Miericke Stepping Down – ‘Time for Younger Leadership’

Post a Comment » Written on March 9th, 2007     
Filed under: News
By Stan Friedman

OVIEDA, FL (March 9, 2007) – Kurt Miericke spent his first two months as superintendent of the Southeast Conference driving across the region, visiting churches  and staying in people’s homes. Now he is stepping down at the end of 16 years as his fourth term comes to an end, in part, he says, “because I don’t want to overstay.”

Miericke, first elected in 1991, told the conference executive board last August that he intended for this to be his final year. “I’ve done this for so long,” Miericke explains. “I think it’s important for younger leadership to be given the opportunity.”

MierickeThe board recently nominated Associate Supt. Robert Owens to fill the position. Delegates to the Southeast Conference Annual Meeting in April will vote on his nomination. If elected, he will be installed during the Evangelical Covenant Church Annual Meeting in June and take office September 1.

Owens says he is thankful for the guidance he has received from Miericke. “Kurt has been a tremendous mentor and friend,” he explains. “He has been a partner in ministry.”

Under Miericke, the conference has grown to have at least one church in every state located within the conference’s geographic borders, and the conference has become self-supporting. When Miericke started, the denomination was paying 25 percent of his salary, and most of the churches were in Florida.

Denominational leaders praise Miericke for progress the conference has made. “Kurt took on the superintendency of one of our smaller conferences, one that did not have the kind of large, strong base needed for church planting,” recalls President Glenn Palmberg. “But in cooperation with the denomination, he has managed to grow the conference in size and in number of churches. He has been a leader in adopting churches into the conference and the Covenant, and has also led in moving us forward in diversity.”

Gary Walter, executive minister of the Department of Church Growth and Evangelism, noted that the conference has helped lead the adoption and planting of multi-ethnic churches. “Kurt is a pioneering organizer by nature,” Walter says. “His leadership showed real creativity in advancing the mission of Christ, which has doubled under his leadership. In particular, he is to be commended for modeling and advancing the multi-ethnic realities of the Kingdom of God.”

Miericke helped guide the conference through difficult times, but no more so than in the wake of devastating hurricanes. In August 1992, Hurricane Andrew destroyed the Palmetto Community Covenant Church – now known as Kingdom Covenant Church – in Miami. Work crews from across the country helped rebuild the church.

Then there were the storms of 2004 and 2005. Following Hurricane Wilma, which tore through southern Florida in October 2005, Miericke noted that in just 15 months, 10 hurricanes – including Katrina, Wilma and Rita – had struck areas of the conference. “We had two devastating years,” he recalls.

Following Wilma, an exhausted Miericke expressed his frustration. “I’m tired of this,” he said. “I’m really tired of this.” Most recently, two tornadoes killed a Covenant couple in Central Florida, and heavily damaged other homes.

Miericke and OwensStill, serving as superintendent has given Miericke a deeper understanding of God’s provision, he says. Conference finances have been tight since its formation, “but God has always supplied us with what we needed.”

Miericke has come to a new understanding of leadership and the role of the superintendent over the years. “I’ve learned you’ve got to keep your eyes on the main mission and not be diverted,” he says. “The main mission is strengthening our churches so that they can reach out with Christ’s love to the people around them.”

Reaching out is difficult even in the south, Miericke says. People would be surprised to learn that in the part of the country known as the “Bible Belt,” most people are unchurched,” he explains, adding that 87 percent of surveyed Florida residents say they do not attend church.

Miericke says North Carolina, where churches have been newly planted, is the exception, and that the denomination has strong potential for growth in that area. “Many of the people there are looking for a church whose beliefs are between fundamentalism and liberalism. They’re looking for exactly what the Covenant is.”

The reach of the conference also has extended under Miericke with the support of 13 churches in Haiti and the Caribbean initiative that includes helping five churches in Jamaica to build a national organization. “That has been a lot of fun,” he says.

Miericke is excited about the future of the Conference, believing that it will continue to deepen and expand. While he is certain that the infusion of new leadership is vital for the work, Miericke is uncertain of his own future. “I plan to stay in ministry, but I’m not sure exactly what that will be,” he says. “Cyndy and I will continue to live in Central Florida where she teaches Spanish and serves as chairperson of the foreign language department at Oviedo High School.”

Miericke is certain that he will be staying closer to home and not traveling as much. As the conference grew and disasters needed to be addressed, Miericke logged a lot of car and air miles. Delta Airlines recently gave him a plaque and leather suitcase for being such a loyal customer: He has logged more than one million miles with the carrier.

Editor’s note: The accompanying photo shows Miericke (left) with Owens as they addressed the 2006 Southeast Conference Annual Meeting held at  First Covenant Church in Vero Beach, Florida. To read a previously published story from that meeting, which provides some of the flavor of the conference’s ministries, please see Vero Beach Annual Meeting.

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