Great Lakes Conference Focuses on Reaching Out to Others

Post a Comment » Written on May 8th, 2007     
Filed under: News
By Bob Smietana

GRAND RAPIDS, MI (May 8, 2007) – A focus on church vitality and “getting out of the pews” and into the world highlighted the Great Lakes Conference Annual Meeting, held April 26-28 at Thornapple Covenant Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Ninety-seven delegates from 48 churches attended the meeting, which began with the ministerium meeting on Thursday, followed by a day of leadership training and celebration and concluding with a Saturday business meeting.

Friday began with a presentation called “The Vitality Factor” by John Wenrich, director of congregational vitality for the department of Church Growth and Evangelism of the Evangelical Covenant Church. Wenrich used a clip from the film Napoleon Dynamite to illustrate his point that church can easily get caught up in past regrets or reflecting on the glory days of old instead of looking toward the future.

In the film, a character named Uncle Rico, who was second-string quarterback of his high school football team 20 years earlier, blames all of his current struggles on his high school coach. If only the coach had put him in a game, says Uncle Rico, “You’d better believe things would have been different.”

Wenrich challenged church leaders to focus on the present, where the church has lost its privileged place in American culture, and where ministry means getting outside into the community and serving, and not waiting for the community to come to the church.

Conference Supt. Dick Lucco used a text from Isaiah 52:7 to make the same point: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation . . .” That line, “how beautiful are the feet,” sounds a bit odd, Lucco said in his sermon during the Friday night worship service. But feet are beautiful when they carry God’s people out of the pews and into the world, he declared, adding, “Our feet serve the gospel. I am beginning to think that instead of bringing my world to Christ, I need to bring Christ to my world.”

During the business meeting, Associate Supt. Larry Sherman reported that attendance in conference churches has increased 8.9 percent since 2004, with a total of 10,335 individuals in 67 churches. Giving increased 12 percent in 2006.

The conference is continuing to pursue an aggressive church planting strategy, with at least two new church plants planned for 2007: Connexions Covenant Church, in Dexter, Michigan, and Renovate Covenant Church in Muskegon, Michigan.  Delegates to the meeting also welcomed Trinity Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, into conference membership.

Several key lay leaders and volunteers were recognized during a celebration banquet Friday evening. Marvin Malmberg, who served as conference finance director, was honored for 14 years of service. Dan and Lisa Johanon, of Citadel of Faith Covenant Church in Detroit, received the Arv Anderson Award in church planting. Monique Holliday of Hope Community Church in Detroit received the Dave and Beth Chilcoat Award in church outreach, and former conference superintendent Dave Dahlberg received the first David Dahberg Award in church development.

In other conference news:
•    The Central Conference welcomed Zion Evangelical Covenant Church of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, whose representatives presented gifts to the conference, including a handmade chalice and communion plate, an assortment of Wisconsin cheese, and a Badger cap. Rhianna and Jeff Adkins of Paxton, Illinois, were honored with the Town & Country Award for their work in rural and small town ministry. Covenanter newsletter editor Beth Fredrickson was recognized for 10 years of service.
•    The Pacific Northwest Conference celebrated a successful conclusion to the $1.8 million campaign to benefit facility construction, including the Ranier Center, at the Cascades Camp and Conference Center. The meeting was held at the camp in Yelm, Washington. Attendees honored the directors of two outreach programs: Children of the Valley, an after-school program operated by Bethany Covenant Church in Mt. Vernon, Washington, led by Flora Lucatero; and a transitional housing program for people in recovery operated by Crossroads Community Covenant Church in Yelm, and led by Joseph and Carmen Ottley.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Report This Post

Leave a Reply

Report This Blog