‘In It Together’ Key Theme for Executive Board

Post a Comment » Written on October 20th, 2008     
Filed under: News
By Don Meyer

CHICAGO, IL (October 20, 2008) – How does a growing and diversifying denomination like the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC) respond to challenges and ministry opportunities amid the economic, political and cultural turbulence and volatility confronting not only the United States, but the world community as well?

In deliberating the state of the Covenant and its ministry opportunities, one theme became clear during this past weekend’s meeting of the ECC Executive Board: whatever it is we do, it is imperative that we do it together.

That sentiment mirrored the opening remarks from President Gary Walter (top photo), appropriately titled “In It Together,” a phrase he suggests is a true definition of the word “covenant” that is part of the denomination’s core identity dating from its founding in 1885. Walter reviewed many of the challenges confronting the church today, also pointing out the strengths he sees that position the denomination well in responding to both challenge and opportunity. To read Walter’s remarks in their entirety, visit “In It Together.”

WalterPlaying off the title of Walter’s remarks, the preacher during Sunday morning’s worship service, Rebekah Eklund, said the title so intrigued her that she decided to explore just one of those three words – “It” – as the focus of her message.

“I’ve been praying about this phrase these last few weeks,” Eklund explained. “In what together? I began to ask myself. I began to think about exactly what it is we are in, and why. We might say we are in the ministry of the Evangelical Covenant Church; we are together in the work of God’s kingdom. But, still, I wonder, what is the it to which we are all called?” To learn how she responds to that question, click here to read the full text of her sermon.

The three-day agenda was a busy one, with decisions to form a search committee, propose new long-term missionaries, and approve a scope team for a new Covenant Resource Paper among the weekend’s highlights.

Dean Lundgren, vice president for finance, also presented an overview of major Covenant institutions affected by the current economic turmoil including Covenant Trust Company, Covenant Retirement Communities, Covenant Ministries of Benevolence, as well as the Covenant Pension Plan and general Covenant finances. Click here to read an online story published recently.

The search committee is charged with recommending a candidate to stand for election as executive minister of the Department of Church Growth and Evangelism during next June’s annual meeting in Portland, Oregon. A vacancy was created when Walter, who served in that role, was elected president during this past June’s annual meeting. It is anticipated that the committee will begin soliciting names in early November.

Members of the search committee include Church Growth and Evangelism committee members Samuel Chang, Marc Eix, Lisa Hutcherson, Alynne MacLean, Jane Matheson, Thomas Robinson, and Daniel Wickman; Kim Carlson, representing the finance committee; Carol Friar, personnel; Carla Thelander, world mission; Chris Breuninger, executive board chair; Donn Engebretson, executive vice president; Mark Novak, liaison from the Council of Superintendents; and Walter.

An update was shared on a second search process that is under way to eventually replace Jim Sundholm as director of Covenant World Relief. That search committee has convened and more detail will be announced in the near future.

Two couples were approved for recommendation as long-term missionaries, to be presented for approval during next year’s annual meeting. The couples would be the first long-term missionaries approved and sent out since 2001.

The couples include Dr. Robert and Grace Shim, who have served as project missionaries to Central Asia – he as a medical doctor and Grace in counseling. The couple is in transition to Thailand where Robert will work in public health, returning to Central Asia every two to three years to check on progress with the nationals who have assumed operations there.

ParkynThe second couple is Lisandro and Patricia Restrepo, who for six years have served as project missionaries working primarily with the Family Foundation in Monterrey, Mexico. They will now continue their work in the role of long-term missionaries to that region.

Another major announcement is the reactivation of Jim Gustafson as a long-time missionary with the Covenant. Gustafson, a former executive director of Covenant World Mission, has remained active in ministry in Thailand, working with the Global Development Network and advising the Sustainable Development Research Foundation.

Currently, Gustafson is working in four key areas: building a middle/high school in the north; producing baby lobsters in the south as a micro-enterprise project; exploring management of a school for at-risk children in tsunami-stricken areas (some 1,000 children at the school lost parents or homes in 2005); and working with support groups dealing with HIV/Aids people, including counseling with new believers.

Students on the campus of North Park University returned today to the Magnuson Center, which had to be temporarily closed following devastating floods last month. Flood water filled the entire basement area of the building, reported President David Parkyn (lower photo), severely damaging or destroying most of the mechanical systems.

“The damage was substantial,” Parkyn shared, but fortunately was confined to the one area of the Magnuson building. However, the basement area houses mechanical systems not only for the center, but for two residence halls as well, increasing the disruption to campus life in the weeks following the flood. Crews are restoring or replacing various systems, including air handlers, boilers and electrical supply systems. Food service was returned to the center Monday as well.

Members were approved for a scope team that will develop content for the newly commissioned Covenant Resource Paper on Compassion, Mercy and Justice. Members include Donn Engebretson as convener, Debbie Blue, Robert Owens, Amanda Olson, Gary Goreham, Greg Yee, Paul Wilson, Tomas Ivens, Steve Bilynskyj, Jim Sundholm, Michelle Clifton-Soderstrom, Ken Larson, Boaz Johnson, Carolyn Poterek, Mark Olson, Harold Spooner, Don Meyer, and John Tanagho.

In other action, the Executive Board approved its participation in an Invitation to Racial Righteousness to take place in March, discussed preliminary planning for the Covenant’s 125th anniversary celebration in 2010, affirmed plans for a celebration of January 11 as Human Trafficking Awareness Day to be observed throughout the Covenant, and received the new Mission and Ministry brochure designed to help local churches understand how their shared ministry dollars in support of Covenant ministry are used. Additional brochures are available free at the online Covenant Bookstore while supplies last.

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