Living Waters takes to the water for Sunday service, bringing Gospel message to the community

Living Waters Covenant Church took to the water on a recent Sunday morning. Located in Worthington, MN, the town and country congregation delivered flyers to all the houses around Lake Okabena, inviting them to a worship service on the shore on July 18.

“We had a worship service with a few songs, scripture, prayer and a message—and then the hosts had coffee and donuts available as well,” said John Stewart, Co-Pastor of Living Waters.

The church estimates about 80 people attended—both on the shore and in boats.

“The ‘congregation’ that Sunday was a combination of people from our church as well as people from the community,” said Kris Stewart, Co-Pastor of Living Waters.

A DJ provided music before, during and after worship.

“It was a beautiful weather day as well, which might not seem like a big deal, but it is almost always windy in Worthington,” Kris Stewart said. “To have a sunny, calm day made it even better. The feedback was very positive with people commenting that we should do it again next summer.”

One person who attended commented, “I have lived on the lake for 30 years and I realized that I take the lake for granted, and I have to admit that I take Jesus for granted as well. This was really impactful for me.”

Several weeks ago, I had the privilege of participating in a year-long celebration at Salem Covenant Church in Pennock, MN. Believe it or not, this church is 150 years old! This makes it the oldest church in the Northwest Conference as it predates the formation of the Covenant denomination by almost 15 years.

Lest we stereotype either historic or town & country congregations, Salem is a vibrant and thriving church. It has a wonderful facility with a gymnasium, even as it is situated amidst farm fields. It is pastored by the Rev. Jonathan Wilson, a gifted, brilliant and godly pastor. FYI … Pastor Wilson will be the Moderator at the Covenant Annual Meeting in just a few weeks. This gives you an idea of how highly respected he is in the broader ECC.

Following the morning service and a wonderful meal shared with the Wilsons, I was intending to head home immediately, but found myself wandering through the church cemetery instead. It sits just beyond the church building, something that is quite common in rural settings.

Suffice it to say that it was a moving experience for me. As I meandered up and down the rows, I recognized so many of the surnames of those buried there—names that have been influential in the formation and development of the broader Evangelical Covenant Church. In fact, several of the families buried in this holy place continue to provide pastors within our own Conference and the broader ECC. The earlier faithfulness of these departed saints continues to bear fruit in our midst even to this day.

It makes me wonder, will the lives we are living now produce the same in the future?

As Superintendent, I have had the privilege of connecting with a broad spectrum of churches. And even while so much of the emphasis within the broader Church appears to focus on metropolitan contexts, I am very aware that much of our strength is from elsewhere. As such, it is our desire to be more intentional in sharing some of the wonderful things that are taking place in churches throughout the NWC.

I thank God for churches, like Salem Covenant in Pennock, that continue to minister in powerful ways within their communities. I am grateful for the role these “unsung” churches and pastors play in our shared life.

By Mark R. Stromberg, Superintendent

The 2021 NWC Annual Meeting featured a theme video with testimony from leaders of four NWC churches about their ministry journeys through the challenges of 2020. The last in a four-part series taking a closer look at each church’s story, watch the video below to hear how Destino Covenant in Minneapolis adapted its Sunday worship and other offerings to reach more people during the pandemic.


The 2021 NWC Annual Meeting featured a theme video with testimony from leaders of four NWC churches about their ministry journeys through the challenges of 2020. The third in a four-part series taking a closer look at each church’s story, watch the video below to hear how Alexandria Covenant Church in Alexandria, MN, responded to community needs during the pandemic by creating the Salt and Light Initiative.


The 2021 NWC Annual Meeting featured a theme video with testimony from leaders of four NWC churches about their ministry journeys through the challenges of 2020. The second in a four-part series taking a closer look at each church’s story, watch the video below to hear how Epiphany Covenant Church in Minneapolis, and its new church plant on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, ND, found hope in relationships during COVID.


The 2021 NWC Annual Meeting featured a theme video with testimony from leaders of four NWC churches about their ministry journeys through the challenges of 2020. The first in a four-part series taking a closer look at each church’s story, watch the video below to hear how Brookdale Covenant Church in Brooklyn Center, MN, experienced unexpected blessings as it opened its facility to three other NWC churches.


Crossview Rosa Parks co-pastor Sandi Asker (right) and her running partner Gretchen.

Brian and Sandi Asker moved to Mankato in February 2019 to partner with Crossview Covenant in planting a new network church. Sandi recently shared this encouraging story of interpersonal ministry as they work to launch Crossview Rosa Parks:

We had a wonderful realtor, Gretchen, who has now become one of my favorite running, swimming and biking partners. When the pandemic began, we decided to be in “each other’s COVID bubble,” along with another friend of Gretchen’s.

I love making new friends in a pandemic! This friend, Gretchen and I have had wonderful conversations as we run miles around the country in the wee hours. Spiritual things often come up and recently, this friend asked me questions about a book on meditation she had been reading.

Gretchen has also opened up a new set of relationships for both Brian and me. We swim with a group at a local high school, and Brian recently went biking with a group of adults who meet on Saturdays. She is a great networker.

These two women were my lifeline in the first months of the pandemic when I thought I would get depressed, slothful and dead in my ministry of starting a new church. Instead, I found these women encouraging—even joining in some of our online small group or prayer meetings.

Since we returned to in-person worship mid-summer, Gretchen has started to serve. She has helped as a greeter and is going to try her hat at Kids’ Ministry this weekend. She rarely attends church alone, always inviting a friend or relative along. We also write to a female inmate in prison, through a program at Crossview.

The best part, other than the 5 a.m. runs in the rain, is watching lightbulbs going off while she studies Scripture with our small group on Tuesday nights. We are studying the Kingdom of God in the Sermon on the Mount.

It can be easy to isolate in these days, assuming no one is interested. Or assuming new relationships cannot be formed. But God is up to something new, even in the midst of COVID and in the lives of our friends. I am happy to be along for the ride (or run, as such).

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another” (1 John 4:11).

Sandi Asker
Network Church Pastor
Crossview Rosa Parks

An interview with Mauricio Dell’Arciprete, Pastor of Destino.Church and NWC Coordinator of Latino Ministries

It was a Wednesday. We were preparing for the Sunday service, as we always do, when we heard the World Health Organization declare COVID-19 a global pandemic. From there everything started to change by the hour.

We had three emergency meetings in less than 48 hours, until we made the final decision to suspend all church meetings and activities until further notice. That’s when we invited the whole congregation to worship God connected online!

Describe your experience moving Destino Covenant Church online due to the current situation.

Our first online service was audio only, basically a podcast. The following week we prepared a video recorded service using an iPhone, including a welcome, announcements and message. Still very basic.

The week after that we were able to create more of the structure you see today, following a similar flow to our regular gatherings. We are now including testimonies from church members, recorded and shared using smart phones.

How did the congregation adjust to this new method of worship?

The first Sunday, people didn’t know exactly what to expect. Honestly, we didn’t either. The following week, we started using the free Church Online Platform provided by Life.Church and that was a huge step forward. The sound and video quality, the chat, the live prayer and the interaction with the congregation changed the initial resistance.

There is a difference between an “audience” and a “congregation”—the sense of community. This platform is allowing us to create community through live interaction with people.

On Easter Sunday, 12 people made a commitment to follow Jesus during our Salvation Call, and many more committed to their next step on their journey of faith though our online service!

We didn’t stop there. After the service, all of the attendees were invited to a Zoom meeting to celebrate the Lord’s Supper together. Many joined us in our first ever Communion at Home. It was really memorable!

How has the current crisis impacted ministry beyond the Sunday service?

We quickly realized that the “why” we do what we do has not changed. However, everything else has changed, as you know. So we asked ourselves, how can we be disciples who make disciples during this time of crisis?

COVID-19 is not the only disease out there: anxiety and depression are threatening our lives and are devastating individuals and families. Social distancing has led to many feeling isolated and alone during this time. People are more aware of their need to connect with God and others than ever before.

That is why at Destino, we moved our Bible Institute and weekly discipleship gatherings online using Zoom and made the commitment to double the amount of small groups we previously had.

Technology is challenging for some, but with guidance and encouragement it has been embraced. One member said, “I was very skeptical about Small Groups Online, but after the first meeting I realized how much I needed to feel connected, heard and loved.”

Do you have a word of encouragement for other Pastors?

We know that the “Church” is not a building. It’s the ministry we do every day in every way. We don’t go to church, we are the Church. And nothing can stop us from sharing the love of Jesus with a hurting world.

Our methods might change but our mission remains the same. Don’t be afraid to find new ways to fulfill God’s call on your life.

Salem Covenant Church in New Brighton is excited to welcome Rev. Dominique Gilliard on Sunday, Feb. 16, to preach at our worship services in the morning (9 and 11 a.m.). In the afternoon (4 – 6 p.m.), he will share and facilitate a discussion about his book, “Rethinking Incarceration: Advocating for Justice that Restores.”

Dominique is the Director of Racial Righteousness and Reconciliation for the Love Mercy Do Justice (LMDJ) initiative of the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC). His book, “Rethinking Incarceration: Advocating for Justice that Restores,” won the 2018 Book of the Year Award for InterVarsity Press. Gilliard also serves on the board of directors for the Christian Community Development Association and Evangelicals for Justice.

The United States has more prisons, jails and detention centers than we do degree-granting institutions. We have more people locked up than any other country in the history of the world. Come learn how we got here, what pipelines are funneling people into the system, and how we can fix it all.

