Covenant Word Fellowship and John Avallone
Twenty six years ago a group of people committed to studying the Bible and praying together on Sunday mornings created a non-denominational church called Covenant Word Fellowship in Medina, Ohio. Here members follow precept bible studies, developed by Kay and Jack Arthur, which emphasize a personal study of the Bible and coming to understand God’s word through observation, interpretation, and application of the text. The church’s mission is to help people grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ by understanding God’s word and applying what they learn in the text to their lives.
Growing up in Medina, Ohio, Joel Repic attended Covenant Word Fellowship with his family. When the Repics’ moved to Pennsylvania they kept in touch with the congregation. Hearing about Joel’s new ministry, Aliquippa Impact, the church decided to offer support financially and through prayer.
According to John Avallone, a member of Covenant Word for 26 years, “We support Aliquippa Impact because it ministers to children. They provide a safe haven for kids and try to turn kids’ lives around through education, mentoring, and ministering with God’s word. Aliquippa has been an oppressed area for a number of years-lots of issues, lots of ills there that capture children at an early age. The emphasis is to try to show them that there are other alternatives and with God in their lives they are not destined to a very difficult and tough life.”
John played an important role in organizing Aliquippa Impact’s board. About seven years ago Joel invited John to serve as a board member. At the time that John accepted Joel’s invitation, the board was going through a period of transition. Some members were leaving as others were joining. Six months into his role, John noticed the board was not functioning smoothly. He spoke with Joel about this concern. Knowing that John had experience with corporate organization, he asked him if he would consider being chairman of the board. John agreed and set out to make some changes. First, he turned his attention to the board’s organization. John says, “The focus I had then was really getting the board with a full sway of members because we didn’t have enough. So we recruited some people and basically had more of an organizational structure. I was chairman, we had a vice-chairman, a secretary, a treasurer, and so we started to function much more directly with the ministry in terms of providing guidance and direction.”
John also believed that Aliquippa Impact needed a business manager-someone to run the day-to-day operations of the ministry. At the time Joel was the executive director, but his heart was really into the ministry aspects of AI rather than the organization’s management. To give Joel a greater opportunity to work directly with ministry, the board hired Steve Rossi as a full- time business manager. About a year later Joel became more involved with pastoral duties at his church, and although he was still very much involved with Aliquippa Impact, he felt that he should give up his position as executive director. So, Joel moved out of the position and Steve filled his place.
John also suggested that AI needed a more automated and timely method of producing newsletters as well as a webpage so people could easily make donations. Both of these suggestions led to more change for the organization. John has since retired from the board, but the changes he made have strengthened AI’s ministry.
The support of Joel’s childhood parish, Covenant Word Fellowship, and parishioner John Avallone’s efforts on the board have furthered Aliquippa Impact’s mission to foster hope in Aliquippa.