Covenanters Part of Theology Conference in Europe

Post a Comment » Written on September 25th, 2008     
Filed under: News
EWERSBACH, GERMANY (September 25, 2008) – North Park Theological Seminary professors as well as leaders of the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC) played a significant role in the recent gathering of the International Federation of Free Evangelical Churches (IFFEC).

The way the Covenant has approached issues in the United States is helping churches elsewhere to respond to similar issues in their countries, says Donn Engebretson, ECC executive vice president and a member of the IFFEC executive committee.

Klyne Snodgrass, professor of New Testament at the seminary, presented a paper entitled “A Case for the Unrestricted Ministry of Women.” Michelle Clifton-Soderstrom, assistant professor of theology and ethics at the seminary, also was active in discussions on the issue.

The issue was timely as Germany’s Free Church voted days later on whether to ordain women. The vote fell short by two percent, says Engebretson.

“I’m sure the vote was closer because Klyne gave the paper,” Engebretson says. Church leaders responded positively to the paper, and Engebretson said he believes that it will continue to influence the discussion in the coming years.

The conference, which is held every four years and focuses on theology, drew church leaders from around the world September 8-12. The federation is made up of churches associated with the “free church” movement. The ECC has been a long-time member. Like the Covenant, the churches forming IFFEC trace their roots to the great Pietistic revivals of northern Europe and later in the United States.

Jay Phelan, president and dean of the seminary, chairs the IFFEC theological committee and was heavily involved in planning the conference. He also presented a workshop on the theological curriculum and moderated the first day of the conference. Curt Peterson, executive minister of the Department of World Mission, chairs the mission committee.

Engebretson says IFFEC presents an opportunity for the Covenant to play a significant role in advancing the gospel in the nations where federation members minister. Churches in Europe are turning to the Covenant for expertise in church planting.

“We’re sharing 15 years of experience,” Engebretson says.

Most IFFEC members have not seen starting new churches as a way of doing evangelism. Engebretson says, however, “They are beginning to get excited about church planting.”

Last year, Covenant leaders shared about church planting at an IFFEC conference focused on the theme, “Joining Hands for Mission in Europe.” The conference was held in Berlin and included 85 participants representing 18 countries. A follow-up conference is scheduled for 2011. Visit a previous story to learn more.

In the meantime, Covenant representatives, including Dave Olson, director of church planting for the Department of Church Growth and Evangelism, will travel to Europe to train leaders.

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