CHICAGO, IL (March 31, 2011) – The Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC) has experienced 19 consecutive years of growth, nearly doubling in size during that time. And yet, the basic structure of the Covenant has remained relatively the same for the past 40 years.
In the duration of that basic structure, the Covenant Ministerium has tripled in size, the number of global partnership countries has grown from seven to nearly 40, and the number of churches has grown by more than 50 percent, with one-quarter of all congregations now among populations of color or intentionally multi-ethnic.
“Our current systems and structures have served us well,” says President Gary Walter. “Yet, signs of capacity strain are pretty clear on a number of fronts.”
As a result, the ECC Executive Board authorized Walter to convene an Organizing for Mission project team. Its core assignment is to look at the alignment of structure and mission to ensure effectiveness and impact moving forward towards the year 2020 and beyond.
This team will address the third of a three-question process Walter has been undertaking with Covenant leaders:
- What are we trying to accomplish in the lives of real people in real places?
- What are the core ministries that will accomplish that mission?
- What is the best alignment of personnel, structures and resources to accomplish that mission?
The first question addresses purpose. In answering that question, the framing language being used is: “We join God in God’s mission to see more disciples among more populations in a more caring and just world.”
The second question involves strategy. Five core ministries have been identified to accomplish the mission: start and strengthen churches; make and deepen disciples; develop leaders; love mercy, do justice; and serve globally.
The third is the mobilizing question. The Organizing for Mission project team will propose possible pathways forward. Its goal is to have proposals ready for review by stakeholders in time for the ECC Executive Board meeting in October. An overview of their assignment can be found here.
Walter serves as leader of the 20-person team. Evelyn M.R. Johnson, director of special projects in the president’s office, serves as project manager, co-facilitating meetings with Alan R. Forsman, a congregational/leadership coach from Sarasota, Florida.
The team was composed with an eye towards the Covenant mosaic in terms of generation, congregational context, gender, clergy, lay, ethnic, as well as conference, institutional, and denominational leadership. A list of team member names appears at the end of this story.
During the 126th Annual Meeting in June, a special Covenant Life Roundtable discussion will provide an opportunity for delegates to provide input into the Organizing for Mission initiative.
In the meantime, those desiring to offer thoughts, suggestions, or questions may submit them by email – all submissions will be accessed only by the project manager with input forwarded to the Organizing for Mission project team.
One image of the importance of this assignment is an analogy Walter uses from Roger Oxendale, a Covenant layperson who serves as CEO of a children’s hospital in Florida: “Roger says parents don’t care how the hospital is organized – they just want to know if their child is going to get better. How we are organized across the ECC is not the issue. What matters in this process is that we are designed to effectively follow the heart of God into the world.”
Project team members include:
- James Amadon, Bellevue, WA
- Catherine (Cathy) Barsotti, Pasadena, CA
- Dawn Burnett, Sioux Falls, SD
- Howard Burgoyne, Cromwell, CT
- William (Bill) Clark, Granite Bay, CA
- Will Davidson, San Ramon, CA
- David Dwight, Chicago, IL
- Roberto Ghione, Simi Valley, CA
- Robert Johnson, Kansas City, MO
- Timothy (Yak) Johnson, Chicago, IL
- Dave Kersten, Chicago, IL
- Bobby Lee, Oakland, CA
- Dan Lillestrand, Burnsville, MN
- Dick Lucco, Canton, MI
- Dave Olson, Chicago, IL
- Carolyn Poterek, Seattle, WA
- Lindsay Small, Harbert, MI
- Christianne (Christi) Pease, Shoreview, MN
- Rachel Sands, Decatur, GA
- Owen Youngman, Deerfield, IL