In “Rethinking Incarceration,” Dominique Gilliard explores the history and foundation of mass incarceration, examining Christianity’s role in its evolution and expansion. He assesses our nation’s ethic of meritocratic justice in light of Scripture and exposes the theologies that embolden mass incarceration. Gilliard then shows how Christians can pursue justice that restores and reconciles, offering creative solutions and highlighting innovative interventions. God’s justice is ultimately restorative, not just punitive. Discover how Christians can participate in the restoration and redemption of the incarceration system.

“The church has the power to help transform our broken criminal justice system.”

Come discover how we can advocate for and participate in the restorative justice needed to bring authentic rehabilitation, lasting transformation, and healthy reintegration for returning citizens.

Linwood Covenant Church in Wyoming, MN, invites you to join them Sunday evening, July 14, at 7 p.m. for a time of singing the hymns of our faith and an ice cream social. Linwood Covenant Church is located 40 miles north of Minneapolis.

Download the Hymn Sing Flyer for more details.

Mission Covenant Church in Poplar, WI, will celebrate its 125th Anniversary on May 8, 2019.

The congregation will commemorate this milestone in two parts this spring and summer. The first celebration will be at the May 5, 2019, Sunday morning worship services. In these services the actual founding of the church will be commemorated with a focus on the anniversary theme of “God’s Faithfulness Lives On” from Psalm 100:5, “For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”

Part two will occur in the summer during an official designated anniversary weekend of July 27-28, 2019. A Saturday evening banquet will feature church historical memorabilia, worship music —some of which will be sung in Swedish—along with a meal. President of the Evangelical Covenant Church, Dr. John Wenrich, will be the keynote speaker.

Sunday morning will include two worship services, the middle Sunday worship service will be dropped in lieu of a fellowship time. The Rev. Mark R. Stromberg, Superintendent of the Northwest Conference, will give the morning messages on July 28. The Sunday morning worship services will be followed by a pot-blessing meal in the church’s multi-ministry center.

For more info on the 125thAnniversary celebrations, and detailed historical accounts of church history, visit

Mercy Commons Covenant is hosting the 2019 IF:Gathering and we are so excited to invite you to a gathering of women here in our city for two days of worship and fellowship together. Together we’re going to learn what it means to rely on the wisdom of God and not rely on our own understanding.

Tens of thousands of women participate in the IF: Gathering via a livestream from a sold out event in Dallas, Texas. With a variety of cultures and denominations represented, these women hold one thing in common: they want to live like God is real. The IF:Gathering provides space for women to wrestle with essential questions of faith, to dream and to connect during a two- day gathering.

This event will be held Feb. 8-9 at Mercy Commons. Cost is $40 for the 2 day event which includes all of your meals.

You can find out more information and register to join here:

Epiphany Covenant Church, a new church plant in South Minneapolis, celebrated its Launch Sunday on Nov. 4!

Epiphany Covenant Church is an intentionally multi-ethnic congregation that meets at Hope Academy in South Minneapolis. They are planting a church that is diverse across racial and class lines reconciled to one another and God.

Northwest Conference Superintendent Mark Stromberg, Director of Church Planting Mike Brown, and Robert Owens, representing World Impact, were all present for the big day.

Pastor Cecelia Williams delivered the sermon, challenging the church to reach their community and beyond. It was a tremendous celebration of God’s faithfulness!

Rochester Covenant Church will host Transform Ideas: Awakening the Church to Mental Health on Nov. 29 from 7 to 9 p.m. This Transform Ideas forum will address the calling of the Church to care for people and their families who are struggling with common mental health concerns.

We will explore the physiological and spiritual aspects of mental and emotional health. Experts will discuss the role of medical intervention alongside prayer and scripture, and ways to diminish the stigma associated with mental illness.

Come hear courageous personal stories of lives deeply affected by mental illness, and learn how the Church can best offer hope and support to someone with mental health issues.

This is event is free for the public; registration is required and can be found online here.

Sexual exploitation and sex trafficking are terms we are increasingly seeing in the media. On Nov. 14 from 7 to 8:30 p.m., at the Shoreview Community Center, we will be introduced to the basic facts and hear stories from a local organization, Trafficking Justice, that is on the front lines.

Learn about the reality of trafficking in the Twin Cities and leave with ideas of how you can be a part of the solution. Download the event poster.

Register Online

Crosstown Covenant Church in Minneapolis will host “Rethinking Incarceration” with Dominique Gilliard on May 14 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

Dominique DuBois Gilliard is the director of racial righteousness and reconciliation for the Love Mercy Do Justice (LMDJ) initiative of the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC). He serves on the boards of directors for the Christian Community Development Association and Evangelicals for Justice. In 2015, he was selected as one of the ECC’s “40 Under 40” leaders to watch, and the Huffington Post named him one of the “Black Christian Leaders Changing the World.”

Advocating for Justice that Restores

The United States has more people locked up in jails, prisons, and detention centers than any other country in the history of the world. Mass incarceration has become a lucrative industry, and the criminal justice system is plagued with bias and unjust practices. And the Church has unwittingly contributed to the problem.

Dominique Gilliard explores the history and foundation of mass incarceration, examining Christianity’s role in its evolution and expansion. He then shows how Christians can pursue justice that restores and reconciles, offering creative solutions and highlighting innovative interventions.

The Church has the power to help transform our criminal justice system. Discover how you can participate in the restorative justice needed to bring authentic rehabilitation, lasting transformation, and healthy reintegration to this broken system.

An ordained minister, Gilliard has served in pastoral ministry in Atlanta, Chicago, and Oakland. He was executive pastor of New Hope Covenant Church in Oakland, CA, and also served in Oakland as the associate pastor of Convergence Covenant Church. He was also the campus minister at North Park University and the racial righteousness director for ECC’s ministry initiatives in the Pacific Southwest Conference.

With articles published in the CCDA Theology JournalThe Covenant Quarterly, and Sojourners, Gilliard has also blogged for Christianity TodayFaith & LeadershipRed Letter ChristiansDo Justice, and The Junia Project. He earned a bachelor’s degree in African American Studies from Georgia State University and a master’s degree in history from East Tennessee State University, with an emphasis on race, gender, and class in the United States. He also earned an MDiv from North Park Seminary, where he served as an adjunct professor teaching Christian ethics, theology, and reconciliation.

The event is co-sponsored by Transform Minnesota, Crosstown Covenant Church and the Northwest Conference. For more info, visit

Salem Covenant Church in New Brighton, MN, will host “An Afternoon of Hymns and Spiritual Songs,” a sacred music concert, on Sunday, March 18 from 3 to 4:15 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Musicians featured during the concert include Herbert Johnson (piano), Cindy Reents (organ) and Gerard Sundberg (baritone). For more information, contact Cindy Reents. Download a flyer and postcard for promotional use in your congregation.

In 1885, congregants from the Swedish Tabernacle in Minneapolis felt called to bring ministry to the North Minneapolis community. A group from the church began preaching and ministering in the area and soon felt called to plant a church.

They built a chapel that mainly housed space for Sunday schools. In 1890, the group formally split from the Swedish Tabernacle and began the Swedish Mission Church. When the congregation became too large in 1905, the church moved to a lot at West Broadway and Aldrich and changed its name to Broadway Temple—and eventually Broadway Covenant Church.

The church built a sanctuary to seat 1,000 people with the hope of a thriving local ministry. In 1958, after many years reaching the community, the congregation moved to a new location—due to the high cost of building maintenance and a neighborhood rapidly changed by new businesses resulting in the relocation of its members. After struggling to find a buyer, the congregation sold the property to a car dealership and the church was torn down.

Sixty years later, a new Covenant church with a heart for North Minneapolis would break ground and dedicate a new church building across the street.

Sanctuary Covenant Church

Sanctuary Covenant Church was birthed 14 years ago by a group of believers—including Pastor Efrem Smith, Cecilia Williams and Kevin Farmer—to bring reconciliation, multicultural worship, and embrace diversity in the community of North Minneapolis.

Sanctuary became a voice of reconciliation and cultivated a new sense of worship and outreach. In 2011, many of the key senior leaders of the church were called to serve in other locations, and Sanctuary was forced to consider what God’s intentions were for the church in the years to come.

“While there was a focus on deepening in our commitments to one another and God, we realized that our growth and potential was constantly bumping up against the reality that we didn’t have a 7-day-a-week welcoming place in the community,” said Mike Hotz, Associate Pastor of Care and Outreach. “The question we felt God asking was, ‘Who are you becoming?’”

Senior Pastor, the Rev. Dr. Dennis Edwards, who joined Sanctuary in 2012, along with other key leaders in the church began the conversation about building a “Gathering Place.” After meeting in local public schools for over 14 years, they knew they needed a place that could offer more effective ministry.

“We imagined a building as a resource for our neighbors,” Edwards said, “not just for ourselves. We wanted a multi-purpose auditorium, not a Sunday-only room with fixed pews/chairs, to ensure that the space could be flexible. In my experience as an urban church planter and pastor, I know that church buildings must be flexible community spaces.”

As they prayed for space in North Minneapolis, they searched all over and found nothing. Then, in 2013, they found an available space located in one of the busiest areas of North Minneapolis, almost directly across the street from the former Broadway Covenant Church that had the same heart for its community over 100 years ago.

“Many other ministry leaders have affirmed how strategic our location is near the busy Lyndale and Broadway intersection,” Edwards said. “This location creates opportunity for us to shift resources to build better connections with our neighbors. We believe our church—the building and our congregation—are assets to our North Minneapolis neighbors.”

On Jan. 7, 2018, Sanctuary Covenant Church officially celebrated with its congregation and neighbors in dedicating the new building at 710 West Broadway Ave. The ministries that will continue to happen in this new location will carry out the vision and calling that has been working in the hearts of God’s people in this neighborhood for many years past—and many to come.

