GOD'S COVENANT LOVE: celebrating 30 years of God's Faithfulness in Christian Covenant Community [Go to Table of Contents]

“Lord our God, we thank you this day especially for the great blessings you have bestowed on us in Christ. You have knit us together as a people for your glory. In love you called us, and in faithfulness you have sustained us. May obedience to your will always be our food, and knowledge of your goodness always be our joy, and fellowship with your servants be our portion and inheritance forever.  Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who give us joy as we celebrate our anniversary as a people in Washtenaw Covenant Community and The Sword of the Spirit.” 

This prayer is taken from the “Lord’s Day Meal of the Community Anniversary Celebration.” It expresses the deep gratitude and joy we experience in living a rich shared life as brothers and sisters in Christ.  Covenant Christian community began thirty years ago in a very unlikely place -- on a secular university campus in Ann Arbor among a handful of students and townsfolk who were hungry for God and for the action of his Holy Spirit.  When the Catholic Charismatic renewal began in the late sixties, many Christians from various traditions were drawn together in communities.  What follows is the testimony of several men and women who have lived many years in covenant community, first in The Word of God community and in the international community of communities, The Sword of the Spirit, which The Word of God established in 1981 with other communities world-wide.  Twelve members of The Sword of the Spirit were among the first group of community members who made their covenant commitments in The Word of God in September and November of 1970: Bob Bell, Steve Clark, Sue Cummins, Ted Kennedy, Ellen Gryniewicz, Jeanne Kun, Dick LaCroix, Mike Morrissey, Nancy Murphy, Don Schwager, Sherry Snyder, and Bruce Yocum.

What is covenant community and what is its significance for God’s people today?  Steve Clark, a founding father of covenant community explains: 

“As throughout the ages the Holy Spirit has been active among the Christian people to bring about renewal, groups of Christians have come together to respond. Many Christians have come together to perform some special services or foster spiritual growth with no further bond among themselves than that necessary for achieving particular goals.
“But the human race is naturally social, and it has pleased God to unite those who believe in Christ in the people of God (cf. 1 Peter 2:5-10), and into one body (cf. 1 Co 12:12, AA 18).  Therefore the very nature of the Christian people is to be brothers and sisters in the Lord, one in the Spirit in the bonds of peace and mutual love (Eph 4:3).  Consequently, when the Holy Spirit renews his people, he often leads groups of Christians to join themselves to one another to live more fully the life together of the Christian people.  Such a coming together is not intended as an alternative to the life of the Church.  Rather, it is a renewed living out of what the life of the Church should be and so signifies the communion and unity of the Church of Christ.
“In our day, desire for such coming together is felt with greater strength because of the loss of natural community in society and in [many parishes and congregations]... In recent years the Lord has brought into existence new forms of Christian life that are called covenant communities.  They are covenantal because they are based on the voluntary commitment of members to one another in a serious way that is not  necessarily lifelong and does not necessarily partake of the nature of a vow.  The commitment is in the for0m of a personal covenant of brothers and sisters one to another that supplements and strengthens the relationship that comes from being baptized members of the Church.  They are communities because they share together their spiritual and material goods as a way of expressing their relationship as brothers and sisters in the Lord.” [excerpted from, Covenant Community & Church, by Stephen B. Clark, (c) 1992, Servant Publications, Ann Arbor, Michigan]
May the Lord renew all his people in his Holy Spirit and bring us into the unity which Jesus prayed for on the eve of his sacrifice (John 17:21).

November 6, 2000 

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Annual Community Fall Festival
See photos and community essay here.

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