New Name, New Faces, Same Mission

Post a Comment » Written on July 18th, 2007     
Filed under: News
CHICAGO, IL (July 18, 2007) – Cuyler Covenant Church recently changed its name to Resurrection Covenant Church both to reflect the new life being experienced by the congregation and to reintroduce itself to a changing community, says Adam Phillips, who co-pastors the congregation with Aaron Johnson.

The Central Conference and Evangelical Covenant Church staff have been working together to oversee a revitalization plan for the church that is celebrating its 110th anniversary this year. As a result, the small congregation is experiencing new growth and strengthening its mission, Phillips says.

“The redevelopment is to reclaim its mission in the city,” says Phillips, adding that the congregation has had powerful ministries to the poor in the neighborhood, including gang members.

The denomination had researched the surrounding community before Phillips and Johnson started last September. The study produced several findings that have led to changes in the name as well as the worship service.

The previous name confused people as to where the church is located, Phillips says. “When I told people I was the pastor of Cuyler Covenant, they would say, “Oh is that on Cuyler (Avenue)? I would have to go into a long explanation that it actually is three blocks south of Cuyler.”

The neighborhood used to be called Cuyler, but has since come to be known as Lakeview. “I’m sure the people who named it Cuyler were just trying to be missional in their neighborhood as we are in ours,” Phillips says.

Getting the church to consider a name change was easy. When the idea was proposed earlier this year, “The people thought the change had been needed for a long time. The debate was over direction.” Members debated whether the name should relate to the church’s location and be called Lakeview or Wrigleyville Covenant (the church is located near the neighborhood where the Cubs’ Wrigley Field is located), or reflect a more theological idea.

“The church had been dying,” Phillips says. “Resurrection is certainly what we are experiencing,” Phillips adds. The neighborhood also has been changing. “For better or worse, there has been a lot of gentrification. There is an influx of younger couples.”

The earlier demographic study also indicated that many people in the neighborhood who were interested in attending a church were looking for one that was rooted in traditional evangelical ideas about the need for personal salvation and also committed to justice issues.

Johnson says he was only mildly surprised by the survey results. Studies increasingly indicate that people under the age of 35 are “wanting to reclaim their tradition,” he explains.

The church also has changed its worship, transitioning to a blended form of worship as it includes more traditional elements. The pastors now wear albs, for example, Johnson says.

The change has not come without struggle. Thirty-five people attended the church prior to Phillips’ and Johnson’s arrival. As many as 20 members soon left, which Phillips says has been painful. Attendance has grown to about 50 people, however.

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