Life in the Zoo: Summer Preaching Series

If you are visiting town or you are looking for a family-friendly multi-generational church anchored in Christ, the scriptures, and traditional definitions, I hope you will seek us out. The first three weeks in July we are continuing a series that takes a look at the way animals are used in the Bible for parables and stories to teach us truths about ourselves. “Life in the Zoo” also features special Kids for Christ moments where children are invited to bring stuffed animal toys with them. For July 3rd kids are invited to bring stuffed animal snakes or toy snakes with them to the front pew (no real pets please!).  July 10 the featured animal is sheep. July 17, the conclusion of the series, is Teddy Bear day.

The theme verse for the series comes from Colossians 1:23, “This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven.” The theme challenge for the series is: “Will you be a child of God, or will life make a monkey out of you?” The series is light-hearted, but the challenge is real. Come join us!

Our Summer Schedule 2016

Our program year is finishing strong through May 22, but we are active church through the summer too. Please join us on May 22 at our 10:30 worship service as our choir sings one more time before their hiatus; they will return in October.  Also on May 22 the adult Sunday School will meet for the last time at 9:15 until after Labor Day. Also picking up after Labor Day will be the Wednesday Dinners, Kids Club and Youth meetings.

During the summer we continue to worship every Sunday at 10:30 AM, and we continue to host a fellowship hour with refreshments afterwards. The summer also features special programs and celebrations for families: The week of Monday June  27 through Friday July 1 we cooperate for our seventh year with Child Evangelism Fellowship with a week-day morning Vacation Bible School. Please call the church, 847-888-2302, for details. On Saturday, June 18 we are committed to bring 20 people of all ages to the Feed My Starving Children food preparation site in Schaumburg. This takes place from 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM and will be followed by a shared fellowship outing. We plan to hold our  Children and Family Ministries Picnic Sunday on August 28. Bring your own picnic plates and utensils and a favorite food to share, and join us!

Summer Adult Learning

In lieu of the Adult Sunday School, Pastor Jonathan will provide sessions on basic doctrine and the history of the Evangelical Covenant and the congregation in Elgin. These sessions meet a need for those interested in joining as members, but are open to all who are interested in learning who we are, or in getting a refresher. The following dates are tentative and subject to change: After worship in the Conference Room June 19, 26; July 3, 10. Make up as needed, August 14, 21.

Please continue visiting this site for more details on special events as the summer unfolds, or call the church with any questions.

After School Tutoring Begins

With the start of the fourth quarter of the 2015-2016 school year Elgin Covenant has piloted an after school program of free tutoring for mainstream high school students — in plenty of time before final exams. This program meets on Wednesdays after school.

The subjects that we have begun with are in math and science, with tutors who are retired professionals. As with all volunteers and staff at Elgin Covenant who work with minors, our tutors have been cleared by background checks.

We are looking to expand this program, including the subjects offered for tutoring, with the Fall. In the meantime you can let us know if you are a high school student in need of help to succeed in a subject. Send us an email at elgincovenant@sbcglobal.net, put Tutoring in the subject line, let us know the name of the student and the subject area needed. We will communicate back whether we will be able to provide the assistance requested during this spring quarter.

Easter Season Special Events

The Evangelical Covenant Church of Elgin believes and celebrates that Jesus is alive. Easter Sunday is the day that churches around the world celebrate the unique moment in history when Jesus Christ rose from the dead, left his tomb behind him empty, and began to appear to his followers. What put him in the grave was that he had been crucified. This injustice at the hands of the world’s powers was something he willingly suffered in order that he might: 1) bear the weight of each our sins and sin’s curse of death upon himself; 2) show the world’s powers the extent of their own systemic depravity; 3) die as a sinless, innocent person, whom God the Father, with perfect justice, cannot allow to remain dead, for if death is the punishment for sin than a sinless person murdered in the world must be raised up again in triumph over the grave. This is good news. You can share in the victory of Jesus over death and sin by surrendering your sinful self to him, and inviting his Spirit to inhabit your body as the seal of your promise for eternal life.

Many churches celebrate the resurrection and the events leading up to it. At Elgin Covenant we have this schedule for 2016:
March 20, “Palm Sunday.” This celebrates when Jesus entered Jerusalem in order to confront the worldly powers head-on. We worship as usual at 10:30. Then at 4 PM families with children are invited to our Easter Eggstravaganza, which features an egg hunt, and the decorating of eggs, and pizza for dinner.

