As part of the Evangelical Covenant (ECC), we summarize our vital beliefs through six core commitments we call Covenant Affirmations:
We affirm the centrality of the Word of God: 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. We are a community which desires to be shaped by the powerful and living Word of God, rather than shaped by our culture.
We affirm the necessity of the New Birth: New birth in Jesus is an essential aspect to our spiritual lives. It means committing ourselves to him and receiving forgiveness, acceptance and eternal life. New birth is more than the experience of forgiveness and acceptance; it involves the transformation of the inward person as the result of Jesus’s death and resurrection, when God conquered death. God spiritually awakens his people into a new life, a life of love and righteousness, joy and peace. New birth is only the beginning. Growing to spiritual maturity as a follower of Jesus is a lifelong process for both individuals and communities. God forms and transforms us—through the individual and communal transformation God renews the world.
We affirm a commitment to the Whole Mission of the Church: The Covenant has always been a community organized around mission. The founders of our movement referred to themselves 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 telling others about new life in Jesus and acts of compassion, mercy, and justice. The Great Commission sends us out into all the world to make followers of Jesus. The Great Commandment calls us to love the Lord our God and our neighbors as ourselves. As part of the Covenant we seek to hold together proclamation and compassion, personal witness and justice, service and stewardship in all areas of life. God is in the business of making all things new and calls his followers to participate in this mission. Those who neither know nor love Jesus as well as those enduring poverty, suffering, inequality, and injustice cannot be ignored. When we address not only the consequences but also the causes of suffering, we live out what it means to be the body of Jesus in this world.
We affirm the church as a Fellowship of Believers: The church is a family or community of believers, characterized by mutual participation in and sharing of the new life in Jesus. The church is a community composed of many members, each different and mutually interdependent (1 Corinthians 12:12-30). It is when we are in community with one another, when all of God’s people are interacting with one another in worship and service, that God’s will is most clearly revealed and discerned. Within Christian community there is to be neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, but all are one in Jesus the Messiah (Galatians 3:28). These three areas—race, class, and gender—are to be of no advantage or disadvantage within God’s community. This is a multiethnic, classless, gender-equal vision. We recognize our need for ethnic diversity, for community and mutual service across artificially constructed socio-economic boundaries, and for the gifts and leadership of women and men. We pursue a vision to be a family of equals. We observe baptism and 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 community of believers who participate in the life and mission of Jesus the Messiah.
We affirm a conscious dependence on the Holy Spirit: We affirm a Trinitarian understanding of the One God in which God exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit continues the creative work of the Father and the redeeming work of the Son within the life of the church. The Spirit dwells within God’s people, transforming us into the image of Jesus and empowering us to continue God’s mission to the world. 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 Jesus the Messiah, and who assures us that Messiah dwells within us. It is the Holy Spirit who enables our obedience to Jesus and conforms us to his image, and it is the Spirit in us that enables us to continue the Messiah’s mission in the world. The Holy Spirit gives spiritual gifts to us as individuals and binds us together as Messiah’s body.
We affirm the reality of freedom in Christ: We seek to focus on what unites followers of Jesus rather than what separates them. As a result we offer freedom to one another on issues that might otherwise divide. Freedom does not mean autonomy and independence. Authentic freedom manifests itself in a right relationship with God and others. God freed Israel from Egypt. Their freedom was not only freedom from Egyptian slavery, but also freedom to serve and worship God in their own land. God offered Israel freedom to not only serve one another, but also the stranger, the foreigner, the widow and the orphan. In the same way, our freedom is not personal or individualistic. Through Jesus, God freed us not only from sin, but also from the binding restrictions of culture and creed to live into a new reality. Freedom is not for self-indulgence or self-aggrandizement but to serve and love God, in whom alone is found true freedom. It leads us to serve the community and the world out of love for God. We embrace the tensions inherent in this freedom. We offer one another freedom on issues that might tend to divide. With offer one another theological and personal freedom where the biblical and historical record seems to allow for a variety of interpretations of the will and purposes of God.