CHICAGO, IL (December 22, 2009) – Christmas, a time when we celebrate the gift of Christ and his love, is also the perfect time to consider a special year-end gift to support ministries of the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC) in sharing that Good News with others.
“Making a year-end gift will make a world of difference, this year more than ever,” writes ECC President Gary Walter in a letter to Covenanters. “This is a moment of great urgency. Our impact has never been greater, nor the opportunities more pronounced.”
Walter outlines several key ministry areas and the work that is under way:
• Internationally, this year we commissioned more missionaries (20) than at any point in memory.
• We are in more countries than ever before, approaching 30 on five continents. Through partnerships in these countries we have amazing God-orchestrated pathways to plant more churches, train more pastors, accelerate relief efforts, and provide expanded health, education, agricultural, and micro-enterprise opportunities in some of the most destitute areas of the world. To keep this up we must keep up our financial base.
• Here in the United States and Canada, we grew for the 17th consecutive year. We started 20 new churches. We are more reflective of the entire kingdom of God, with 24 percent of congregations among populations of color or intentionally multiethnic.
• At the same time, we are redoubling our efforts to strengthen our existing base of churches through initiatives in congregational vitality. We are investing more than ever in clergy leadership development, and in providing important spiritual growth resources. But here, too, to keep this up we must keep up our financial base.
“This has been our most financially challenging year in memory,” Walter notes. “Many of our churches have been hit hard by the economic crisis. As churches are impacted, so are the causes they support, including the mission of the ECC and our regional conferences. Despite exercising cautious expense management the entire year, including a salary freeze, we are facing a $500,000 shortfall.
“Hundreds of thousands of real lives in real places are being impacted and changed forever with the hope of Christ through this partnership we call the Evangelical Covenant Church,” he adds. “Your gift will, quite literally, make a world of difference as together we make a difference in the world.”
Walter suggests at least four ways in which concerned individuals can respond and support the special year-end effort:
1. Pray for the hundreds of thousands of people we are impacting and who count on us to stand in partnership with them.
2. Make a generous year-end personal gift today, either by donating on-line using debit and credit cards, online checks (ACH) and the popular PayPal system, or by sending a check to the Evangelical Covenant Church, 5101 N. Francisco Avenue, Chicago, IL, 60625. Click here to learn more about gifting appreciated stock.
3. Arrange for gifts of appreciated assets by emailing Michele Harbeck Haley or calling her at 773-784-3000.
4. Also consider a generous year-end gift to your regional conference.
Gifts of all sizes, large and small, are appreciated. Gifts of $1,000 and more are acknowledged through the President’s Circle, a group of friends of the ECC who contribute $1,000 or more annually.
“In the Covenant we absolutely do not contrive financial urgencies,” Walter stresses. “If we are asking, it is for one reason: the need is real as we seek to meet the needs of the world. You will hear me say that the name ‘Covenant’ really means ‘In It Together.’
Thanks for being in it together at this moment of great urgency.”
Editor’s note: To read a previously published story reflecting on Walter’s first year as president, click here.