Northwest Conference debuts Mission Friends video series at 2010 Annual Meeting

2010-Annual-Meeting-thumbIn keeping with the theme “Mission Friends: The Journey Continues,” the 126th Northwest Conference Annual Meeting, which took place at Crossroads Church in Woodbury, MN, April 23-24, was a celebration of ministry and opportunities throughout the region.

“We had a wonderful annual meeting. One-hundred-nine of our 140 congregations were present to celebrate the good things God is doing in our conference,” said Jim Fretheim, NWC superintendent. “We left the meeting with a renewed sense of excitement for the ministries we are involved in.”

Video series debuted in Business Session

During the business session on Friday, April 23, the Northwest Conference debuted a series of video segments designed to highlight ministry priorities of the conference, including: Congregational Vitality, Church Planting and Children, Youth & Family. Each video features interview segments with NWC staff, lay leaders and pastors-intermixed with photos and video footage from the churches highlighted-telling stories of how the conference has influenced and aided ministry on the local level.

The videos are also 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 Northwest Conference. Each church’s delegates left with a DVD copy of the videos, and the series is available on the new NWC web site’s video page (

Conference leadership also introduced and affirmed seven new church plants and one church adoption during the business meeting.

Following 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, Parish Nursing, and a camping ministry representative. Dr. Donna Harris, the recently installed president of Minnehaha Academy, also shared highlights from the school, as well as some details on her hopes for the future.

“I was encouraged by the ministry training, inspired by the ministry reports, and challenged by the proposed vision and strategy for the future of the Northwest Conference,” said Dan Collison, new senior pastor of First Covenant Church in Minneapolis and new delegate to the meeting.

“Very few of our members grew up in the Covenant. The Annual Meeting provided a glimpse of what it means to be ‘in it together’ with our Covenant Family,” said Chris Studenski, pastor of Emmanuel Covenant Church in Shoreview.

Friday Worship Service highlights diversity

Friday evening’s Worship Celebration highlighted the diversity of ministry taking place throughout the Northwest Conference. The service opened with a Call to Worship written by Brad Kindall, pastor of NWC church plant, The Gallery Covenant Church, and read in Lao, English and Spanish.

The Crossroads Church Worship Team led attendees in modern and traditional songs, and the service featured special music by the First Covenant Church of St. Paul Youth Worship Band. Comprised of 12 musicians from the church, the group’s spirited performance of “All the Nations” by Chris Davis was a highlight of the evening.

The 2010 Candidates for Ordination (17) and New Churches Joining the Covenant (8) were also recognized and prayed for during the worship service.

Phil Print, senior pastor of Crossroads Church, shared a message from 2 Kings in which he challenged attendees to consider that good news is to be shared, not stockpiled. Print asked leaders and lay people to “ponder the plunder” or “assess the stockpile” of all that God has blessed them with. He then called on all in attendance to “invest in others and invite them to the plunder.”

Following Print’s message, One Step Closer commitment cards were collected, and a special offering raised $2,000 to support the Northwest Conference Alaska Project 2010 in Shaktoolik, AK.

Leadership training

On Saturday morning, April 24, the NWC Annual Meeting continued with a time of teaching by Dr. Sam Rima, author of “Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership,” director of the Doctor of Ministry Program at Bethel Theological Seminary, and faculty at the Center for Transformational Leadership. Rima challenged church leaders to become aware of and deal with their own dark sides.

“It is impossible to be spiritually mature and emotionally immature. I don’t care how many Bible verses you’ve memorized. I don’t care how long you’ve been in the church,” Rima explained.

In seeking to become more mature, and deal with personal issues, Rima challenged pastors and leaders to become more transparent. He also called on the church to become a place of openness and honesty.

“Sometimes I think the church is one of the only places where you can’t be who you really are,” Rima said. “We are so afraid that if we share, people are going to judge us and use those things against us.”

Rima said that rather than always banking on their strengths, leaders should take seriously the teaching in Scriptures that the power of Christ is perfected in our weakness.

“It was truly an honor hosting the 126th Annual Meeting of the Northwest Conference. It gave our staff and volunteers an up-front look at the wealth of work of the conference,” Print said. “And to see the energetic response of the delegates and guests to the Friday night Crossroads-led worship experience (we weren’t sure if people would sing out or walk out!) made our day! We look forward to hosting again some year.”