A heritage worth remembering … a church worth celebrating

Several weeks ago, I had the privilege of participating in a year-long celebration at Salem Covenant Church in Pennock, MN. Believe it or not, this church is 150 years old! This makes it the oldest church in the Northwest Conference as it predates the formation of the Covenant denomination by almost 15 years.

Lest we stereotype either historic or town & country congregations, Salem is a vibrant and thriving church. It has a wonderful facility with a gymnasium, even as it is situated amidst farm fields. It is pastored by the Rev. Jonathan Wilson, a gifted, brilliant and godly pastor. FYI … Pastor Wilson will be the Moderator at the Covenant Annual Meeting in just a few weeks. This gives you an idea of how highly respected he is in the broader ECC.

Following the morning service and a wonderful meal shared with the Wilsons, I was intending to head home immediately, but found myself wandering through the church cemetery instead. It sits just beyond the church building, something that is quite common in rural settings.

Suffice it to say that it was a moving experience for me. As I meandered up and down the rows, I recognized so many of the surnames of those buried there—names that have been influential in the formation and development of the broader Evangelical Covenant Church. In fact, several of the families buried in this holy place continue to provide pastors within our own Conference and the broader ECC. The earlier faithfulness of these departed saints continues to bear fruit in our midst even to this day.

It makes me wonder, will the lives we are living now produce the same in the future?

As Superintendent, I have had the privilege of connecting with a broad spectrum of churches. And even while so much of the emphasis within the broader Church appears to focus on metropolitan contexts, I am very aware that much of our strength is from elsewhere. As such, it is our desire to be more intentional in sharing some of the wonderful things that are taking place in churches throughout the NWC.

I thank God for churches, like Salem Covenant in Pennock, that continue to minister in powerful ways within their communities. I am grateful for the role these “unsung” churches and pastors play in our shared life.

By Mark R. Stromberg, Superintendent