GUIDELINES FOR LIFE AND ORDER: THE COVENANT COMMUNITY OF JESUS THE GOOD SHEPHERD
"Without a vision, the People perish." Hosea 4:6
A PEOPLE OF GOD
Need for a Vision
1. A community which serves people well begins with a vision - a vision of what we are called to be
together, under the guidance and through the power of God's holy spirit.
2. What God calls forth from all those created in the divine image was revealed to Noah (Genesis 6),
Abraham (Genesis 15), Moses and the entire people of Israel (Exodus 19;24); namely, God calls us into
a covenant relationship. God calls us to become a people uniquely His own, living in and through a
spiritual partnership He creates with us and among ourselves.
3. Through the history of our salvation God has moved His chosen people to renew an awareness of
this covenant in their lives at Moab (Deut. 28:69); at Shechem (Joshua 24), at Jerusalem during the
dedication of the Temple (1 Kings 8). The covenant was renewed by Josiah (2 Kings 23), by Ezra (Neh
8) and through King David (2 Sam 7; Psalm 89:20-38). God inspired the prophets to call the chosen
people back to a living awareness of the covenant. Thus did Elijah (1 Kings 20), Jeremiah (7:23; 11:4;
24:7), Isaiah (42:6; 49:8), Hosea (2:25; 6:7; 8:1), and Ezekiel (11:20; 14:11) speak God's word to His
4. In fulfillment of God's plan, His only begotten Son, Jesus, gathered with His apostles on the night
before He died on the cross for our sins. "He took bread and giving thanks, He broke it and gave it to
them, saying, 'This is my body to be given for you. Do this as a remembrance of me'. He did the same
with the cup after eating, saying as He did so, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be
shed for you'." (Luke 22:20) We celebrate the Eucharist. We are a covenanted people.
5. The Lord calls us today to understand deeply and live fully the mystery of covenanted life - "'I will
dwell with you and walk among you. I will be your God and you shall be my people. ...I will welcome
you and be a father to you and you shall be my sons and daughters,' says the Lord Almighty" (2 Cor
6. Before returning to the Father, Jesus prayed for us. "Just Father, the world has not known you but I
have known you; and these have known that you sent me. To them I have revealed your name and I will
continue to reveal it so that your love for me may live in them, and I may live in them." (John 17:25-26).
7. Having been gifted with the revelation, the love, the life of the Lord, we also accept our mission from
Him. As a covenanted people our mission is to praise the Father, proclaim His Word, and instruct the
coming generation; to encounter the Son in the sacraments and walk in the way of faith, hope and love;
in the Spirit to welcome each other, share our faith, bring our sacrifices and be strengthened for the
THE COVENANT WAY OF LIFE
8. Three virtues which give focus to our covenanted community are set forth in the sacred scriptures.
Each ministry of our Community is a particular expression of one of these three virtues.
9. Jesus said, "I am the Good Shepherd. I know my sheep and my sheep know me." (John 10:14).
The Lord asks us to demonstrate a similar desire to know each other. Jesus further instructed us, "The
person who welcomes you, welcomes me." (Matthew 10:40); "I was a stranger and you welcomed me."
(Matthew 25:35). Thus Saint Paul reminded the early Christians, "Make hospitality your special care."
10. To know and care about each other, to share a deep sense of belonging, to welcome the stranger -
these are the Christ-like qualities of an hospitable community.
11. Our ministries of Hospitality include providing refreshments after Liturgy, Once-a-Month Baking,
Social Life, Sunday Morning Nursery, the Greeters, the Men's Club, and other groups which will evolve
as needs arise.
Fidelity to the Lord
12. Jesus tells us, "You must be made perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48). Saint
Peter reminded the early Christians, "Become holy yourself in every aspect of your conduct, after the
likeness of the Holy One who called you." (1 Peter 1:15). A covenanted community is summoned to a
passionate belief in the possibility of that holiness. Longing for a more complete fidelity to the Lord is
itself a gift. "Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for holiness; they shall have their fill." (Matthew
13. The spirituality of our covenant community is nourished and expressed in three fundamental ways -
excellent Liturgy, small group participation, and ministries of spiritual growth.
