This Sunday at Plymouth we will do something we’ve only done three times in the past 20 years: install a settled associate minister. An installation is a big deal, when a minister, a congregation, and the wider UCC come together to make covenant promises to one another, ritually marking the creation of a new relationship. And we rely on God as a full partner in that covenant.
You’ve probably entered other covenants, perhaps a marriage vow, sponsoring a child at baptism, or when you join a church. A covenant forms a new whole…it is far deeper than a contract.
And even though the congregation voted to call my colleague, the Rev. Dr. Marta Fioriti, as our associate minister, her installation on Sunday at 11:00 seals the covenant. It’s as if we’ve been living together for eight months, and we’re finally saying, “I do.”
Covenants are especially important in our UCC tradition, in fact they are the glue to joins us together as a people of faith. Episcopalians are joined by their liturgy. Methodists have the Book of Discipline. Presbyterians have the Book of Order. Lutherans have Luther’s Small Catechism. In the UCC, we have none of these; instead, we are guided and bound together by covenant.
The Salem Church Covenant of 1629 is how that congregation came together in relationship. “We Covenant with the Lord and one with another; and doe bind our selves in the presence of God, to walk together in all his waies, according as he is pleased to reveale himselfe unto us in his Blessed word of truth.” That simple statement of relationship, that covenant, is critical in the development of who we in the Congregational and the United Church of Christ traditions understand ourselves to be as a gathered church.
I encourage you to join us on Sunday at 11:00 (one service only) when our congregation will join in covenant with Marta, the UCC, and with God. Worship will be a celebration, and whether you are with us in person or join us online in our “virtual balcony,” your presence will grace us all.
May this and all our covenant promises be blessed!