2018 Ministerial Association Retreat focuses on honesty, hope

About 120 pastors, chaplains, ministry staff and spouses gathered Oct. 8-10 at Pier B Resort in Duluth, MN, for our annual NWC Ministerial Association Retreat. Attendance reflected a 20 percent increase over the past three years.

The keynote speaker for the retreat was Lance Davis, newly elected Executive Minister of Develop Leaders for the Evangelical Covenant Church. Davis brought challenge and encouragement to us from Isaiah 58:1-14. The title for the experience was “Repairers of the Breach,” taken from Isaiah 58:12.

His words moved back and forth from the need for each of us to give care to our own soul—with both honesty and hope—to our corporate need as a Covenant to so the same. He spoke of his confidence that the Lord wants to revive us, and further that he believes that the Lord wants to use a revived Covenant to be instrumental in reviving the Church in our country.

“As newcomers to the ECC, we especially enjoyed how people went out of their way to meet and get to know us. We felt the presence of the Holy Spirit and enjoyed the worship and sharing of Communion together,” Marv and Linda Norlien said. Linda recently finished a 20-year career as an Army Chaplain, and Marv has followed her career, serving as an interim pastor in each of the communities they found themselves in, from Minnesota to Hawaii, from South Carolina to Washington. “We felt such a genuine, warm-hearted fellowship with everyone so that we immediately felt right at home with the group. … What a privilege we have to be joining this group!”

John Wenrich was able to join us Monday evening and Tuesday morning and was interviewed by NWC Superintendent Mark Stromberg about his initial journey as the newly elected President of the ECC. Themes of honesty and hope were heard again.

Worship was led by Mauricio and Jackie Dell’Arciprete (Destino Covenant Church, Minneapolis), Lisa and Jeff Olson (Catalyst Covenant Church, St. Paul), and Ben and Dre Zabel (Living Springs Church, Brandon, SD). One of the songs the team led attendees in had an unusual power in the moment we stood in. The song “Here As in Heaven” begins with the quiet lines, “The atmosphere is changing now, for the Spirit of the Lord is here. The evidence is all around, that the Spirit of the Lord is here.

As we sang together looking out the large windows of our meeting room, a storm was brewing on Lake Superior and powerful winds and waves swept in—a story that ultimately made the national news. Our worship connected with what was going on in the room, and what was going on outside, in a memorable way.

The planning for next year’s retreat is now in the hands of the newly created Pastoral Care & Development Committee. Times and dates will be announced in the near future.