Fun-Filled Evening Honors C. John Weborg

Post a Comment » Written on February 9th, 2006     
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By Stan Friedman

CHICAGO, IL (February 9, 2006) – Friends and colleagues of Dr. C. John Weborg used a variety of names in describing him during a dinner last week that featured a hefty helping of “roasted professor” while introducing a recently completed festschrift in his honor.

They called him friend, director, pastor, mentor, preacher, teacher, scholar, and colleague. Jay Phelan, president and dean of North Park Theological Seminary, noted that the retired professor has even been called a saint, “though Lois disputes that,” he added, in reference to Weborg’s wife.

Dr. C. John Weborg The ad hoc choral group “Norman Church and the Flying Buttresses” opened the evening with an updated version of the Jimmy Dean classic, “Big Bad John.” The parody told the story of Johnny Rome – a technological Luddite who saves the seminary when its computer goes down – to the obvious delight of Weborg’s friends who know of his preference for paper and pen. (To read the lyrics, please see Big Bad John)

The musical group later honored the man, who perhaps has influenced Evangelical Covenant Church worship as much as any other person now living, with a “new hymn” that drew its title from one of Weborg’s trademark phrases, “Are you with me?” The words were set to the tune of the traditional hymn, “Are Ye Able, Said the Master.” (To read the lyrics, please see Are You With Me?)

Several people offered their own tributes and, in another moment of humor, others read contrived statements they attributed to people who could not be there, including Pope Benedict XVI and the 18th Century Protestant reformer Johann Albrecht Bengel, about whom Weborg wrote his doctoral thesis. Several times through the evening, speakers poked fun at the length of their colleague’s thesis, the “Eschatalogical Ethics of Johann Albrecht Bengel: Personal and Ecclesial Piety and the Literature of Edification.”

They all acknowledged Weborg’s contributions to the Covenant. Vice President Donn Engebretson told Weborg, “You are the person that the evangelical church trusts.” He added, “We as a whole family of faith thank God for you.”

“You say you have (retired), but we know you’re not – and please don’t,” said Professor Phil Anderson. “There’s only one of you, and we are saying that you belong to us.”

When it came time for his own remarks, Weborg drew much laughter when he said, “I am constitutionally opposed to anything too simple.” He added, “There is no person worthy of what has been said tonight.” (See accompanying photo.)

In an age where what happens in smaller churches often is overlooked, Weborg noted that his home church never reached more than 30 members. He paid tribute to his early confirmation teacher, Sam Carlson, who pushed a young Weborg to memorize scripture and the catechism.

“It came across to us at an early age that the Christian faith has content,” Weborg said. It is a passion he has carried with him through the years, mediating God’s grace to all around him.

“I will forever be a Weborgian,” said Debbie Blue in her tribute, no doubt reflecting the sentiment of many other Covenanters.

The festschrift, a German word used to describe a collection of essays written to honor someone, is scheduled to be published this Spring.

Copyright © 2011 The Evangelical Covenant Church.

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