About Jonathan Wilson

Jonathan Wilson is the pastor at the Evangelical Covenant Church of Elgin. The church has been in ministry since 1890, Jonathan has been in Elgin since 2006. We are dedicated to being a church that loves God, loves our neighbors, and reaches out with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Serving: A Lent Appeal

Ash Wednesday, March 1, 2017, begins the season of Lent. Elgin Covenant will have worship at 7 PM, with songs, prayers, and preaching on repentance. While it is not our custom to impose ashes, every person is welcome to come and hear the truth about yourself, that you are a sinner in need of God’s amazing grace through salvation in Jesus Christ. This post contrasts how we in our culture often view Lent and our personal “sacrifices” with what God wants true “fasting” to look like — serving our neighbor. A list of local community ministries we support comes at the end of the article.

Is this not the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter — when you see one naked, to provide clothes, and not turn away from your own neighbor?”             —Isaiah 58:6-7

Some view Lent as an opportunity to get back on the diet that had lapsed some time after the New Year’s Resolution. Some see it as a reason to try some new kind of discipline, for example to watch t.v. less and try instead to read start to finish one book a week, or get some daily exercise. These might have some religious, Jesus-centered motivation, but this kind of Lent observance is mostly a mostly rather than a spiritual response.

There are some for whom Lent is an important time of year for religious observance. Marking the days that Jesus fasted in the wilderness as an analogy to his whole life of sacrifice and suffering, Lent was begun in the early centuries of Christian faith to motivate repentance, contrition, and a desire for deeper holiness. So for many the fish-only Fridays and other attempts at fasting or “doing without” a favorite, such as chocolate, combined with the extra prayers and worship services, are performed with a religious zeal in the hopes that these acts of worship will atone for sins and balance the account in God’s eyes.

Many Protestants and Evangelicals like Pastor Jonathan the author of this post, call this idea “works righteousness.” We believe that those who do religious works as a way of paying their penalty for sins have the wrong idea about God, the wrong idea about sin, and the wrong idea about what it means to become holy.

The Prophet Isaiah cautioned the people that God even in the Old Testament did not demand religious works and penalties as a way of becoming righteous. Instead God wanted the people to address the root causes of their problems; that the people who humbled themselves and fasted during special days, were the same people who were guilty of  greed, covetousness, gossip and extortion. It did no one any good to cheat someone else and then go on a religious fast, as though this atoned for cheating. If people wanted to experience the blessing of God, they needed to restore their ill-gotten gains first, and then, begin to be generous towards others. That is what God can bless.

Going on a self-discipline during Lent for a religious reason or a cultural reason is okay provided that it does not spring from magic thinking, which is the notion that by saying an extra prayer or going without chocolate, you are making yourself righteous and forcing God to do something nice for you in return. God has already given you everything! Let your religious works be expressions of thankfulness. Meanwhile, the true worship of God, the true “fasting” that God desires, is that you be generous to those who are worse off than you. The question to ask during Lent is not “How can I show God I’m a better person?” but instead “How can I show my neighbor the love of God?”

At Elgin Covenant we provide many opportunities, listed below, to minister locally with compassion to our neighbors through volunteer support and financial giving. If you would like more information on how to get involved please call our church office, 847-888-2302.

-Larkin High School-

Donut Klub: Free food every Wednesday before school.

Tutoring: Wednesday after school by appointment.

-Our Benevolence Ministry Partners–

Benevolence offerings ever 2nd Sunday of the month support:

The Interfaith Food Pantry. Located in historic downtown Elgin at First Congregational Church.

The Salvation Army. The Elgin location is just north of historic downtown on Douglas Ave., they provide direct aid in food and clothing and holistic ministry.

Wayside Elgin. On Berkeley Avenue in the industrial district between Elgin Community College and US Route 20, Wayside provides holistic ministry and day-time shelter to the homeless.

-Local Mission Volunteer Projects and Annual Support-

TLC Life Center of Elgin. We provide budget support, regular volunteer support, and on a weekly basis permit the use of our parking lot to the Mobile Ultra Sound Unit.

Feed My Starving Children. We are developing a rhythm of sending 25 volunteers to a two-hour work session at the FMSC location into Schaumburg, twice each year. (This is a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse.)

Operation Christmas Child. Shoe-box sized packages are filled with Christimas gifts each fall for delivery to children in poverty by Christmas day. (This is a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse.)

Fox Valley Christian Action. This receives budget support from our church and occasional volunteer help.

Covenant Harbor Bible Camp. A little over an hour drive’s north and across the Wisconsin border, our district Bible Camp has a Lake Geneva waterfront. We offer budget support and volunteer work teams twice each year.

