New Director of Children & Family Ministry position announced during 2012 Annual Meeting

NWC-Site-1Northwest Conference Superintendent Mark R. Stromberg announced to delegates to the 2012 Annual Meeting that the 2012-13 budget includes funds to create a new, part-time staff position to call a Director of Children & Family Ministry. The announcement came during the meeting’s first Business Session on Friday, April 20, at Alexandria Covenant Church in Alexandria, MN. Delegates approved the $965,679 budget at the meeting’s second Business Session on Saturday morning.

“This is such an important, important thing for us to be about. It is essential that we connect with young people in our churches,” Stromberg said. He reflected on the power of culture and how kids are being drawn away from the Church and Christ’s redemptive influence, and that it is our responsibility to do all we can to reverse that trend.

Stromberg explained that the conference staff has been undergoing reorganization to align positions with the NWC’s Ministry Priorities of Congregational Vitality, Church Planting, and Children, Youth & Family. The area of Children, Youth & Family is divided into two part-time positions: Director of Youth Ministry and the new Director of Children & Family Ministry.

“This person would resource children’s directors in our churches, and also dream up ways to help our under-resourced churches in this key area of ministry,” Stromberg said.

In addition, Stromberg shared about a new “Care to Pastors” initiative that is intended to provide proactive support and encouragement to the members of the Northwest Conference ministerium.

“In the ideal, I would envision having a full-time ministry staff person whose focus is the personal and positional health of our pastors, as we believe that this is essential to the missional health of our churches,” Stromberg said. “This is the first baby-step in that direction.”

Friday Business Session

Other news from the Friday Business Session included the debut of three new videos highlighting the Ministry Priorities of the Northwest Conference. Each video features interview segments with church staff, lay leaders and pastors, intermixed with animations of statistics and key statements designed to help explain each priority.

The videos are designed for use throughout the year in church new member classes, services and other adult education opportunities to help congregations better understand and engage the work of the NWC. The delegates from each church left with a DVD copy of the videos, and the series is available on the NWC web site’s video page ( and Vimeo Channel (

Ginny Olson, director of youth ministry, shared her appreciation for the long legacy of youth ministry in the NWC. She also reported that other regional conferences in the ECC are piloting Adventures in Leadership programs, based on the longstanding NWC event, this summer.

Mike Brown, director of church planting, challenged churches to think freshly about how Church Planting could fit into their ministry plans. During Brown’s report, delegates approved a recommendation from the NWC Executive Board that Catalyst Covenant Church, which was planted in Alexandria in July 2010, be welcomed into membership at the 2012 Evangelical Covenant Church Annual Meeting in June.

Jon Kramka, director of congregational vitality, told delegates about the many churches that are engaging the resources in the “Vitality Pathway” and reinforced the conference’s strong commitment that all churches become more healthy and missional.

In addition to staff reports from the NWC, delegates to the meeting heard from affiliated ministries including: the Ministerial Association, the Town and Country Commission, Women Ministries, Covenant Enabling Residences of MN, Covenant Retirement Communities of MN, Parish Nursing, Covenant Trust Company, and a NWC camping ministry representative.

Dr. Donna Harris, president of Minnehaha Academy, also shared highlights from the school, and announced the formation of a new committee to strengthen the relationship between the school and conference. Minnehaha Academy, which will celebrate its 100th Anniversary next year, will also host the 2013 Northwest Conference Annual Meeting.

Friday Worship Service

The worship team from Alexandria Covenant led attendees in worship during the Friday evening Worship Service. The 2012 Candidates for Ordination and Commissioning (9) and the new church joining the Covenant (Catalyst) were also recognized and prayed for during the worship service.

Ask the Lord of the Harvest commitment cards were collected, and a special offering raised $1,986 to support the Northwest Conference Compassion, Mercy and Justice grants.

Rev. Dr. Soong-Chan Rah shared a message titled, “Joy Comes in the Mourning,” challenging churches to consider the theological difference of perspective between the “haves” and the “have-nots.” Rah is Milton B. Engebretson Associate Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, IL and the author of “The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity.”

“How are we, as people—called toward justice and coming out of celebration—learning that when we encounter suffering, that there’s not just something we offer, but there is something we also receive?” Rah asked. “When we find these places of suffering, may we recognize that the poor are not a target to be marked for action, but they are a gift to us, that the hungry are a gift to us, that the alien among us are a gift to us.”

Saturday Business Session and Workshop

During Saturday’s Business Session, delegates approved a ballot that included: electing John Stewart to serve another term as NWC Executive Board Chairperson, appointing Jan Bros (pastor of Abbey Way in Minneapolis) and Marc Peterson (pastor of Crossroads in Forest Lake, MN) to 5-year terms on the NWC Executive Board, and appointing Troy Lucht (member of Roseville Covenant in Roseville, MN) and Polly Wright (member of Faith Covenant in Burnsville, MN) to 5-year terms on the Minnehaha Academy Board of Education. Delegates also approved the NWC and MA budgets, as well as changes to the NWC Constitution, Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation.

Following the Business Session, Rah presented a workshop called “Evangelism and Justice: Two Sides of the Same Coin.”

“The work of evangelism is not just about proclamation. The work of evangelism is also demonstration,” Rah said. “It’s not just about teaching and saying the right words, it’s about how we live our lives and demonstrate it.

“Here’s my church growth book, it’s going to be one page long—sell all you have and give to the poor, and that’s how you grow,” Rah continued. “It is actually the life of the church, the self-sacrificial life, the way we care for the least of these, that’s what actually brings folks to the church. That is why evangelism and justice are never at odds with one another. They are actually two sides of the same coin.”

For a full list of videos, photos and downloadable resources, visit our 2012 Annual Meeting page.