Delegates Approve New Department, Honor Women

Post a Comment » Written on June 15th, 2006     
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GRAND RAPIDS, MI (June 15, 2006) – A new Department of Compassion, Mercy and Justice was formed today with the unanimous vote of delegates to the 121st Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Covenant Church.

“This is a historic moment in the life of the Evangelical Covenant Church,” said Donn Engebretson, executive vice president of the denomination. “This is sharpening our focus and broadening our understanding of ministering the gospel.”

The new department will “align our structures with our values, which are imbedded within Covenant Affirmations” said Harold Spooner, executive vice president of Outreach Ministries for Covenant Ministries of Benevolence. He and Mark Olson, dean of enrollment and director of church relations for North Park University, introduced the proposed changes to delegates. “The mission of the department of Compassion, Mercy and Justice is to energize, empower and equip churches and regional conferences to obey Gods’ call,” they said.

The new department is necessary due in part to “a surge of interest by local ministries for compassion and justice, Covenant World Relief and the Paul Carlson Partnership,” Spooner said, adding that the department structure is “designed to support and channel local ministries.” He noted that, “This is a whole church effort – we don’t want to compartmentalize it.”

Primary responsibilities of the new department will be to champion its vision and values, teach about political justice, direct oversight of existing ministries and staff, and develop a network of churches doing similar ministries.

Secondary responsibilities will include collaboration with existing departments on initiatives such as Sankofa, Mosaic, and Invitation to Racial Righteousness, as well as partner with commissions and other ministries.

Staffing will be “intentionally lean,” Spooner said. The department will be led by an executive minister, an administrative assistant, and the directors of Covenant World Relief and the Paul Carlson Partnership.

A job description for the executive minister will be developed in August and a search committee will be formed in October. The committee will recommend a candidate to the Executive Board next March and announce the candidate in May, with the Annual Meeting hopefully approving and calling the candidate in June.

Funding for the department is being provided in part by the elimination of the position of vice president for administration. Those duties are being spread through other offices.

In addition to the reorganization of duties, delegates also approved restructuring Executive Board committees – eliminating the appointed positions – and changing the Executive Board conference representative selection process.

Delegates also elected David Parkyn to be the new president of North Park University. For more information, please see a related story elsewhere in this online Covenant news report.

A major portion of the afternoon was devoted to recognition of the role women historically have played in the Covenant church and celebrating both the 30th anniversary of the ordination of women in the Covenant and the 90th anniversary of Women Ministries.

“The women of this church recognized the value of women in ministry 90 years ago,” said Sharon Cairns Mann, chair of the Commission on Biblical Gender Equality, in introducing two videos chronicling the work of women in the Covenant.

“We are all indebted to these women for pouring out their lives,” Cairns Mann said following the presentations. She then asked those in the audience whose lives had in some way been touched by Women Ministries over the years to stand – and comfortably half of the audience rose from their seats.

She then thanked Ruth Hill, Women Ministries executive ministries, for her leadership.

“God calls women to bring their gifts and aspirations for ministry,” Cairns Mann said in closing. “Nothing is beyond the reach of a woman whose faith and identity are grounded in God.”

“We owe a debt of gratitude to women serving in pastoral ministries,” said President Glenn Palmberg. He said he has vivid memories as a child watching his mother and some of her friends roll bandages for use in faraway places. “It was moving for me not too long ago to be in Congo and see the bandages that continue to be rolled today,” Palmberg said.

“Where would we be without the work of Women Ministries?” he asked. He noted that today there are 292 credentialed women pastors in the Covenant. Just a few years ago, there were just 11 serving in senior pastor roles – today there are 35. One-half of the current North Park Theological Seminary enrollment are women.

“Thank you for all that has been accomplished.”

Copyright © 2011 The Evangelical Covenant Church.

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