One hundred and ten Covenanters participated in a 2 day Detroit area mission leading up to Gather ‘17. The event began the evening of Tuesday, June 20th with a BBQ dinner and worship service at Citadel of Faith Covenant Church in Detroit. ECC ministry updates were given by Michelle Sanchez (Make and Deepen Disciples), Danielle Ng (Develop Leaders) and John Wenrich (Start and Strengthen Churches). Worship was led by LifeChurch Southfield. The message, given by Kevin Butcher, pastor of Hope Community Church, was “What Impact does the Gospel have ON you?” and focused on our longing to be healed. The evening concluded with communion and prayer stations.
Wednesday and Thursday participants were involved with hands-on ministry and workshops at four sites around metro Detroit.
“Think Like a Church Plant” workshops were held during the day Wednesday at LifeChurch Canton. Presenters covered topics such as 7 Systems of a Healthy Church, Evangelism, Connections, Worship Design, Leadership Development, Discipleship and Children’s Ministry. This group spent Thursday at City Covenant Church. In the morning they had a workshop on outreach and after lunch they joined into the service opportunities already happening there. Andrew Vanover, Associate Pastor of Thornapple Covenant Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan was a participant. He said, “As a 37 year old established church, Thornapple will never have ‘arrived’. An old dog can always learn new tricks. The principles presented will serve our discipleship efforts well. It is wise for us to think of the church in larger systems and not just as individual programs.”
Those at the Citadel of Faith site partnered with Central Detroit Christian Community Development (CDC) – centraldetroitchristian.org. One day was focused on yard work and the major weeding of a community garden. The other day was spent moving items from storage to a new building just purchased by CDC that will house a preschool. Youth groups from Federated Covenant Church in Dowagiac, Michigan and Harbert Community Church in Sawyer, Michigan participated at this site. Summer Fast, a teen from Harbert shared, “I felt like it was enlightening and I enjoyed the the time I had. I had so much fun being with my friends and helping people by painting, pulling weeds, and supporting the ministries going on there. Also, the preachers at night were so interesting and inspiring.”
Both Wednesday and Thursday, City Covenant Church offered many opportunities for the people of the Brightmoor neighborhood (one of the most under-resourced in Detroit). A free BBQ lunch was served each day. For the kids there was a bounce house and a Lego City VBS program. In partnership with Covenant Community Care, they offered free medical testing for lead, high blood pressure and diabetes; free dental screening and cleanings and onsite mammograms. They also had job placement assistance. Covenanters were involved with the the kid’s program, yard work, painting and playground restoration. Annette Chase, a member of the Evangelical Covenant Church of Wakefield, Nebraska came to Detroit with her 16 year old daughter Breanna. She said of the experience, “Impact Detroit was created for people to go into the hard areas of Detroit and make a difference for the people who live in those places. Funny thing about the name “Impact Detroit”- I felt I walked away with the people I went to impact having more of an impact on me than I did on them. City Covenant Church is doing amazing things in the face of incredible adversity.”
Hope Community Church on Detroit’s east side also provided ministry opportunities both Wednesday and Thursday. On Wednesday participants learned about ‘Overcoming the Obstacle of Food Disparity’ by touring Hope’s food pantry and an urban garden. They were also led in a walk by Kevin Butcher along the Detroit/Grosse Pointe divide where he spoke about the history of race and understanding privilege. They also went door to door to invite neighbors to the event held on Thursday. On Thursday, the participants heard from the founder of Hope House Detroit (hopehousedetroit.org) and learned how they could implement some of the programs in their home churches. Two employees of the Detroit Public Schools came to speak about the obstacles they face in the district. Participants then helped Hope House put on “The Big Event” for the kids in the neighborhood. Don Godard, a member of Grace Evangelical Covenant Church in Clay, New York came with a group from his church and participated at Hope. Don said “I didn’t really feel like going but sensed God was calling me to go. Usually that’s when God has something very special planned. And it was special! Our team from Grace bonded very well and grew closer together as a result. But the real blessing was to witness all the good work going on in Detroit through the obedient hearts and hands of Hope Community Church and Hope House. What a witness and challenge to me personally.”
