What Do We Believe?

On one level, the answer is quite simple. When new members formally join our church, they are asked a few questions: “Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior and promise to follow him as Lord?” and “Do you accept the Holy Scriptures, the Old and New Testaments, as the word of God and the only perfect rule for faith, doctrine, and conduct?” They are then asked if they intend to live as faithful followers of Christ and members of the church and denomination.

That’s all. That is enough.

But on another level, of course, the answer is a good deal more complex. While our church and denomination does not require adherence to any written creed, we take our theology very seriously, and our history as well. We are a Reformation church, a part of the Church universal, and an evangelical church. In that heritage, we share certain central beliefs, which draw us together in faith and fellowship and make possible a freedom among us on more widely ranging issues. What we hold together at the centre is more important to us than the distinctive elements that might separate us from each other or other Christian expressions.

We describe those central beliefs as “affirmations.” We hope that as you read these affirmations you will find yourself identifying with them in your own faith experience. If they raise questions for you, we would love to sit down for a coffee and talk.

Covenant Affirmations

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 for more than 130 years.

For Covenant people, our essential beliefs are summed up in what we call Covenant affirmations:

We believe the Bible is the only perfect rule for faith, doctrine, and conduct. The dynamic, transforming power of the word of God directs the church and the life of each Christian. This reliance on the Bible leads us to affirm both men and women as ordained ministers and at every level of leadership. It is the reason we pursue ethnic diversity in our church and is the inspiration for every act of compassion, mercy, and justice. Read and search the Bible online at BibleGateway.com…

The Apostle Paul wrote, “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV). 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.

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 sends us out into all the world to make disciples. The Great Commandment calls us to love the Lord our God and our neighbours as ourselves.

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).

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 dwells within us. It is the Holy Spirit who enables our obedience 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.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (Galatians 5:1, NIV). 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.

If you want to learn more about the Evangelical Covenant Church’s beliefs, click here for the longer PDF version of Covenant Affirmations.

For our Christian faith to be real, it has to speak to our culture. That’s true even — or especially — on complex and difficult issues of contemporary life. To read more, click here for Covenant Resolutions.

Our Covenant Extended Family

We belong to a family of churches known as the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC), a rapidly growing multi-ethnic denomination in Canada and the United States 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 the God’s grace and ever-deepening spiritual life that comes through faith in Jesus Christ, the importance of extending God’s love and compassion to a hurting world, and the strength that comes from unity within diversity.

The Evangelical Covenant Church is:

  • Evangelical, but not exclusive
  • Biblical, but not doctrinaire
  • Traditional, but not rigid
  • Congregational, but not independent

Learn more about the Covenant by watching this video:

Covenant Identity & Biblical Mission

We are united by Christ in a holy covenant of churches empowered by the Holy Spirit to obey the Great Commandments and the Great Commission – to love God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind; to love our neighbour as ourselves; and, to go into all the world and make disciples.

We covenant to cultivate communities of worship committed to prayer, preaching, and study of the word; the celebration of the sacraments; and fellowship across gender, race, age, culture, and class. We covenant to equip loving, giving, growing Christians to reach out with the good news of Jesus Christ – evangelizing the lost, ministering to those in need, and seeking justice for the oppressed.

ECCC Mission Priorities

  • Make and Deepen Disciples
  • Start and Strengthen Churches
  • Develop Leaders
  • Love Mercy, Do Justice
More About the Covenant

Evangelical Covenant Church of Canada website: covchurch.ca
Sign up: weekly prayer updates from Canadian Covenant churches
Evangelical Covenant Church, North America: covchurch.org
ECC's online video site: covchurch.tv
Covenant Companion magazine: covenantcompanion.com


A Place At the Table For You

The most important thing we have to offer is an invitation to experience new life in Jesus. In the Bible we learn that God gives new life to every person who trusts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior – in fact he throws them a party to say, "Welcome home!" A trusting personal relationship with Jesus is all that is needed to enter into the eternal kind of life of God's kingdom.

We would love to sit down for a coffee and talk with you. Jesus' kingdom is an immense wedding feast, and there's a place at God's table for you!

 

 

P.S. Yes, the Bible is reliable.

