Array of ministries highlighted at first of three Northwest Conference Celebrations

May-23-CelebrationCovenanters from across the Twin Cities gathered at Crosstown Covenant Church in Minneapolis, MN, on the evening of May 23 to celebrate the ministry of the Northwest Conference. The first of three Northwest Conference Celebrations scheduled for 2010, the event featured reports on a variety of ministries, various forms of worship music and challenging messages from church leaders.

“It was a great evening of fellowship and challenge. God is doing great things through the ministries of the Northwest Conference,” NWC Superintendent Jim Fretheim said.

The service kicked off with a welcome from Fretheim, Crosstown Covenant Church Pastor John Jacobi, and Verbo en Accion Covenant Church Pastor Juan Ovando. Jacobi and Ovando, whose churches are involved in ministry sharing, welcomed attendees in English and Spanish.

Throughout the service, videos from the NWC Mission Friends series were shown to highlight the ministry areas of Congregational Vitality, Mission Development and Children, Youth & Family.

Kenny Oyederu, mission and outreach commission chair at Redeemer Covenant Church in Brooklyn Park, MN, shared the story of how the church welcomed his family. Oyederu immigrated to the United States from Nigeria in 2001, and his family followed in 2006.

Oyederu, who works in the Minneapolis Public Schools as a physical education instructor, praised RCC for welcoming and embracing people of all nationalities.

“That church is just like heaven on earth,” Oyederu shared.

Denise Kesanen, executive director of RiverWorks Community Development, told the story of how the organization was born out of Riverwood Covenant Church in Rockford, MN. With mentoring and support from the Northwest Conference, the leaders of RiverWorks developed a vision for “community helping community.”

During the organization’s formative stages, the Rockford City Council provided a former fire station as a free location for RiverWorks to open a community food shelf. In March 2010, the food shelf opened, and in April the outreach initiative was already serving 109 households in need from the community.

Steve Anderson, pastor of student ministries at Excelsior Covenant Church in Excelsior, MN, credited the Northwest Conference for “reaffirming, challenging and equipping” him for ministry at various times throughout his career. He praised the monthly NWC Youth Pastor’s Connection meetings, and said participation in conference youth events has expanded his student’s perspective on their role in the Covenant Church.

A Second Wind

The message for the evening, titled “A Second Wind,” was delivered by Efrem Smith, founding pastor of The Sanctuary Covenant Church in Minneapolis, and Superintendent elect of the Pacific Southwest Conference.

“The Church has an opportunity, if we’re willing to run a little further and endure a little pain … could it be that God would bless us with a second wind?” Smith asked during his message. “The second wind brings new possibilities, and we are empowered by the second wind.”

Smith said the Evangelical Covenant Church experienced its first wind 125 years ago at its founding. As we embrace our second wind, it enlarges the scope of the Covenant to become more multi-ethnic and multi-cultural.

Church growth and evangelism efforts are another way of embracing the second wind, according to Smith. As other denominations see declines, the Covenant keeps on growing because we are rooted in God’s word and embracing His second wind, he said.

Following the service, attendees were treated to a buffet-style Hispanic meal by parishioners from Verbo en Accion Covenant Church.

Two more Northwest Conference Celebrations are scheduled for the fall-in Duluth, MN, on Oct. 10 and Dassel, MN, on Oct. 24. To see more pictures from the May 23 event at Crosstown, visit our NWC photos page