‘Make & Deepen Disciples’ theme permeates 2013 Annual Meeting, Minnehaha Academy Centennial events

Church-PlantWith a theme of “Make & Deepen Disciples,” the 2013 Northwest Conference Annual Meeting took place at Minnehaha Academy, April 26-27. The school’s Centennial year was celebrated in many ways throughout the weekend. To read about the Centennial Worship service, read the Covenant Newswire story.

Dr. Donna Harris, president of Minnehaha Academy, welcomed delegates and attendees and shared how integral the Northwest Conference was in the school’s formation.

MA senior, Rebecca Lundberg, also greeted meeting attendees and shared, “Without the support of this school, I would not be the person I am today, and I am truly grateful for the many ways in which the Covenant Church has invested to make Minnehaha possible.”

Throughout the weekend, meeting attendees and delegates were invited to tour both of the school’s campuses, the Alumni House, and the recently updated Northwest Conference office.

Friday Business Session

Gary Walter, president of the Evangelical Covenant Church, participated in many aspects of both the Ministerial Association and Northwest Conference Annual Meetings, including a report during Friday’s business session. Walter announced the recent contribution of $25 million worth of medicine by a British aid organization to the denomination’s Covenant Kids Congo initiative.

Northwest Conference Superintendent Mark R. Stromberg shared about the many things that churches can do when united together in service.

“It is an honor to serve our churches, to spend time with our churches, and to spend time with so many of you,” Stromberg said. “In the many ways we serve you, and in the many ways we unite churches together, these endeavors are worthy of your support.”

Stromberg announced to delegates to the 2013 Annual Meeting that the 2013-14 budget includes funds to create two new part-time staff positions, a Director of Pastoral Care and Development, and an Associate Director of Pastoral Care and Development.

“It is our desire that we engage our pastors, not just when the bottom is falling out in their lives, but in an ongoing, intentional and proactive way. We want to provide the very best care and resourcing possible for those in ministry; to come alongside our pastors in both their ‘walk’ and their work,” Stromberg said.

Delegates approved the $1,093,169 budget at the meeting’s second Business Session on Saturday morning.

Minnehaha Academy President Harris shared many highlights from the life and activities of the school, including news coverage of the school’s Centennial year, the recent Boys Basketball state championship, and the CHET partnership with the NWC and ECC.

“We solicit your prayers as we discern together the direction for God’s school for the next 100 years,” Harris said.

The Northwest Conference presented Minnehaha Academy with a gift of $10,000 to commemorate the Centennial milestone.

Jon Kramka, director of congregational vitality, was joined by a panel of pastors and lay leaders from Edina Covenant Church in Edina, MN, and Bethlehem Covenant Church in Minneapolis, MN, who reflected on their experiences engaging the Vitality Pathway.

“The entire pathway allowed us to look at ourselves and see if we were in tune with what God wants us to do, and center ourselves as a church,” said Brandon Peterson, lay leader from Edina Covenant Church.

Mike Brown, director of church planting, shared about the strong momentum of planting and parenting new churches in the Conference. During Brown’s report, delegates approved recommendations from the NWC Executive Board to welcome five new churches into membership at the 2013 Evangelical Covenant Church Annual Meeting in June. The new churches include: Awaken Covenant Community (Lilydale, MN), Blue Oaks Covenant Church (Brooklyn Park, MN), LaBendición Covenant Church (Brooklyn Park, MN), Real Life Covenant Church (Waseca, MN) and Restoration Covenant Church (Apple Valley, MN).

Kara Stromberg, director of children & family ministry, shared about recent developments in resourcing children and family staff and volunteers in Conference churches. Stromberg and the Children & Family Commission are working to build regional networks of churches that can meet more regularly to learn from and share with each other.

Ginny Olson, director of youth ministry, shared highlights from MOVE, which took place two weeks prior to the Annual Meeting. Olson also highlighted other NWC youth events like MUUUCE, Emerge and Adventures in Leadership, which call students to closer relationships with Christ.

In addition to staff reports from the NWC, delegates to the meeting participated in the “Celebration of Mission” Ministry Fair where they had opportunity to learn about a variety of Conference and Denomination ministries and organizations.

Friday Worship Service

The worship team from Minnehaha Academy led attendees in worship during the Friday evening worship service, and various music groups from the school also performed, including the school’s Chamber Orchestra and Madrigal Singers.

The 2013 Candidates for Ordination (9) and the new churches (5) joining the Covenant were also recognized and prayed for during the worship service. Members and attendees of the new churches joined their pastors and representatives from parent churches on stage during the service for presentations of new church “birth certificates.” Parent churches were also given trees to serve as a reminder of what has been planted in Jesus’ name. A special offering taken during the services raised an additional $2,500 to support the ministry of Minnehaha Academy.

Kara Powell, author and executive director of the Fuller Youth Institute and a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary, shared a message titled, “Sticky Faith Churches: The Relationships and Worship that Benefit All Ages.”

“As adults take time to invest in young people, it brings a spiritual vitality to them too,” Powell said, as she challenged churches to bring an “intergenerational spin” to their existing events.

Saturday Business Session and Workshop

During Saturday’s Business Session, delegates approved a ballot that included: electing Lowell Peterson to serve as NWC Executive Board Chairperson, electing Rebecca Olson (Brookdale Covenant Church, Brooklyn Center, MN) and Jim Volling (Excelsior Covenant Church, Excelsior, MN) to 5-year terms on the NWC Executive Board, and electing Calvin Allen (Sanctuary Covenant Church, Minneapolis, MN), Susan Poston (Salem Covenant, New Brighton, MN) and Jon Taylor (Emmanuel Covenant Church, Shoreview, MN) to 5-year terms on the Minnehaha Academy Board of Education. Delegates also approved the NWC and MA budgets.

Following the Business Session, Powell presented a workshop called “Sticky Faith: Practical Ideas to Deepen Your Ministry.”

“Share with young people the spirituality you already have—verbally and explicitly,” Powell said.

Saturday Service Project and Sunday Centennial Celebration

On Saturday afternoon, immediately following the Annual Meeting, attendees participated in a local Centennial Mission Service Project called “Covenant Partners Community Service Day.” Minnehaha Academy students, parents and alumni worked alongside members of NWC churches to prepare school readiness kits for North Academy of Arts and Communication.

Minnehaha Academy will mark 100 years of integrating Christian faith and learning with the Centennial Worship Celebration on Sunday, April 28, at 3 p.m. The service will feature musical performances by a variety of student groups. Special guests at the service include: Dr. Gary Walter, president of the Evangelical Covenant Church; Rev. Mark Stromberg, superintendent of the Northwest Conference; Craig Nelson and John Engstrom, former school presidents; and David and Jeanne Anderson and Courtney DaCosta, Centennial chairs.


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