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of the Evangelical Covenant Church


Churches working together to transform lives and communities by starting new churches, strengthening existing churches and developing missional leaders.

e-News • May 2020 • www.midwestcovenant.org

Leaders throughout the conference have been joining MWC staff and guests for weekly connections through Zoom. Topics of these conversations have included the impact of COVID-19 on our ethnic communities and how we can support them, encouragement from John Wenrich, the effect of the pandemic on church finances, reducing anxiety and stress, the sharing of best practices in this season of ministry, times of prayer, and more. Upcoming connections, recent recordings, and some of the resources cited in these meetings can be found here. Pastors and ministry staff should be receiving regular emails with connection links and are encouraged to invite church leaders to join at their discretion. Be sure to join us for these meaningful conversations!

Recordings currently available:
  • Listen to psychologist and pastor Dr. Rev. Jean Chang Gorman talk about reducing anxiety and stress in the midst of COVID-19. You can also download this handout on basic tips for dealing with anxiety and stress.
  • Listen to Rob Hall, Vice President of Real Estate Services for National Covenant Properties, share recommendations on financial management for churches in times of crisis. Resources from this conversation can be downloaded here
  • Listen to Curtis Ivanoff, Superintendent of the Alaska Conference, and Lenore Three Stars share about the impact COVID-19 is having on Native American and Indigenous communities and how we can support these brothers and sisters.
We are also continually updating our list of COVID-19 resources on our website. Several resources are available for reference as churches explore options for re-opening in the coming weeks and months.

Staying Connected in a Time of Physical Distancing

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, pastors and church leadership teams were quick to explore and implement new strategies for ministering to their congregations. Even as we see restrictions begin to ease, the way we do ministry will continue to take new shape over the coming months. What worked in the first few weeks of quarantine may not be as effective three months in, and with varying demographics and contexts in our region, what works for one congregation may not work for the next. We've asked a few of our pastors to share what ministry looks like in their context in this season.

Stephanie & Darryl Answer, Co-pastors, New Community Covenant, Kansas City, MO
We have tried to respond creatively and relationally to the impact of COVID-19. We continue to remind our people that while we are quarantined, the spirit of God is not, and we want to continue to have our eyes open to how he is at work and how we can join him. At the beginning of stay-at-home orders, we gathered some of our people and asked them to serve as "connectors" within the church. We divided up all the members of New Community Church between this connector team to ensure that each person is being connected with weekly to have a check-in, see how we can pray for each other, and also learn if there are any needs due to COVID that the church can meet. We want to remind people that the church is not the building or the place we gather, but us as the people of God, so the church, in this sense, has remained opened and engaged. A unique way we have been able to meet some physical needs is to invest locally in our entrepreneurs who provide meals by having them provide for families within New Community Church and the community. This has been a double blessing, both for the business owners and for families.

Carla and Oscar Cortez, Co-pastors, Oasis de Salvación Covenant, Arvada, CO
At Oasis de Salvación ECC, we have had to learn new ways to stay connected to our congregation. We have our Sunday services, kids’ Bible teachings, women’s gatherings, prayers, and much more all on Zoom. On Wednesday we go live on Facebook and invite other pastors and experts to share on useful subjects such as “Dealing with Challenges within the Family during a Time of Crisis.” We connect through text, calls, WhatsApp—any way possible to keep this church plant thriving in the midst of this crisis.
 
Families have been hit hard. Some have lost jobs and others sought opportunities in places like Walmart to keep up with bills. Having the children at home doesn’t make things easier. Within our Hispanic context, it is necessary in most households for both parents to have a full-time job just to make ends meet. Dealing with the financial stress and the fear of the virus has brought emotional instability for some of our congregants. Still, they keep fighting and we are right alongside them letting them know we care.

