The 2016 ECO National Gathering was held January 26th through January 28th in lovely Newport Beach, California at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church. I was blessed with the opportunity to attend this amazing event with pastors, elders, staff and others who traveled from near and far. The conference theme was STRIVE, based on Philippians 3:13-14, “straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” We were welcomed with the statement that “we believe God is calling ECO to new and exciting places in each of our congregations as we strive to build flourishing churches that make disciples of Jesus Christ”.
As the Rev. Dr. Dana Allin, ECO’s Synod Executive, addressed the assembly I was struck by his message that with over 250 churches and more than 100,000 covenant members we have already become a denomination—and now we are “a movement.” According to the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, 5th ed, 2002, a movement is “a course or series of actions and endeavours on the part of a body of people towards some special end; a body engaging in such a course.” Our ECO mission is to “build flourishing churches that make disciples of Jesus Christ.”
During the conference, there were many opportunities to learn and grow. The speakers taught and inspired. I learned about multi-ethnic congregations, sticky faith, everyday discipleship, ECO’s theology, elder development and much more. Ideas were generated that may prove helpful to Hope’s journey as part of the ECO movement. In several areas, I was delighted to see that Hope is already ahead of the curve thanks to the faithful service of staff and members. What an awesome God we have who invites us to be part of the marvelous work that he is doing!
Sharon Lawyer, Hope Church Elder