Long Meetings Tiring? Not At This Church!

Post a Comment » Written on May 22nd, 2008     
Filed under: News
MT. PROSPECT, IL (May 22, 2008) – Members of the mission board at Northwest Covenant Church look forward to their monthly meetings that routinely run three hours from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

“It’s so fun because we come up with so many ideas and try to figure out how to implement them,” says a laughing Kim Johnson, board chair. “We always leave with our job assignments.”

That is the kind of enthusiasm that led the Central Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church to honor Johnson with its Compassion, Mercy & Justice Award. The conference presented the award during its Annual Meeting in April.

Johnson has attended the church for 22 years, teaching Sunday school for 16 years to people of all ages and serving for a time as Christian education director. She has been extra busy over the last five years, however.

That was when Johnson became chair of the mission board. Since then, the church that averages an attendance of 290 people has added a plethora of new ministries. They vary from a project that provides dressers filled with supplies for parents whose babies were critically ill to helping a local community mental health center.

Johnson is reluctant to take credit for the expansion of ministries, saying the rest of the board and congregation has been instrumental as well. “I’ve had such a good group. The people who have been on the board have such compassion for people who are hurting and in need.” She adds, “We couldn’t do all these if the church wasn’t really supportive.”

It wasn’t until Johnson became board chair, however, that the ministries started and developed. The church used to highlight missions one month a year, but Johnson thought that emphasis should receive focus throughout the year.

“I think the heart was always there,” says Johnson. “The whole congregation is willing to participate. I’m like the middleman.”

One of the most innovative projects is “Fill a Dresser.” The ministry partners with social workers at Lutheran General Hospital to identify and help parents who have incurred added expenses because of their children’s medical needs.

The church provides parents with dressers and 24 months of supplies to care for the children. Members recently completed their 14th dresser.

“It’s gone a lot farther than we expected,” Johnson says.

Some of the dressers are used, but have been refinished, and others are new. Johnson emphasizes that all of the items for the dressers are new.

People of all ages have eagerly contributed, including children. “The kids are so excited to open the dresser and put something in it,” Johnson says.

Parents who don’t attend church, but have brought kids to vacation Bible school, also have contributed supplies. Women in the Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) program volunteered to do a dresser and collected items throughout the year.

“When you deliver the dressers, the families are so appreciative,” Johnson says.

Church members also have helped The Kenneth Young Center, which offers mental health and senior services. They have cleaned and helped organize the center’s resale shop and also assisted with a benefit walk.

The church set up an activity and game area for small children at the walk site so parents could participate, Johnson says. The center was so impressed they invited the church back.

“We feel blessed when they asked us to be part of it,” Johnson says.

Each year, the church also has given away 40 backpacks filled with supplies to children who attend a local school. The first year, the mission board posted tags listing needed items. Congregation members took the tags and used them as a guide for what to purchase.

“By the end of the first Sunday, all the tags were gone,” Johnson says. “People who didn’t get tags complained that they couldn’t participate.”

Each month, church members participate in “Acts of Compassion.” They have made multiple trips to Jesus People USA Covenant Church in Chicago to provide clothes and other assistance at its Cornerstone Community Outreach Center. Walk through the Northwest church, and you always will see barrels for collecting items to be given away to some ministry.

Members also volunteer at the local Special Olympics basketball tournament or WINGS (Women in Need Growing Stronger), which provides integrated services to end homelessness and domestic violence “one family at a time,” Johnson says.

Other ministries include:
•    A mission team traveled to Elim, Alaska, to repair the parsonage for the local pastor. They also ran a vacation Bible school while in the remote community.
•    Missionary Sew, which has met for more than 40 years to sew items that will be turned into bandages at hospitals in Congo. They also sew layettes, bonnets, and blankets for newborns in the hospitals and surrounding clinics.
•    Collect used eyeglasses for the mission field.
•    Northwest Music Academy, which offers individual musical instruction in “Christian environment.”
•    Support Covenant missionaries throughout the world.

Each month, Johnson changes a bulletin board in the church to highlight one of the church’s ministries. She’s going to run out of months, if the mission board keeps having so much fun at its meetings.

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