The Nature of the Covenant
This covenant defines the relationship of Evergreen Presbyterian Ministries, Inc., to the Synod of the Sun of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). It is a covenant made voluntarily by each party. It is an agreement for each to be accountable to the other in areas of mutual concern. Based on God’s faithfulness to us, we are making a commitment to be faithful to God in service to others. It is a commitment for the future based upon our past and present ministry together.
The History of Evergreen Presbyterian Ministries, Inc. and the Synod
In May 1959, the Synod of Louisiana adopted as its child care program the establishment and operation of a vocational training school for young men with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and emotional problems. They appointed a commission, designated funds and approved a special offering.
Evergreen School was purchased, subsequently called Evergreen Developmental Center, and grew into an institution that served 240 individuals with disabilities in the early 1980’s. In 1980, Evergreen Presbyterian Ministries began to direct its attention to the development of community homes serving six individuals in typical middle class neighborhoods. The next years saw an increase in the number of homes and apartments located in the community serving Evergreen’s clients and a subsequent decline in the number of people served in institutional settings.
Finally, by mid-1994, the Evergreen Developmental Center was closed and there were no more clients served by Evergreen in institutional settings. This closure occurred because the ministry became convinced that its clients could be served better in the smaller, more homelike environments in the community. The closure was supported by the changes in State/Federal funding patterns. Evergreen had become 100% community-based, offering services in all four states of the Synod including Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. In 1998, Evergreen began serving clients in Tennessee and in 2008, expanded services into Kentucky. In 2013, Evergreen began a social enterprise, HEAVENDROPt, in Florida. The ministry now serves over 1,100 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in a variety of community settings.
The Purpose of Evergreen Presbyterian Ministries, Inc.
The mission of Evergreen Presbyterian Ministries, Inc., is to serve, provide for and champion individuals with disabilities. Evergreen services and supports are designed to enable people to grow spiritually, physically, intellectually, emotionally and socially in a manner which leads to full inclusion in society. Evergreen respects and promotes the rights and dignity of individuals while enhancing independence through responsibility. Evergreen is characterized by Christian concern and employee competence.
The History of the Synod of the Sun as it relates to Evergreen Presbyterian Ministries, Inc.
The Synod of the Sun is the governing body which is the successor to the Synod of Red River, which was the successor to the Synod of Louisiana. The latter established Evergreen Presbyterian Ministries, Inc. in 1959.
The Purpose of the Synod of the Sun
The Synod of the Sun, a governing body of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A., connects and responds to the needs of its 11 presbyteries and their congregations in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas. The Synod maintains a covenantal relationship with its institutions and agencies.
Expansion Beyond The Synod of the Sun
Evergreen Presbyterian Ministries’ efforts expanded beyond the bounds of the Synod of the Sun when it grew beyond its original four-state area. Evergreen was given permission by the Synod of the Sun to labor outside the bounds of the Synod, and likewise, permission from the Synod of Living Waters to labor within their bounds was granted when those states were added.
Evergreen’s Commitment to Synod of the Sun
- Evergreen Presbyterian Ministries is committed to initiating and maintaining programs to further its purpose as stated in its Mission Statement.
- Evergreen is committed to developing new and innovative programs for ministry to those with functional disabilities or similar.
- Evergreen is committed to providing opportunities for individuals from a variety of institutions to develop expertise in working with persons with disabilities. Evergreen will work with seminarians, pastors, youth groups, international students, and social work and psychology interns.
- Evergreen is committed to providing spiritual enrichment to clients and works with local churches to provide opportunities for them to be involved in the spiritual life of Evergreen’s clients.
Synod’s Commitment to Evergreen
- The Synod of the Sun is committed to supporting Evergreen Presbyterian Ministries, through prayer.
- The Synod is committed to encourage financial support by consideration of fundraising campaigns throughout the Synod.
- The Synod commits itself to interpreting Evergreen’s work and financial needs to the membership of the congregations within its bounds and encouraging responsible stewardship.
- The Synod is committed to educating the Church about developmental disabilities, encouraging congregations within its bounds to extend Christ’s hospitality to people with disabilities, and to providing Evergreen Presbyterian Ministries, the opportunity to do so.
REVIEW OF THIS COVENANT
This covenant is reviewed every five years by a Covenant Review Team composed of at least two persons nominated by the Board of Directors of Evergreen Presbyterian Ministries, Inc., and at least two persons nominated by the Synod. The Board of Directors will appoint one of these persons as moderator. This team reviews the current covenant and may recommend amendments. The Covenant Review Team will report to the Synod and to the Board of Evergreen Presbyterian Ministries, Inc. At the request of either party, a review may be initiated prior to the expiration date of the covenant.
This covenant becomes effective when approved by the Board of Directors of Evergreen Presbyterian Ministries, Inc. and by the Synod of the Sun, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
On October 21, 2016, representatives from the Synod of the Sun and Evergreen signed a Covenant Renewal.