14. Jesus' Last Supper was celebrated by people who knew Him well, carefully listened to His words,
shared the one bread and the one cup, and sang "songs of praise." (Matthew 26:30) Our Liturgies should
be the same. A Liturgy Committee is responsible for upholding these goals within our Community,
coordinating the various Liturgical ministries, and planning the special Liturgies of the Church's year of grace.
15. The Liturgical ministries include those of Lector, Dramatic Lector, Eucharistic Minister, Altar
Server, Children's Service of the Word, and the music ministries of the Choir, Folk Group, Organists,
Instrumentalists and Cantors.
II. Small Groups
16. Jesus assures us, "Where two or three meet in my Name, I shall be there with them." (Matthew
18:20) The Lord knew that we would need to gather in small groups. In our age and for a long time
to come, the small faith-sharing group will become and remain an essential means through which
the promises of the Scriptures are fulfilled in our lives. "The God of all grace, who called you to
his everlasting glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish" you. (1 Peter
5:10) We seek to promote long term faith-sharing groups; but ask that each Confirmed member of the
Community participate in, at least, one small group series during the year. All committees within our
Community should function as faith-sharing groups, providing mutual support for life and ministry, with
a respect for confidentiality extending even to our prayer.
17. The Adult Spirituality ministry is responsible for providing many, varied faith-sharing group
opportunities as an essential vehicle for our on-going conversion. The "Journey in Faith" program, using
the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, is an adult spirituality ministry.
III. Ministries of Spiritual Growth
18. St. Paul prayed for an early Christian church a prayer which needs to be fulfilled in every church. "I
kneel before the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name; and I pray that
He will bestow on you gifts in keeping with the riches of his glory. May He strengthen you inwardly
through the working of His Spirit. May Christ dwell in you hearts through faith, and may love be the
root and foundation of your life. Thus you will be able to grasp fully, with all the holy ones, the breadth
and length, the height and depth of Christ's love which surpasses all knowledge, so that you may attain
to the fullness of God himself." (Ephesians 3:14-19)
19. Ministries of spiritual growth emerge as a Community matures in the Lord. These can include the
development of solitudes and a ministry of instruction in their use; a ministry of spiritual friendship and
guidance; the sponsorship of a Third Order, perhaps in the Carmelite tradition; the planning of retreats
and times of recollection, prayer groups; the promotion of Cursillo, Echo, Marriage Encounter, efforts to
further Christian unity, and dialogue with non-Christians.
Life Cycle Growth
20. The foundation for our growth in Christ's love is laid in the home and assisted in the Youth
Covenant Sessions through the ministries of Catechists, assistants, leaders and staff; continues through
youth and family ministries; and leads to programs of adult education, support and spiritual growth,
particularly through long-term small group participation.
21. Jesus proposes the faithful steward as the example of a responsible Christian (Luke 12:42). The
steward is one whom the Master puts in charge of His affairs. Saint Peter reminds us that a Christian
is a steward of the grace of God. "As generous stewards of God's manifold grace, put your gifts at the
service of one another, each in the measure he has received." (1 Peter 4:10) Saint Paul instructed the
early Christians, "People should regard us as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God."
(1 Cor. 4:1)
22. We express our sense of stewardship in three fundamental ways: a universal sense of ministry, works
of justice and charity, and sacrificial giving in support of the Lord's work.
I. Universal Sense of Ministry
23. "To each person the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good." (1 Cor. 12:7) Each
Confirmed member of our Community is blessed by God with an ability to fulfill the mission of the
Church in some way. Our commitment as a Community is to assist in calling forth, developing and,
often, coordinating these many gifts for fulfilling the Father's dream for humanity, the Kingdom of God.
Each member deserves to know and thank God for the gifts he or she has received. Each member should
prayerfully discern how his or her time and talent can be employed to fulfill God's purposes.