Sometimes questions are raised about the reliability of the Scriptures we have today. Can we trust the Bible after thousands of years of copying and translation? Are we able to interpret such an ancient text responsibly for today's context?

Thankfully, the answer is yes, we can! We would love talk with you about any questions you might have. Here are some online resources and book suggestions, too.

Conversations and Lecture Videos


Is the New Testament We Have Now, What They Wrote Then?

by Daniel Wallace, a New Testament professor's "best sermon ever" that answers questions about the origin and validity of the New Testament with compelling evidence showing that what we read in our Bible translations today is what was written in the original manuscripts.


Can a Scientist Trust the New Testament?

A lecture by N.T. Wright, a widely respected biblically orthodox scholar and arguably the world's best historian, speaking about how a scientist (or anyone in today's postmodern culture) is able both to trust the New Testament with integrity and allow its writers to lead us to trust God. (lecture starts at 4:12, part 1 of 2)


The God of the Old Testament is a God of Wrath and Other Misconceptions

Lecture by Iain Provan, Professor of Biblical Studies at Regent College, about why we cannot ignore this ancient collection of literature, using Jesus' understanding and teaching of the Hebrew Scriptures as our model.


This Incredible Book

Lecture by Rikk Watts, New Testament professor at Regent College, about how the benefits of our modern world are a direct result of Jesus, Judaism, and the early church, and how we can know God and participate in what God has unleashed in history through the biblical story.


Making Peace With Church: Finding Grace and Authenticity in an Age of Skepticism

Regent College Redux online conversation with professors Scot McKnight, Erin Lane, Darrell Johnson, and Hans Boersma.


Good God?

A conversation with N.T. Wright, New Testament historian and former Bishop of Durham, about reconciling a good God with a world filled with suffering.


Divine Conspiracy: Jesus & Culture

USC philosophy professor's lecture about how, in order to understand ourselves, human culture and reality itself, we must allow the early church's New Testament to help us realize that Jesus is the smartest person who has ever lived—that the information Jesus brings to humanity is the most important knowledge for life—and then to enter the life of his kingdom (which is God's subversive plan to overcome evil with good in human history). (1st in a series of 12 talks)


Covenant Church Resources


The Covenant Church and the Bible

A Covenant resource paper about our larger church family's approach to reading and interpreting the Bible.


The Vexed Issue of Biblical Authority
by Jay Phelan
Covenant Companion article about how we approach the Bible.


Called and Gifted

Materials reaffirming the biblical basis for the full participation of women in the ministries of the church: Watch the 15-minute video below, see the one-page Covenant Resolution, and read the 16-page booklet.


Books and Further Study Media


Scripture and the Authority of God: How to Read the Bible Today

by N.T. Wright, chair of New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of St. Andrews. Preview the book.


The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible

by Scott McKnight, a New Testament scholar who taught at the Covenant's North Park Theological Seminary from 1994-2012. Preview the book.


Seriously Dangerous Religion: What the Old Testament Really Says and Why It Matters

by Iain Provan, professor of biblical studies at Regent College, one of the world’s experts on Israelite history who previously taught at London and Edinburgh universities. Preview the book. Listen to an interview with Iain Provan about the book.


God Behaving Badly: Is the God of the Old Testament Angry, Sexist and Racist?

by David Lamb, an Old Testament scholar who writes with pastoral sensitivity. Preview the book. Listen to David Lamb's seminar from the 2015 Urbana Student Missions Conference.


The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life In God

by philosopher Dallas Willard, whose book calls us into an authentic faith which takes Jesus seriously in the here and now, and offers a practical apprenticeship plan by which we can become like Christ. What is "the divine conspiracy"? It is God's plan to intervene in human history, now. Learn more and preview the book.


Creedal Hermeneutics: How the Church Can Help Us Read the Bible

by Christopher Hall, a free download from Regent College Audio, about how the creeds of the early church and the messy process they came about can help us in how we interpret the Bible.


Becoming Gospel Fluent

by Rikk Watts, a free download from Regent College Audio, about our foundational narrative in Jesus' gospel and the life of being filled by God’s Spirit.


ReFrame

A dynamic video study course from Regent College to help us learn to live out faith in everyday life, encouraging us to encounter Jesus afresh and allowing his story to shape our own. Preview three full episodes.