As I write this, a thousand pastors and church leaders are making their way back home from their annual trek and pilgrimage to Chicago for the Evangelical Covenant Church’s Midwinter Conference. I left a day early to attend to responsibilities back home, but was thoroughly re-invigorated from those responsibilities I had in Chicago, from presenting the recommendations of the Ethnic Commission, to working sessions with the Board of Nominations, to serving as Vice Prez to the newly formed CAPA (Covenant Asian Pastors Assoc).
If you are reading this it may be a first exposure to the Covenant, or maybe you’ve been hearing increasingly more and more about it. Its dynamism is not in any secret formula, but that God has blessed a growing diverse ministerium with a collegial spirit of unity.
Unity in diversity. Go figure.
But it works.
And instead of fragmenting the denomination more, we are finding that difference brings us closer together around shared values.
I have to pause here and speak to my own Korean background and an observation I made @ Midwinter; it is visually apparent to me that more and more 2nd gen Korean-American pastors are coming to these meetings inquiringly, attempting to find a home for their “EM” congregations (whether independent or otherwise) and are leaving convinced; I have several friends older than myself who have only just recently discovered the Covenant as a great receiving “container” for their EM churches.
Of course, that leads to a LOT of talking shop in the pub after sessions, a lot of Korean (and other Asian ethnicities as well, pardon my exclusivism here) pastors trying to figure out how to navigate various transitions well, all of which challenging to varying degree; some much further ahead, some only beginning now. I am blessed to be somewhere mid-way, and to have been useful and an encouragement to my colleagues only now beginning the journey of envisioning 2nd gen Korean-planted congregations who are attempting to open up and broaden their mission.
There are more and more of us out there.
And there is a blessedness of a sort of farm-system; the big-league guys, the veterans, to those in the game now stepping up to bat, to the up and comers who are the next season’s superstars (forgive the less-than-perfect analogy here) but the point is, we all hang out. I won’t name-drop here, but we were all there together, and it was freaking awesome.
So consider this an official invitation to check us out. Give me a shout and I’d be glad to talk shop, help orient you to the Cov, serve you, equip you. I will do my best.
FROM THE ECC PRESIDENT:
A Cord of Three Strands
In just a few days, more than 1,000 Covenant clergy will gather for our Midwinter Conference where we will seek replenishment from God as we worship, learn, laugh, cry, gain vision, and deepen friendships.
One theme I will touch on is the biblical principle of the strength of a cord of three-strands. We will look at those cords through the lens of local church, regional conference, and denomination. As we live committed to one another, seeking the flourishing of all, the mission of God is amplified and Jesus is magnified. Strength is reinforced when strands are intertwined. Of course, intertwining gone wrong is called a knot. It’s important for braiding to be done attentively.
I want to underscore my commitment that the denomination is not a disembodied bureaucracy pejoratively called “Chicago.” Along with your regional conference we seek to serve our churches and unite our churches in service together. All throughout your region, and all over the world, real lives in real places are being touched by the grace and mercy of God. And we know it is happening around the corner from your church as well. And so, for the sake of the world, let’s lace it up, and lace it up well … for the flourishing of all.
Follow ECC president Gary Walter on Twitter @ECCprez
In it together.