24. Particular ministries valuable to the maintenance of the Community include the Building and
Maintenance Ministry, Weekly Bulletin production and Facilities Liaison. The Community owes a
special debt to those who make the contribution of their time and talent in maintaining the life and
ministries of the Community.
II. Justice and Charity
25. Jesus tells us that we will be judged by our response to those in need. "Come, you have my Father's
blessing: Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you
gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me; naked and
you clothed me. I was sick and you comforted me; in prison and you came to visit me." (Matthew 25:34-
Social Concerns Ministry
26. Our Social Concerns Ministry is charged with the special responsibility of keeping the whole
Community aware of our duties toward the oppressed, the poor and the needy. The two spheres which
are a special responsibility include Calvert County and our sister parish of Santa Ana in Enriquillo,
the Dominican Republic. Share and Care Ministry assists members of the Community during times of
illness and family emergency. Working to secure justice for the rights of the unborn, especially through
Right to Life and the annual March for Life; and Natural Family Planning are also works of stewardship.
III. Sacrificial Giving
27. Jesus was untouched by those "who make contributions out of their surplus" (Luke 21:4), but
praised the widow who gave from her substance. Her giving meant a sacrifice, which is also what the Father asks of us - to return a sacrificial portion of His many gifts to us so that the work of His Son may
continue upon this earth.
28. Our return to the Lord should also be planned. "Everyone must give according to what he has
inwardly decided; not sadly, not grudgingly, for God loves a cheerful giver." (2 Cor. 9:7) Our return
should also be proportionate to the blessings we have received, "The willingness to give should accord
with one's means." (2 Cor. 8:12)
29. In fidelity to God's Word we uphold His teaching on the tithe. To return a tenth of one's blessings to
the Lord is an ancient Scriptural teaching. "All the tithes of the land, whether in grain from the fields or
in fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord, as sacred to him." (Leviticus 27:30). We should "pay tithes
in a spirit of joy." (Sirach 35:8) Most importantly, Jesus tells us that the tithe should not be neglected.
(Luke 11:42) The Lord never intended that the new Covenant based upon love would require less
generosity than the former Covenant.
Message of the Cross
30. A disciple cannot look upon the cross and profess to believe that Jesus would want what He began
to be supported through gambling and gimmickry. Consequently we neither sponsor nor host such
activities. Our commitment to stewardship means that all special activities function within our understanding
that planned, sacrificial giving is the Lord’s way to support the ministries of the Church. All activities
involving money should be discussed and positively recommended to the Pastor by the Covenant
Service Board before being scheduled. Activities that do not confuse the clear messages of stewardship
are likely to be approved, especially as they provide opportunities to build up a sense of community and
utilize the talents of our people – for example, dinners and breakfasts, dances, bake sales, craft shows, a
cookbook. The norm of stewardship excludes (1) any fundraiser activity that does not have as its theme
the promotion of one or more of the virtues of hospitality, stewardship and spirituality, (2) solicitations
of people entering or leaving church, (3) all gambling, (4) the promotion of or high visibility of the use
Pattern of Giving
31. Our pattern of giving is to present gifts at the Sabbath Eucharist, encouraging the use of envelopes.
We do not take up second collections or special collections, except for the annual Archbishop's Appeal.
We prefer to send part of our one offering in support of the many necessary works of the Church.
32. Our ministries of stewardship include a Stewardship Council which brings financial expertise to the
service of the Community, the ministries of bookkeeping and collection counting.
33. The Stewardship Council is an advisory body working in support and collaboration with the Pastor
and the overall consultative body of the Community, the Covenant Service Board.
34. The Chairperson shall be chosen by the Council for a one year term. He or she is responsible for
preparing the meetings and overseeing the work of the Council. He or she serves as the liaison between
the Council and the Service Board, upon which the Chairperson enjoys automatic membership.
35. The Stewardship Council shall be composed of the Pastor and not less than three practicing Catholic
members of the Covenant Community who are: (1) notable for a spirit of Christian stewardship; (2)
knowledgeable and skilled in financial matters; and (3) known for prudent judgment. Membership
shall be by appointment of the Pastor who shall first consult with the Covenant Service Board. The
bookkeeper shall not be a member of the Council though his or her attendance may sometimes be
helpful or necessary.
