A SHORT HISTORY OF CECAlthough Covenant Evangelical Church (CEC) held its first public worship service on October 1, 1993, the roots of the church were planted over 160 years earlier.
The First Parish of Barre, founded in 1778, was the only church in town for Barre’s first 50 years. Its first covenant was one that any evangelical Christian, even today, would affirm. But by 1827, some of the members of First Parish had concluded that the teachings of their church no longer endorsed the Biblical principles of the original covenant.
This small group called for an ecclesiastical council, comprised of several other churches, in hopes of coming to some kind of resolution. But the council concluded that the theological differences between this group and the First Parish were irreconcilable. So with the blessing of the council, that determined little band of 32—all lay people—left First Parish to form what they called the Evangelical Congregational Church of Barre (ECCB).
The first published documents we have from ECCB (circa 1845) contain a statement of faith, and a covenant. The statement of faith, laying out the theological beliefs upon which the church would be based, contains over 300 Scripture references supporting the 12 statements. The covenant is equally fierce in its Biblical clarity and conviction. In its infancy, this was a church that knew what it believed, and why.
The Bible teaches, and history confirms, that churches, whenever or wherever they are found, have a natural tendency to drift away from their original moorings. This happened with ECCB. Slowly but nonetheless perceptively over time, the zeal and purity of the first generation’s founding faith began to wane as successive generations came onto the scene. A historical study of the revisions of both the statement of faith and the covenant of ECCB shows how this happened over the first century of the church’s existence. In the early 1950’s ECCB dropped the “E” from its name, becoming Barre Congregational Church
During the 1980’s, BCC was re-introduced to its forgotten heritage and history. The church was called to reaffirm, uphold, embrace, and proclaim the faith expressed so clearly in its own founding documents. Because BCC as a community eventually chose not to do so, some then elected to leave BCC, take the covenant with them, and form CEC.
From among those first members of CEC, a steering committee was chosen. This committee was entrusted with the task of determining what God’s vision and purpose for this new church—if indeed that was what it was to be—might be. It was immediately and unanimously recognized that the original covenant and statement of faith from ECCB would become the foundation for this new enterprise. After several month’s work, the Steering Committee crafted the current Mission Statement for CEC. All three of these documents were formally affirmed by the church on its 2nd anniversary.
The other major development was in the government of the church. It was determined that elders, according to Scripture, were necessary to pastor the congregation and administer the affairs of the church [1 Peter 5.1-3]. As it is unclear from Scripture exactly how elders are to be elected, CEC combined two of the more traditional methods: the pastor decided, and the congregation decided. Each church participant was to pray for 2 weeks, asking God whom He was calling to this office of elder. The 4 men with the most affirmations became the new elders. By God’s mercy, these were the same 4 men preferred by the pastor. They were dedicated to the work during a Sunday worship service. After almost 3 years of service, 2 vacancies developed. They were not immediately replaced. One year later, the remaining elders began asking God to raise up new elders. Eventually, two men were approached and agreed to become interns. After several months of training, they were formally affirmed as full elders during Sunday worship.
CEC exists today for one reason: God is faithful. When an individual, a couple, or a group enters into covenant with the Lord, the Lord honors it, and remembers it; He expects us to do so, as well. With humility, yet with complete confidence in the grace of God, we of CEC endeavor to hold forth—as did our spiritual forbears—the simple, clear, joyous, unashamed, and undiluted proclamation of the whole gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed to us in the Word of God. This is our vision, our passion, and our purpose.
Mindful of our past mistakes, aware of our present shortcomings, our confidence only in the Lord, we invite you to join us as we journey into the future work the Lord has prepared beforehand for us to do [Eph 2.10]. To God be the glory.