Evangelical Covenant Church Works to End Hunger
Connecting faith in Jesus with a commitment to justice
With just over 800 congregations and nearly 300,000 members worldwide, the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC) is a small church body. But the denomination—a Bread for the World partner—makes a huge impact in its advocacy to end hunger.
Founded in 1885 by Swedish Lutherans as a voluntary covenant of churches, the ECC describes itself as “a rapidly growing multiethnic denomination in the U.S. and Canada, with ministries on five continents.” The church body operates one of the largest networks of senior housing in the United States, and its missionaries serve in 25 countries.
ECC congregations and individual members are especially generous in their support of Covenant World Relief and of the Food Resources Bank, a collaboration of church-related relief and development organizations.
Rev. Gary Cook, Bread for the World’s vice president for policy and program, points with appreciation to the ECC’s belief that relief and development should have an advocacy component. David Husby—who directs Covenant World Relief as part of the ECC’s Department of Compassion, Mercy and Justice—agrees, adding, “Bread is involved with advocacy for the poor and marginalized. I believe they do this better than any other faith-based organization.”
In addition to generous financial support of Bread for the World, the ECC also funds an annual internship at Bread’s offices in Washington, DC. These internships are popular with students from the church’s North Park University and North Park Seminary in Chicago, IL.
This year’s intern, Rukiya Davis, began her service to Bread just before this year’s National Gathering. “The breadth of Christian representation at the National Gathering in June made a strong impression on me,” she said.
A social worker in Chicago before she began attending seminary, Davis has focused her internship on reaching out to evangelical churches—with a special emphasis on African-American ECC churches. “Everyone has been friendly and eager to connect,” she says.
Rev. Debbie Blue, executive minister for ECC’s Department for Compassion, Mercy and Justice, has also been a valuable member of Bread’s board of directors for several years.
Cook notes that ECC’s gatherings are like “big family reunions.” Husby smiles, agreeing. “Generally speaking, in the United States there has been a decrease in loyalty to denominations,” but the ECC’s mission, small size, and unity have protected its one-big-family style.
“With the ECC, the connection between faith in Jesus and a commitment to justice is always clear and direct,” Cook says. Husby also cites diversity as integral to the ECC, calling the representation of many “a reflection of the kingdom of God.”
Bread for the World, church leaders, and others have worked throughout the spring and summer to persuade Congress to create a “circle of protection” around funding for nutrition and development programs that benefit hungry people. Of these efforts, Husby says, “We are grateful to stand with Bread in this important work.”