36. Members of the Stewardship Council shall serve a two-year term and may be asked to serve a
second consecutive two-year term.
37. The Stewardship Council shall meet at least four times a year. Meetings and agenda shall be
arranged by the Chairperson in consultation and with the approval of the Pastor.
38. The Stewardship Council shall have access to all the financial accounts and records of the Covenant
Community, exclusive of the offertory records. Information given shall be received in a spirit of
appropriate confidentiality and prudence.
39. The Stewardship Council assists the Pastor in fulfilling the following responsibilities:
(a) To provide the Covenant Service Board with periodic reports, at least twice a year, on the financial
status of the Community; to assist the Board in adopting a proposed budget for consideration by the
General Convocation; and, taking these considerations into account, to assist the Board in submitting a
budget for adoption by the Pastor.
(b) To review as needed the implementation of bookkeeping and accounting systems and all financial
policies as required by the Archbishop.
(c) To ensure that the Annual Financial Report is prepared and submitted to the Archdiocese, the
Covenant Service Board, and the Community.
(d) To develop procedures for the deposit and investment of Community funds, and the systematic
payment of Community debts.
(e) To evaluate and to make recommendations concerning the practice of sacrificial giving in the
Community in the light of our needs and the mission of the universal Church.
(f) To develop a plan for the financing of necessary repairs, renovations, and purchases of equipment.
(g) To conservatively manage the Development Fund.
(h) To coordinate any and all fund raising activities of the Covenant Community; at the same time
defending the Community against practices which are not in keeping with God's plan for the support of
(i) To meet all financial requirements of civil authorities and maintain accurate records of payments and
(j) To safeguard the assets of the Covenant Community from loss or damage through appropriate review
of insurance coverage.
THE SHEPHERDING ROLE IN COMMUNITY
Ministry of Oversight
40. During His earthly ministry our Lord Jesus, preparing for His departure in the flesh, appointed Peter
the steward in charge of His Church (Matthew 16:18-19), and commissioned all the apostles to carry on
His work (Matthew 28:18-20). These handed their ministry of oversight, literally "episcopal ministry",
in the service of local churches, to individuals (1 Tim 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). Within the universal Church,
the Covenant Community of Jesus the Good Shepherd is part of the particular Church of Washington,
D.C. We are accountable to the Archbishop of Washington.
The Shepherding Role
41. Saint Peter instructed the early shepherds, literally "pastors", of the Church; "God's flock is in your
midst; give it a shepherd's care. Watch over it willingly as God would have you do, not under constraint;
and not for shameful profit either, but generously. Be examples to the flock, not lording it over those
assigned to you, so that when the chief Shepherd appears you will win for yourselves the unfading
crown of glory." (1 Peter 5:2f)
Authority from Christ
42. The commission and authority of "the ministers of the new covenant" (1 Cor. 3:6), the pastors of the
Church, thus comes from Christ through the apostles and the local bishop. The Word of God instructs
disciples on the response Church leaders should receive. "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for
they keep watch over you as men who must render an account. So act that they may fulfill their task
with joy, not with sorrow, for that would be harmful to you." (Hebrews 13:17-18)
43. The Pastor's role is to preach the Word of God; celebrate the Sacraments; lead the Community in
the upbuilding of the Kingdom of God; see that the Community calls out the gifts for ministry which
the Holy Spirit has bestowed upon the members, offering the appropriate discernment, formation and
support; preserve the unity of the Community; and maintain our accountability to the Archbishop of
Washington. In living as a Christian and fulfilling these sacred duties the Pastor stands in need of
ministry from the Community he serves.
