Hello, Friends of Covenant Community Church,
We wanted to give you an update on some significant decisions we believe the Lord has led us to make after several months of prayer, church family conversations, and humbly seeking the counsel of others.
In God’s providence, we find ourselves in a very vulnerable season as a congregation and after a careful assessment, we have determined that we do not possess the long-term viability to continue as a self-governing congregation on mission in our neighborhood.
Although this is sad and sobering news on one level, we believe the Lord has made the way forward clear for us. Due to the Lord giving unity of heart and direction to our church family, along with the welcoming generosity of our sister church, Christ Church, in South Philadelphia, the plan is for the majority of our remaining members to be adopted into their congregation and I will begin to serve as a pastor on their eldership. This will be effective on November 1, 2020. The hope is that after a time of fully assimilating together, we would begin a process of assessing the possibility of planting a new neighborhood church in the West Philadelphia area.
Now, you may be wondering how we got to the place where we had to make this decision?
In addition to the high level of transience in our particular part of the city, the pandemic has hit our neighborhoods and congregation very hard with what some have been calling an urban exodus. An unprecedented number of people have relocated or are in the process of moving away from our part of the city in the near future. Our congregation has been reduced to less than half her size over the COVID crisis with more planned relocations over the next year. This has also been felt on a leadership level.
During this time our eldership has unexpectedly been reduced by two-thirds with both Greg Dietrich and Drew Chapman resigning from the eldership with plans to relocate from Philadelphia. Both of these dear brothers have carried full-time workloads in our day to day operations as a church. To their credit, we believe that each has walked through their resignations humbly, carefully, and prayerfully with leadership over the course of the past six months. This only further adversely affected our operational stability because we had also recently experienced the resignation and relocation of our deacon for Sunday operations, Sawyer Reifsnyder. Over the summer we came to the conclusion that there was simply no practical way to fill in all these gaps with volunteers from our dwindling congregation.
Because of these significant gaps in our operational leadership as well as decreasing resources based on these and future known departures, we found ourselves in a place where we would simply not be able to continue to operate and serve as a congregation in the ways we have over the past four years.
We informed the congregation of these realities mid-August and decided that we would take the next two months to discern the Lord’s will with the help of the congregation and counsel from representatives of our denomination, Trinity Fellowship Churches.
We sent out a detailed survey, scheduled four in-person family meetings where we discussed the results, and we believe the Lord helped us arrive at a unified conclusion. We thank God that the results of the church family survey provided a very clear and definitive direction for the immediate future of our congregation. Based on the survey data it was clear that CCC did not have a trajectory of long-term viability nor was she best positioned for an immediate relaunch initiative. It was also clear that the majority of the remaining congregation did not want to dissolve the church and indicated that they were willing to move in the direction of adoption into our partnered Trinity Fellowship Church in South Philadelphia. The ultimate goal of this adoption would be to enjoy the strength and stability of worship and mission in a like-minded congregation with an eye toward evaluating the possibility of planting a new church together somewhere in the West Philadelphia vicinity in the near future.
What this means is that after several years of faithful and fruitful worship, fellowship, and mission, the Lord is bringing our present chapter as a local church to a close. We say chapter because we do not believe that this is the end. In God’s providence, Christ Church in South Philadelphia has opened its arms of love and generosity to provide a home for us in hope that God would have us do something for the Kingdom of God together in a city that desperately needs the gospel. How kind of God to provide such a wonderful opportunity as we prepare to explore the next chapter for making much of Jesus together.
grace & peace,