Archive for December, 2014

Crossing Borders

1 Comment » Written on December 30th, 2014     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories
Evelmyn Ivens was born in Mexico and moved to the United States during her teenage years. Graduated from North Park Theological Seminary in 2013 with a MA in Theological Studies and works at the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) in Chicago. Evelmyn has lived in Los Angeles, CA, Washington, DC, and Chicago, IL, enjoys traveling and learning about other cultures. She’s passionate about issues of immigration, hunger, poverty, and human trafficking.

This Christmas was very particular for me because I would usually travel several days before Christmas Day and spend it with family in Southern Mexico. However, this time I was on a plane on Christmas Eve on my way to Tijuana, Mexico to visit family. Even though, I lived in Southern California for many years I never crossed the border into Mexico, so this was about to be my first time. I flew into San Diego and made my way to the San Ysidro border crossing. As I was walking along the pathway with many others, some with suitcases like myself, others with presents and all dressed up for Christmas Eve celebrations, others looked like they were going home from work, and I couldn’t help to think about Las Posadas and the birth of Jesus. Also I couldn’t help to think about the unique experience of those who get to cross back and forth between the countries, and that get to taste the diversity of cultures, language, expressions of faith, etc. What an experience!

It made me think about Las Posadas  because, Las Posadas are a celebration to commemorate the difficult journey of Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem, and in Mexico is celebrated since the colony. Traditional tales narrate that Joseph accompanied by his wife Mary, walked from Nazareth to Bethlehem to meet their tax responsibilities. It took them nine days to reach their destination and when they got there Mary was about to give birth. When they were rejected at the inn and at some other places, then they where able to find refugee at a manger offered by some kind people. This is a passage known as Las Posadas, celebrated for nine days leading up to Christmas. Continue Reading »



And God Made Joseph A Feminist…

6 comments Written on December 22nd, 2014     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories
Jo Ann Deasy is a Covenant pastor who has served in a variety of ministerial roles including Youth Intern, Minister of Christian Education, Dean of Students, and Solo Pastor. She is currently serving as Director, Institutional Initiatives and Student Research at the Association of Theological Schools in Pittsburgh.

image

During a conference this week, we were asked to reflect on an Advent text: Matthew 1:18-25, the call of Joseph. With so much focus on Mary and the baby Jesus, Joseph often gets left out of the Christmas story. After all, he played such a small part. Really, this Christmas thing was about Mary and God. Joseph was just along for the ride. The third wheel in the divine drama that played out over those nine months before the first Christmas.

And yet, Christmas could not have happened without him. It was his agreement to stay with her despite the unexplained pregnancy, his willingness to believe her, his willingness to listen to God himself, that protected Mary and allowed her not to be condemned for adultery. It was his faithfulness that protected the baby Jesus as they fled to Egypt and allowed the child to be provided for and cared for throughout his life.

It may seem strange that on a blog focusing on biblical equality and the ministry of women pastors I would focus on Joseph, but here is what struck me as I reflected on this passage during our devotion this week. What was amazing about Joseph was his willingness to believe that God might have chosen to work through a woman. Young, virgin, Mary. A woman engaged to a working class carpenter. So outside the realm of who one might have expected God to choose to bring forth a savior into the world. And yet Joseph believed. Continue Reading »



Sharing is Caring…

2 comments Written on December 15th, 2014     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories
Nilwona Nowlin currently serves as the Administrative Specialist for Governance for the ECC and is an active member of the Christian Community Development Association. In her “spare time,” Nilwona teaches workshops about living successfully as an introvert. She also randomly blogs about random things at thedreamerspeaks.

Nilwona Nowlin-photo

During my time in the dual degree program at North Park Theological Seminary, I also pursued a Certificate in Justice Ministry. At the same time, I was serving as an intern with North Park University’s Urban Outreach program (facilitated by University Ministries) and participating in the CCDA Leadership Cohort program. All of these experiences allowed me many opportunities to engage in conversations about power and privilege. They also helped me to understand  that power has to be shared/redistributed in order for us to get close to seeing anything that even looks like justice. However, people who possess power are not always quick to share it or give it up. I have had many unfortunate encounters with people who have found my presence to be a threat to their power and privilege simply because of the color of my skin or my gender. Yet, I am also blessed to have experienced a great example of what it looks like for someone with power to share it in a way that was not paternalistic or patronizing.