500 Years of Reformation: Celebrate, Learn, Discuss

2017 marks 500 years of the beginning of the Reformation of Western Christianity.  To commemorate this event I am making two resources available on this site which the Elgin Covenant Church will be using. First, is a lectionary supplement designed to be a companion to the Revised Common Lectionary Series A for a year-long emphasis on the Reformation. That can be downloaded from the “Reformation 500 Years” tab or here:

2017 Celebrating the Reformation

Second, the adult Sunday School is working through a paper written by me, the church’s  pastor, Rev. Dr. Jonathan Wilson, on “Repentance is the Whole Life of the Christian: Some Points on the Ongoing Need for Reform.” All are invited to download this paper and to respond to it. The full text can be found on the “Reformation” tab as well.

The paper describes various ways that the heirs of the Protestant Reformation are ourselves in need of ongoing reform, and treats Repentance as the premise of ongoing reform and the Christian life. The paper is a critique of many errant customs and beliefs across the spectrum of the Protestant Faith: Liberal, Fundamentalist, and “Middle Way.” It does not engage the Anabaptist tradition, and only discusses the Pentecostal/Charismatic traditions insofar as they are participants in the Protestant spectrum.

The purpose of the paper is to challenge, discuss, and where conviction has been aroused, to call to repentance.


Christmas 2016 at Elgin Covenant Church

Our calendar of Christmas events is in this post, see below.

Thank you for looking us up! Advent is well under way with our annual Santa Lucia breakfast coffee, and our Gingerbread House decorating workshop, already behind us. We are looking forward to special concerts, worship services and celebrations to see us into the New Year. If you are looking for a heritage-honoring blended worship experience with a congregation that worships Jesus Christ as Lord and God, looks to him alone for salvation, celebrates traditional values, and teaches Biblical doctrine, take this season to check out Elgin Covenant. Here is Our Advent and Christmas Holidays Schedule:

December 11, 10:30 AM. Worship with Benevolence Offering. There will be a special emphasis given to the need of one of the victims of the Oakland “Ghost Ship” fire whose father worships with us. A “gofundme” page has been opened at https://www.gofundme.com/help-after-the-ghost-ship-fire for donations. The Children’s Church program (kids through 6th grade dismiss before the sermon) will feature rehearsal for the pageant that comes next week (see below).

December 11, 5 PM: Annual Night of Christmas Music featuring Murna Hansemann, Jorge Holmes and friends. A cookie reception follows.

December 18, 10:30 AM: Our regularly scheduled worship service will feature the Adult Choir presenting a program in cooperation with the Children’s Church.

December 24, 7 PM: Christmas Eve candlelight worship service. That night’s offering is designated for Orda, our World Vision Congo Child whom our church has supported for four years.

December 25, 10:30 AM. Sunday worship on Christmas Day features Pastor Henoch Fuentes, our Outreach pastor, with the message for the morning.

December 31, 6 PM. New Year’s Eve Come and Stay/Go.

6 PM, potluck;  7 PM, worship; 8 PM, dessert buffet and games.

Come when you can, stay as long as you like.

January 1, 10:30 AM, New Year’s Day worship and communion service.

Back To School

The first part of this is back to school information for Larkin High School students. Scroll past the 3 numbered points for information for families and programs at Elgin Covenant Church.

Larkin High School students:

  1. Looking for parking? Go to the student parking tab. We are the church right next to the school, and we have lots of room so TELL YOUR FRIENDS too! 
  2. Looking for donuts and beverages every Wednesday morning? That starts up right here at Elgin Covenant Church on August 24. We know about the rule that you cannot bring “outside” food into the school. But take a couple minutes starting at 7 AM and drop in, have a free donut and something to drink, and hang out before the school day begins. 
  3. Looking for homework help? Stay tuned for announcements as we get that organized this fall for one after-school session per week at the church, especially for help in math and science.

Families: The middle of August at Elgin Covenant means it is back to school for students, teachers, and staff. Being located next to Larkin High School (only a grass ditch separates us) and with several kids and learning professionals in our congregation, it makes for a busy time in our church. That is one reason we begin our Fall programs in September — lives are just too hectic to try to launch church programs at the same time that schools are launching their academic years. Here are some important dates:

August 28 is our church picnic, which we will hold on-site. Worship is at 10:30, picnic attire is welcome. Lunch will follow immediately, with places to eat both inside and outside. There will be games for kids. Meat and drinks are provided. You are asked to bring your own disposable table-ware and plates and napkins, and a dish to share. A-K bring a side or a salad, and J-Z bring a dessert.

On Wednesday, September 7, we begin the first of our monthly Kids Club meetings from 6-7:15 PM., for primary-age students (through 6th Grade). Parents will be invited to eat pizza together upstairs for $1/slice while kids eat downstairs for free. The Kids Club sessions this Fall are Sept. 7, October 5, and November 2., and then a special Christmas family event in December.

Sunday, September 11, begins our regular program of G3, the children’s program which takes place during adult worship. Also the nursery for children up through age 3 will be staffed. The Adult Sunday School will begin meeting on September 11 at 9:15 AM.

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.