Jim Candy, Co-pastor, Ascent Community Church (ECC), Louisville, CO
Honestly, we are learning that our initial efforts did not hit the target. We're re-evaluating everything we are doing both in our weekend online experience and our connection offerings. It's further complicated in that different restriction easement phases will require different strategies for us. Our team is only able to really plan a few weeks out at this point, and most everything is changing rapidly. This quote from Carey Nieuwhof has resonated with us:
 
“In the last eight weeks, what did you (and I) do? You reacted to something you couldn’t control. You get full marks for that. But the pivots you’ve made in the last two months aren’t really innovation yet. They’re simply a response to externally-imposed change. Sure, you’ve done some new things. Everyone has. But the real innovation curve is just about to get started. When you get some time to reflect, think, respond, pray, imagine and dream, that’s when the real future will open up. The problem, two months into a crisis, is that you’ve reacted, but you haven’t really innovated yet. Nobody has.”

Learning a New Context in the Midst of Quarantine

While many pastors and leadership teams are familiar with the congregations they serve and can tailor ministry to fit the nuances of their context, Grayson Daganaar faces the unique challenge of transitioning into a new call as Senior Pastor of the ECC in Pomeroy, IA. We asked Grayson to share a little about his experience of connecting with a new congregation in a season of quarantine.

What has been the most challenging aspect of transitioning to a new call in the midst of COVID-19?

COVID-19 has made every single aspect about moving and beginning in a new church a little bit more challenging. However, the most difficult element has been pastoral care. Getting to know my congregation takes some additional effort. Moreover, it’s a challenge not being able to gather in person with the vast majority of my church. I’ve found ways to connect with my flock, but it’s definitely harder to do under these circumstances.

What steps are you taking to connect with/minister to members at Pomeroy ECC?

I am on my phone a lot. Honestly, it’s all about picking up the phone and committing time to speaking and praying with others. Zoom small groups have also been a highly effective tool. Video devotionals have been well-received, too. Of course, strong communication via social media and email is critical during this time. We experimented with some “parking lot” ministry events. These have been extremely meaningful times of fellowship. However, the most effective practice during this season has been the one-on-one phone call.

What are some ways the church has cared for you and your family through this transition?

Members of the congregation moved us into our new home from our house in Kansas City. Upon arrival, the home was stocked with food and other household necessities. Several days later, the congregation surprised us with a welcome parade. Many have made an effort to ask us how we’re transitioning, not only into this new role, but into this new setting in general. We’ve received many calls and texts and cards. This congregation has truly blessed us.

Share one way you have seen God at work throughout this transition.

During this season, I am seeing the church find creative ways to be the church. Folks are making an effort to call each other. Folks are praying for and with each other. Some have transitioned their small groups to Zoom. We are learning how to retool the fundamental practices of congregational life for this temporary, unprecedented season. That’s special.

MWC Crisis Relief Fund

The disruption caused by COVID-19 is impacting churches in dramatically different ways. Some congregations report stable (or even increased) giving, while others are experiencing significant financial stress. Some of our pastors serving new churches or under-resourced populations are particularly vulnerable.
 
If your needs have been met, would you consider helping others in the MWC family by making a generous gift to the newly established MWC Crisis Relief Fund? Every dollar given will go directly to emergency financial relief for MWC pastors and church families in crisis

 
To find out more, please contact one of the team members below. Thank you in advance for your expression of love.

MWC Crisis Relief Fund Team/Equipo del MWC Crisis Relief Fund

La interrupción causada por COVID-19 está impactando a las iglesias de maneras dramáticamente diferentes. Algunas congregaciones reportan donaciones estables (o incluso mayores), mientras que otras están experimentando un significativo estrés financiero. Algunos de nuestros pastores que sirven a nuevas iglesias o poblaciones de escasos recursos son particularmente vulnerables.

Si sus necesidades están siendo satisfechas, ¿podría usted considerar asistir a otros miembros de la familia del MWC? Puede hacer una generosa donación al recién creado MWC Crisis Relief Fund. Cada dólar otorgado irá directamente a la ayuda financiera de emergencia para pastores del MWC y familias de la iglesia en crisis.

Para obtener más información, comuníquese con uno de los miembros del equipo a continuación. Gracias de antemano por su expresión de amor.