Salem Covenant Church is excited to announce that Chris Gehrz and Pastor Mark Pattie have written a book: The Pietist Option. To celebrate, we will be hosting a Book Launch on Tuesday, October 10 at 7:00 p.m.

We would like to invite you to join us as Chris and Pastor Mark share about the book, read excerpts, and sign copies.

As it works in your setting, please use the promotional materials available below to communicate this opportunity to congregation.

For further information or questions, please reply to this email or call Alice Johnson, Executive Pastor (651-633-9615).

Mahtowa Covenant Church in Mahtowa, Minnesota will be celebrating its Centennial Anniversary on September 16th and 17th with a special dinner and services.

The original Swedish Evangelical Church of Mahtowa was organized in 1917 by twelve charter members who had come from Sweden and settled in the area.  They met in homes until 1923, when a church was built two miles south of Park Lake, close to where Covenant Park Bible Camp is located now.  In the early years the church shared a pastor with the Covenant Church in Moose Lake.  The church building was moved from Park Lake to the town of Mahtowa in 1948 and the name was changed to Mahtowa Evangelical Covenant Church in 1965.  In 1978 the old church building was torn down and the current building went up, with additions in 2007 and 2010.

Mahtowa continues to be thankful for all those who came before and for God’s leading and provision along the way.


While buffalo were still roaming the plains of America, a group of Swedish immigrants moved from Lockport, IL to the Dakota Territory, arriving on May 16, 1873. The destination of this determined group of pioneers was the Swedish settlement named Swedona, in present Brandon, South Dakota.

On April 9, 1877 a meeting was called for the purpose of organizing a church, and 140 years later, we are thankful for the dedication and perseverance of the 36 charter members who helped begin our church.

On Sunday, September 17, Swedona Covenant Church will observe it’s 140th anniversary. Swedona predates the Evangelical Covenant denomination and is one of the oldest Covenant churches in the conference that is still active. The guest speaker at the 10:30 am service will be the Rev Donn Engebretson. A noon dinner will be followed by a 2:00 pm anniversary service.

This seminar (60 min. seminar, 30 min. Q&A) will take place at BCC in the West Room, and there will be childcare available (suggested $10 donation per family). The content will be geared toward parents of children and youth.  

Details: Saturday, April 29 from 3 to 4:30 p.m.

According to promo materials: This seminar will focus on increasing your own emotional intelligence so that you can model and teach your kids to be emotionally intelligent too. This skill is important in order to be able to identify and regulate emotions as well as be able to connect with others in the midst of experiencing emotions.

Some of the topics that will be covered include dysfunctional vs. functional stress, staying emotionally healthy in your own relationships and/or marriage, creating an emotionally safe family culture and looking at red flags of anxiety and depression. We all have space to learn how to better identify and handle “big emotions” and the more we understand ourselves, the more we can help our children.

Amanda Nephew is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who is in private practice in Lino Lakes and Blaine as well as serves as an Adjunct Professor in the Psychology Department at University of Northwestern- Saint Paul. She has over 12 years of working therapeutically with adolescents and now focuses on couples and family therapy in her practice.

Download Promo Flyer

The main objective of the course Sharing Lives is to help Christians change their attitude towards Islam and Muslims from one of fear to one of grace and to encourage them to develop meaningful relationships with Muslims in their neighborhoods, in order to share their lives and the Gospel of Jesus Christ with them.

  • Four Wednesday evenings – Feb. 8, Feb. 22, March 8, March 22, from 6:30 – 7:45 p.m.
  • Hosted by Bloomington Covenant Church, 10150 Xerxes Ave. S. Bloomington, MN 55431
  • Course will be taught by Barbara and Steven Swanson – Covenant Missionaries working with refugees in Europe

To register or for more information contact:
Barbara Swanson

Enrich your Easter preparation with a “John: The Gospel of Wisdom” Conference and Concert weekend with musician and teacher Michael Card, hosted by First Covenant Church of River Falls, WI, March 24-26.

As part of Card’s Biblical Imagination Series, he has studied and written books on each of the gospels. Come focus upon Christ as shared by the “disciple whom Jesus loved,” John.

Come join a weekend of study and music or just come enjoy a concert! (Earlybird pricing through Feb. 21.) Learn more and register here.

folk-art-clipart-free-red-white-scandinavian-motifBethlehem Covenant Church will be hosting a Lucia Gift Shop Saturday, December 10th from 7:30am – 1:00pm and Sunday, December 11th from 8:30am – 2:00pm. The gift shop will be selling home decor, clothing, toys, baked goods, and many other Scandinavian treasures. This event is open to the public and there is no fee to enter. Come shop, eat, and celebrate the season!

Located at Bethlehem Covenant Church in the Community Room.

3141 43rd Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55406

decmcSolid Rock School of Discipleship and Riverwood Covenant Church are joining together to host a seminar called “Deciphering the Millennial Code: Understanding, Reaching and Teaching

The seminar will feature guest speakers Dr. Megan Brown, Assistant Professor of Christian Ministries at University of Northwestern, and Jenna Thompson, Spiritual Formation Associate at University of Northwestern, as they navigate this relevant and important discussion and offer practical tools and wisdom to ministry leaders and students.

The event will take place on Saturday, Dec. 3, at Riverwood Covenant Church.

For more information, please contact Tyler Menssen, Solid Rock Director, at us as we explore the intersection of faith and justice in the Church. At this year’s justice weekend we will focus on the concept of Shalom and Witness with author Lisa Sharon Harper.

Justice Weekend Registration Includes:

  • Keynote, Interactive Workshop, Q&A and booksigning on Saturday, October 1, 2016, 9am-3pm, with Lisa Sharon Harper
  • Lunch
  • A copy of Harper’s book, The Very Good Gospel.

Registration Fee: $20

Open to all: Sunday worship service at The Sanctuary Covenant Church with special guest Lisa Sharon Harper on Sunday, October 2, 2016, 10am.

For more information or to purchase tickets, click HERE.

Living-Hands-PuppetsAfter 18 years of ministry, Brenda Johnson, Director of Living Hands Puppet Team, is hanging up her puppet hat. Living Hands Puppet Team is a ministry that has touched the lives of many children throughout the years. Performing in churches and at Covenant Pines Bible camp as the “special speakers” for Kids Kamps, their performances have brought the message of the gospel to life in compelling and joyful ways for thousands of kids.

As this incredible ministry comes to a close, Brookdale Covenant Church is inviting all who have been impacted to come join in a final farewell. Come see and share in the experience of what the 2nd and 3rd grade campers of Covenant Pines Bible Camp learned this year, and celebrate the wonderful ministry that has come out of Living Hands Puppet Team!

When: Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016

Time: 6-7 p.m.

Please join us at 6 p.m. for a light supper. The performance will begin at 6:30 p.m.


Brookdale Covenant Church
5139 Brooklyn Boulevard
Brooklyn Center, MN


church photo (newer)This year marks a significant milestone for the Evangelical Covenant Church of New London, which had a humble start. Between 1886-1890 some ‘Swedish mission friends’ in the New London area started meeting for prayer and testimonies in homes and at the Village Town Hall. Eventual charter member, Benjamin Bredberg, consulted with then pastor/evangelist/revivalist, Rev. E. August Skogsberg, about formal organization which took place on Feb. 5, 1891. That mission friend gathering of early Swedish immigrants became the thriving church that now worships over 200 and is known as the Evangelical Covenant Church of New London.

The first building measured 38′ x 24′ and cost $500 to erect in 1892 on a lot that cost $25. The first chairman, John E.F. Erickson, was the carpenter and one of the original contributors along with its seven charter members. The first pastor was Rev. O.H. Myhren and he led the newly-birthed congregation until 1895.

It wasn’t until Rev. John Anderson, who served from 1923-1932, that English was used, but even then only for the Sunday evening services! Rev. Chester Dahlberg followed Anderson and was significant as he was a son of the church having deep roots in New London, along with the Covenant, communities. Dahlberg served three parishes, in New London, Lake Florida, and Litchfield traveling in his Model T Ford to the area churches. During Rev. Paul Hedberg’s pastorate the congregation bought its first parsonage which was in 1940 which cost the congregation $2,700.

Remodeling and Relocating

In 1950 the original church was completely remodeled, enlarging the sanctuary and adding the nursery, pastor’s study and chancel. This expansion was during the tenure of a vivacious and rather humorous pastor by the name of Rev. L.O. Anderson. To know L.O. was to love him! In 1978, during Pastor Eric Josephson’s pastorate, the congregation moved to its present site and has had another two additions and remodeling projects through the years.

Much has changed since the beginning of all of this but somethings remain. The Evangelical Covenant Church of New London continues as it started, deeply committed in prayer and the message of new life through Jesus Christ along with great testimonies of what God has done through the lives of many faithful saints throughout its 125 year history.

Celebrating 125 years

The church will celebrate the work of Jesus Christ in their midst through three events in the course of 2016. First, was a 125th Anniversary Sunday, Feb. 21 2016. Rev. Tim Anderson, a former pastor from 1982-1990, spoke at the event. Sharing in the service was Rev. Jerome Johnson who pastored the church from 1957-1961. Denominational representative Rev. Mark Stromberg presented congratulations and a certificate. An anniversary photo and potluck followed.

Still upcoming is a June 25-26 reunion weekend, which will be held with festivities on both Saturday and Sunday. Past pastors and youth pastors will be returning along with alumni from both near and far. Call the church (320-354-2544) or check for details as we get closer to the event.

