KANSAS CITY, MO (June 26, 2015) — This afternoon Don Davenport received the 2015 Irving C. Lambert Award in recognition of his significant contributions to Covenant urban ministries. President Gary Walter presented the award during business session of the Evangelical Covenant Church’s 130th Annual Meeting. The award is given annually to a Covenanter who exemplifies a commitment to urban or ethnic ministry.
In selecting Davenport, the award committee stated, “His motivation and mentoring of young leaders in the urban setting is evident. His work with young church planters and assistance to revitalize struggling churches in under-served and under-resourced communities has helped the Evangelical Covenant Church develop effective and customized strategies for those we serve.”
Davenport was a member of Oakdale Covenant Church in Chicago before he began his ministry as pastor of Community Covenant Church in Calumet Park, Illinois, a struggling church in a community undergoing a significant racial transition, in 1980. During his time there, he received death threats as his congregation fought against economic and social injustices, including unfair labor practices and a broken public school system. He organized community marches to protest the town’s growing gang and drug activity.
Debbie Blue, executive minister of Love Mercy and Do Justice, says that the Covenant Church is still experiencing the long-term impact of Davenport’s justice-oriented pastoral ministry. “His preaching and teaching provided discipleship training and leadership development, evident in the number of people who are serving in a variety of capacities in the ECC.”
Davenport has served as president of the African American Ministers Association, which grew under his guidance. President Gary Walter adds that Davenport “played a vital role in the overall acceleration in the multiethnic advance of the Evangelical Covenant Church. Don has a pastor’s heart and a prophet’s insight. His wisdom, persistence, and collegial spirit have been indispensable to us.”
Davenport was serving as pastor at Community Covenant when Walter, then executive minister of the Department of Church Growth and Evangelism, recruited him to serve as a special ministry consultant in 2001.
In that role Davenport trained pastors and church leaders, helped start and revitalize churches, and mediated congregational conflicts. He also developed a peer-mentoring model specifically for urban contexts.
“Urban pastors needed more intimate connectional times for training and fellowship through national peer events,” Davenport says. “I wanted these events to be opportunities for gifted leaders to share their stories, challenges, and personal pain and to unveil their best practices for ministry success to each other.”
Davenport served as ministry consultant until 2012. Today he lives with his wife, Frances, in the Chicago area and serves as the executive director and strategist for Harvest Life International, an organization dedicated to leadership coaching and consulting for nonprofits, pastors, and congregations.