Former Minnesota First Lady has Covenant ties

MINNEAPOLIS – Mary Pawlenty, former First Lady of Minnesota and wife of presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty, grew up attending Edina Covenant Church where her parents were charter members.

Mary Pawlenty

“I have fond memories of growing up there,” says Pawlenty. “Truly kind-hearted people from Edina Covenant—including Pastor Ben Larson and his wife, Joan—exemplified the fruit of the spirit and had a meaningful impact on my life.

“It was where I learned the great hymns of the faith and the importance of worship,” she says, musing, “I am reasonably sure I could sing most of the first verse of Children of the Heavenly Father in Swedish.”

Edina Covenant also is where the Pawlentys were married. Leith Anderson, pastor of Wooddale Church where the couple attends, officiated.

She mentions the church in the first words of a recent campaign video that focuses on the couple’s faith.

Pawlenty’s parents, Wilfred and Beulah Anderson, were charter members of the church when it was organized in 1944. “At the time, the tiny congregation met in what was called Grange Hall before eventually building on the current site,” Pawlenty says.

The beauty of the current building still inspires her. “Lovely stained glass windows and a sense of reverence in its architecture gives the church a special quality,” she says.

Pawlenty’s Swedish roots run deep. Her grandfather emigrated from Sweden through Ellis Island before moving to Minnesota.

Pawlenty’s parents began attending Wooddale when she was 15, but kept close ties with Edina members.

The family ties to the Covenant continue in other ways. Their daughter, Anna, graduated from Minnehaha Academy this year. Daughter Mara is part of the school’s class of 2014. The former governor delivered the commencement address at the school this year.

Mary Pawlenty, a former judge, works with the Gilbert Mediation Center.

Article by Stan Friedman. Copyright © 2011 The Evangelical Covenant Church.