On Thursday, March 24, we will have a “Maundy Thursday” communion service commemorating the events of the Lord’s Supper and the night that Jesus was arrested.

On Friday, March 25, we are inviting all those interested to the joint Elgin Evangelicals Good Friday worship and communion service at Second Baptist Church.

On Sunday, March 27, we worship at 10:30. The service will include our praise team, additional choir selections and brass instruments.

We hope you will join us in this special season of worship. We pray even more that your heart is touched and opened to God’s love for you in Jesus Christ this season.

Our Theme in 2016: Solving Problems

Did you know that churches tend to have certain kinds of problems, and have always had certain kinds of problems? It is the problems that churches have that make Christians the butt of jokes and satire, like Dana Carvey’s “Church Lady” on Saturday Night Live. Even though that schtick is over twenty-five years old it still strikes people as funny. In serious conversation Christians are often set apart for being “hypocrites.” It’s tough to hear, but true enough that it sticks. Many churches with over 50 years of history behind them have had their best days — more people, more programs — in the past. One big reason is that Church People have not related well to the world around them, but an even BIGGER reason is that Church People have not related well to EACH OTHER. Spiritual explorers who are searching for communities of faith in which to get involved, have seen that, noticed that, discerned that, and decided –for their own good– to move on to more nurturing environments.

When I say “churches have always had these problems” I don’t just mean “since the 1980′s.” I mean the problems go all the way back, to the stories of the Bible. After Jesus was risen from the dead, he deposited his Holy Spirit on his witnesses, and these men and women took the gospel throughout the Roman World. Almost as soon as any church got going it began to have the kinds of problems we still have today:

1) People judging each other meanly over external things, like clothes and manners.

2) Ethnic bigotry.

3) Moral bigotry — accountability deprived of grace.

4) Moral laxity — Grace deprived of a gospel of effective ethical transformation.

5) Leadership egos squabbling over power.

6) Hypocrisy — people presenting untrue pictures of themselves.

7) Generational disputes.

8) Factions. “I want what I want and I don’t care whether “THEY” get what THEY want.”

9) Theological error.

Sound familiar? It has ALL happened BEFORE. The New Testament leaders Peter, Paul, Priscilla, James and John all had to address them. That is why we at Elgin Covenant are going to make 2016 a year of studying problems in the church AND their solutions — as reported in the New Testament and applied to the Church of today.

You will learn:
1) That problems in Churches have their root causes in sin and their solutions in repentance.
2) That churches with a core culture of repentant hearts are active in the power of the Holy Spirit, while churches with a core culture of unrepentant or hypocritical hearts operate under their own power –which might work for a while, but unravels over the long term.
3) That the problems you have seen for yourself as a Christian in different church settings, in everything from hissy-fits of jealousy on the church’s margins to outright moral collapse among leaders, are not unique to your experience and do not indicate that the church you have been involved with is somehow especially bad or sick or sinful. These problems were seen by the apostles themselves, and addressed by them.
4) That just because these problems are normal does not mean they are unimportant. These problems poison the “wells of salvation” (Isaiah 12:3) and keep churches from flourishing as places where seekers want to test the wells — the depth and the purity of what we claim to be “living water” (John 4:10). A further note on the importance of solving these problems: I am using the Bible’s “wells” image to speak to the religious priorities of the Millennial generation in their search for authenticity. But it is not the millennials who first left the church. In the United States they are continuing the trend long-established by X’ers (mine) and Boomers, and the trend was already underway in Canada and western Europe.
5) Knowledge that these problems have been common should heighten our desire to see how they are solved in the guidance of the Spirit and the Apostles, that is, God’s Word, the scriptures.
6) Knowing that none of us are not tested beyond what is common to all , we can have empathy and grace as believers for each other across congregational and denominational boundaries.
7) The solutions to the problems come not by living perfect lives and never sinning (I John 1:8-9), but by love for one another (I John 4:7-12), since love “covers a multitude of sins” (I Peter 4:8); by broken and contrite hearts which the Lord receives as his own (Psalm 51:17); and by the power of the Spirit of Christ dwelling within us, teaching us Christ’s own empathy for the weaknesses we find in ourselves and others (Hebrews 4:14-16).

