THE EVANGELICAL COVENANT CHURCH seeks to form and nurture communities that are deeply committed to Jesus Christ and passionately engaged in Christ’s mission in the world. The purpose of Covenant Affirmations is to make clear the values and principles that have guided the Evangelical Covenant Church since its founding in 1885.
THE EVANGELICAL COVENANT CHURCH comes out of historical Christianity through the Protestant Reformation. The church’s distinctive spirit has been further shaped by our early origins in the Lutheran Church of Sweden, the great spiritual awakenings of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and the more recent North American renewal movements. The Evangelical Covenant Church is committed to reaching across boundaries of race, ethnicity, culture, gender, age, and status.
For Covenant people, our essential beliefs are summed up in what we call Covenant Affirmations:
We affirm the centrality of the word of God. We believe the dynamic, transforming power of the word of God directs the church to affirm both men and women as ordained ministers and at every church and is the inspiration for every act of compassion, mercy, and justice.
We affirm the necessity of the new birth. The Apostle Paul 5:17, TNIV). New birth in Christ means committing ourselves to him and receiving forgiveness, acceptance, and eternal life. It means being alive in Christ, and this life has the qualities of love and righteousness, joy and peace. New birth is only the beginning. Growing to maturity in Christ is a lifelong process for both individuals and communities of believers. God forms and transforms us—and it is through people transformed by Christ that God transforms the world.
We affirm a commitment to the whole mission of the Church. The early Covenanters were known as “Mission Friends”— people of shared faith who came together to carry out God’s mission both far and near. Mission for them and for us includes evangelism, Christian formation, and ministries of compassion, mercy, and justice. We follow Christ’s two central calls. The Great Commission calls us to love the Lord our God and our neighbors as ourselves.
We affirm the Church as a fellowship of believers. Membership in the Covenant Church is by confession of personal faith in Jesus Christ and is open to all believers. We observe baptism and Holy Communion as sacraments commanded by Jesus. We practice both infant and believer baptism. We believe in the priesthood of all believers — that is, we all share in the ministry of the church. We also affirm that God calls some men and women into professional, full-time ministry. The church is not an institution, organization, or building. It is a grace-filled fellowship of believers who participate in the life and mission of Jesus Christ. It is a family of equals: as the New Testament teaches that within Christian community there is to be neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, but all are one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28).
We affirm a conscious dependence on the Holy Spirit.
The Covenant Church affirms the Trinitarian understanding of one God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The New Testament tells us that the Holy Spirit works both within individuals and among them. We believe it is the Holy Spirit who instills in our hearts a desire to turn to Christ, and who assures us that Christ to Christ and conforms us to his image, and it is the Spirit in us that enables us to continue Christ’s mission in the world. The Holy Spirit gives spiritual gifts to us as individuals and binds us together as Christ’s body.
We affirm the reality of freedom in Christ. The Apostle Paul wrote, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (Galatians 5:1, TNIV). This freedom is a gift of God in Christ, and it manifests itself in a right relationship with God and others. It is not a private gift to be used selfishly, but is given to serve the community and the world. For Paul, this freedom means that we are set free from the power of those things that on their own tend to divide. United in Christ, we offer freedom to one another to differ on issues of belief or practice where the biblical and historical record seems to allow for a variety of interpretations of the will and purposes of God. We in the Covenant Church seek to focus on what unites us as followers of Christ, rather than on what divides us.
The Evangelical Covenant Church is a pilgrim church. Until Christ comes, we worship, serve, and witness so that the whole earth may hear God’s voice, learn of God’s love, and experience God’s joy.
For a more thorough explanation of each Affirmation, you can download a booklet here.