- Evangelical Covenant Church
Evangelical Covenant Church Classification Protestant Orientation Evangelical Geographical areas United States, Canada Origin 1885
Congregations 800+ Official website www.covchurch.org Covenant Yearbook, 2009-2010 Edition
The Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC) is an evangelical Christian denomination of more than 800 congregations and an average worship attendance of 179,000 people in the United States and Canada with ministries on five continents. Founded in 1885 by Swedish immigrants, the church is now one of the most rapidly growing and multi-ethnic denominations in North America. Historically Lutheran in theology and background, it is now a broadly evangelical movement.
Swedish Lutheran immigrants founded the Swedish Evangelical Mission Covenant of America (now ECC) on February 20, 1885, in Chicago, Illinois.
A pietistic religious awakening had swept through Sweden around the middle of the 19th century. Out of this awakening and reformation came the Swedish Mission Covenant Church in 1878. The state church discouraged the gathering of these believers. It was people from this movement that emigrated to America and formed the Swedish Evangelical Mission Covenant of America. Early leaders and influences included P.P. Waldenström, 1838–1917; Frans-Gustav Petersson-Haggquist, 1843–1936; Axel E. Karlson, 1858–1910; David Nyvall, 1863–1946; et al. They desired to create a voluntary covenant of churches that were committed to sharing the Gospel of Jesus, as well as provide means for ministerial training. The name was changed to the Evangelical Covenant Church of America in 1954 and the "of America" was eventually abandoned because the denomination includes a Canadian conference.
The denominational offices are located in Chicago, Illinois, where they also operate North Park University, North Park Theological Seminary and Swedish Covenant Hospital. There are related Bible colleges in Alaska and California. (See Alaska Christian College, and Centro Hispano de Estudios Teológicos).
The church is divided into ten regional conferences - Canada Conference, Central Conference, East Coast Conference (org. 1890), Great Lakes Conference, Midsouth Conference, Midwest Conference, North Pacific Conference, Northwest Conference, Pacific Southwest Conference, and Southeast Conference - and one administrative region - Alaska. The highest authority is an annual meeting of delegates sent by the local congregations. Covenant Publications is the publishing arm of the denomination. The denominational hymnal is The Covenant Hymnal: A Worship Book. A major church ministry is not-for-profit senior housing, the ECC being one of the top ten suppliers of such housing in the United States.
As of 2009, membership was 123,529 in 778 congregations in the United States (42 states) and an estimated 1500 members in 23 congregations in Canada (5 provinces). Average attendance in 2009 was 178,997. The denomination also has ongoing missions work in 25 countries worldwide, with 125 long term missionaries, project missionaries and short-term missionaries. The ECC has a worldwide membership of almost 278,000.
Membership is concentrated primarily in three regions of the United States: the Midwest, along the West Coast, and in the Great Plains region. California has the largest number of members, but the highest rates of membership are in Minnesota, Alaska, Kansas, Nebraska, and Washington.
Forerunners of the Swedish Evangelical Mission Covenant were the Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Ansgar Synod and the Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Mission Synod. When members of the two synods dissolved and the Swedish Evangelical Mission Covenant was formed, some of those who did not enter the Mission Covenant formed the Swedish Evangelical Free Mission (now the Evangelical Free Church of America). The Evangelical Covenant Church maintains ties with the Mission Covenant Church of Sweden (formerly known as the Svenska Missionsförbundet; see Svenska Missionskyrkan and CIPE), and the other churches in the International Federation of Free Evangelical Churches.
In the 1920s, Warner Sallman created illustrations for the denominational magazine, Covenant Companion, including his charcoal sketch The Son of Man for a 1924 magazine cover that was later redone as the famous oil painting The Head of Christ.
Notable Members of the Evangelical Covenant Church
- Missionary Doctor Paul Carlson, killed in 1964.
- President of the Cleveland Browns and former head coach of both the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers Mike Holmgren.
- ABC News Medical Editor Dr. G. Timothy Johnson.
- Members of The Fray (band) David Welsh and Ben Wysocki
- Artist Warner Sallman
- Musician Lincoln Brewster
- Miss America 2008 Kirsten Haglund
- Lifechurch.tv Pastor Craig Groeschel
- Covenant Affirmations (2005, 24 page denominational summary, .pdf)
- Covenant Roots, Glenn P. Anderson, editor
- David Nyvall and the Shape of an Immigrant Church, by Scott E. Erickson
- Encyclopedia of American Religions, J. Gordon Melton, editor
- Handbook of Denominations in the United States, by Frank S. Mead, Samuel S. Hill, and Craig D. Atwood
- Religious Congregations & Membership in the United States (2000), Glenmary Research Center
- 2004 Annual Meeting Update: Delegate Summary Report
- 2005 Annual Meeting Update: Delegate Summary Report
- 2006 Annual Meeting Update: Delegate Summary Report
- Covenant Yearbook: Statistical Data & Resources for Churches 2005-2006
- Covenant Distinctives, Everett L. Wilson and Donald Lindman, authors
- Morgan, David (Summer 2006). "The face that's everywhere". Christian History & Biography (Christianity Today International) (91): 11.
- Official website
- North Park University
- North Park Theological Seminary
- Alaska Christian College
- Minnehaha Academy
- Swedish Covenant Hospital
- Pacific Southwest Conference
- Adherents.com membership numbers for the ECC
- East Coast Conference (org. 1890)
- Covenant Bookstore - Find church resources and Covenant Publications here.
- Profile of the Evangelical Covenant Church on the Association of Religion Data Archives website
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