More in Branches
A House Fit for an Architect
Branches
December 5

A House Fit for an Architect

“A church is basically a house—a home for the body of Christ,” says Bill Argus. “Similarly, a house of committed Christians is something like a church.”

More in Our Work
Hula-Hoops and Fried Chicken
Our Work
October 4

Hula-Hoops and Fried Chicken

Joan Pingel sighed as she walked into the Bossier City, LA, shopping mall on a Saturday in July and saw the extremely long line.

Our Covenant Commitment

Children in South Bend enjoyed a balloon lady’s handiwork at their indoor field day.

by Paul DeCelles

Photos: Margaret Anderson, Jon Balsbaugh, Margaret Berns, Andy Bowar, Colleen Bowar, Tom Bowar, Julie Conroy, Mark Doherty, Connie Hackenbruck, Arlene Meyerhoffer, A Passerby, Courtesy of Barb Potts, Cathy Walters

October 15 marked the 46th anniversary of the founding of the People of Praise, when 29 men and women first made the covenant. Below is an explication of the covenant, which Paul gave at the 1976 covenant-making community meeting in South Bend. At the end of the talk, Paul read the covenant aloud. You may notice that it differs slightly from the version we use today. In January, 1986, the board of governors approved two revisions to the covenant. The first is that the word “basic” was omitted to avoid confusion with other unrelated groups known as “basic communities.” The second is that the word “Church” was made lowercase, to better reflect the diversity of our various denominations. We hope that reading and discussing this will deepen your appreciation of what the Lord has called us to.


Barb Potts (right) congratulates Audrey Rebar on making the covenant in Corvallis on October 15.


Praise the Lord Jesus Christ!

Now and forever!

Amen. Hallelujah.

Jamey and Sandi Ware made the covenant in Rockford (surrounded by their children) on October 15.


This is our basic commitment with one another:

We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ has called us to be a people, a body, a community, brothers and sisters in him. He has called us together and united us so that we might serve him and glorify him as a body, and so that we might love one another as brothers and sisters, and encourage one another to love and serve the Lord above all. He has entrusted us as a body with a mission, and he will lead us by his Spirit to know that mission and to be faithful to it.

Community members in Indianapolis gathered to celebrate at Maggiano’s Little Italy restaurant on October 2.


Our relationship as a body rests, first of all, upon what the Lord Jesus has done to make us one. He has reconciled us through the blood of his cross with God, and in making us one with his Father he has brought us into a relationship with one another, making us brothers and sisters in one body. We are one body because Christ has made us one, and because we accept that oneness from him as his gift in receiving our redemption.

Members of the Corvallis branch celebrated with a wine tasting at a nearby winery.


Our relationship as a body also rests upon our covenant together. We are solemnly committing ourselves to the Lord and to one another to be a body, to love and serve the Lord together. We have committed ourselves to the mission the Lord entrusts to us, to all those things which make our life together possible, and to one another as our brothers and sisters. Our commitment is no longer a matter of our own individual decision, but we have bound ourselves by a covenant commitment to the Lord and to one another, out of love for the Lord and one another. We wish to fulfill that commitment with the same steadfast love and faithfulness that the Lord shows in his commitment to us. We are committing ourselves to the Lord as his people and to one another as brothers and sisters.

Andy Bowar made the covenant in Servant Branch.


Our commitment is a full commitment, a commitment that involves our whole lives. We are not simply committing ourselves to certain activities or obligations, but we are committing ourselves to a relationship which reaches to everything in our lives. We may not do everything together or live together in one place, but we do put our whole lives in common and make them available for the mission the Lord has called the body to, and to the service of our brothers and sisters.

Servant Branch had a festival featuring a pig roast, games, live music, dancing and more.


Our commitment is, first of all, to love and serve God himself. We wish to love him fervently and serve him with full dedication. We wish to obey him unreservedly and to do all that we do with full faith in him. We desire to give our whole lives to him to follow his Son, Jesus, and to live more fully in the Holy Spirit. We come together to pledge our lives to him. We agree to seek the Lord with our whole heart, with all our heart and soul, and to be his people.

The Oahu branch’s celebration included a hike for young families.


We commit ourselves as well to one another. As we pledge ourselves to love and serve the Lord and to be his people, we receive one another as brothers and sisters, members of the same body. We gladly commit ourselves to love one another in purity of heart fervently. We commit ourselves to be one another’s servants and to lay down our lives for one another. We recognize that, because we are part of the same body and have put our lives in common, we are no longer masters and owners of our own lives, but our lives belong to one another. We are ready to meet one another’s needs by our personal help and resources. We will look upon one another’s welfare as our own.

