How We Do Ministry Is Important, Too

Post a Comment » Written on September 10th, 2008     
Filed under: News
By Don Meyer

MUNDELEIN, IL (September 10, 2008) – It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows Gary Walter that the first official gathering of leaders since he assumed the presidency of the Evangelical Covenant Church would focus on the “how” of doing mission and ministry together as much as the “what” of a strategic plan for the future.

Dean groupSeventy-five individuals completed a two-day leadership focus Monday afternoon at a retreat center here, designed to coincide with the transition of leadership in the office of president – Walter assumed his new position September 1.

The Council of Superintendents and Council of Administrators, which have met in joint session on alternating years, were scheduled to meet this fall. Walter asked each of them to invite their directors and associate superintendents to encompass more of the leadership community of the Covenant.

The overarching “In It Together” theme woven throughout embodied a challenge to participants to strive to be servants of character, competence and collegiality. A key, perhaps historic document emerged from the two-day process – the In It Together Covenant – that was signed by participants during a closing communion service.

“Leadership is not ownership – it’s stewardship,” Walter said in his opening remarks Sunday afternoon.

RodneyFollowing a brief review of significant growth and diversification trends in the Covenant, challenges that grow out of that growth, and core spiritual strengths reflected in our shared mission and ministry initiatives that can serve us well into the future, Walter shared seven commitments he makes in assuming the role as president:
•    Elevate spiritual identity in everything we do
•    Develop a cohesive leadership culture at all levels
•    Work across departments to bring better mission and ministry alignments
•    Evaluate stressed centers of activity in search of strategic productivity
•    Lead the way – and get out of the way
•    Shore up funding and support for mission and ministry
•    Continue the respect and collegiality of affiliated Covenant institutions

The event was facilitated by Covenant pastor Randy Furushima, who is part of the pastoral staff of Wellspring Covenant Church in Honolulu, Hawaii, in partnership with Evelyn M.R. Johnson, superintendent of the Pacific Southwest Conference. Matt Lundgren led times of worship both days.

The first two sessions focused on a biblical reflections of leadership, a comprehensive overview of existing mission and ministry efforts involving denominational, conference and affiliated institutional offices, and Walter’s personal reflections on qualities of leadership and how that influences future directions.

TeamA third session used small groups to explore what it means to live out ministry in the context of a “In It Together” kind of collegiality – observations surfaced during those discussions formed the basis of the “In It Together Covenant” that will help shape future collegial interactions.

The final session borrowed from the ongoing work of the “ECC in 2020” planning initiative in stimulating open-ended brainstorming around 10 key emerging topics using a modified “world café” approach.

Prior to the closing communion service, participants were asked to find secluded areas on the retreat center campus for a time of personal reflection and prayer around four focus areas: lessons to be learned from the apostle Paul’s reflections in Colossians 1:24-29; reflections on one’s personal leadership style in terms of character, competence and collegiality; formation of a personal prayer that complements the “In It Together” theme; and drafting of a prayer on behalf of the Covenant as a larger family (many of those prayers were shared during closing worship).

Editor’s note: The top photo shows treasurer Dean Lundgren conversing with colleagues (from left) Marisol Medina, Anita Eyer, Steve Burger and Robert Owens, while Alaska Region director Rodney Sawyer and Debbie Blue participate in a leadership qualities identification exercise. the lower photo shows (from left) Furushima, Walter and Johnson. To learn more about Walter’s passion and vision for the Covenant, please see a special section of the Covenant website, Meet the New President. To view additional photos, please see Leadership Retreat.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Report This Post

Leave a Reply

Report This Blog