On Wednesday night participants gathered at Messiah Church. They enjoyed an authentic Mexican meal and then were led in worship by the team from Hope Community Church. ECC ministry updates were given by Dominique Gilliard (Love Mercy, Do Justice) and Mark Severson (Serve Globally). Messiah’s pastor Ara Koliantz stood and spoke next to an empty chair that was meant to have been occupied by a “Dreamer” from Grand Rapids sharing their testimony. He explained that “Dreamers” are the children of undocumented immigrants who came to this country with their parents. Under “DACA” (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) they have protected status from deportation, but they are not eligible for any public assistance. This is especially hard when they graduate from high school and are not eligible for financial aid for college. Esperanza Covenant Church in Grand Rapids has established a scholarship fund to help “Dreamers” pay for college. Pastor Ara shared that due to the current political climate none of the teens felt it was safe to leave Grand Rapids to come to Detroit and speak. An offering was collected and $1,570 will go to Esperanza for these teens. Semmeal Thomas, pastor of City Covenant Church gave a message regarding “What Impact does the Gospel have THROUGH you?”
When asked about how Impact Detroit impacted his church, Pastor Semmeal Thomas of City Covenant said, “Impact was the proper term – it helped us as a church plant to grow trust with the community.” Pastor Semmeal shared that he sees children and families everyday using the restored playground and that members of the community have stepped up to continue the work that was started. He related, “They see that the church is not here to take, but to give and to create community together.”
Special thanks to our host/partner churches for making this all possible:
Citadel of Faith Covenant Church – Detroit
City Covenant Church – Detroit
Crossroads Community Church – South Lyon
Dearborn Covenant Church – Dearborn
Faith Covenant Church – Farmington Hills
Hope Community Church – Detroit
LifeChurch Canton – Canton
LifeChurch Southfield – Southfield
Messiah Church – Detroit
Please enjoy this GLC-produced video version of the Impact Detroit Highlights
GLC Happenings at the 2017 ECC Annual Meeting
The Annual Meeting is the highest legislative body of the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC), made up of representatives from Covenant churches throughout the United States and Canada. Delegates gather together for worship and fellowship, and to ordain ministers, consecrate missionaries, elect leaders, review finances, adopt a budget, and address the business of the church. Gather ‘17 was held in Detroit, Michigan from June 22 -24. Some of the highlights of the meeting are as follows. Click here for the full delegate summary.
Nine churches were received into membership, twenty-five church planters were commissioned and nineteen missionaries were commissioned and endorsed for service.
Roger Oxendale was approved to serve as president of Covenant Ministries of Benevolence.
Danny Martinez was installed as the new superintendent of the Central Conference.
One GLC church was accepted into membership in the ECC: Grace Community Covenant Church, Louisville, KY
During the Saturday ordination service, 55 individuals were ordained to Word and Sacrament; 5 individuals were ordained to Word and Service; 4 individuals transferred their ordinations; and 1 missionary was consecrated for missionary service. Of the individuals receiving permanent credentials, 9 from the GLC were ordained to Word and Sacrament.
– Julie Anderson, First Covenant Church, Jamestown, NY
– Dave Brown, First Covenant Church, Youngstown, OH
– Eric Ek, Faith Covenant Church, Farmington Hills, MI
– Kenneth Harris, Detroit Bible Tabernacle, Detroit, MI
– Rich Johnson, Sanctuary Columbus, Columbus, OH
– Sharon McQueary, New Harvest Christian Church, Oregon, OH
– Brian Nanninga, LifeChurch Livonia, Livonia, MI
– Joe Poppino, Covenant Community Church, Fairfield, OH
– Michael Rice, LIfeChurch Canton, Canton, MI
Clergy Lifetime Service Recognition was given to 58 individuals. With so many ministers and missionaries continuing to serve rather than retiring from ministry, the ECC decided to honor clergy when they reach age 65. One GLC pastor was recognized this year: Tom Sharkey, First Covenant Church, Youngstown, OH
It was announced that City Covenant Church in Detroit, Michigan will partner with the ECC (Love Mercy, Do Justice) on the launch of a new Bezalel community development project. More info can be found here.
Douglas Lunde of Thornapple Covenant Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan was given the T.W. Anderson Award recognizing outstanding laypeople. Click here for full article.
The 2018 Annual Meeting will take place June 21-23 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
WOMEN MINISTRIES RETREAT (West)
Date:Fri, Sept 22 – Sun, Sept 24 Place: Portage Lake Bible Camp, Onekama, MI Info: Click here Register Online: Click here
WOMEN MINISTRIES RETREAT (East) Date: Fri, Sept 29 – Sun, Oct 1 Place: Camp Mission Meadows, Dewittville, NY Info: Click here Register Online: Click here
2018 GATHER ‘18 (ECC ANNUAL MEETING) Date:Thurs, June 21 – Sat, June 23, 2018 Place: Minneapolis Marriott City Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota
CHIC CONFERENCE Date:Sun, July 15 – Fri, July 20, 2018 Place: University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN
Vitality Pastors Getaway Day, Oregon, OH
Starting with lunch at noon on Tuesday, September 26thand ending after lunch on Wednesday, September 27th, 2017 at the Hampton Inn in Oregon, OH.
