Sports Opened Door to Life-Changing Moment

Post a Comment » Written on December 15th, 2004     
Filed under: News
ROCKLIN, CA (December 15, 2004)  – Youth ministry offerings are an important  part of the process of planting a church, but one church planting pastor  discovered that relationship building cannot be overestimated as  congregations consider various programming needs.

Greg Krieger, church planter at Rock Harbor in Northern California, has  been a volunteer coach for a Pee Wee football team this fall as he  sought to get to know his neighbors. One of his players was Taylor, the  only girl competing in the league. Krieger admitted that he was unsure how the girl would fit in with his other players, but  the 10-year-old finished the season and was intrigued by her coach and  his full-time job. The on-the-field interaction has led to something off  the field that has been life changing.

“Recently, on a Sunday morning, the phone rang at 9 a.m.,” said Krieger  in a recent article on the Pacific Southwest Conference (PSWC) web page.   “It was Taylor with the question, ‘Coach Krieger, how do I get to  church?’  She had her mom drop her off later.  That morning, Taylor was  one of 13 or 14 people who raised their hands indicating they had  committed to follow Christ – just as the jailor in the morning scripture  and message had done. Taylor came back the following week with three  friends!

“Honestly, I didn’t know what to think about a girl playing tackle  football on the team this year,” Krieger continued. “God got in my grill and let me know . .  . there was a lot more than football going on out there.”

Youth and young adults are important to ministries throughout the  Evangelical Covenant Church, as evidenced by the activities reflected in  the more than 250 local church newsletters received each month by  Covenant Communications. The following news notes are presented by  conference and region.


  • Chicago, Illinois: Edgebrook Covenant Church’s Desiree Baaken of  Maine South High School in Park Ridge was part of a concert tour through  her school that performed in New York this fall. Meanwhile, Lane Tech  High School’s Stephanie Hughes finished 10th in the regionally known  Sean Earl Loyola Invitational girls high school cross country event in  Chicago. She later qualified for the Illinois State Class AA girls cross country championships and finished 32nd overall.
  • Chicago, Illinois: Ravenswood Evangelical Covenant Church’s Meghan  Hodgkinson was named Most Valuable Player for her Von Steuben High  School girls volleyball team.
  • Stillman Valley, Illinois: Valley Covenant Church students Scott  Adams, Travis Bond, Thomas Debnam, Jim Feimster, Matt Flowers, Angie  Huber, Joey Smith, Courtney Bond, Bill Clift, Aaron Deets, John Feimster, Sarah Hillis,  Carla Huber and Nicole Stukenberg were on the first quarter honor roll  at Byron High School. Another student, Bradley Allen Pierson, was  presented with his Eagle Scout award as the Boy Scouts of  America’s  highest honor in November.
  • Green Lake, Wisconsin: Around 500 high school students from the  Central Conference gathered at an event called “Rise Up – Jesustyle  2004” from November 5-7. The speaker for the retreat was Steve Gerali and he told about teenagers  in the Bible such as Mary, David and Daniel. Seth Lindberg helped  provide worship leading with help from a multitalented band.

  • Eagle River, Alaska: Community Covenant Church’s Club 56 (fifth and  sixth grade) youth group purchased 10 turkeys and collected enough food  in less than two hours to donate eight Thanksgiving meals to the needy.  Others donated more food and eventually 13 food baskets were delivered  to families in the area.
  • Soldotna, Alaska: Alaska Christian College (ACC) reported in a  recent email update that the school’s first official college graduate  recently finished his education at North Park University in Chicago and  had his commencement ceremony on December 10. Adam London of Arvada  Covenant Church in Colorado was a Youth Ministry major at North Park  after receiving the Student of the Year Award in the first ACC graduating class 2002. London is set to begin an extended internship back at ACC  during the school’s winter term, serving at ACC’s admissions office. In  other news, ACC president Keith Hamilton said that ACC will be  increasing the number of faculty with master’s degrees. He asked for prayer that two teachers needing additional  schooling will be able to find the means to do this over the course of  the next three years. ACC is also looking for someone who can assist  with summer food service needs. “Eight teams have committed to  volunteering for a week or more this summer. We also need a full team of  people to host the visiting groups. Pray for our remaining weeks to be  filled with teams,” added Hamilton. “We have written a grant to expand  our library as it is necessary that we have up to 15,000 volumes by  2007, which requires us to expand our current library by up to 2,000  square feet. Our dining hall project is on schedule and some building is  being done off site even this winter in preparation for teams this  summer. We now have 10 buildings on our campus since our original purchase of that first  building almost four years ago.”