Mary Limberg (left) and Kathy Coleman enjoyed serving at Servant Branch’s pig roast.


We commit ourselves further to be a people that the Lord can use as a body. We therefore commit ourselves to be one: one in heart and mind and soul. We will put that oneness above our personal concerns, and we will pursue peace within the body, guarding our unity against every threat. We commit ourselves to support those things that make life in one body possible. We will be present at the gatherings of the community. We will respect and support the pattern and order of our life together. We will support the life together and the mission of the community with our personal lives and resources, and be ready to sacrifice to the degree that is necessary for the community to fulfill the call of the Lord.

Bea Lumma made the covenant in South Bend.


Finally, we commit ourselves to live our lives in true righteousness and holiness. All of our lives must be worthy of the calling to which we have been called. None of our lives is lived by ourselves alone, but all of our lives belong to the Lord and to our brothers and sisters. Therefore, our faithfulness to our commitment to live personal lives of righteousness and holiness is a concern of the whole body, and we are willing to give an account of the way we live our lives to our brothers and sisters. We wish to walk as children of the light.

John and Maureen Jerackas and Corina Friedrich (all in the front row) posed with Buffalo branch leaders after making the covenant.


We recognize that, when our lives are in community with those of our brothers and sisters, our lives are under the order of the community as a whole. In everything we do, we are members of a body, and not just isolated individuals. Therefore, decisions about our lives are decisions which are the concern of the whole body, and we are ready to make them according to the order of the community with the good of the whole body and of our brothers and sisters in mind. At the same time, we can expect the support of our brothers and sisters in everything that we do, and not just in those things that we do together as a community. We are committed to support one another in all the commitments we have made in good order, including those commitments such as family and occupational commitments that may involve people outside of our community. We have put the entirety of our lives in common. Therefore, we can have the support of the body in everything we do, and we serve as members of the body wherever we are.

David Zimmel dashed through a traffic tunnel in Chicago between South Bend and Appleton during the Shreveport and Allendale joint celebration.


We recognize also that the commitment we have to one another comes primarily because we are Christians. Our commitment is to love one another as brothers and sisters in Christ, the way any group of Christians would. Yet, at the same time, we do belong to this particular body of Christians, the People of Praise, a body which has a particular call and a mission from the Lord. Our commitment will lead us in different ways from other Christians because it is a commitment to this particular body, and not all Christians belong to it. We do wish to serve the Lord in this body, to love these our brothers and sisters and follow the Lord in whatever call and mission he has for his body. Our desire is to relate to all Christians as our brothers and sisters in the Lord because they are our brothers and sisters in the Lord, yet we recognize that we cannot relate to them that way until they are ready to enter into such a relationship with us and be faithful to it. We therefore pledge ourselves to work for a full unity among Christians, and we commit ourselves to relate in as brotherly a way as possible to all who believe in the Lord.

Elyse stopped to help Jonathan at South Bend’s indoor field day celebration.


Our desire is to relate to all mankind as brothers and sisters in the Lord because God loves them all and wants to unite them all to himself in his Son. We therefore pledge ourselves to share the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ with all those we can, and we commit ourselves to relate in as loving a way as possible to everyone until God is all in all.

Don and Debbie Runyon, Kathryn Elliott and Joe and Mary Ridenour made the covenant in northern Virginia.


Therefore, we covenant ourselves to live our lives together in Christ, our Lord, by the power of his spirit. We agree to be a basic Christian community, to find within our fellowship the essential core of our life in the spirit, in worship and the sacraments, spiritual and moral guidance, service and apostolic activity. We accept the order of this community, which the Lord is establishing with all the ministry gifts of the Holy Spirit, especially with the foundational ministry gifts of apostles, pastors, prophets, teachers and evangelists. We agree to obey the direction of the Holy Spirit manifested in and through these ministries in full harmony with the Church. We recognize in the covenant a unique relationship one to another and between the individual and the community. We accept the responsibility for mutual care, concern, and ministry among ourselves. We will serve one another and the community as a whole in all needs: spiritual, material, financial. We agree that the weekly meeting of the community is primary among our commitments, and that we will not be absent except for a serious reason.

Leave a Response