Question: "What is the Evangelical Covenant Church?"
Answer: The Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC) is an Christian denomination founded in 1885. It traces its roots to the Protestant Reformation and the Lutheran State Church of Sweden. In their Covenant and Affirmations, the ECC says, “The Evangelical Covenant Church is committed to reaching across boundaries of race, ethnicity, culture, gender, age, and status.” The Evangelical Covenant Church has more than 800 congregations in the United States and Canada and outreaches on five continents.
Doctrinally, the Evangelical Covenant Church is a little hard to pin down. They are “non-confessional, non-creedal and non-doctrinaire,” although they value the Apostles’ Creed and promote the study of the Bible. They also hold the Word of God as the only perfect rule for faith and practice. They are Trinitarian and have been influenced historically by Pietism. The ECC teaches the necessity of salvation by grace through faith, apart from works. And they emphasize evangelism and outreach, “pursuing compassion and justice through our world.” The ECC describes itself as “Evangelical, but not exclusive; Biblical, but not doctrinaire; Traditional, but not rigid; Congregational, but not independent.”
When a person joins the Evangelical Covenant Church, he or she is asked two basic questions regarding belief: “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?” Then he or she is asked one basic question regarding practice: “Do you intend to live as a faithful follower of Christ and member of the church and denomination?”
They hold to two sacraments: baptism and the communion. The ECC traditionally practices infant baptism, but they allow for believer’s baptism, too. Men and women both may be ordained as ministers and hold office at every level within the ECC. As a denomination they have chosen “not to be divided over issues of long-standing historical diversity” and “to focus on what unites us as followers of Christ, rather than on what divides us.”
Much of what the Evangelical Covenant Church believes is in accordance with the Bible, but the baptism of infants and the ordination of women pastors are problematic. Also, the ECC’s zeal for unity, though commendable in itself, is coupled with a commitment to be “non-doctrinaire,” and this can easily lead to the sacrifice of truth or the encroachment of error.