Should the Covenant’s Annual Meeting be Held Less Often?

PHOENIX, AZ (June 25, 2016) – Delegates to the 131st Annual Meeting were asked today to consider whether the denomination should continue to have such gatherings every year and what suggestions they might have for any possible structural changes at meetings.


Moderator Amanda Olson opens the 131st Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Covenant Church

Fewer than 20 percent of all Covenant churches were represented at this year’s meeting. The final official delegate count was 267, a drop of 45 from last year, when there were 315. The numbers continue a trend in which participation has largely remained the same or declined.

Marti Burger, director of special events, told delegates that the Covenant remains one of few denominations that continue to meet annually. Most are changing to meet only every other year or even less often.

Delegates broke into small groups and were asked to consider four questions:

  • If meetings are not held annually, what would be a good option?
  • What are different formats to consider?
  • What challenges lie before us if we move from an annual gathering?
  • What opportunities do we have in considering a different model?

Representatives from the groups then spoke at the microphones to share suggestions.

Some recommended the meeting continue to be held annually as a way of developing cohesion but suggested changes that included doing better promotion, utilizing satellite feeds so that delegates could participate while meeting at locations within conferences, make it more affordable for delegates to attend, and include more substantive issues to discuss.

Others suggested holding the event every two years. One modification to that idea was to hold meetings on actionable items one year and then the other year would offer enrichment opportunities that would include presentations similar to TED talks.

Burger said discussion on the issue would be ongoing and asked people to email her their thoughts.




  • How about an effort to get as broad input as possible.
    Try to get responses from every Covenant church starting with simple questions but inviting detailed comments from pastors and/or lay leadership.

    Some suggested question material which should be tweaked by a committee before finalization.
    In how many of the last 5 annual meetings has your church been represented. ______
    What factors influence whether someone from your church attends an annual meeting?
    Indicate response to these or other possible issues regarding involvement in annual meeting.

    How do you believe the church should make denominational decisions?
    Regarding attending meetings?
    Geography _______ Unlikely to go if more than _______ miles
    Cost _____________ travel_________ meeting (hotel)____________
    Significance of issues ___________________________
    Congregation has little or no familiarity with denomination or annual meetings ___
    Does being there make any difference _________________
    Special involvement from your church church plant accepted to denomination ____________
    pastor being ordained ________________ missionary commissioned__________
    Someone serving on board ________________

    What would make participation better?

    What if technology allowed people to gather regionally and then the groups “skyped” each other somehow, so there was a virtual meeting of several groups, without major geographical distance?

    Other comments:

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