DECISION-MAKING IN A COVENANTED COMMUNITY
One Heart and One Mind
44. The Scriptures recall a cherished response to God's grace among the earliest Christians. "The
community of believers were of one heart and mind." (Acts 4:32). In confronting a pastoral
problem, "The Twelve assembled the community of disciples" and proposed a solution. "The proposal
was unanimously accepted by all." (Acts 6:2,5)
45. St. Paul taught the early Christians to agree on major issues. "I beg you, brethren, in the name of
the Lord, Jesus Christ, to agree on what you say. Let there be no factions; rather be united in mind and
judgment." (1 Corinthians. 1:10)
46. This harmony of heart and mind was not to be based on anyone's failure to speak up or upon
intimidation. Rather, the believers were to be aware that the Lord might manifest His will through any
disciple. "Do not stifle the Spirits. Do not despise prophecies. Test everything; retain what is good." (1
Discerning God's Will Together
47. The object of decision-making is to discern together how the Lord would have His covenanted
people act in fulfilling the Father's will. Jesus said, "I am seeking not my own will but the will of Him
who sent me." (John 5:30) Any discernment which maintains the unit Jesus requires of His Church (John
17:20-21) needs to meet the test of being acceptable to the shepherds He has provided.
48. In the manner of the Jerusalem Church, our covenant community should be assembled at least once
a year. In this assembly we should review our fidelity as a community to the covenanted way of life;
in particular to our spirit of hospitality, spirituality and stewardship. At least one representative should
speak on the ministries, challenges and plans of each of the three areas, submitting them to discussion
within the Community. Helpful information, including the proposed budget, should be distributed
two weeks beforehand so as to elicit the most thoughtful responses possible. Provision should always
be made for receiving written comments before the meeting so that those not able to be present or
reluctant to speak may still be heard. The convocation should invoke the Holy Spirit in an atmosphere of
prayer, preferably sung Evening Prayer, prior to meeting. The object of the convocation is widespread
knowledge, agreement and ownership of our ministry as a Community. To this end decisions should be
made by consensus rather than by majority rule.
Consensus as Norm
49. Consensual decision-making in major matters is the norm for a covenanted community. Widespread
knowledge of the relevant information and time for discussion within the Community are necessary
elements of the consensual process. The Pastor's right to act and decide on behalf of the covenant
community is best employed when he is articulating a broadly-based consensus, unless there is little or
no time for discussion, or a satisfactory consensus cannot be reached.
Faith and Morals
50. Decisions about faith and morals, as well as adherence to Church directives, are areas in which
our participation takes the form of fidelity to the Church. As a Covenant Community we may witness
to nothing less as we assist our members in forming conscience, for whose freedom the Gospel has a
COVENANT SERVICE BOARD
51. Within the Covenant Community and at its service is the Covenant Service Board, the central
advisory body to the Pastor.
52. The responsibilities of the Covenant Service Board include the following:
(a) To safeguard the ideal of the Covenant Way of Life and our commitment to the virtues of
Hospitality, Spirituality and Stewardship; and to promoting these in the wider church as a means of
parish renewal when requested.
(b) To see to the planning of an annual covenant renewal on Covenant Sunday, assisting in the updating
of the covenant from year to year, and assisting in preparing the Community for that renewal.
(c) To encourage, coordinate and evaluate all the ministries of the Community; and to see that all aspects
of Community life are suitable to and integrated into the overall spirit and mission of the Covenant
(d) To plan the annual General Convocation of the Community and recommend to the Pastor the calling
of such additional meetings as may be necessary to pursue an ideal of achieving consensus on major
(e) To recommend an annual budget for adoption by the Pastor, taking into account the considerations of
the General Convocations.
(f) To discern the need for new pastoral initiatives.
(g) To review all building and capital improvement plans.
(h) To interview, with the assistance of the Covenant Session staff, candidates for the sacrament of
53. The following shall be members of the Covenant Service Board:
(a) The Pastor, and any deacons assigned to the Community, are non-voting members.
(b) The Chairperson of the Stewardship Council and the Director of the Youth Covenant Session, and a
representative of the Men’s Club.
(c) Three persons elected for their notable dedication to the ministries or spirit of Hospitality.