On Sunday, Nov. 13, the congregation will celebrate its 125th Harvest Festival Event with a 70×7 reunion concert at 3 p.m., followed by a pie & ice cream social. The 70×7 singing group formed and sang throughout the New London area in the ’70s & ’80s and included many area voices, many of which will reunite for this event. The public is invited to all of these festivities!

NWC-News-2015-Clark-Vigil-600x350Community Covenant Church is responding to the shooting death of Jamar Clark in North Minneapolis by holding a Service of Prayer on Tuesday, November 24. The incident, which took place just blocks from the church, has resulted in many different protests throughout the city, some of which have turned violent. Church leaders from the community have participated in these protests to encourage people to remain peaceful and nonviolent.

The upcoming service will be held as a continued encouragement and reminder of peace, justice, and unity in the midst of a heavy and volatile time.

The prayer service will start at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

For more on this story, please click here.

FotorCreatedBrookdale Covenant Church invites you to an Art Exhibit starting November 1 – December 29, 2015.

Five Courageous Women: Wounded Women Who Found Their Voice and the Red Sea Band is a series of 16 Quilted Icons depicting 16 women of the Bible, who are vital to the Christian story. Tamar, Ruth, Rahab, Mary and Bathsheba not only  find their place in the genealogy of Jesus, but also lead the band of biblical heroes who urge us to join in and take our part in the great story of God’s people.   Each image prov
ides a brief biblical history of the character and reflection questions meant to stir personal contemplation and prayer.

Meet local artist, author and Spiritual Director: Janet Hagberg,  Sunday, November 1 at 9am for an hour of exploration, contemplation and prayer.  The event will be at Brookdale Covenant Church, 5139 Brooklyn Boulevard (Hwy 100 & Brooklyn Boulevard) in Brooklyn Center.  Call to arrange private or group showings.

Contact Pastor Renee Franzen at 763-535-6305.


“No one can do everything, but each of us can do something to help turn the tide against global poverty.”
– Richard Sterns, president and CEO of World Vision

Guests experience first hand what it's like to live in World Vision sponsorship regions such as South America, Africa, and South Asia through audio and visual aides in the World Vision Experience mobile exhibit at Faith Community Church in Hopkinton, MA.

Throughout August and September, three Northwest Conference churches will be offering a unique and powerful experience to see the effects of extreme poverty from the perspective of the world’s most vulnerable. Crossroads Church in Cottage Grove, MN, Crossview Covenant Church in North Mankato, MN, and Salem Covenant Church in New Brighton, MN, will be hosting the World Vision Experience Bus.

The nationally touring exhibit gives an opportunity for an interactive and life-changing confrontation with the effects of global poverty, sex trafficking, and refugees. Visitors will be given a chance to walk through a “global village” during a 20-minute audio-guided journey and hear the true, life-changing stories of four young children in extreme conditions.

The Covenant denomination is proud to partner with World Vision as they continue to bring awareness and global change to people who suffer in the margins. “World Vision, unfortunately, cannot take thousands of Americans to places like Bangladesh, Syria, or Uganda to personally witness the tragedy of extreme poverty,” says Sterns, “So we’ve created this exhibit to enable people to virtually experience the effects of some of the greatest causes of our day and how they can help.”

This event is free at each church location. For families with children, please be aware that this event is rated PG-13. Parental discretion is advised.

Times and Locations are as follows:

Crossroads Church – Cottage Grove Campus
7955 Ivystone Ave., Cottage Grove, MN 55106

Aug. 13-16
Aug. 13 — 4 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Aug. 14 — 4 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Aug. 15 — 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Aug. 16 — 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Crossview Covenant
2000 Howard Drive W, North Mankato, MN 56003

Sept. 10-13
Sept. 10 — 9 a.m. – 12 p.m., 3 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Sept. 11 — 9 a.m. – 12 p.m., 3 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Sept. 12 — 9 a.m. – 12 p.m., 3 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Sept. 13 — 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Salem Covenant
2655 Fifth Street NW New Brighton, MN 55112

Sept. 24-27
Sept. 24 — 9 a.m. – 12 p.m., 4 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Sept. 25 — 9 a.m. – 12 p.m., 4 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Sept. 26 — 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sept. 27 — 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

NWC-News-2015-FCC-Willmar-Hymn-Sing-600x350On Sunday, Aug. 9 at 6 p.m., First Covenant Church in Willmar, MN, will host its 15th Annual Old Fashioned Hymn Sing. Chuck Gustafson will once again serve as song leader for the evening and will be accompanied by musicians Don Franklin and Saralyn Olson.

“We humbly ask that this announcement be made during the appropriate time of your Sunday Worship service and included in announcements in your Sunday bulletin and other communication to your congregation. This is a wonderful opportunity for people to gather together to sing their old favorite hymns in praise to God,” reads a media release from the church.

Refreshments will follow the hymn sing service. For more information, visit

NWC-Awaken-PosterJoin us as we host Scott Erickson and his one act “play of sorts.” Scott Erickson is an artist on staff at Imago Dei in Portland (Donald Miller’s church).

During this live art and storytelling event, Scott explores what happens when your faith doesn’t insulate you from the things you thought it would like fear, doubt, anxiety and depression. It’s his own dark night of the soul and wrestling with fear, doubt, depression and faith.

When: Sunday, April 26 @ 7pm
Where: 506 View St., Saint Paul

Suggested donation on the night of the event ($5). First 275 people who sign up are guaranteed seats.

For more info or to register, click here.

Brookdale Covenant, Community Covenant, Redeemer Covenant, The Sanctuary and the Daybreak Human Trafficking Task Force are joining together to host an anti-trafficking forum.

Brookdale Covenant Church, 5139 Brooklyn Blvd, Brooklyn Center, MN

Saturday, April 25th, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

The sex industry is booming in the Twin Cities.

Recent research shows that the victims of sex trafficking are disproportionately girls from North Minneapolis and the near North suburbs.

As people of faith and people of the Book, we must engage.

We are called to be “Repairers of Broken Walls, Restorers of Streets with Dwellings” (Isaiah 58:12).

The work of anti-trafficking is for the whole church—women and men, youth and adults.

This work begins with us—within our families, our churches and our neighborhoods.

It’s time to come together.

Come together to gain awareness about trafficking in North Minneapolis and the near North suburbs. Come together as congregations in order to gain an understanding of the issue, and then work to create interventions in order to reclaim the dignity of our youth, our families and our neighborhoods.

Speakers include:

  • Linda EagleSpeaker, Sacred Journey Program Director, MN Indian Women’s Resource Center
  • Rev. Alika Galloway, Co-Pastor, Kwanzaa Community Church & Northside Women’s Space
  • Minister Geraldine Anderson, Trafficking Survivor
  • Sergeant Grant A. Snyder, Crimes Against Children Unit & Juvenile Trafficking Team, MPD

Gift card giveaway for youth! CEU credits available for adult professionals!

Parents & Youth Workers: This event is recommended for students in Middle School and up.

Suggested donation: FREE for students (18 and under), $10 per adult. Lunch will be provided.

RSVP by Monday, April 20 to Denise at (763) 535-6305 or Download a flyer to promote the event in your church.

david_larsen-72Dr. David Larsen will be at Plymouth Covenant Church on the weekend of March 21-22 sharing four different messages from God’s Word on the topic “Zechariah for Today.”

Saturday 6:30 p.m. – What is holding us back?
Sunday 9:00 a.m. – The Thrust we Need
Sunday 11:00 a.m. – When Jesus Came
Sunday 6:30 p.m. – When Jesus Comes Again

Dr. Larsen was raised in Minneapolis, educated at Bethel College, Stanford University, Fuller Theological Seminary and North Park Theological Seminary. He was a pastor for 32 years (including First Covenant Church in downtown Minneapolis) before becoming the chair and professor of practical theology position at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Dr. Larsen is the author of 17 books and the Professor Emeritus of Preaching at TEDS. He loves the church and is eager to share about preaching, evangelism, pastoral theology, Christian spirituality and Bible prophecy.

Visit the Plymouth Covenant Church event page for more info.

NWC-News-CCC-Refine-Us-1.15-600x350Crossroads Church in Woodbury, MN, will host the Refine Us Marriage Conference Jan. 23-24. Northwest Conference church staff, members and attendees are welcome to register for the event.

Description: Justin and Trisha Davis, bloggers, speakers, authors of the book “Beyond Ordinary” and founders of Refine Us Ministries will be at Crossroads to share their story of marriage, and the danger of settling for ordinary. Their story will be a spring broad to help couples choose the path to the marriage God had in mind.

They cover topics such as: intimacy, truth-telling, conflict resolution, sexual intimacy, forgiveness and resentment, and living intentionally.

When: Friday, Jan. 23, 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Saturday, Jan. 24, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Cost: $10 per person (email is ticket and confirmation.) Tickets are non-refundable. To register, click here.

Who Should Attend: Everyone is welcome, singles, engaged, divorced, separated, married, etc.

Please Note: There is NO childcare for the event. People with newborns can use the family room, but other arrangements should be made for childcare for children.

For more information, visit

Redeemer Covenant Church in Brooklyn Park, MN, will host an Ebola Awareness & Prayer Service on Saturday, Oct. 18, at 6 p.m. The event will feature special guest speaker Mrs. Decontee Sawyer, the widow of Patrick Sawyer, the first American to die from Ebola. She is also a trained mental health counselor who has worked with trauma survivors.

“There have been nearly 3,000 deaths as a result of this deadly virus, but together we can make a difference! There will be a special collection taken to support our African brothers and sisters in the fight against Ebola,” according to a poster for the event, which can be downloaded here.

For more details on the event, visit

On Sunday, Aug. 10 at 6 p.m., First Covenant Church in Willmar, MN, will host its 14th Annual Old Fashioned Hymn Sing. Chuck Gustafson will serve as song leader for the evening and will be accompanied by musicians Don Franklin and Saralyn Olson.