  • Jamestown, New York: First Covenant Church youth pastor Dan  Soderberg stated that a youth ministry to schools called “Impact” has  been active in seven local campuses, including five high schools and a  pair of middle schools. Dan Nikolich of Zion Covenant Church has been a  youth leader heavily involved with the ministry. Soderberg said the  groups gather to pray, read scripture and even spend time in worship.  Local pastors have also visited campus to speak and service projects  have been offered to students. About 300 students are attending and  Soderberg added that about one-third have no church affiliation.  Students at First Covenant serving as chapter leaders include Courtney  Charles, Zach Hnatyszyn, Heather Soderberg and Luke Alport-Cohoon.

  • Tulsa, Oklahoma: Redeemer Covenant Church’s John Clark is a starting  forward on the Bucknell men’s basketball team, which has a 5-4 record  after nine games. Clark recently scored 11 points in a win over Yale University. John’s sister  Christy was a middle hitter on the University of North Carolina’s  women’s volleyball team this fall.

  • Mason City, Iowa: First Covenant Church’s Noelle Peterson is a  reserve forward for the Truman State University women’s basketball team,  which plays in the NCAA’s Division II classification and is located in  Kirksville, Missouri.
  • Salina, Kansas: Sean Pietrzyk was a starting defensive player for  the Salina South High School football team that recently won the Kansas  High School State High School Class 5A football title in Topeka. His  team defeated two unbeaten teams en route to the championship. They finished 10-3 overall.

  • Seattle, Washington: First Covenant Church youth coordinator Kirsten  Bengston wrote that more than 200 students were part of a North Pacific  junior high retreat this fall. The event included games, devotions and a  talent show, among other things. The youth group has worked on a  modern-day version of the Genesis story of Joseph and his brothers.
  • Yakima, Washington: Jan Carlson of Wiley Heights Covenant Church was  recently accepted to the Yakima Symphony Chorus, singing in performances  in November and December at the Capitol Theatre.

  • Mankato, Minnesota: The Evangelical Covenant Church of Mankato  recently was part of a junior high fall weekend retreat that included  helping an organization called “Kids Against Hunger” serve meals to feed  7,000 children. The group also went to a Friday night concert. Youth  (more than 30 people in all) also participated in its annual “Rake the  Town” event, raking leaves for their neighbors on a rainy day. The  senior high students also participated in a short mission trip to  Chicago, learning about different religious groups, social systems and how to evangelize to  non-Christians, among other things. They also helped people in a  homeless shelter.
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota: Meta Swanson of Bethlehem Covenant Church  was awarded a role with the Lakeville City Ballet’s 2004 version of  “Nutcracker,” a traditional Christmas performance held in November. She was part of the  Spanish dance ensemble, said a recent newsletter note.

  • Tucson, Arizona: Jai Atkielski, youth pastor at the Evangelical  Covenant Church of Tucson, stated that youth from his church – along  with help from Cheri Fagan and Bill Foster – fed the homeless during  Thanksgiving season and the group is hosting students from a local high school for a Free Finals Food (FFF) breakfast in  December. A building project on the property for an athletic facility  includes a volleyball pit and refurbished basketball court.
  • San Jose, California: The First Covenant Church Youth Volleyball  League has been a strong outreach to the local community, said associate  pastor Jeff Budd as the most recent season included 60 participants and  12 leaders. Currently, the participant total doubles what it was in the  spring of 2003. The church recently had a barbecue meal for students and  their families after church
  • Santa Barbara, California: Montecito Covenant Church’s Andy Aijian,  a senior at Bishop Diego High School, was one of 34,000 students  nationwide to be named a National Merit Commended Scholar by the 2005 National Merit Scholarship  Program. Students receive the honor by scoring in the top five percent  on the Pre-Scholastic Achievement Test, which is taken during the fall  of one’s junior year of high school.
To learn more about Covenant youth and youth programs throughout the  Covenant, regularly visit this Covenant online news report at To send information for consideration in this report,  email Covenant Communications at

Copyright © 2011 The Evangelical Covenant Church.

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