(d) Three persons elected for their dedication to the ministries of Spirituality or to the importance of
promoting the spiritual growth of the Community and its members.
(e) Three persons elected for their dedication to the ministries of Stewardship or to the importance of
promoting a sense of stewardship within the Community.
(f) No paid staff persons of the Community or the Academy may be voting members of the Covenant
Selection of Members
54. Members shall be practicing, Confirmed Catholics registered in the Community for a minimum of
three years. A member may offer to serve on the Board; or persons may nominate those whom they
would like to see serve by simply placing a name into a box made available before and after Sabbath
Liturgies. Elections for the Covenant Service Board should be held in Springtime before the end of
55. Persons nominated must be contacted by the Vice-Chairperson or his or her delegate to determine if
they are willing to serve on the Board and which one of the three virtues they are willing to bear special
moral responsibility for upholding.
56. Persons shall be elected by simple plurality within each area. Tie votes shall be decided by the flip of
a coin, or a simple drawing.
Term of Office
57. Persons shall be elected for a two-year term of office and may be elected for a second consecutive
term. A person shall be ineligible for re-election to the Board for a period of time to equal his or her
length of most recent continuous service on the Board.
58. The Pastor convenes the Service Board.
59. The Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson are chosen from the elected members of the Board by a
simple majority. He or she shall arrange the agenda with the Pastor and chair the meetings of the Board.
The Chairperson of the Stewardship Council is not eligible for election to any office of the Service
60. The Vice-Chairperson shall chair the meetings in the absence of the Chairperson and is responsible
for overseeing elections to the Service Board.
61. The Secretary need not be a member of the Service Board. A member of the Community may simply
be asked to serve in this capacity by the Chairperson. The Secretary shall keep the minutes, prepare
documents, and handle correspondence.
62. (a) Meetings shall begin with a member designated by the Chairperson reading a Scripture passage
and speaking briefly on its meaning to the Christian life, thus encouraging the shared reflection of the
participants, and then leading the Board in prayer invoking the Holy Spirit upon its deliberations. It is
desirable that prayer end with a sung hymn; and that meetings close with spontaneous prayer.
(b) The newly elected Covenant Service Board will hold a joint meeting with the outgoing Board in
order to make for a smoother transition.
63. The Service Board shall meet normally once a month, for ten months a year, excluding July and
August unless necessary. The Service Board shall not meet less than five times a year. At the discretion
of the Pastor a meeting may be closed, though this is not the regular practice.
64. The presence of a majority of member shall constitute a quorum.
65a. Any member of the Covenant Service Board that is absent for two consecutive meetings or a total
of 3 meetings within a 12 month period will relinquish their position on the Board and the vacancy will
be filled according to the guidelines.
65b. Should a vacancy on the Board occur for any reason, the Vice-Chairperson shall announce to the
Board the next highest vote getter in that category and the Board shall invite that person to serve until
the next election. In the event of a tie the invitation shall be decided by the flip of a coin. No interim
elections shall be held. If this process does not succeed in filling a vacancy the Board may decide to
simply ask the Pastor to appoint an individual.
66. The Board shall strive for a consensus of opinion in determining what advice to give to the Pastor,
resorting to majority vote only when consensus is not possible. In determining the existence of a
consensus, every member present should be polled. Any members request for a secret ballot will be April 26, 2006 - Amendments
67. CSB voted for Covenant Sunday to be the last Sunday of September or the first Sunday of
March 22, 2007 - Amendments
53 d. CSB corrected to previous copies of Guidelines.Note: Original Guidelines for Life an Order dated
1987, reflected 3 persons elected for Spirituality, which has been the ongoing practice. This note will
ensure that it is properly documented.
April 25, 2007 - Amendments
54. CSB voted to add the nomination criteria to include: “A member must be a registered member of
the Covenant Community of Jesus the Good Shepherd for a minimum of three years.”
August 9, 2007 – Amendments
53 b. Representative of Men’s Club was moved from 53c to 53b since the representative is a non-voting
53c. CSB voted to add third person to represent Hospitality since the Men’s Club representative is not a