Mission and Vision
October 5, 2021

Grace As We Gather


A message from Dana Allin, Synod Executive

Our plans are well underway for our 2022 National Gathering in Dallas! I am thankful for the opportunity to gather with those who are comfortable, and to have an online option for those who are uncomfortable with groups at this time or not able to attend in person. Our speakers this year are incredible and I think will speak to where we are personally as disciples, as leaders, and as congregations.  

I remember a pastor telling me once that when someone shakes his hand (in pre-COVID days!) after a church service and says, “Great sermon pastor”, he says, “We will see.”  Meaning that the message is powerful only as we apply it to our lives. I think we will have a great opportunity to not just hear some powerful teaching, but if we apply it, we will truly be enriched. Here is why I think our three speakers will hit our points of need.

  • I know many are still drained emotionally, physically and spiritually from this season.  Rich Villodas is so great at speaking to the health of our souls. 
  • The need to “nurture missional living” and help our people plant the gospel in the places they live, work, and play is now of even greater urgency than in recent history. I have heard Danielle Strickland speak multiple times. She is passionate, inspiring and practical in helping us take the gospel into our contexts.  
  • There are new challenges associated with being an “evangelical” in America. Our speaker Walter Kim is the new president of the National Association of Evangelicals.  I have been in NAE board meetings where Walter has spoken and he has an amazing pulse on various aspects of culture.  He is able to speak to the evangelical church with grace and truth and help us live out the true meaning of that word in our lives and churches.

As we put together the National Gathering, we get similar comments, questions, and pushback that you get in your local congregation about the logistics associated with gathering.  I was talking to one pastor of a smaller congregation that has two services where the divide isn’t contemporary and traditional, but rather masked and unmasked. The challenge we have in the local congregation is that guidelines and needs can change on a weekly basis and you need to pivot frequently. The challenge we have in ECO is planning a gathering so far in advance and not knowing what the state of the virus or the city will be in during late January/early February. 

We know that just as people have a variety of opinions about the decisions you make as a church, there will be a variety of opinions about our decisions with the National Gathering. I know issues will come up during our time together that are unexpected.

I am asking you, as a denomination, can we be gracious toward one another and can that spirit be taken back to our churches? For those on the more cautious side, if you don’t feel comfortable attending, we will miss you, hope to see you soon, and pray your online experience is enriching. If you are attending in person, we ask that those on the less cautious side seek to be good neighbors in attitude and action toward those who may be there but are less comfortable than you. We also know that some on the more cautious side don’t feel we should have an in person gathering. Again, everyone who comes is making their own choice to attend. Please respect the reality that for many, getting together will be life giving. And finally, if I could ask you to be gracious to the ECO staff as well both before the gathering and at the gathering. They are trying to do all that can responsibly be done to create an encouraging and safe environment where God will be glorified and our souls will be fed.

I pray our time together is inspiring and enriching and that our love for the Lord and the world would be evident in and through us all. We pray that you will participate in our annual gathering one way or another! You are an important part of our larger ECO community and most importantly, your local church family. We are grateful for you! 

In Christ,


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