Churches from the Central Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church gathered this last weekend to worship, to celebrate, and to discuss and vote on various initiatives and issues brought before the group. This was the first time that the Annual Meeting happened in person since 2019. We truly found joy in being together!
Our conference is made up of 111 churches in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, eastern Missouri, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. As you might imagine, this is quite a diverse group! The beauty and breadth of the Kingdom of God was evident as we gathered for worship. As we sang songs, received God’s word through preaching, and celebrated communion together, we were blessed with many styles and languages of worship. We shared meals together, and in conversations around the table we heard stories of how God is working in the lives and the churches of our brothers and sisters across the denomination.
The Annual Meeting is called “Celebration” – and there is no better way to describe the atmosphere of doing this work together. The ministerium of the Central Conference meets prior to the Annual Meeting of delegates, and we heard testimony from seven candidates, who will now go on to be ordained at the Covenant Annual Meeting in June. At the Annual Meeting of delegates, three churches joined our conference. Core Community Covenant Church (Chicago, IL) joined this year, and we also voted to welcome Kingdom Covenant Church (Chicago, IL) and REAL Community Covenant Church (Marion, IN), who had joined us previously but were waiting for the official in-person vote at our meeting.
Many churches have struggled during this season as well, and 6 churches were either closed or dismissed from our roster at this meeting. One of our historic congregations, Immanuel Evangelical Covenant Church (Chicago, IL) was one of the churches who closed and was celebrated at our Friday evening dinner. Delegates were provided with reasons for closing or dismissal, and I would be happy to share these further stories with anyone who is interested.
Our business consisted of various topics. We voted to ratify the second call of our conference superintendent, Rev. Dr. Danny Martinez. His second term began in September 2021, but the official vote to continue his term needed to happen in person. He was unanimously renominated, with a “Hallelujah” and much celebration added to the vote! We voted on our conference budget and received greetings from the denominational offices. We also heard reports from our current church plants and from our Central Conference staff in their various ministry roles.
Harbor Point Ministries, which consists of our 2 camps – Covenant Harbor and Covenant Point –held their annual business meeting as part of the Annual Meeting. Both camps will be undergoing building projects in the near future, and both camps are currently looking for summer camp counselors.
We are grateful to the pastors, staff, and congregation of Lakeview Covenant Church, who so graciously hosted our meetings and meals. Lakeview Covenant is one of 5 Korean Covenant congregations in the Chicago area, and the pastors of these churches blessed us with a beautiful hymn at our first meal together.
Our membership at ECC allows us to send up to 4 delegates to our conference Annual Meeting and to our denominational Covenant Annual Meeting. If you are interested in being a delegate to the Covenant Annual Meeting, taking place in June in Kansas City (with a virtual option available), please contact Pastor Kristin or Pastor Stacey. You do need to be a member of our local church to attend as a delegate. Serving as a delegate is a great way to gain a glimpse into our larger body of churches. We encourage you to participate!
You can read more about our conference and the work it does at https://centralconf.org/. If you’d like to sign up for the email newsletter from the Central Conference, you can do so by sending a request to email@example.com.