Background[edit]

Swedish Lutheran immigrants founded the Swedish Evangelical Mission Covenant of America (now ECC) on February 20, 1885, in Chicago, Illinois.

A pietistic religious awakening had swept through Sweden around the middle of the 19th century. Out of this awakening and reformation came the Swedish Mission Covenant Church in 1878. The state church discouraged the gathering of these believers. It was people from this movement that emigrated to America and formed the Swedish Evangelical Mission Covenant of America. Early leaders and influences included PP Waldenström, 1838–1917 and David Nyvall, 1863–1946, among others. They desired to create a voluntary covenant of churches that were committed to sharing the Gospel of Jesus, as well as provide means for ministerial training. The name was changed to the Evangelical Covenant Church of America in 1954 and the "of America" was eventually abandoned because the denomination includes a Canadian conference.

Status[edit]

The denominational offices are located in Chicago, Illinois, where they also operate North Park University, North Park Theological Seminary and Swedish Covenant Hospital. There are related Bible colleges in Alaska and California.[4][5]

The church is divided into eleven (11) regional conferences[6]Canada Conference, Central Conference, East Coast Conference (org. 1890), Great Lakes Conference, Midsouth Conference, Midwest Conference, North Pacific Conference, Northwest Conference, Pacific Southwest Conference, Southeast Conference - and its newest conference, the Alaska Conference. The Covenant presence in Alaska dates from 1887 as a foreign mission outpost, but gradually transitioned its status to a home mission, and then finally full conference standing in 2015.

The highest authority is an Annual Meeting of delegates sent by the local congregations.

Covenant Publications is the publishing arm of the denomination. The denominational hymnal is The Covenant Hymnal: A Worship Book.

A major ministry of the denomination includes senior living facilities through its Covenant Benevolent Institutions department. The ECC is one of the top ten suppliers of such housing in the United States.

As of 2011, membership was 124,669 in 820 congregations in the United States (43 states) and an estimated 1500 members in 23 congregations in Canada (5 provinces).[2] Average attendance in 2009 was 178,997. The denomination also has ongoing missions work in 25 countries worldwide, with 125 long term missionaries, project missionaries and short-term missionaries. The ECC has a worldwide membership of almost 278,000.

Membership is concentrated primarily in three regions of the United States: the Midwest, along the West Coast, and in the Great Plains region.[7] California has the largest number of members, but the highest rates of membership are in Minnesota, Alaska, Kansas, Nebraska, and Washington.[7]

Other[edit]

Forerunners of the Swedish Evangelical Mission Covenant were the Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Ansgar Synod and the Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Mission Synod. When members of the two synods dissolved and the Swedish Evangelical Mission Covenant was formed, some of those who did not enter the Mission Covenant formed the Swedish Evangelical Free Mission (now the Evangelical Free Church of America). The Evangelical Covenant Church maintains ties with the Mission Covenant Church of Sweden (formerly known as the Svenska Missionsförbundet; see Svenska Missionskyrkan and CIPE), and the other churches in the International Federation of Free Evangelical Churches.

In the 1920s, Warner Sallman created illustrations for the denominational magazine, Covenant Companion, including his charcoal sketch The Son of Man for a 1924 magazine cover that was later redone as the famous oil painting The Head of Christ.

Since 1976, the denomination has ordained and licensed women as ministers.[8]

Many figures in the Jesus Movement[9] have formally linked themselves to the ECC.

The ECC has wrestled with the issue of human sexuality. The denomination officially takes a traditional stand on marriage. The ECC's 1996 resolution adopted by the Covenant Annual Meeting entitled “Resolution on Human Sexuality” represents the ongoing consensus position of the ECC. The resolution upholds "celibacy in singleness and faithfulness in heterosexual marriage as the Christian standard". Additionally, the ECC does not permit ministers to perform same-gender marriages, but does allow ministers to exercise pastoral discretion by attending a same-gender marriage ceremony.[10] One congregation in Portland, OR developed differing policy statements, prompting the ECC to remove that congregation in 2015.[11][12] Moreover, some individuals affiliated with Covenant congregations have organized to advocate for more inclusive national policies.[13]

Notable members[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bailey, Ashleigh. "The acute need for moderate evangelical denominations". walkingtowardsjerusalem.wordpress.com. Wordpress. Retrieved January 25, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Covenant Yearbook, 2011–2012 .
  3. ^ "History", Who we are, Cov church .
  4. ^ Alaska Christian College .
  5. ^ Centro Hispano de Estudios Teológicos .
  6. ^ "Conferences", Structure, Cov church .
  7. ^ a b "2000 Religious Congregations and Membership Study". Glenmary Research Center. Retrieved 2009-12-07. 
  8. ^ "Women in Ministry". www.covchurch.org. Retrieved 2016-05-09. 
  9. ^ http://www.jpusa.org
  10. ^ "Guidelines for Covenant Ministers Regarding Human Sexuality" (PDF). covchurch.org. Evangelical Covenant Church. Retrieved February 21, 2016. 
  11. ^ Eckstrom, Kevin. "Evangelicals pull support for Portland church over LGBT stance". religionnews.com. Religion News. Retrieved January 25, 20166.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  12. ^ "Evangelicals pull support for Portland church over LGBT stance". Religion News Service. Retrieved 2016-05-09. 
  13. ^ "About". comingoutcovenant.com. Coming Out Covenant. Retrieved January 25, 2016. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Blanck, Dag, “Two Churches, One Community: The Augustana Synod and the Covenant Church, 1860–1920,” Swedish-American Historical Quarterly 63 (April–July 2012), 158–73.
  • Granquist, Mark, “Parallel Paths: The Augustana Synod and the Covenant Church, 1920–1945,” Swedish-American Historical Quarterly, 63 (April–July 2012), 174–86.
  • Covenant Affirmations (2005, 24 page denominational summary, .pdf)
  • Covenant Roots, Glenn P. Anderson, editor
  • David Nyvall and the Shape of an Immigrant Church, by Scott E. Erickson
  • Encyclopedia of American Religions, J. Gordon Melton, editor
  • Handbook of Denominations in the United States, by Frank S. Mead, Samuel S. Hill, and Craig D. Atwood
  • Religious Congregations & Membership in the United States (2000), Glenmary Research Center
  • 2004 Annual Meeting Update: Delegate Summary Report
  • 2005 Annual Meeting Update: Delegate Summary Report
  • 2006 Annual Meeting Update: Delegate Summary Report
  • Covenant Yearbook: Statistical Data & Resources for Churches 2005-2006
  • Covenant Distinctives, Everett L. Wilson and Donald Lindman, authors
  • Morgan, David (Summer 2006). "The face that's everywhere". Christian History & Biography (Christianity Today International) (91): 11. 

External links[edit]