125th Annual Meeting opening worship service features local churches

ECC-AM-opening-worshipThe 125th Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Covenant Church, taking place June 24-27 at the RiverCentre in St. Paul, MN, kicked off with a worship service Thursday evening. The event featured Northwest Conference churches and leaders, as well as leaders from across the globe.

The choir from Community Covenant Church in Minneapolis provided prelude music for the service and backed up the worship team, which included a full band of musicians and vocalists singing a variety of hymns and modern worship.

Anne Vining, pastor of First Covenant Church in St. Paul, joined three other pastors from across the country to lead a call to worship for the service. The centerpiece of the stage for the meeting included an historic pulpit from First Covenant.

“It is here as a symbol of the continuing of the word of God preached and proclaimed as the center of our life together,” Don Engebretson, executive vice president of the Evangelical Covenant Church, said of the pulpit.

Konroy and Heidi Boeckel, from Hope Covenant Church in St. Cloud, MN, were among a group of missionaries commissioned during the service. The couple will help educate missionary children and serve in ministries of compassion in Cameroon.

Gary Walter, president of the Evangelical Covenant Church, delivered a message entitled “Mission Cubed.” Drawing from Galatians 2:1-10, Walter exhorted the gathering to address three critical challenges that have faced Christians since the gospel was first proclaimed: to share a gospel of unconditional love, to be inclusive of different cultures, and to live compassionately and justly.

“In case you haven’t noticed, the world is growing tired of angry and cranky evangelicals. And so am I,” Walter said. “We can show—the Covenant can show—the world a renewed kind of evangelicalism, not that arrogantly and angrily shakes a stick at people in anger, but that takes the cross in love and hope and courage into the pain of this world, just like our evangelical forebears in the 1800s, whose faith compelled them to be at the forefront of abolition and suffrage and temperance (we’d call it addiction today), and education, and care for the sick, and care for the handicapped and care for the elderly.”

Read complete coverage from the opening worship service on the Covenant website. See a collection of photos from the evening.