Twelve Churches Welcomed into Membership

Post a Comment » Written on June 22nd, 2007     
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PORTLAND, OR (June 22, 2007) – Welcoming new churches into membership of the Evangelical Covenant Church always is a highlight at the annual meetings, and this year was no exception during the denomination’s 122nd Annual Meeting.

Delegates welcomed 12 churches with a cumulative approximate membership of 1,958 and cumulative average attendance of 1,652.

ChurchesFollowing are the new churches, grouped by conference, including a brief history on each.

Central Conference

Zion Church, Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Pastor Steven Pedersen – average attendance 250.

Zion Church was founded in 1853 by German Reformed immigrants and eventually merged to become part of the United Church of Christ. Located in Sheboygan, a city of 50,000, the church is two hours north of Chicago on Lake Michigan. Its stone and brick facility was built in 1953. The church has planted three other churches in its county. The congregation voted to affiliate with the Evangelical Covenant Church because of a common theological and ministry direction.  “We thought the Covenant was the best fit for us theologically and the way we practiced our Christian faith,” said Pastor Steve Pedersen. “This was a great day in the history of Zion as it affirmed its desire to not be an isolated independent church, but in fellowship and mission with a larger body of believers who contend for the historic, orthodox Christian faith long delivered to the saints. The Jordan River has been crossed and we are bound for Canaan Land!” When they were welcomed into the Central Conference in April, church representatives presented gifts to the conference, including a handmade chalice and communion plate, an assortment of Wisconsin cheese, and a Badger cap.

East Coast Conference

St. Peter’s Reformed Church
, an Evangelical Covenant Church, Hilltown, Pennsylvania. Pastor Jim Fox – average attendance 87.

St. Peter’s Reformed Church was founded in 1804 as a union church of German Lutheran and German Reformed congregations. The union endured until 1980. The Reformed congregation then joined the United Church of Christ. Following the church’s decision to withdraw from the UCC in 2005, an affiliation committee began to search for a suitable denomination to join that was like-minded. The church was looking for a biblical, evangelical, mission-minded denomination that is congregational in governance, but connectional in ethos. It was important to find a church that affirmed women in leadership. They found that in the Covenant. Hilltown was originally a rural town, but is now a suburban community approximately 20 miles north of Philadelphia in Bucks County. The historic two-story stone church facility was built in 1874, with an adjacent historic cemetery.

Christ Covenant Church, Harleysville, Pennsylvania. Pastor Rob Fisher – average attendance 200.

Christ Covenant Church was founded in 1833 as a union church of German Reformed and German Lutheran congregations. The union was dissolved in 1911 when both congregations built their own facilities across the street from each other. Christ Church later joined the United Church of Christ. They voted to withdraw from the UCC in 2003 and began a search for a more suitable affiliation. Christ Church has been drawn to the Covenant because of their alignment with the ECC in being more firmly rooted in the Reformation theological heritage of the authority of scripture and the necessity of new birth in Christ. They wish to remain congregational in governance, while engaged in fellowship with a missionally minded denomination that is growing. The congregation is interested in engaging resources to help them enter into revitalization of their ministry. Harleysville, a suburban metropolitan area 25 miles north of Philadelphia, is rapidly growing into a more diverse community. The church currently has a stone and brick two-level structure with a sanctuary that seats 420 people in a split chancel style.

Great Lakes Conference

Trinity Community Church, an Evangelical Covenant Church, Hamilton County, Ohio. Pastor Randy Wade Murphy – average attendance 150.

Trinity Community Church was planted in 1952 by the Evangelical and Reformed Church. In 1963 Trinity merged into the United Church of Christ. At the time, Trinity was the fastest growing mission church in the denomination. It is located in a middle-class suburb of Cincinnati characterized by small single-family bungalows. Trinity Community Church is housed in a brick building with a dozen large classrooms, three offices, a fellowship hall with two kitchens, and a sanctuary seating 630. In 2006, Trinity voted to withdraw from the United Church of Christ. After a year-long search, the Evangelical Covenant Church was identified as a good match for Trinity and the congregation voted to affiliate.

Midwest Conference

Morse Covenant Church, Overland Park, Kansas. Pastor Bryan Dahms – average attendance 100.

Pastor Dahms began planting Morse Covenant Church in early 2005. The unique twist to this start is that a historic church building, which was no longer in use, was purchased by the new church on Kansas City’s rapidly growing southwest side. It was constructed in 1884. Concurrent with the development of the core group has been the physical restoration of this lovely white frame church building. Though often challenged by such a physical task, this approach has not only captured the hearts of its restorers, but also the delight of the community. Because of the limited size of the building, two services are currently offered. Their motto is “a 21st century expression of the 1st century church.” Morse has enjoyed support from Kansas City area Covenanters – some churches have partnered with financial contributions, but all have lent their prayer and their presence.

Northwest Conference

Emmaus Road Covenant Church, Hopkins, Minnesota. Pastor Craig Case – average attendance 150.

Emmaus Road was born on Easter Sunday, 2005.  A group of fewer than 100 individuals, many from Westwood Community Church in Chanhassen, Minnesota, banded together to begin a different sort of church ministry in the western, inner ring suburbs of Minneapolis.  The commitment was to be a Bible-centered church founded on the principle of authentic relationships, both internally and to a lost world. Emmaus Road was adopted as a Covenant church plant in May 2006. The church has enjoyed steady growth, meeting throughout the week in homes and rented facilities in the Hopkins area. They worship on Sundays at the Hopkins Performing Arts Center in downtown Hopkins. “Emmaus Road Covenant helps people to discover what it means to follow Jesus in their workplaces, campuses, marriages, singleness, our possessions, our cities and our hearts,” the church states, relying on small groups meeting throughout the week as well as transforming worship experiences on Sunday mornings.

