Covenant Church of Kenya Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Post a Comment » Written on September 11th, 2008     
Filed under: News
MPEKETONI, KENYA (September 11, 2008) – An eight-member delegation representing the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC) participated in a celebration marking the tenth anniversary of the Evangelical Covenant Church of Kenya (ECCK) August 29-31.

Mpeketoni is located about 40 miles inland from Lamu Island on the northeastern coast of Kenya.

Clean-up effortThe North American delegation was led by Curt Peterson, executive minister of the Department of World Mission. Others included Pete and Cindy Ekstrand, regional coordinators for Africa; Alberto and Lisa Zepeda, former short-term missionaries to Kenya; Jeff Anderson, superintendent of the Canada Conference; Marc Murchison, pastor of Lanyon Covenant Church in Lanyon, Iowa; and Paul Macharia, pastor of Christ Covenant Church in Florissant, Missouri.

“It was significant for the church to note this event and celebrate what God has done by remembering the past and looking to the future,” says Pete Ekstrand, who contributed details for this news report.

Following the opening service on Friday (August 29), a group of young people completed a service project by cleaning up garbage in the town’s central market area (top photo), using large converted oil drums to serve as permanent garbage collection cans positioned in several areas. Friday afternoon was spent in conversation – ECCK pastors and national council members talking with delegation representatives and sharing ministry challenges. A large community revival meeting capped the day’s events.

Three women speakers kicked off the big celebration day on Saturday – Mama Jennifer Mburu, head of the ECCK Covenant Women; Lisa Zepeda, and Cindy Ekstrand.

Mburu used Isaiah 41:10 as her text in sharing her personal testimony, reminding listeners that God is our God regardless of our respective weaknesses or strengths. “God is our help and has promised to sustain us by his righteous right hand,” she said in quoting her key passage. “We should come out of our carnal nature and be firmly established in our faith,” she encouraged her audience, noting that the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-18) is our best defense against the enemy’s schemes.

Zepeda encouraged listeners to run a strong race through to the finish line – “to give our all, and to give all of ourselves.” Ekstrand reminded everyone that God promised to be faithful, even in the tough times.

CakeCutting and sharing a special birthday cake was one of the highlights of the afternoon session, which also included greetings from delegation members and the reading of a history of the ECCK by Duncan Ngoima. Murchison spoke during the evening service.

“I am encouraged by your hope and your worship,” said Anderson in bringing greetings (shown in lower photo with Dickson Mwati interpreting). “Your worship demonstrates hope. Do not settle in. Often after 10 years, the passion and vitality of a new church plant (in North America) can begin to wane – they can begin to look inward and be self-focused. Don’t let it happen.” Anderson said he was also impressed with the youthfulness reflected in the congregations. “I am impressed with the youth of your churches,” he said. “Allow them to move into leadership. Train and mentor them.”

“You have allowed the Holy Spirit to move, and when the Holy Spirit moves, things happen,” Macharia told the audience. “We are at the end of the beginning – this will be a memorable occasion for many years to come. You here, the ECCK, are the pioneers.” He reminded them that they have a good heritage in Africa and encouraged them to seek the vision of the Lord and follow it (Proverbs 29:18).

Peterson brought greetings from Covenant churches around the world, in particular the Evangelical Covenant Church in the United States and Canada. “The words of our new president Gary Walter are to ‘grow deeper in Christ and further in mission’ and ‘love the things that Jesus loved.’ God has blessed us to be connected together in a fellowship called the Covenant. We are brothers and sisters in a movement of God to bring the Good News to the world and to love one another.” Quoting Ephesians 3:16-19, Peterson offered this encouragement: “May you be strengthened in your inner being. May you know the height and width and depth of God’s love in all difficulties and struggles and joys.”

Ekstrand brought greetings from the other Covenant churches in Africa, the Evangelical Covenant Church of Sudan, which is also 10 years old, and the Congo Covenant Church – the Evangelical Community of the Ubangi-Mongala (CEUM).  “I spoke to CEUM President Mossai Sanguma recently and he asked that I pass on greetings. They are proud of you and pray for you. I am encouraged by what I see, by your passion for Christ and your love for the Gospel, by your passion to reach the unreached and plant churches. That is outstanding.”

AndersonSunday’s closing service included stirring choral music from choirs representing each of the participating congregations, each in their own language. Peterson brought the message centered on a theme of “Remember – Forget – Dream.”

“Remember your first love – Jesus,” Peterson began. “Remember also your history and mission. Do not forget those.”

“Forget – we celebrate today that God forgives and forgets our sins. God is a God of grace, forgiveness and reconciliation.” He encouraged everyone to “forget our sins and live a new life in Christ. Forgetting comes at a great cost. As God has forgiven and forgotten, we are called to forgive and forget, to be reconcilers, a people of reconciliation. The sad thing is that in many places, the church is divided against itself. The ECCK will die if it does not forgive and forget.”

“Dream – if we look only at the circumstances around us, we will forget how to dream. We have Christ in us, so we see the world with different eyes, with eternity in mind. God says ‘put your eyes on me as I see the world and dream.’ “ Referencing 1 Peter 2 he noted, “We have been given a purpose – so we can dream. My dream for you is that God’s grace will become known through changed lives, a people living for Christ every day, in homes and neighborhoods that impact others for Christ. God’s dream for the ECCK and Kenya is that Christians would live in unity . . . unity in the body of Christ so the world may know Jesus.”

The service concluded with communion. A goat roast followed at the home of John Kirika for all ECCK pastors and delegation members. To see additional photos from the three-day event, see Anniversary Celebration. To read reflections from members of the delegation, please see Delegation Reflections.

“The 10th anniversary was a great achievement for the ECCK,” said ECCK Moderator Dickson Mwati. “We reflected on the strengths and the weak points that we have experienced in the last decade. For the positive areas, we are prepared to do it even better with the Lord’s help. My primary school teacher once said to me almost 30 years ago, ‘There is always room for improvement.’ Our past mistakes and failures create an avenue for us all to learn. Having the occasion graced by the presence of Covenant world Leaders, the ECCK is now assured that there is an existing fellowship and partnership with the Covenant churches all over the world.

“We sincerely appreciate all those who attended and even the greater number who though they couldn’t attend, prayed for us and with us. Without each one of you, the celebrations wouldn’t have been such a success.”

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