Covenant Well-Known in Youth Ministry Arena

Post a Comment » Written on February 28th, 2007     
Filed under: News
CHICAGO, IL (February 28, 2007) – Three of the five scheduled plenary speakers at a major national youth workers conference this spring are ordained ministers of the Evangelical Covenant Church.

Pastors Harvey Carey, Efrem Smith, and Soong-Chan Rah will address the 10th annual Urban Youth Workers Institute (UYWI) to be held May 17-19 at Azusa Pacific University in Los Angeles.

Carey is pastor of Citadel of Faith Covenant Church in Detroit, Michigan, and Smith is pastor of Sanctuary Covenant Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Rah is assistant professor of Church Growth and Evangelism at North Park Theological Seminary.

Their participation, as well as a pre-event conference to be held this Saturday at North Park University, are indicative of the Covenant’s increasing influence in youth ministry across denominations, says Alison Burkhardt, assistant director of the Center for Youth Ministry Studies. The Center for Youth Ministry Studies is a unique partnership of North Park University, North Park Theological Seminary, and the Department of Christian Formation of the Evangelical Covenant Church.

North Park is one of four sites across the country where the UYWI will hold Reload, a one-day training event for youth workers. Nearly 350 youth workers from the Midwest are expected to attend the Chicago event. Other host cities are Los Angeles, Detroit and Boston.

The Covenant’s determination to focus on diversity and planting multi-ethnic churches has attracted pastors such as Carey and Smith, who joined the denomination during more recent years, Burkhardt says, adding that ministers outside the denomination are widely aware of the emphases.

The university’s training of youth ministers also has attracted national attention, which has encouraged students from different denominations to matriculate at the school, Burkhardt says. “North Park is a place where students can come and learn with a diverse group of people from around the country,” she explains.

The Center and UYWI also have worked closely together for years. Organizers of the UYWI conference sought the Center’s recommendations for its speakers, says Burkhardt.

The Reload conference this weekend will include speakers Rah; Phil Jackson, pastor of The House Covenant Church, a hip-hop congregation that has been the subject of several national news stories, including a segment on the PBS television show Religion & Ethics; and Alise Barrymore, who was the university’s chaplain until last year. Lina Thompson, who has served as national director of World Vision’s ministry Vision Youth; and Justine Connelly, former national director of Young Life, also will speak.

Several of the topics covered in the workshops indicate how much youth ministry has changed in recent years. They include helping youth group members develop for-profit businesses as part of their ministry, and reaching out to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students.

The budget for the weekend has been covered through donations from World Vision, YouthPartnersNet, and an anonymous donor, Burkhardt says. Registration for the event is $20.

For more information, visit the CYMS website or call Burkhardt at 773-244-5207. Visit the UYWI national conference website for more information on the May gathering.

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