Emmanuel and The Evangelical Covenant Church
Emmanuel is a member of The Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC). Our relationship with this denomination is both new and old, and has an interesting story to it. Emmanuel was formally accepted into the Covenant at the annual denominational meeting in Chicago in 2014, and yet our histories have been woven together since our founding.
Emmanuel was born in 1930 in Seattle’s Phinney Ridge neighborhood out of the merger of two smaller Swedish Covenant churches, one in Ballard and one in Fremont, along with some members from Seattle’s First Covenant Church on Capitol Hill. Although these first members all came from the Swedish Covenant tradition, they made the decision to incorporate this new church as an independent congregation under the name “Emmanuel Tabernacle.” This means that although the founding of Emmanuel was culturally and theologically rooted in the Covenant denomination, it operated autonomously for the majority of its existence in the 20th century.
As is the case with many independent churches, throughout the years the ministry and tone of Emmanuel took on a variety of expressions, often associated with the passions and convictions of the Senior Pastor. In all these decades, however, two strong values of the Covenant remained as essential pieces of Emmanuel’s identity: a love of scripture, and an emphasis on mission.
Through a long discernment process by Emmanuel’s leadership team that began in 2012, the church made the decision to investigate the possibility of joining a larger network of churches in order to strengthen our work and provide the resources and accountability that make for a healthy organization. That discernment process eventually led us back to our roots, as the team came to realize that the values and history of Emmanuel most clearly resonated with the Covenant community. A revision of the church constitution was undertaken, and the congregation voted to establish Emmanuel as a member of the ECC. In addition to officially adopting the Covenant’s governance structures, it was determined that the Senior Pastor of the church would be a credentialed Covenant minister.
Emmanuel, like the Covenant, began as a predominantly Swedish church. Over the years, however, both the church and the denomination have gradually opened themselves to a wider spectrum of ethnic and cultural perspectives. Today we gather from a broad variety of personal backgrounds, and we celebrate our unity in the midst of true diversity. As we set out on this next chapter of our journey as partners in ministry with the Evangelical Covenant Church, we are excited to see how God will continue to shape and grow us to become even more effective ambassadors of love and reconciliation in our city and our world.