“This is an opportunity for people to gather together to sing many of their old favorite hymns and choruses.  A large crowd is expected so come early and be prepared to sing with gusto to the glory of God,” reads a media release from the church.

Refreshments will follow the hymn sing service. For more information, visit

Mission Covenant Church in Poplar, WI, was founded on May 8, 1894. The celebreate this milestone, the church will have a special emphasis in the four weekend services May 3-4 devoted to the 120th Anniversary. 

Included in the weekend will be a slide show of the church’s history, readings from early church days’ archives, displays of church pictures and memorabilia as well as key dates, mission trips and pastoral staff that have served at the church.

In addition, there will be video testimonies of people who have come to Christ at Mission Covenant Church along with baptisms to celebrate the church’s ongoing ministry. The opportunity for fellowship and refreshments will also be a part of the weekend festivities.

All are invited to attend this celebration of what the Lord has and continues to do at Mission Covenant Church in Poplar, WI. Visit

Jay Phelan, Senior Professor of Theological Studies at North Park Theological Seminary, will be at Bethlehem Covenant Church for three gatherings this month.

  • Friday, Feb. 21 from 7 to 9 p.m.
  • Saturday, Feb. 22 from 9 a.m. to Noon
  • Sunday, Feb. 23 for Adult Sunday School (9:50 a.m.) and Worship (11 a.m.).

Phelan served as President and Dean of North Park Seminary for 14 years. Previous positions also included Executive Director of Publications for the Evangelical Covenant Church.

The end times are often viewed as a strange or dangerous part of the Bible. Some seem to think only scholars or cranks could be interested in such an esoteric topic. Jay will argue that, far from being weird, eschatology (the study of last or ultimate things) is a profoundly practical discipline. Far from being marginal to the Christian faith, it is at the heart of our faith and practice.

“We’d like to invite you to be present and hear Dr. Phelan speak about the end times and how it shapes our behavior today,” a release from the church read. “Come and learn from a world-class scholar about the Christian hope.”

Bethlehem Covenant Church
3141 43rd Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55406

Phone:  612-721-5768

RobAmy_AboutsmallBuffalo Covenant Church in Buffalo, MN, is hosting “God’s Grand Vision For Your Home” with author and speaker Dr. Rob Rienow, Feb. 22-23. All sessions are free. Childcare and Children’s activities available through grade 5 by reservation. Sign up with the Buffalo Covenant Church office.

Buffalo Covenant Church
1601 Highway 25 North, Buffalo MN 55313

Saturday, Feb. 22

9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Never Too Late: The Prodigal Problem

This session is provided for parents of teens and adults whose children have walked away from their faith, or are questioning their faith. This is a great session for anyone who is not sure how to approach their adult kids or teens on a spiritual level. It will also offer hope and help to families who want to influence their teens and young adults to stay faithful to the truth of the Christian faith.

6 to 8 p.m.

Building Christian Worldview in your kids

A wonderful chance for parents to learn how to influence the Christian character development of their children. Worldview is how we look at life—do we view life from a Biblical, Christian perspective, or do we look at life from a human, worldly, cultural perspective? What is our first response to an event, a thought, an idea? That’s the topic for this two-hour session. This is practical, timely teaching for every parent facing the pressures of raising Christian kids in a non-Christian culture. Every parent with children or grandchildren is urged to be present.

Sunday, Feb. 23

8, 9:30 and 11 a.m.

God’s Plan for the Family in the Church.

Dr. Rienow will be speaking in all three Sunday morning services

3 to 6 p.m.

Visionary Marriage Seminar

This seminar is for married couples and those considering marriage. What does God say through the Scripture about marriage? How can couples strengthen their commitment to each other and to the Lord? How can you make your marriage stronger and better? No matter how long you have been married, no matter how good your marriage is—it can be better! Join other couples and learn how to make your marriage a “Visionary Marriage!”

PW-pic1The interns at the First Covenant / Crossroads Church in Duluth, MN, have created a Young Women’s Conference for 9th-12th grade girls. The conference will focus on areas the event creators struggled with as high school girls—in efforts prepare young women with Godly knowledge about “the lies we believe, our image and boys.”

The event is inspired by a book the group read together called, “The Lies Young Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free.” The Young Women’s Conference will take place March 1, and is an all day event held at First Covenant / Crossroads Church in Duluth, MN. The day will be filled with worship, speakers, small group time, games and food. The cost for the day is $12 if registered before the Feb. 22, and $15 after Feb. 22.

For more details and to register, visit

Bloomington Covenant Church invites NWC churches to attend “the marital intimacy hierarchy” seminar presented by Linda Solie on Jan. 19. Download the promotional flyer for more information and to use to promote the event in your church. 

Lunch and childcare will be provided. Please RSVP by Jan. 12 to

0917-palmyra-pastors-270The 150 people attending the 125th anniversary service at Palmyra Covenant Church on Sunday, Sept. 17, far exceeded the capacity of the building, so about 60 attendees sat underneath a tent outside and watched the service on a video feed.

“It was the first multi-site service in the history of our church,” quipped pastor Steve Hoden.

People traveled from as far away as Florida, Georgia and California to celebrate with the rural congregation that serves this community of 1,200 people. Five previous pastors came with their spouses to share how the church had helped form their own ministries.

Among them was Noel Cisneros. The church was the first congregation he served, and it also allowed him to enter the Army Reserves as a chaplain. Cisneros recently retired from military service. Other former pastors attending were Scott Christensen, Rudy King, Tom Klasen, and Paul Peterson.

Mark Stromberg, superintendent of the Northwest Conference, spoke at the morning service. At an afternoon gathering Hoden spoke about how the church can continue to be a missional and healthy church in years to come.

People who also had attended the centennial anniversary said there was an aspect of Sunday’s celebration they liked far better—the weather. Twenty-five years ago, attendees suffered through temperatures that hit 105 degrees during the multi-day gathering.

“The church didn’t have central air conditioning then,” Hoden noted. The temperature barely hit 65 degrees on Sunday, Hoden said. “So they were loving it.”

Copyright © 2013 The Evangelical Covenant Church.

SCC10Sanctuary Covenant Church invites you to an evening of food, comedy and magic show, live music and both live and silent auctions on Friday, Oct. 11 at Minnehaha Academy.

Music will be provided by the Sanctuary Worship Team and the event will feature an entertainment lineup with actor, comedian and radio personality Shedrick “Shed G” Garrett and comedian and magician Devin Henderson.

“And while the music, food and comedy will be well worth the night out, the most exciting element of the night is the opportunity to create a legacy of academic achievement in our community through supporting the Efrem and Donecia Smith Young Heroes Scholarship Fund!” according to a release from the church. All proceeds beyond the cost of the event will support the Young Heroes Scholarship Fund.

Tickets are $20 per adult, $10 for youth and childcare is available for $10 as well. Learn more and register for the event.

Fresh Alaska Silver Salmon caught off shore in Nome, Alaska, is the featured entrée for a Fundraising Dinner on Tuesday, Oct. 1, at 5:30 p.m. at Bethlehem Covenant Church (3141 43rd Ave. S., Minneapolis 55406). Providing the salmon and the after-dinner presentation will be Dennis Weidler, general manager of KICY AM & FM of Nome.

Fundraising for the operation of the 50,000 watt AM station and 1,000 watt FM station brings Weidler to Minneapolis. Both stations are owned by the Evangelical Covenant Church and are staffed by volunteers. Some are long-term missionaries and the rest live and work in the community of Nome, a largely Inupiaq Eskimo community of 3,700 on the southern coast of the Seward Peninsula.

KICY AM-850, which celebrated 50 years of service on April 17, 2010, is the only radio station in the United States licensed by both the F.C.C and the International Telecommunications Union in Geneva, Switzerland, to broadcast into a foreign country in their language. Every evening from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m., the station turns their 50,000 watt signal westward and broadcasts into the Russian Far East in the Russian language.

The Russian Program Director, Luda Kinok, listened to KICY as a young girl growing up in the Chukotkan village of Sereniki. After eight years in Nome, Luda has returned to Chukotka but still provides 5 hours of Russian programming every evening via the Internet.

“It is amazing we have this kind of unique international license. Nome is only about 160 miles from the Russian mainland,” added Weidler. “When the full power of this station is turned to the west, it is equal to 200,000 watts. We have a signal from 1,500 to 3,000 miles into Russia every day.”

Most of the fundraising efforts are to offset rapidly escalating fuel costs. In Nome, a gallon of heating oil or diesel fuel costs $6.25 per gallon and is delivered by barge from the lower 48 states. All electricity is produced by diesel generators as the nearest power grid is 550 miles away, and there are no roads connecting any of the Bush Villages. In addition, no fuel can be delivered from October through May as the harbor is frozen to a depth of 4 feet. Prices are literally “frozen” for a full eight months.

For additional information, contact: J. Dennis Weidler by phone at 1-800-478-5429.

On Sunday, Aug. 11 at 6 p.m., First Covenant Church in Willmar, MN, will host its 13th Annual Old Fashioned Hymn Sing. Chuck Gustafson will serve as song leader for the evening and will be accompanied by musicians Don Franklin and Saralyn Olson.

“This is an opportunity for people to gather together to sing many of their old favorite hymns and choruses.  A large crowd is expected so come early and be prepared to sing with gusto to the glory of God,” reads a media release from the church.

Refreshments will follow the hymn sing service. For more information, visit

Torched-PianoMembers of Community Covenant Church have shed many tears surveying the destruction of their sanctuary from a blaze set by one or more arsonists on July 11.