Frontline Evangelical Covenant Church, Maplewood, Minnesota. Pastor Pat Hall – average attendance 65.

Frontline Evangelical Covenant Church was founded in 1994. The vision was for the church to play an active part in winning the city for Christ while building spiritually strong believers. In 2005, former Lutheran (ELCA) pastor Pat Hall was called as Frontline’s new senior pastor. Because of his affinity with Minnehaha Academy, it was a natural draw to seek out the possibility of partnering with the Evangelical Covenant Church. On January 3 this year, Frontline unanimously voted to pursue joining the Evangelical Covenant Church. After eight years of praying and seeking God for the right partnership, they believe that Frontline Covenant Church will better fulfill its foundational vision to reach our community for Jesus Christ because of its partnership with the Evangelical Covenant Church. They currently lease a 10,000-square-foot building with a contemporary, first-class new facility within an industrial commercial property.

Pacific Southwest Conference

Cornerstone Covenant Church, La Quinta, California. Pastor Chris Hushaw – average attendance 120.

Cornerstone Covenant Church is located in the Coachella Valley, also called the Palm Springs area of Southern California. This oasis in the desert is experiencing explosive population growth, both from young families and retired couples. Pastor Hushaw has spent most of his ministry in the Valley, most recently as associate pastor of Palm Desert Community Presbyterian Church.  Cornerstone Covenant Church held its first core group meeting in the fall of 2005 with 30 adults and 22 children. The first preview service was held at the La Quinta High Theater in December with 124 in attendance. Rolling Hills Covenant Church, the home church of Linda Hushaw, is the parent church for Cornerstone. Their vision as a biblical community is to reach out to the nearly nine of ten people in the Coachella Valley who do not have a church home, inviting them to discover that the life they’ve always wanted is available through Jesus Christ. This will be accomplished by living out Jesus’ command in Luke 10:27: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

Church of the Redeemer, Los Angeles, California. Pastor Danny Martinez – average attendance 90.

Church of the Redeemer was started as a parented new church by Pasadena Covenant Church, whose financial, relational and spiritual support has been invaluable. Church of the Redeemer’s ministry focus is South Central Los Angeles, a challenging community because of poverty and violence. They meet at an elementary school called “Main Elementary,” located in the heart of this violence-torn community. A group of Christians from Pasadena Covenant had moved into the South Central area to provide Christian ministry to the community. The church attempts to impact the community through programs that target children academically, including a tutoring center and various community transformation activities.

Ciudad Cristiana Covenant Church, Los Angeles, California. Pastor Santiago Tezaguic – average attendance 75.

South Gate is a city in Los Angeles County with a population of 103,547 – some 92 percent of the population is Latino. There are lots of children and many single parent families. The median age is 26 years and the median income for a family is $35,789, which is low for Los Angeles County. The church began at the house of Pastor Santiago Tezaguic in 1991, growing from a few members to approximately 20 adults and 10 children. They originally shared space with the English-speaking congregation at the Neighborhood Covenant Church in Rosemead, but in 2004 the church officially moved back to South Gate. Pastor Santiago Tezaguic and his family have been members of Covenant churches for more than 40 years. The church is renting space from the Teen Challenge Campus in South Gate. “We use the main sanctuary on Sunday mornings – we also have use of a smaller chapel, classrooms, and nursery on Sundays and on various days of the week.” The goal is to purchase property in the near future. They currently provide Sunday morning praise services for people of all ages, as well as Bible studies, prayer groups, and leadership training during the week, also conducting outreach activities within the community.

Del Pacto Covenant Church, San Diego, California. Pastor Jesus Perez – average attendance 140.

Del Pacto Covenant Church was planted in Pacific Beach in the early 1990s – Jesus Perez was called as pastor in 1997. In 2005 the congregation began to meet at Clairemont Covenant Church, which “has treated our young congregation with brotherly love from the beginning, even providing office space for our pastor and introducing us to the Covenant denomination.” Del Pacto Covenant is made up mostly of families and is largely Hispanic. It joined the Covenant to be a part of a larger church family with connection and accountability. Ministries of Del Pacto Covenant Church include preaching, home fellowships, men’s/women’s/ youth fellowships, Sunday School, Biblical seminars, worship teams and missionary support.

Bayside Covenant Church of Woodland, Woodland, California. Pastor John Withem – average attendance 225.

Woodland is the county seat of Yolo County and a rapidly growing city of 50,000 people just north of Sacramento and Davis. The Pacific Southwest Conference and Bayside Covenant in Granite Bay began praying about starting a church plant there a number of years ago. They eventually connected with a group of Christians who were in the beginning stages of launching a new church. The conversations led to Bayside Covenant becoming the parent church of Bayside Covenant Church of Woodland. They meet at the Pioneer High School Campus. Their values include a casual experience where people can feel at ease, servant leadership, freedom to initiate new and creative ministries, and continuously fresh methods that highlight the changeless message of God. Outreach Ministries include community events, the Angel Tree program, Wayfarer Center clothing drive, and Adopt a school program. Discipleship happens through small group, men’s and women’s ministries, and celebration arts and care ministries.

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