The document below is the covenant approved by member congregations in 2013. A new covenant has been submitted to member congregations for approval in 2015; a .pdf is available for download here.
By this agreement the congregations of Atonement, Emmaus, Our Savior’s,
Redeemer and Saint Andrew bind ourselves together in a mission partnership of substance. We take as our model for corporate life the Trinity. God is three persons, absolutely unique and as individual as any three persons. Yet, they are so closely bound that they cannot be spoken of as three entities, but one entity, one being. They are bound by a deep love for each other and a common mission.
Our congregations are bound by that same love (agape) which is profoundly committed to the well-being of the other partners as well as a common commitment to seeking God’s will and partnering in God’s mission.
God has used each of our congregations in significant ways for more than a century. Each of our congregations has its own history, culture and proud identity. We, in this agreement, acknowledge the importance of each individual congregation, but we also believe that there are a number of compelling reasons which draw us to this new way of being. First, we believe this partnership is a result of the movement of the Holy Spirit in our midst. This truth, by itself, is compelling enough to cause this partnership to be brought into existence. Second, we believe that God’s mission finds substantial commonality among us. Third, we believe that a careful and honest assessment of our assets, liabilities and existing mission may lead to new and creative use of our assets to serve that mission and diminish those liabilities. In other words, our common strengths and resources might be brought to bear upon God’s mission in our midst, regardless of parochial concerns, and that the liabilities of one place might be overcome by the common strength of the partnership. Led by the Spirit, we, as FaithWorks congregations, join together our God-given gifts and resources in order to love and serve God, neighbor, and all creation. We are stronger together than apart. Finally, we believe that such a partnership has the potential to create a new mission-oriented, joyful, positive energy for our congregations.
We see those common missions to be the following:
- Worship: together we provide worship in a variety of times, locations, styles, and, (thanks to Emaús,) languages. Over time we may consolidate similar worship types and create new forms and styles to meet the needs of the 21st century.
- Each congregation has significant food ministries. Because we understand these ministries to be so significant, we believe that some of our initial partnership work will focus upon food ministries.
- While we will continue to attract, welcome and learn together to do excellent ministry with seniors, we believe that outreach to children and youth is a part of every healthy congregation. We believe that our congregations could provide a significant youth ministry together that might elude us individually.
- As we move farther into this new era of mission oriented church, it becomes very clear that we are a priesthood of all believers. In order to be the most effective priesthood we can be, we need to be strong disciples of Jesus. Therefore, a major part of the mission that we undertake together must be discipleship training to deepen our relationship with God and to witness to the transforming love of God by word and action in our daily lives.
- A part of the church’s mission has always been to seek justice for the poor. We are increasingly challenged to do that while supporting multi-location ministry by member giving. Therefore, we perceive the need for entrepreneurial mission which may provide resources for new and continuing mission while at the same time providing opportunity for members and others who are in need to gain financial independence and strength.
- Our congregations are involved in a variety of world missions which can be shared more broadly with each partner congregation.
- The church has always been concerned with the health of individuals and communities. Our mission must always include healing and the creation of wholeness. Our common goal will be to support, create and strengthen professional ministries in our midst. These ministries include pastoral care, health ministries, and legal services.
- The church has always understood that we have an obligation to care for God’s world. Individually our congregations have begun journeys in recent years to become better stewards of God’s creation. We will continue in this ministry by careful use of resources, the re-creation of facilities to be more energy efficient, and the creation of facilities which have a small energy footprint and which may even produce energy.
- Our separate geographic locations emphasize the fact that we share a common parish which encompasses the greater Racine metropolitan area. If our parish includes everyone in the area, our concern must be for their long-term health and wholeness. Our preference must be for the poor, and thus we seek social justice for everyone in our parish and beyond. We must understand this commitment to be not only charity but also addressing the causes of injustice and suffering.
We embrace the following core beliefs:
- We exist for mission – God’s mission. That’s the bottom line. We honor the past, we embrace the goodness of each partner congregation, but in the end our mission must dictate our decisions. We are not committed to survival, but to fulfilling God’s dreams.
- There is no location that is absolutely sacred. This partnership demands that everything be put on the table as God’s resource for the sake of God’s mission. We must battle the idolatry of buildings. At the same time we understand the value of each congregation’s mission and the importance of place.
- Our congregations must become examples of the appropriate use of resources so that God’s earth is not damaged, but replenished.
- We believe that there is no such thing as race, but rather the human family joined by Christ’s love, and as a partnership we will struggle with the sin and evil of racism wherever we find it, including within ourselves.
In order to focus our congregations on our partnership goals and core beliefs, we have established a Mission Council. The purposes of this group is to assess missional needs continually (what in our world is causing God pain?); to recommend missional solutions which are not necessarily congregationally bound, but which use the resources given by God to the whole partnership; to create an ongoing evaluation of resources available for mission; and to have the authority to initiate the use of those resources, while understanding the distinct congregational polity to which each congregation is currently constitutionally bound.
Each congregation council will appoint two lay persons and one pastor to be a part of the Mission Council.
By this document, we authorize the Mission Council to continue to support a part-time, paid position whose task it will be to help organize our congregations for distinct partnership ministries.
We have created the Mission Council. On this rock we have built a foundation that included shared worship and ministry. We have moved forward by holding in several common worship services, youth gatherings, a fall festival, and a leadership retreat.
We will continue throughout 2013 as an experiment in communal partnership. This covenant will commit congregations to the second of two years of profound partnership following the ratification of the covenant. The Mission Council along with each congregation commits to providing the FaithWorks congregations an action plan for continued partnership no later than December 31, 2013. The process that will be followed to develop this action plan is outlined in the attachment to this covenant. The covenant is meant to be a living document. It may be modified by action of the Mission Council and ratification by a majority of the partnership congregations.