The fire ruined everything. The electronic equipment melted. The pews, chairs, altar and baptismal were destroyed. Soot covers the walls of the entire first floor. The Covenant hymnals were soaked as firefighters fought the flames.

“But the overall sentiment is for the loss of the grand piano,” said pastor Luke Swanson. “To see the piano in ashes is devastating.”

The piano was where the arsonist or arsonists chose to use an accelerant and light the fire. That only worsens the pain for church members, Swanson said.

Twenty years ago, Community Covenant Church held a joyous service in which they blessed their new grand piano. “They had worked hard to raise the money for that piano and get it refurbished,” said Swanson. “This was a big deal for a small inner-city church.”

In the two decades since, it has been the primary instrument for the congregation. “The music has gone hand in hand with the mission for decades,” Swanson said. He points out that the congregation of 200 has a children’s choir of 65 kids.

“We like to say that you can tell if a person is doing well spiritually if they have a song in their heart,” Swanson said.

The piano was not the only part of the sanctuary the congregation had reclaimed for use. Church members found the altar in an alley after someone dumped it there.

Like the piano and altar, the lives of people have been reclaimed through the church, and the sanctuary was “a sacred space that was full of stories,” Swanson said. “There are a lot of memories in a sacred space. It’s where people have heard God’s word and God’s call.”

On Sunday, the congregation worshiped in large grass field next to the church. Among the songs they sang was “We’ve Come this Far by Faith.” Swanson said, “It’s a gospel song that has been very meaningful to our people.”

The church will continue to look to the future with the same kind of faith, he said. “No one can stop us from worshiping.”

Swanson added, “We serve a living God. What I’m told is, he’s pretty good with ashes.”

The church building will not be restored until at least October, Swanson said. Until then, the congregation will worship in a college preparatory school down the street.

On Friday night, the church held the closing picnic for its vacation Bible school in the same field where they worshiped Sunday. Joining them were members of Sanctuary Covenant Church, which had partnered in the VBS, and others. At least 250 people attended.

Swanson said his appreciation for the broader church has only grown in the fire’s aftermath. Minnehaha Academy, which is operated by the Northwest Conference, supplied a portable sound system for the Friday and Sunday events.

Numerous people from around the country have called to ask how their congregations might help, Swanson said. The church has established a relief fund. Anyone who wants to donate can send contributions to the church at 901 Humboldt Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55411, or visit

Authorities continue to look for whoever set the fire, which is believed to have started some time after 11 p.m. The vandals broke in through a window.

The fire was discovered by church members who were looking for a lost key in the nearby field and saw the smoke around 11:30 p.m. “If parishioners hadn’t been looking for a key, the whole place would have gone up,” Swanson said.

Seventy percent of the congregation of Community Covenant is African American. Before setting the fire, the arsonist(s) spray-painted racial epithets on the building. “There was a lot of foul language and use of the N-word,” Swanson said.

Eight fires were set in the neighborhood that night, including to wood fences and cars. The church was the only structure on which racial remarks were scrawled, Swanson said.

Swanson said Friday that arsonists had also set fire to the building in the 1960s. “They didn’t like our congregation then, and there are people who don’t like it now.”

“As we learned this week with the children at VBS, we can stand strong in Jesus,” Swanson said Friday. “Community Covenant is united in Jesus, and we will clean up and rebuild. We will also pray for those who persecute us.”

He added, “I think the real story is we’ve been a worshiping community for 65 years in a low-income neighborhood, and we are going to continue being a worshiping community and salt and light.”

Copyright © 2013 The Evangelical Covenant Church.

Comm-Cov-Upsala-125The Community Covenant Church in Upsala, MN, is celebrating 125 years of service to the Lord. According to a church announcement, everyone is invited to celebrate in Upsala with a pie social and variety show on Saturday, July 20, at 7:30 p.m.

Following the Sunday 9:30 a.m. worship service on July 21, there will be a group photograph and a meal. On Sunday evening the church will host a bonfire and worship songs behind the church from 7 to 10 p.m.

125 years ago the Swedish Evangelical Mission Church in Upsala officially began. Prior to 1888, a large number of worshipers met in homes, barns or at the Swedback’s Store.

“In January of 1888, the believers were gathered, and the question was whether a stronger association was needed in order to perform God’s work,” read a statement form the church. “All present voted by standing up in jubilation and triumph. A congregation was thus formed.”

Download the event flyer for more information. Please let Community Covenant Church know you’re coming by calling 320-573-2672.

YancyAs part of its 2013 Vacation Bible School, Salem Covenant Church in New Brighton, MN, will host a concert with Yancy on Aug. 2 at 7 p.m. Yancy will be performing a variety of songs, including those written for “God’s Backyard Bible Camp VBS.” Samples can be found at

Tickets are $10 (non-refundable). For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit the Salem website (; click on VBS link) or contact the Church Office (651.633.9615).

Download the promotional poster here.

In celebration of Salem Covenant Church’s 125th Anniversary, the New Brighton, MN, church will host a Song Fest and Coffee Party (FIKA) on Sunday, June 16, at 3 p.m. Come and sing hymns, choruses, camp songs, Sunday school songs, and contemporary praise songs.

“Ken Fenton will lead us as we sing our way through the years in a concert of praise. After the singing, we will have a grand coffee party,” read a release from the church.

Anniversary coffee mugs will be available for purchase. Download the promotional flyer for more info. If you have any questions, please contact Salem’s church office (651-633-9615). Salem Covenant Church is located at 2655 5th Street NW, New Brighton.

Grand OpeningMainStreet Covenant Church recently held the Grand Opening of its dynamic new venue in the Stonegate Plaza strip mall in downtown Mound on March 17 after a kick-off concert on March 9. Both events drew capacity crowds with standing room only for the first Sunday service. The venue is designed to feel more like a coffee shop than a church building.

MainStreet Pastor Jeremy Berg said, “The vision of MainStreet is to imitate the Apostle Paul who engaged unbelievers not just on Sunday morning in the sanctuary but ‘in the marketplace daily with all who happen to be there’” (Acts 17:17).

Berg said the idea for a church acting as a community-gathering place began from his experiences when he was involved with youth ministry in Mound a few years back. In 2005 he began using music events to connect with local area teens.

“I noticed a trend of people running away from the church,” he said. “We started hosting live music events, and young people flooded the place looking for a spot to gather.”

The new building features a café gathering area and an auditorium for hosting open mic nights, hot topic discussion forums, providing an after school youth hangout, a place for community groups such as book clubs, Zumba, etc.

“Every city needs a place for people to connect and grow,” Berg said. “Why should coffee shops have all the fun when we’re serving up something far more potent and life impacting than mere coffee!”

MainStreet began this ambitious building project only a few months into their first year as a church, believing this kind of a space is what is required to be faithful to God’s unique vision for MainStreet.

“God has been faithful every time we have stepped out in faith and obedience,” Berg said. “We raised the money for the project in only a few months’ time thanks to the generosity of many supporters, especially our sister church Excelsior Covenant.”

Berg shares how he first peeked through the windows of their new space over 7 years ago and wondered if that empty storefront might someday be used for ministry in Mound.

“God honors big dreams when we place them in his hands,” Berg said. “After a year and a half of meeting first in a senior center and later in a nursing home facility, it was a pretty amazing moment to stand up that first Sunday and say, ‘Welcome to Main Street—for real!’”

Learn more about the unique vision and mission of MainStreet Covenant Church at

Faith Covenant Church in Burnsville, MN, will host a Hymn Sing event at 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 17, led by Gary Nyquist and Hymn Sing America. 

“This is a fantastic ministry that is centered in the heart of worship and can provide a healing touch of grace over the proverbial worship wars,” said John Foley, co-lead pastor at Faith Covenant. 

For more information on the event, contact Faith Covenant church at 952-895-1129. 

Faith Covenant Church in Burnsville, MN, is hosting a 50th Anniversary Celebration Dinner on Sunday, Nov. 11 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Royal Cliff Banquet Center. The event will feature “food, fellowship and music” and “tribute to the ways God has worked through our church to bring hope to our community and world,” according to promo materials. 

Tickets for the event are $35 each and can be purchased at the church on Sunday mornings up until Nov. 4, or by email at

Daybreak_newsThe next Daybreak Human Trafficking Awareness Forum, titled “Cries from the Wilderness,” will take place Nov. 3 from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Bloomington Covenant Church.

“Our target audience is men, but it will be geared to all people,” explained Cyd Johnson, Daybreak founder. “Our goal is to increase the awareness of the increased demand for prostitution and the resultant market for the enslavement of women and young girls.”

The forum will feature speakers Nimi Ocholi, education director of Men Against the Trafficking of Others, and John Tanagho, Chicago attorney and anti-trafficking activist. The event will also include a panel discussion with other trafficking experts, including Ruth Hill.

Registration and check-in for the day begin at 8:30 a.m. There is a suggested Donation of $10 per person. To pre-register for the event by Oct. 31, email or call 952.831.8339. Download a promotional flyer for the event.

2012-09-18 13.35.16First Covenant Church of Superior, WI, will celebrate its 125th Anniversary during the weekend of Oct. 13-14.

“We thank God for His faithfulness and ongoing ministry here in the Twin Ports Area,” Karl Freeberg, First Covenant pastor.

NWC Director of Church Planting Mike Brown, as well as the Rev. Jeff Burton of Lakeview Covenant Church, will be preaching during the weekend. Celebrating God’s goodness and faithfulness together.

BloomingtonBloomington Covenant Church will celebrate its 60th Anniversary the weekend of Oct. 13-14. The church will host a catered dinner on Saturday, Oct. 13, and the Rev. Jim Fretheim will be the guest preaching for a special service on Sunday, Oct. 14.

