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The Story of COVnet •
Constitution •
Doctrinal Statement •
COVnet Networks •
COVnet Churches •
COVnet Ordained Ministers •
    The Story of COVnet by Thomas F. Reid

Over fifteen years ago, I sat at a meeting at the Crystal Cathedral listening to United Methodist church growth expert, Lyle Shaller. In the middle of his lecture, he looked at us and said, "I am a United Methodist, and I want to tell you that we are living in an area when denominations are dead. Oh yes, they will continue to exist, but the future of the church is networking". We discussed this subject for the next two hours, however, I found it impossible to believe. Over these past fifteen years, I have gradually seen the denominational world becoming less relevant to the contemporary church and pastor. I also began to observe the emergence of networking between churches and ministries.

As I watched these networks emerge in the American church, I remembered what happened to my ministry over twenty years ago when we began to explode in growth in our local church. I remember feeling that I was preaching to more and more people, and knew less and less of their names. As a result of a trip to Lakeland, Florida where I heard the ministry of Dr. Roy Harthern and Dr. Cho from Korea, I became interested in cell groups. When I returned to Buffalo, we started to meet with people that I felt could become cell group leaders. Within the next year we developed over 246 cell groups in our church. As the city of Buffalo was divided into district, we also developed district leaders over sections of the city. Within the next two or three years, most of these district leaders started churches, and eventually our church opened thirteen other churches throughout the western New York.

I then came to the realization that I had a 'network' of my own, the churches that we had mothered throughout our area. I realized that to some extent that I had lost intimate contact with these pastors, and a desire began to flood inside of me to establish a deeper relationship with my own churches. I recognized that I already had a network of churches.

In the midst of this discovery I accepted a speaking engagement in Johnstown, Pennsylvania at the Johnstown Christian Center for a new friend, Reverend Gary Tustin. Gary told me that he also had a network of pastor friends, and asked if I would assist him in building a network in his area. I accepted the challenge. We then met with David Thomas of Youngstown, Ohio, who also had his own network, and with Reverend Ron Hembree of Cornerstone Television network, who also had a group of ministers who had build a strong relationship with him. This was really a 'network of networks.' We came together in Pittsburgh, and again in Youngstown, Ohio, and worked on a doctrinal statement and a constitution. We then met with an attorney, and COVnet became a reality. Other groups contacted us, and today we continue to expand the ministry of his network of networks.

COVnet is an idea that we believe was born in the heart of God. It is not a replacement for denominations, as many of our churches are already part of a denomination. It is a forum to develop close interpersonal covenant relationship between those of us who desire to be related to other ministers and ministries on a closer and more intimate level.

We have several types of networks. Some of our networks ordain their own ministers. Others are established for the purpose of a specific mission. Their churches may belong to various denominations, but they have united as a network, not only to establish closer relationships, but to accomplish a specific mission.

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