Our goal in bringing this preaching emphasis is that those who hear and participate with us will be inspired to live in God’s strength as the joyful, repentant, contrite, bold witnesses to Jesus Christ that we are called to be, within the churches we belong to, and beyond.

Christmas 2015 At Elgin Covenant

The last update on this page was in September, and our fall heated up and flew by with our schedule of 125th Anniversary events. Now Christmas is upon us. Some of our annual celebrations are already complete, but there is much more to come. We hope you will join us to mark the holy season of Advent and Christmas.

Dec. 5, Santa Lucia Coffee, 9 AM. Over one hundred people turn out for this open house every first Saturday of December.
Dec. 6, Advent Communion (10:30); kids and family Gingerbread House and pizza party, 4 – 6 PM.
Dec. 13, Night of Christmas Music featuring Jeorge Holmes, Diva Montel, the Elgin Salvation Army Brass Band and Murna Hansemann on piano, 5 PM with a cookie reception following.
Dec. 16, 5:30 PM, dress rehearsal for the Christmas Children’s and Choir Program
Dec. 20, 10:30 AM, Christmas Children’s and Choir Program
Dec. 24, 7 PM, Candlelight Christmas Service
Dec. 25, 6 AM, Julotta Christmas worship
Dec. 27, 10:30 Christmastide worship
Dec. 31, New Year’s Eve Party: 6 PM, Potluck Dinner; 7 PM, Worship; 8 PM, dessert buffet and games; (videos will be show for kids as alternative at 7 PM).
Jan. 3, New Year communion, 10:30 AM.

125 Years of Ministry: Celebrations this Fall

After the SOLD OUT smorgasboard on Friday, September 18, Elgin Covenant is poised for even more celebration of its 2015 anniversary year in October and November.

On October 4, 2 PM, all are invited to Elgin Covenant for an organ concert featuring Jose’ J. Rosado, organist and Director of Music at St. James Episcopal Church, West Dundee, IL. Admission is free. A reception will follow.

On October 11, retired and former Elgin Covenant pastor, the Rev. Dr. Herbert Hedstrom, will preach at the 10:30 service. A lunch will follow. All are invited.

Saturday, November 7, the President of the Evangelical Covenant, Rev. Dr. Gary Walter, will be the featured speaker at the Anniversary Banquet. This is a ticketed event.

Sunday, November 8, all are welcome to worship which will include a visit and greeting from Central Conference Associate Superintendent Peter Sjoblom, Elgin Covenant’s “vitality coach,” with a cake reception following.

If you have any questions about these events please call the church at 847-888-2302. We hope you can join us when you can and celebrate with us 125 years of ministry in Elgin and the Fox Valley.

SHIFT into a New Gear

Our church wants to be “Disciples Who Make Disciples.” There are two sides to that: First is being disciples, that is, being intentional about learning from Jesus and his Word; second is making disciples, that is, sharing our stories of faith in Jesus with others and inviting them to receive Jesus for themselves.

SHIFT is a teaching and learning emphasis that helps us be true to the vision of being disciples. We are beginning this six-week teaching emphasis in September in our children, youth, and adult learning, and in Sunday morning worship. Each week’s lesson is self-contained. You are invited to come to what you can, and not be discouraged by anything you have to miss.

Week One: Shift Your Relationship with God, Bearing Fruit on the True Vine; John 15:1-17

Week Two: Shift Your Relationship with Others, From “Me” to “We;” Philippians 2:1-18

Week Three: Shift From Self-Fear to God-Confidence; Isaiah 6:1-7

Week Four: Shift into Empathy; Luke 10:25-37

Week Five:Shift Perspective, See As God Sees; Genesis 11:27-12:9

Week Six: Shift Into Action; Acts 10

Church Picnic August 30: KIDS CELEBRATE 125 YEARS

This year our annual church picnic is going to have some extra touches as we make it the church’s 125th Anniversary Party for KIDS. The plan is that children will have special involvements in the worship service, and the picnic itself will feature games and activities of various kinds — hopefully including a “bouncy castle” (used to be called “moonwalk”).

This picnic party is an open invitation to the whole city of Elgin. It will take place on the church campus at 1565 Larkin Avenue. Activities will begin with worship at 10:30, followed by lunch. Meats and beverages are provided, participants in the picnic are invited to bring their own picnic ware and a side-dish to share.