The deadline to purchase tickets for the banquet dinner is Sept. 17. Contact the Bloomington Covenant Church office at 952-831-8339 for more information.

Grandview-100-2Grandview Covenant Church in Larchwood, IA, will mark its 100th Anniversary with a celebration on Sunday, Aug. 26. The day will include a special church service at 9:30 a.m., followed by a catered meal and outdoor festivities.

“The outward appearance of our little church has changed and evolved with time but our purpose of demonstrating true Christian love and service and spreading the Good News has remained intact.,” read a note from the event’s planning committee.


Crowder-300x225Caleb Gotz, a member of The Gallery Covenant Church in St. Paul, was celebrating his high school graduation when internationally known Christian artist David Crowder showed up.

Caleb, who has Down syndrome, first invited Crowder five years ago as the teenager looked ahead to his high school graduation. Caleb delivered the invitation personally during a Crowder performance in Chicago.

Dana Gotz followed up this year when she sent Crowder an invitation with a picture of him and Caleb hugging backstage at the show and that it was her son’s dream to have him at the graduation. Dana never heard back.

None of the family members and 250 guests expected that Crowder would show up a half hour into the graduation party for Caleb. Caleb dropped to his knees and bowed to one of his musical heroes.

“He rocks,” Caleb said of Crowder when interviewed for a story that appeared in the Star Tribune. “I love his hair.”

Crowder didn’t play any music, but played games and ate dinner with everyone. Dana said the artist flew from Arizona to the Twin Cities especially for Caleb’s party.

Caleb is as well known around his community as Crowder is among Christians who listen to contemporary Christian music. Caleb’s elementary gym teacher, Denny Larson, said everyone in the community knows the 18-year-old.

His enthusiasm for life, as well as the unconditional love and kindness he shows others have been a strong witness. Larson said Caleb frequently sends inspirational letters to friends, classmates, and teachers and often ends them with the exhortation, “God loves you in so many ways.”

Copyright © 2012 The Evangelical Covenant Church.

Prayer-1-300x200Ribbon-cutting for a new half-mile prayer trail at Cedarbrook Church will take place at 1 p.m. on Sunday, June 10, at the church located at N6714 – 470th Street in Menomonie, WI.

The recently completed prayer trail traverses a ridge on church-owned property situated behind the church facilities. Members of the community are invited to join in the festivities and walk the trail.

The idea originated 10 years ago before Cedarbrook began meeting. A small group had been meeting with pastor Remy Diederich, studying different ways that people can connect with God. The idea of connecting with God through nature dominated the conversations.

The pastor said he thought it odd that more churches do not offer opportunities for people to experience God that way.

“Everything is typically indoors,” he observed. “And then I dreamed a bit and said, wouldn’t it be great if we could have enough land some day to build a prayer trail where people could walk the land and connect with God through nature? Amazingly, 10 years later we have a church building, spare land and now a prayer trail. I guess it pays to dream!”

Church members provided the labor, a good mix of engineers, landscapers, contractors and volunteer workers.

The trail is more than a half-mile in length and offers seven stations where visitors can pause and meditate on a theme displayed on a posted sign. The seven themes are comfort, guidance, provision, healing, hope, restoration and consecration. Five decks are built into the hill with a bench so individuals can stop and reflect in comfort. There are three large crosses at the summit of the trail with poured concrete to facilitate gatherings of small groups.

The Department of Natural Resources is working with Cedarbrook to establish prairie grass on the trail – the second time the two groups have worked together. Another recent project established a martin colony on the property.

Copyright © 2012 The Evangelical Covenant Church.

Calvary Covenant Church of Evansville, MN, will be celebrate its 125th Anniversary on June 10. Morning worship will begin at 10 a.m.

Donn Engebretson, Executive Vice President of the Evangelical Covenant Church, will be the speaker. Noon lunch will be served, foll0wed by an informal service of words and music at 2 p.m. Everyone is welcome.

For more information, contact Lois Larson at 320-834-4413 or

Bloomington Covenant Church in Bloomington, MN, will host the Daybreak Spring Forum (download flyer), a one-day anti-trafficking event on March 10 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Anyone is welcome to attend, but it is especially targeted to clergy, medical personnel, and social service workers. CEU credits will be available for nurses, educators and social workers.

“The response to and participation in our Fall Forum was wonderful,” said Cyd Johnson, coordinator of the event. “We have been greatly encouraged and feel compelled to continue with our mission to provide on-going education regarding this topic.”

This event will involve more in-depth lecture and plenty of time for questions with Stephanie Holt, founder and director of Mission 21, an anti-trafficking service provider committed to the complete restoration of child victims of sex-trafficking. The course curriculum will be available for use and for sale as desired. There will be a mid-morning coffee break where light refreshments will be served. There is a suggested donation of $10 for the class.

Please contact Johnson or Daybreak with questions. Pre-registration is due by March 2. To register, please email or call Bloomington Covenant Church at 952-831-8339.

Salem Covenant Church in New Brighton, MN, will host “Across the Divides: Across Cultures, Across Generations”—Feb. 17-19. The Hagman Lectures in partnership with the Compassion, Mercy, and Justice Team invite you to this weekend seminar led by Rev. Dr. Soong-Chan Rah from North Park Seminary.

Rah is the author of “Many Colors: Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church” and “The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity.”

Throughout the weekend, attendees will have a chance to “look at how our changing culture requires intentional theological reflection by Christians as we engage the challenges and opportunities of reaching across divides.”

For more information, contact Salem at 651-633-9615, or download the bulletin insert.


Friday Workshop // Feb. 17, 7 p.m.
“Understanding the Need: Our Changing World”

Saturday Workshop // Feb. 18, 9:30 a.m. to Noon
“From Generation to Generation: Examining a Social History of American Christianity”

Sunday Sermon // Feb. 19, 8:30, 9:50, and 11 a.m.
“Reaching Across the Divide: Understanding Mercy from the Prophet Jeremiah”

Robert-Robinson-Concert-BenefitRobert Robinsin, First Covenant Church, Minneapolis Artist in Residence, is bringing his Christmas concert experience for all ages, “Journey to Christmas,” to First Covenant Church on Friday, Dec. 16 at 7:30 p.m. (Doors open at 7 p.m.).

Proceeds will support the 50-bed emergency homeless shelter at First Covenant. Purchase your tickets on Sundays in the Main Foyer or through Adults are $25/youth 14 and under are $20. Come enjoy a mix of seasonal arrangements in true holiday spirit.

Daybreak3More than 220 people attended the recent anti-trafficking conference, Daybreak, held at Bloomington Covenant Church on October 28-30.

The church’s anti-trafficking task force sponsored the event, which targeted clergy, medical personnel, and social service workers but was open to anyone.

On Friday evening, some of the attendees walked individually and as small groups through the Mall of America. Numbers vary greatly as to how many girls are tricked into or snatched from there to become prostitutes, but most law enforcement officials believe it happens at some level.

Most of the event focused on trafficking in Minnesota, which a government report said was thirteenth in the nation for sex trafficking. Discussions also included information about international slavery.

The forum addressed the realities of trafficking, each session building on the previous ones:

– The Realities for Kids on the Street

– The Realities in Law Enforcement Regarding Human Trafficking

– The Realities Show Up: Victim Identification

– The Realities for the Survivor

In a blog post, attendee Nancy Nordenson lamented that few law enforcement officers are specifically designated to fight human trafficking, and fewer than 100 recovery beds exist for rescued women and children. There is a long wait to get into the scarce recovery centers. (One of those centers is New Day for Children, started by members of First Covenant Church in Oakland, California.)

Nordenson, a member of Bethlehem Covenant Church in Minneapolis, wrote that the subject matter can make people uncomfortable, adding, “To be honest, I don’t even like having such darkness on this blog.”

The Sunday morning worship service, which included music written for the weekend, continued to shed light on the issue. North Park University professor Boaz Johnson spoke from the Book of Ruth and called on the attendees to pursue justice for people who have been enslaved.

Boaz grew up in the slums of New Delhi. Although he was not trafficked, some of his friends were, and he never saw them again.

Cyd Johnson was a pediatric urology nurse at a local medical clinic for children and became concerned over the high number of children from other countries who were treated for various issues, some of which turned out to be related to being trafficked.

In January she quit her job to engage in anti-trafficking work full-time. She started an anti-trafficking task force at Bloomington Covenant Church, where her husband, Tim, is the pastor. She is working to connect Northwest Conference churches around the issue and has started to make presentations at various groups and churches.

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

Mainstreet-lets-rebuild-webMainStreet Covenant Church hosted its second preview service in Mound on Oct. 16 at The Gillespie Center. An enthusiastic team of volunteers from MainStreet, and partner church Excelsior Covenant, welcomed many local visitors.

A youthful team of Crown College musicians led worship, and Pastor Jeremy Berg, himself a native of Mound, used Nehemiah’s rebuilding project to inspire the hometown congregation to unite in building up a new church in Mound—something Mound hasn’t seen in over 60 years. The service concluded with a powerful visual as MainStreet volunteers each carried a cardboard “brick” to the stage, signifying their servant role, and built a wall together.

“The miracle is that we did not know 95 percent of these people a year ago when Keri and I set out planting MainStreet,” Berg said. “God provides when we’re obedient to His call.”

MainStreet’s first two preview services have drawn a combined total of 270 people, and the excitement and anticipation in this small community is growing day by day. MainStreet’s next monthly preview services are Nov. 13 and Dec. 11 with the hope of going weekly in January 2012. Thanks to all our Covenant friends for investing in our vision and supporting NWC church plants.

