Formally established in 1996 the vision behind Covenant United Church of Christ (UCC) was first conceived of in 1995 when the former Thornridge UCC closed its doors in the same location. Having dwindled to eight members, the church held its final service Easter Sunday morning with hopes that another congregation who could better serve the needs of the South Holland and surrounding communities, whose demographics were quickly changing. With this in mind the Illinois Conference of the United Church of Christ set out to fill this void with a new church that would be intentionally Africentric, but it was to the soon to be pastor Rev. Ozzie E. Smith, Jr. that God made the vision clear. This new church would be a church always in the mode of “becoming a new thing” (Is 43:19). It would not be a church weighed down by the anchors of traditions, but recognizing their value while exploring the possibilities of the new ways in which God can and does move. It would be a people-friendly, biblically literate, Christ-centered, spirit-filled church that lived out in its ministry, the tangible fruits of its mission statement: “to be a people of Afro-sensitive faith empowered by Christ, embracing its culture in shared ministry.” Based upon this vision Rev. Dr. Ozzie E. Smith, Jr. was called to organize, develop, and pastor Covenant United Church of Christ.
On Easter Sunday, April 7, 1996, one year from the time Thornridge UCC had closed its doors, Covenant United Church of Christ opened its doors holding its first worship service at 11:00am. It was the same building with a renewed spirit and commitment to service of God through community. That first Sunday 24 members joined and the road to exploring new territory in ministry to God’s people had begun. During that year members dug their heals in to get true ministry underway: the choir was organized, the first Associate Pastor was added to the staff, a three night Vacation Bible School was held, two $500 college scholarships were awarded, 125 Thanksgiving baskets were given away, and 40 families were adopted for Christmas.
One year later, in April of 1997 the church celebrated its first anniversary and the official Installation Service for its Pastor, Rev. Dr. Ozzie E. Smith, Jr. That same year the church experience phenomenal growth, bulging at the seams the first capital campaign, “I See It,” (Nem 2:18) was established with the goal of building a 700+ seat sanctuary on the existing grounds. In December of that year a second service was added (7:30am) and the parking lot expanded to accommodate the increasing number of congregants, seven deacons were ordained, and the first confirmation class was confirmed. After five years of prayer, praise, and faithful giving ground was broken for the new sanctuary in 2001 and on another Easter Sunday, March 31, 2002, with a membership of over 1200, the congregation processed into the new sanctuary dedicating it to God.
Still embracing its roots in the African Diaspora and its Christian faith, Covenant continues to grow. Now with over 2500 members and almost 40 ministries, Covenant is the fastest growing congregation in the United Church of Christ and one of the fastest growing in the Chicagoland area. God blessed us to burn the mortgage on our sanctuary on December 31, 2007 and has charged us with the mission of building a Family Life Center that will house much needed services for the South Holland and surrounding communities. In addition God opened doors for us to acquire adjacent property, now known as CUCC North that will house our bourgeoning Youth Ministry, which provides worship services and ministry to our over 500 youth and 11 youth ministries. Covenant is a dynamic multi-generational, multi-talented, multi-faceted congregation that stresses faith, prayer, dynamic worship, biblical scholarship, cross-generational dialogue, and embrace of culture. Most importantly we have never lost the vision that we are to continually becoming a “new thing” in Christ.