The Evangelical Covenant Church is a rapidly growing multi-ethnic denomination in the United States and Canada with ministries on five continents of the world. Founded in 1885 by Swedish immigrants, the ECC values the Bible as the word of God, the gift of God’s grace and ever-deepening spiritual life that comes through a faith with Jesus Christ, the importance of extending God’s love and compassion to a hurting world, and the strength that comes from unity within diversity. According to denominational leaders, The Evangelical Covenant Church can be described as:
- Evangelical, but not exclusive
The word “evangelical” refers to a historical movement of churches that was heavily influenced by the great revivals of the 18th and 19th centuries. Although it is common to hear people use this term to describe many different things today, the original meaning of “evangelical” refers to Christians who: place high value on the experience of personal transformation in relationship with God (sometimes called a “conversion experience”), approach the text of the Bible as the primary authority for life and belief, and are committed to the work of proclaiming the good news of Jesus to the world. Many Christian churches from a variety of denominations consider themselves to be evangelical today.
- Biblical, but not doctrinaire
Covenant churches place high value on knowing and applying scripture to our lives as God’s word to us. We are rooted in this narrative of God’s interaction with the ancient people of Israel and, later, with the church of Jesus Christ. We don’t, however, seek to overly-define our faith in terms of long lists of doctrines that all members must adhere to. The Covenant has a rich history of allowing individuals and churches to read and think for themselves, engaging in the lifetime process of wrestling with God and with scripture with a spirit of unity and grace.
- Traditional, but not rigid
The Covenant denomination was born out of the centuries-old tradition of the Lutheran church, particularly in its Swedish form. These roots place our denomination squarely in the middle of the historic Protestant Reformation that began as a renewal movement within the 16th century Roman Catholic Church in Europe. While drawing on the rich history of our origins, the Covenant also takes an open-handed approach toward the future and seeks to discern the movement of God’s Spirit calling us forward into new expressions of life and Christian witness. One result of this posture toward the future has been the rapid movement toward becoming a global and multi-ethnic church in recent years.
- Congregational, but not independent
The term “congregational” refers to a style of church government that is used in a number of different Christian traditions. As a congregational church, the Covenant values the authority and diversity of local congregations as they seek to follow God’s call in their own unique contexts. This means that there is not just “one way” to be a Covenant church, rather each congregation is free to respond to God’s leading in their life together. At the same time, Covenant churches are not completely independent from each other – we gather around a common set of values and a commitment to engage in God’s mission to the world together as a unified body.
(content adapted from covchurch.org)