Electronic Giving Options

We are grateful for your continued generosity and partnership as we serve together in this unparalleled time to bring true hope in the midst of uncertainty and fear. We realize that for some of our churches, social restrictions have made the check writing/approval process challenging. While we are still processing checks that come via mail, please know we also have electronic giving options available, as well.
 
GIVING OPTIONS
  • Give online
  • Text "$[AMOUNT]" to 855-948-0814
  • Mail payment to 17310 Wright St, Ste 101, Omaha, NE 68130

UPDATE: MWC and ECC Annual Meetings

MWC Annual Ministry Celebration
While the 2020 Annual Ministry Celebration was canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions, we look forward to gathering in 2021. Please mark your calendars for the AMC to be held April 23-24, 2021, at Christ Community Covenant in Arvada, CO.

Normally, we would pray over Bless cards at the AMC. Churches, please tally the names on your BLESS bookmarks and email your total to office@midwestcovenant.org. We'll find a creative way to celebrate the work God has planned in the life of those we've committed to pray for this year!

ECC Annual Meeting (Gather)
Due to the uncertainties surrounding COVID-19 and re-opening restrictions, the ECC has also canceled its 2020 annual meeting. The ECC's Constitution and Bylaws give jurisdiction to the Covenant Executive Board to act on behalf of the Evangelical Covenant Church when the Annual Meeting is not in session, so essential business can continue in the interim until any decisions can be ratified by our next Annual Meeting at Gather 2021. An FAQ about the cancellation can be found here

The ECC recently launched the Covenant COVID-19 Financial Relief Initiative. This initiative will focus on providing care and support in four areas of Covenant life and ministry:
  1. Short-term loans to local churches, conferences, and camps
  2. Global relief grants to the global church as we walk alongside partners serving marginalized people around the world
  3. Missional relief grants to churches so they can help care for their communities in response to this pandemic
  4. Ministers’ Crisis Fund for Covenant clergy, which helps us care for our pastors’ personal needs, such as counseling and health care, or emergency home repairs beyond their local church’s ability to provide

Click here to apply for assistance or for further information.


Our next MWC Sankofa Journey is scheduled for November 5-8. This journey traces the history of race in the U.S. and tangibly equips believers to begin living into the church's mission to be ambassadors of reconciliation in a divided world. We are excited to welcome back Nilwona Nowlin and David Swanson as our trip facilitators! Space is limited, and seats will be granted on a first-come, first-served basis. Trip fee is $425/person*. Registrants are encouraged to arrange their trip partners and register together. Due to the nature of the trip, please note that each partnership must consist of one African American individual and one non-African American individual (but of the same gender). Your seat will be guaranteed upon the receipt of your $200 deposit*, due by August 1, 2020. Download flyer here

*Due to the direct impact that withdrawn registrations have on other participants, please note that all payments are non-refundable.

Did you know...

A lot is happening in the Midwest Conference. Catch up on recent changes and events below!

Staff Transitions
Linda & Marv Norlien concluded their season as interim pastors to Pomeroy ECC at the end of April. We are grateful for their ministry and pray God's blessing over them in this season of transition.
 

Do you have big news to share? Contact office@midwestcovenant.org to have your important event published in the e-News.

Churches working together to transform lives and communities by starting new churches, strengthening existing churches, and developing missional leaders.

From Our Superintendent

Friends,

Two months ago, churches throughout the nation entered new territory as we were forced to explore how to move ministry forward when public gatherings were no longer an option. In this season of learning new platforms and navigating the challenges of individual contexts, it has been encouraging to see the many ways MWC leaders and congregations have worked to stay connected and love those in their midst.

Those in vulnerable communities have experienced increased hardship due to the economic impact of COVID-19. Leaders of our conference have come together to establish the MWC Crisis Relief Fund to provide emergency financial relief to MWC pastors and congregations in crisis. Would you consider a financial gift to care for our sisters and brothers in this difficult season?

