Thursday, June 25, 2009

Doin' It Right at Thornapple Covenant Church

If I were able to relocate to Grand Rapids, Michigan, I would apply posthaste to be the new pastor at Thornapple Covenant Church. I'm on a sort of Christian Job List that posts positions for clergy and others. I don't know why I even clicked on this one, because
1. I am not able to move to Michigan and
2. I am not ordained with the Evangelical Covenant Church.

I have a soft spot in my heart for them, however. This dates from when Ken and I were pastors of a small Assembly of God congregation whose church building sat diagonally across the street corner from the small Evangelical Covenant Church. I don't remember how it came about, but we became good friends of the Covenant pastor and his wife, and I learned a little about their denomination. There was much I liked. We held a joint VBS, did outreach together, had a potluck or two where both congregations came.

The Thornapple Church website needs some work, but a look around was so encouraging. From all I can learn they are doing it right. They have the best mission statement of any church I've ever seen, and maybe also the shortest. Ready? Here it is.

Helping people find and follow Jesus Christ.
They caught the essential mission of the church in seven words! Bravo! From their website I surfed over to the Evangelical Covenant Church in America website. I just had to share the "commitment" statements I found there.
What are we committed to?
  • Reaching the unchurched, particularly the emerging generation
  • Pressing forward in ethnic ministry and diversity
  • Extending greater measures of compassion and justice to the poor and desperate
  • Attending to the health of existing congregations
  • Forming spiritually mature disciples who live out obedience to Christ in the world
  • Calling forth and equipping women and men for all levels of church leadership
  • Pursuing expanded strategic global opportunities and partnerships.
They are focusing on the emerging generation, deliberately embracing greater diversity, expanding the focus on justice and compassion, helping their churches be healthy, affirming the equality of men and women in ministry, and reaching out to the world.
WOW! Exactly right!
Thus ends my advertisement for Covenant churches. And old friends Dave and Alexis Davidson, wherever you are, I hope you are blessed and a blessing to many. I'm so sorry we lost touch.


Gilly said...

That Mission statement is great! Wish some of the mission statements I have seen would be so succinct, spot on and inclusive!

But what is a Covenant church? I realise it is some sort of denomination, but where did it come from?

Dorcas (aka SingingOwl) said...

It is difficult to get specific about that--I tried to find out and wasn't too successful. You might like to take a look at at this webpage.

Dorcas (aka SingingOwl) said...

Just a follow-up comment. I like their emphasis on faith, personal relationship with Christ/salvation but also their historic practice of not emphasing areas where people may disagree, instead choosing to major on the essentials of the faith. The AG has what are called "The 16 Fundamental Truths." I agree with all of them (or I couldn't stay AG, actually), and I can say they are all true, but I also can say that if I had to pick 16 "Fundamental" things some of mine would be different. The Covenant Church emphasizes about four or five things, and they believe that there is lots of room for discussion, disagreement, and allowing the Spirit to emphasize different things at different times.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand your two reasons why you couldn't/shouldn't apply. There must be other prison ministries that Ken could possibly transfer to and, quite frankly, reason #2 might not amount to a hill of beans with the church. If a door is to be closed, well...let the Lord close it is what comes to mind. :) Maureen

Dorcas (aka SingingOwl) said...

They do say they want the person to be ordained with the Ev. Cov. and there are a few other Ken-related reasons...but stay tuned.

CaptainQuick said...'s this for condensing the mission statement to 5 words?

"Seek, serve and follow Christ."

That's our Girls' Brigade motto. :-)

Gilly said...

Interesting website. I see the Covenant Church has a Lutheran background - which probably has something to do with its inclusivity and succinctness!

Thanks for the info - and may God guide your path.

Diane M. Roth said...

yeah, I liked that! I knew some Covenant missionaries from AFrica when I first graduated from college.

so, I feel an affinity...

Diane M. Roth said...

oh, and by the way, the Covenanters are Swedish Covenant, they are one of the Swedish Free Churches.

I'm not sure if this is right, but one of the intriguing things I heard about the Swedish Covenant church was that they practice infant baptism OR infant dedication and adult baptism.

all things to all people.

Dorcas (aka SingingOwl) said...

Yes, they practice both types of baptism. I think Methodist do as well?

Dorcas (aka SingingOwl) said...

I vaguely remember now about the Swedish connection. The website is not very specific about their history, but I think our friends told us. And CQ, I am impressed with Girls Brigade's statement too! Short and sweet and right to the point!

Diane M. Roth said...

well, SO, they don't call themselves "swedish covenant" any more, but that's how they got started way back in the 19th century...

hey, I like how you're doing your story right along on Little Big Foot! Good for you!

Sally said...

what a great mission statement, oh to dream....

M Bradley said...

I live in Grand Rapids, Mi and I am a member of Thornapple Covenant Church, so thanks for the good words! Our first pastor stayed for 30 years of wonderful ministry, and our new pastor who arrived in January I would gladly follow for the next 30 years. I come from a very diverse theological background, but I am quite content as a Covenanter. The Covenant is a balanced and thoughtful group of Christ followers who care for people and all of creation with stewardship and grace.