Open to all GLC pastors who have been involved with Vitality, those who will be involved starting in the fall of 2017, pastors who are now at churches that have connected with Vitality and pastors who would like to know more about Congregational Vitality.
Pastor Russ Carlson will be leading times of conversation on healthy boundaries for pastors. You will also have a chance to hear from pastors and their church experiences in Vitality and hear about the exciting developments in Vitality in the GLC.
Meals and hotel costs will be paid by Congregational Vitality of the Great Lakes Conference.
Covenant Mountain Mission Bible Camp in Jonesville, VA held their second Soccer Camp in conjunction with the Lee County Soccer Association from June 12 through June 16. A total of 61 children attended the camp from three age groups. The three groups were K-2, 3-5 and 6-12. The camp was staffed with coaches from Faith Covenant Church, Farmington Hills, MI and Trinity Covenant Church, Cincinnati, OH. Champro Sports provided soccer balls, shorts, jerseys and socks for each camper. Financial support was also provided by the Great Lakes Conference. In addition there were local volunteers supporting the younger age groups. We had a total of 24 people supporting the soccer camp.
The camp focused on ball handling and control as well as strategies of the game for the 6-12th grade group. Movement with the ball, without the ball and positioning on the field was also reviewed. The younger age groups focused on receiving and returning the ball, passing and moving with the ball, and just having fun!
The camp sessions included refreshments and snacks for the younger groups and in addition to the refreshments and snacks, lunch was served to the older group. The snacks and lunch were provided by CMMBC in partnership with the Appalachian Community Action and Development Agency through the Summer Food Service Program. The camp kitchen staff, local volunteers and volunteers from Trinity Covenant prepared and served the refreshments and food.
During each of the refreshment breaks, devotions were shared by the pastors and youth leader from Faith Covenant and Trinity Covenant Churches.
The soccer camp can be considered a success as 61 children were exposed to soccer, fun, food and an inspirational message. Plans are already being made for a soccer camp in June of 2018. Please contact Joe and Tammy Faulkinbury at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in getting involved in 2018.
Obituary: James (Jim) Chester
Rev. James L. Chester, 49, died at UC Medical Center in Cincinnati, Ohio on June 27, 2017 following an extended illness. In the words of Garth McGrath, superintendent of the Great Lakes Conference, “Jim’s passing was a tremendous loss for the Covenant and the Great Lakes Conference because of Jim’s deep love for people and his passion for people to come to personal faith in Christ”.
Jim was born August 3, 1967, in Willmar, Minnesota. A life-long Covenanter, Jim made a commitment to Christ at Lake Beauty Covenant Bible Camp as a child. In his young-adult years he worked at four different Covenant camps. He also served as a short-term missionary in the Philippines and was an Eagle Scout who enjoyed hunting, fishing, leatherworking, and woodworking.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Bethel College and a Masters of Divinity from North Park Theological Seminary. He married Sonja Sorenson on October 10, 1992. As a Covenant Pastor he served Stotler Covenant Church in Osage City, Kansas; Harris (Minnesota) Covenant Church, and Community Covenant Church in Fairfield, Ohio. During his years in the Cincinnati area he volunteered as the chaplain for the Fort Hamilton District of Boy Scouts of America. He most recently worked as a chaplain for Crossroads Hospice of Cincinnati.
Jim loved preaching the Word of God. His faith and family were of utmost importance to him. Jim is survived by his wife, Sonja, two sons, Nathaniel and Gabriel, mother, Barbara, and brother, John (Kelly). He was preceded in death by his father, Saxby Chester. The memorial service was held on Saturday July 8, 2017.
In lieu of flowers, the family asked that contributions be sent in memory of Jim to his sons’ college education fund, C/O any First Financial Bank (Cincinnati area), Lake Beauty Bible Camp, 25766 Hummingbird Trail, Long Prairie, MN 56347 or The Great Lakes Conference Pastor’s Crisis Fund, 6900 N. Haggerty Road, Canton, MI 48187.
E-News Bulletin Insert
To download a printable pdf version of this issue that you can use as a bulletin insert at your church, please click here.