At Midwinter 2014, I co-facilitated a roundtable discussion about engaging churches in ministries of compassion, mercy and justice – specifically how to move from compassion and mercy to justice. The truth of the matter is that my internship supervisor, the Urban Outreach director, was the actual facilitator. Rich was the one who had been asked to facilitate the discussion, and he was the one listed in the program book as the facilitator. However, he was willing to share this space and opportunity with me because he was familiar with my gifts, talents and skills – particularly in relation to the discussion topic. Continue Reading »



Advent

4 comments Written on December 9th, 2014     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories
Catherine Gilliard is co-senior pastor of New Life Covenant Church in Atlanta, Georgia and president of Advocates for Covenant Clergy Women (ACCW).

adventI love the season of Advent because I love to prepare for things. Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming” and paints for us images of how for God’s people are to watch for and wait on the fulfillment of all that is promised. In the first Advent, God chose to send Jesus as a baby into a chaotic world. By Christ’s earthly incarnation God demonstrates a total commitment to our humanity. Christ comes to us, and is in us, and works through us, redeeming and restoring our past, our present and our future.

This is the message of Advent … our history once filled with an expectant hope, our present consumed with an unshakeable belief in God’s power, our future filled with anticipation and expectation of the day when justice and reconciliation are reigning companions in redeeming and restoring all that is broken in our world. God’s reign has already broken into our world through the incarnation, death and resurrection of Christ. God’s Kingdom is near, God’s Kingdom is here, and God’s Kingdom is coming. It has already arrived but it is not fully realized.

Advent fills me with great hope for women pastors and leaders in the church. I listen to many stories, and add my own, of all that is broken in relationships in the church. Women who are obediently following God’s call, tirelessly seeking a place to call home. Like Mary and Joseph, they are being told again and again that the inn is full. It is in this journey of going from place to place and being rejected and turned away, that we find true connection with our Lord. Jesus knows what it feels like to be on mission for God and to be rejected and told over and over again that we don’t want you because you are not what we had in mind. Continue Reading »



Against Isolation

5 comments Written on December 2nd, 2014     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories
k hinzKaren Hinz is an ordained Covenant pastor who is serving as solo pastor of Mission Covenant Church in Ishpeming, Michigan, a position she has held for four years. Before that, she was pastor at Covenant Harbor Bible Camp in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin for 13 years. She has served on the ACCW board and BGE commission. Her personal life right now is filled with being a wife and mother of two teenagers and still trying to do some reading, scrapbooking, and genealogy.

What are the strengths of the Evangelical Covenant Church? Devotion to Jesus. A straightforward, biblical theology. A generous attitude that trusts people’s faith experiences. An acceptance of mystery and no need to claim to have all the answers. And certainly, an emphasis on being relational.

The relational aspect of the denomination is what replaces edicts with conversations. It is what makes shared ministry a joy rather than an annoyance. And this fits a faith based on a relationship with Jesus. We ought to be people who value relationships and who invest in them. It is out of this desire for relationships that we place emphasis on being together.

The ECC has lots of gatherings: district pastors meet, conferences meet, various churches develop relationships with each other. Our denomination-wide meetings of Midwinter, The Gathering, CHIC, the Feast, and Triennial are key to preserving identity and experiencing diversity. Many would say the “hallway conversations” at our gatherings are at least as important as the sessions with the big-name speakers. And despite the wonders of technology that allow remote-access to gatherings, they can’t get us into the same hallway for relationship-building.

This emphasis on relationships is what keeps us returning to Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” In faith, relationships take on a different quality than they do in the world. Paul points to race, economics, and gender as three areas that can be transformed. Areas where inequality has been more the rule than the exception. And the Covenant has grown in the areas of race and gender. There is more work to do, but there have been serious, intentional efforts and much progress made. Continue Reading »