By Stan Friedman
DENVER, CO (January 27, 2015) – President Gary Walter presented his yearly Covenant Update to the roughly 1,000 Covenant ministers attending the Midwinter Conference on Tuesday. A video of the entire update can be viewed here.
The session began with a focus on the newly designed and relaunched Covenant Companion magazine. Walter congratulated Ed Gilbreath, the executive director of communications on the first issue featuring 40 Covenanters under the age of 40. Gilbreath and Walter then bantered about humorous cover story mockups.
The mockups included one of Klyne Snodgrass, professor of New Testament at North Park Seminary, with the words emblazoned, “Finally, Ordained in the ECC!” Snodgrass, who is retiring after 41 years, is Southern Baptist. A copy of the cover was presented to Snodgrass later in the session.
Also honored during the update were Debbie Blue, executive minister of Love Mercy and Do Justice, and Curt Peterson, executive minister of the Serve Globally, both of whom are retiring. It also was announced that Cecilia Williams is the nominee to succeed Blue.
In addition to other elements, Walter highlighted the work being done in Congo by the Paul Carlson Partnership and Covenant Kids Congo powered by World Vision. Fred Kosongo, who is overseeing the work in Gemena being done through CKC, thanked the Covenant for their commitment and reminded them of the historic nature of the partnership, which has been the biggest undertaking by the denomination as well as the global relief and development organization.
Walter told the gathering that progress continues to be made in reaching the mark of sponsoring 10,000 children and encouraged congregations to hold Hope Sundays for that purpose.
Tim Ciccone, the Covenant’s team leader for youth ministry, said that over 4,000 people had already registered for CHIC – a record number of registrations for the time period leading up to the triennial youth event that attracts as many as 6,000 students from around the world. It also was a huge leap from just two weeks ago, when the total was 1,450.
CHIC, the largest of any Covenant gathering, will be held July 12-17, 2015, on the University of Tennessee campus in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Brian Wiele, chair of the Biblical Gender Equality Commission, highlighted a new initiative called the Deborah Project, encouraging pastors to identify and nurture the leadership gifts of women.
In addition to sharing about ministry activities across the denomination and around the world, Walter also commented on the ECC navigating forward on the matter of human sexuality.
He identified three overarching points, a framework endorsed by the Council of Superintendents, the Covenant Offices Leadership Team, and also the Board of the Ordered Ministry.
Said Walter, “First, we affirm the Covenant position. We have a clear position that is Biblically-derived, pastorally sensitive, and consistent with our polity.” The essence of the ECC position is celibacy in singleness and faithfulness in heterosexual marriage.
Secondly, he said, “We also affirm that within our position there is good and ample room for good and wise pastoral ministry and engagement with people from all backgrounds.” He indicated that there is a lot to learn from one another, and we want to keep learning and getting better.
Third, he confessed that the ECC has not done as good a job as it could in the area of resourcing. “We admittedly can do a better job in pointing people to and developing resources that provide ministry insight and connection within this framework.”
Walter noted that the matter has torn deeply at other denominations. He challenged all present by saying, “My hope is that we call out the best in each other, not point out the worst; that we be marked by humility and a servant heart; that we keep learning from one another about how to minister well within this framework. That is who we are at our best.”