We are in a critical time as churches consider when and how to begin making plans to re-open their buildings. With restrictions to gathering size and increased safety precautions, ministry will continue to look different for the foreseeable future. Please know that our MWC leadership is praying for each of our churches as you weigh decisions for continued ministry.   

In this season of physical distancing, I am grateful that we serve a God who is ever near. Whether gathering online or in small groups, may you sense his presence among you as you continue to serve in his name.

To God be the glory!





Tammy



Donations

We invite you to consider a special gift for the mission of the Midwest Conference. Visit Midwest Conference Donations or text "$[AMOUNT]" to 855-948-0814.
 

Prayer Calendar

Download the Mar-Jun 2020 Prayer Calendar, also available on our website.
 

Church Planting Prayer Update

Download the Church Planting Prayer Update to be in prayer for established and gathering church planters. 
 

Covenant World Relief


Through disaster relief and community development, Covenant World Relief partners in the transformation of individuals, families, and communities. Your generous giving enables us to continue serving the poor, the powerless and the marginalized throughout the world.
GIVE TODAY!

Did you know that up to 50% of your church's giving to the denomination can be designated to specific ECC ministry priorities and mission opportunities, such as Covenant World Relief? We invite you to consider giving to areas of ministry that reflect the heart of your church's ministry!
 

Covenant Orientation 

Click here for upcoming classes and registration.

Please note that Vocational Excellence (VE) will be held in Colorado Springs, CO, August 17-21, 2020. All license holders that have not yet taken VE are encouraged to take the course by June 2021. After June 2021, the Fitness for Ministry clinical assessment will no longer be included in VE. If not completed by June 2021, you will be required to complete the Fitness for Ministry assessment separately and for an additional fee. 

 

Upcoming Events

Vocational Excellence
Aug 17-21
Franciscan Retreat Center
Colorado Springs, CO
Register

Financial and Real Estate Training for Church Leadership
Sep 19
Christ Community Cov
Arvada, CO

Fall Pastors Retreat
Oct 5-7
YMCA Camp of the Rockies
Estes Park, CO

Exploring Call for Students
Oct 16-18
First Cov
Salina, KS
Register

Equip Seminary Cohort
First Intensive Course
Oct 26-30
Carol Joy Holling
Ashland, NE

Exploring Call
Nov 1-3
Carol Joy Holling
Ashland, NE
Register

Sankofa
Nov 5-8
Leaving out of KC
Register

Midwinter
Jan 18-22, 2021
Denver, CO

Called, Gifted, and Here to Stay
Mar 1-3, 2021
Colorado Springs, CO

Journey to Mosaic
March 18-21, 2021
Leaving out of Denver

Israel/Palestine Journey
Jun 7-18, 2021

UNITE (formerly CHIC)
Jul 18-23, 2021
Knoxville, TN


MWC Youth Ministry

If you are a youth worker in the MWC and have not been receiving communication from Jim Eaton, please email jime@fccsalina.com to be added to the list.
 

Employment Opportunities

DENOMINATION OPENINGS
Seeking employment? See if any of these opportunities within the denomination are right for you.

CONFERENCE OPENINGS
Covenant Living of Colorado
Westminster, CO
View openings

Pastor of Student Ministries
The Well Covenant
Des Moines, IA
Job Description

Children's Ministry Director
Community Covenant
Kearney, MO
Job Description
 

Connect with MWC

The Midwest Conference uses a variety of methods to keep you connected and up to date with conference happenings. Be sure to connect with us on Facebook and invite members of your congregation to sign up for the monthly e-News!


Midwest Conference


midwestcovenant.org


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With churches meeting virtually at this time, we are not providing bulletin inserts. We encourage you to share this issue electronically in your church e-newsletters and on Facebook.
 

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Copyright © 2020 Midwest Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church, All rights reserved.


Phone: 402-334-3020 or 1-888-871-3020
E-mail: office@midwestcovenant.org
Website: www.midwestcovenant.org
The Midwest Conference is a mission association of Covenant churches in Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, western Missouri, Nebraska, Wyoming
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