May/June 2011 - Vol. 50...

Beginnings of Covenant Communities
Covenant Community began forty years ago in a very unlikely place on a secular university campus
in Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA, among a handful of students and local residents who were hungry for God. [See articles from founding members of the first covenant community.] These young people were caught up in an action of the Holy Spirit which began in the late 1960s, a movement known as the Charismatic Renewal which began to sweep through Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox churches. The Charismatic Renewal helped millions of Christians have a more personal and vibrant experience of the Holy Spirit. They began to exercise the gifts of the Holy Spirit and found new freedom to praise and worship the Lord.

A number of Christian communities came into being at the same time as the Charismatic Renewal. These communities provided a great deal of service and leadership to the renewal in its early years. Eventually several dozen communities came into being, scattered around the world. A number of these communities begain to network and form associations with other covenant communities.  

Beginning of the Sword of the Spirit
The association of Christian communities that became The Sword of the Spirit began in 1970 when the Word of God Community was formed in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The original members made a covenant to live as brothers and sisters in Christ, inaugurating a new form of renewal community: covenant community. In the following years the Word of God Community built close relationships with other covenant communities around the world until in 1982 the leaders of the Word of God Community expanded the international work which the Lord began by organizing an international community called The Sword of the Spirit. Other communities were invited to join with them. The first group of communities did so because they recognized a common call from God to live as part of a single international, ecumenical community of communities, called The Sword of the Spirit.

What is the meaning of covenant community?
Sword of the Spirit communities have a written document called a covenant that expresses what sort of people we hope to be in relation to the Lord and to one another. Members make a public promise to live out this covenant to the best of their ability. Member communities of The Sword of the Spirit write their own covenant, but each community covenant shares the basic elements of the core Sword of the Spirit covenant. A covenant commitment creates a special relationship among people and between these people and God. There are many examples of covenant in the Old Testament. One good example can be found in Nehemiah 9 and 10. Those who returned from captivity to Jerusalem agreed together and before God to live the way that he had commanded them to. We make a sure covenant and write it; our leaders, our Levites, and our priests seal it (Nehemiah 9:38). Similarly, members of Sword of the Spirit communities make a renewal covenant, not so much to do something new and different, but to live the Christian way of life together as one people.

> See What is the Sword of the Spirit - Questions and Answers

> Watch Video of Covenant Community Fortieth Anniversary Celebration

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