By Mary Rall
EAGLE RIVER, AK (February 4, 2016) — Community Covenant Church (CCC) celebrated its platinum anniversary when members of the congregation gathered January 31 to celebrate 20 years of history as part of the Eagle River community.
Fifty-seven people signed the church’s charter January 28, 1996, which read and affirmed their “deep conviction of God’s calling to establish this ministry and with the fond hope and expectation that many will find new life in the fellowship and ministry here begun.”
Many of those charter members continue to attend Community Covenant alongside the more than 460 people from Anchorage to Wasilla who regularly attend worship services and support the church’s ministries, said Operations Director Cheri McDonald.
“We just thank God for the privilege we had to be here from the start,” said Ralph Fondell. He and his wife, Gert, were two of the church’s early members. “We pray that what we did in the beginning will continue throughout the years.”
The anniversary celebration included a look back at the milestone events the congregation has experienced over the last two decades, to include the vision of the church being planted in 1993 by then Covenant Field Director Hank Pearson; the arrival of former Lead Pastor Mark Meredith in 1995; the building of the church in its current location on Artillery Road in 2000; church building expansions in 2003 and 2008; and the arrival of current Lead Pastor Todd Michero in 2013.
“God was doing something bigger than the sum of our individual efforts,” said Meredith, who moved on from CCC in 2012 to be the lead pastor of Pine Lake Covenant Church in Sammamish, Washington.
Meredith’s sentiments were captured in a video commentary, which also included snippets from former Community Covent pastors Keith Bergstrom and Neil Botts, who are now respectively serving as the Pastor of Tustin Covenant Presbyterian Church in Tustin, Michigan, and the Executive Pastor of Christ Church in East Greenwich, Rhode Island.
Community Covenant is just one of many Covenant ministries in the state, which includes 19 village and urban churches, Alaska Christian College in Soldotna, KICY radio station in Nome and Covenant Bible Camp in Unalakleet.
“This church is part of what God is doing,” said Curtis Ivanoff, Alaska Conference superintendent.
He recalled visiting Community Covenant from his home church in Unalakleet in his youth and how contemporary the church’s worship services were compared to what he was used to experiencing. “You guys used an overhead projector with slides,” he said with a laugh.
Ivanoff encouraged the celebration participants to look to the future and to continue to build upon what God’s begun through the Eagle River church and its congregation.
“My encouragement to you is to keep making those investments of faith as you look forward to your next 20, your next year, your next week,” Ivanoff said.
Michero affirmed Ivanoff’s sentiments and shared the manner in which the church is pursuing the continued health of its ministries and parishioners through the Covenant Church’s Congregational Vitality Pathway, a process the church began about two years ago.
“Our church has been leading the way in Alaska,” Michero said. The congregation has established a variety of teams and conducted internal and external assessments to best understand the needs of the congregation and the local community.
“There are other churches in the states that are going down the vitality pathway as well,” Michero said. “Other churches in the denomination have heard what God is doing through this vitality movement.”
Community Covenant has established a strategic ministry planning team to sort through the information the church has gained from the assessments and to help determine the road ahead for CCC’s ministries, Michero said.
“We’ve taken the job seriously, and we’re almost there,” said ministry team member Dave Wille.
The vitality pathway and process has been helping the team determine the next natural steps for the church along a road CCC began navigating years before.
“There were seeds planted 20 years ago that continue to grow,” Wille said. “This strategic guide is just to say, ‘We’re going this way.’”
Ivanoff also affirmed Community Covent’s past and present ministries, which have touched the lives of people in Mexico, Norway, and Kenya, as well as communities throughout western Alaska.
“I’m confident that same faith and hope will bring this church forward,” he said.