Salem-140th-Ann-web-2After 140 years of ministry, Salem Covenant Church in Pennock, MN, is still thinking outside its own doors. The church gathered to celebrate this special anniversary Aug. 20-21, and part of the weekend’s events was the dedication of a new playground area.

“Attracting young families is part of the mission and vision of Salem. And as part of the vision the park area between the church and parsonage was updated with new playground equipment and a picnic shelter,” said Pastor Mike McCain. “We believe that the park area will not only attract young families, but will be used extensively for family gatherings, celebrations, receptions, VBS, AWANA, children and youth ministry, and other community ministry activities.”

Funds from the NWC Second Miler program helped provide the seed money for the project.

“We are grateful to all those who participate in the Second Miler program,” McCain said.

The weekend celebration began on Saturday in the new park with fellowship, games and a meal. That evening, the church gathered in the sanctuary for a night of music and testimonies. Former Salem pastors Lloyd Melvie and Phillip Griepp were both on hand to share memories and reflections.

“Pastor Kevin Melin of Crossview Covenant Church in North Mankato, MN, grew up and came to Christ here at Salem,” McCain said. “Kevin shared fond memories of his growing up years here.”

Salem’s celebration continued on Sunday morning as the church gathered for worship and received a message from Donn Engebretson, executive vice president of the Evangelical Covenant Church.

Founded in 1871, Salem Covenant Church is the oldest active congregation in the Northwest Conference.

Daybreak webCyd Johnson was a pediatric urology nurse at Children’s Hospital who was concerned over the high number of children from other countries who were being treated for various issues. Many of them were Somalians.

Then she heard the news reports of a nationwide sting targeting a Somalian child-trafficking ring. “That was like a gut bust to me,” she says.

In January she quit her job to engage in anti-trafficking work full-time. She started an anti-trafficking task force at Bloomington Covenant Church, where her husband, Tim, is the pastor. She is working to connect Northwest Conference churches around the issue and has started to make presentations at various groups and churches.

On October 28-30, her church will sponsor Daybreak, a three-day anti-trafficking forum. Anyone is welcome to attend, but it is especially targeted to clergy, medical personnel, and social service workers. CEU credits will be available.

Johnson also serves on the Evangelical Covenant Church’s Human Trafficking Task Force and has authored one section of the PROTECT resource that will be published this fall as a part of the “Just Women” initiative developed by the Department of Women Ministries.

Johnson hopes to someday start a formal CEU trafficking-awareness program for nurses.

Even professionals frequently don’t recognize the “red flags” of slavery, a crime that is far more frequent than most people think. Johnson says she wishes she had recognized the signs while working at the hospital.

The same was true at the church. She says a woman came to the church multiple times looking for financial assistance. “Over time, she revealed she didn’t feel comfortable where she lived.”

The woman said that men would line up outside the door of the apartment across the hall from hers. Young girls also were coming and going. The woman thought it probably was drugs. Instead, the girls had been forced into prostitution.

Several years ago, police shut down a brothel where trafficked girls were forced to service clients. The brothel was just four blocks from the Johnsons’ home and across the street from the local high school.

The three-day conference, which seeks to help educate others in the effort to stop trafficking, will feature a variety of activities.

On Friday, participants can walk the Mall of America with a prayer team. Federal authorities have said the large shopping center is a location where girls are sometimes lured into sexual slavery.

On Saturday, experts in the anti-trafficking field will speak. Among the presenters will be Vednita Carter, a former slave who founded Breaking Free, an organization that works with “women and girls involved in systems of abuse, exploitation, and prostitution/sex trafficking.” Exhibits also will be displayed, and crafts from developing world countries will be sold.

The forum will conclude Sunday, when Boaz Johnson, professor of biblical and theological studies at North Park University, will discuss human trafficking based on his experience growing up in India and his current work as part of the modern abolitionist movement.

A song is being written for the event, and Lauren Catlin, a spoken-word artist, also will participate. (Many of her performances are available on YouTube).

For more information or to pre-register, call the church at 952-831-8339. Registration is a suggested donation of $10 for adults and $5 for students.

For resources and information about how congregations can address the issue, visit the Covenant’s human trafficking website.

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

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.

By Stan Friedman

MINNEAPOLIS, MN (May 23, 2011) – Jeremy Scheller was hosting a birthday party for his son when a tornado ripped through his community in north Minneapolis.

“We were playing games and then the power went off and then the sirens started,” says Scheller, director of communications, technology, and media for Sanctuary Covenant Church. The adults rushed the children to the basement where they all listened as the twister passed.

“It moved fast,” Scheller says. “It was over in about 30 seconds.”

In that brief period, however, it killed one person and injured at least 30 others. The twister also smashed houses, uprooted large trees, and destroyed vehicles.

Trees fell on the home of Sanctuary’s associate pastor Cecilia Williams, causing the roof to collapse. No one was injured, but the family was one of many who have had to find shelter elsewhere.

A lot of the congregation’s members live in the area. “We’re all calling each other to check to see if they’re okay,” Scheller says.

The twister tore off parts of the church office roof – inside areas sustained water damage, Scheller says. Vandals broke into the church, but apparently did not take anything of value because members had secured the computers and other equipment shortly after the storm. The church plans to set up its offices temporarily in another local Covenant church, Scheller says.

Associate Pastor Kevin Farmer, a former emergency medical technician, tried in vain to safe the life of the one resident who was killed. The 59-year-old man died in his car when a large part of a tree went through his front windshield and struck him.

The church and its nonprofit organization, Sanctuary Community Development Corporation, have opened a disaster response staging area in cooperation with the city and another nonprofit group. Other Covenant churches in the area also have begun to offer assistance to local residents.

The tornado was one of three that struck the area. It tore through a five-mile path from suburban St. Louis Park, where it hit a condominium complex and two businesses, and continued through north Minneapolis, according to press reports.

“Many residents were walking around their shattered neighborhood in a daze, astonished at the devastation,” said a report in the Bemidji Pioneer.

Copyright © 2011 The Evangelical Covenant Church.

Shelter-womens side webThe Minneapolis City Council approved a permit for First Covenant Church to operate a homeless shelter just hours before the congregation welcomed their first 18 “guests” on Friday, Dec. 10.

First Covenant expects to serve as an overnight shelter for up to 50 homeless people a night during the winter months.

The church is working in cooperation with the Salvation Army’s Harbor Light Center. At times the center, which has had an overflow of up to 100 people, sought assistance from other organizations to relieve overcrowding at their facility.

Other organizations know that Harbor Light is the only shelter in the Twin Cities that does not turn people away when the center has reached capacity. When the other shelters are full, they direct homeless people to Harbor Light.

Last month, the online news publication MinnPost published stories that focused on the overcrowding problem and told of people sleeping on chairs and in hallways because there was no other space for mats.

Numbers of homeless people in the county are at a 10-year high, with some advocates estimating 300 or more Hennepin County residents sleep outdoors each night, the MinnPost reported.

First Covenant’s lead pastor, Dan Collison, says the church wants to ease the burden while helping the citizens of Hennepin County.

A survey published last year found that nearly 20 percent of the county’s homeless residents had been laid off in the previous six months. The lack of employment opportunities was cited as a major barrier to escaping their circumstances.

Heading Home Hennepin, a comprehensive 10-year plan launched by Hennepin County and Minneapolis to end homelessness, will fund most of the program at First Covenant. County commissioners recently authorized $117,000 to cover operating costs.

Financial contributions from the congregation and other members of the community will provide the additional funding that is needed. Harbor Light employees and volunteers from the church will staff the shelter at First Covenant.

In November, the church showed a 30-minute video on homeless ministry in the city to prepare the congregation for welcoming and better understanding their guests and their needs.

Collison says the church already has received support from other neighborhood groups and businesses. “They recognize that the homeless are already on our streets in east downtown and Elliot Park and that we have to be part of the solutions rather than just saying ‘go away.’”

Check out the KSTP TV video news story

Copyright © 2010 The Evangelical Covenant Church.

THRIVE 2010 thumbMore than 400 people descended on Hope Covenant Church in Grand Forks, ND, Oct. 15-16, for two days of inspiration, teaching, worship and workshops designed to spread encouragement. THRIVE ND, which was hosted by Hope and co-sponsored by the Northwest Conference, was facilitated by a team from Bayside Church in Granite Bay, CA.

Ray Johnston, founding pastor of Bayside and keynote speaker on Friday evening, opened THRIVE ND by challenging pastors and lay people to embrace vision, compassion and hope.

The early Church had a “vision that was greater than their fear,” Johnston said. “A lot of churches today, their only vision for the future is to bring back the past.”

Asking churches to choose compassion over apathy, Johnston explained that “good deeds” can lead to “good will,” which can eventually lead to openness to the “good news” of the gospel. As he closed the session, Johnston said that churches must also be a place of hope and encouragement for those who already attend, and those who are new to the church.

On Saturday, attendees—who came from almost 30 different churches—had the opportunity to choose from breakout sessions designed to equip them for various aspects of ministry. Breakout workshops covered a range of topics, including: Preaching and Communication Dynamics, God-Size Your Church, Worship Leading and Leading Worship from the Heart, and What is a Thriving College Ministry?

Bayside, which hosts an annual version of THRIVE at its campus in California, hopes to continue to replicate the event on smaller scales at venues across the country.

Visit our photos page to see a collection of images from the weekend.

HF 2010 Passport 1-1_1BROOKLYN PARK, MN (September 13, 2010) – La Bendición Covenant Church will give local residents the opportunity to tour all of Latin America in an afternoon when they host the Hispanic Heritage Month Festival at Redeemer Covenant Church on Sept. 19.

Twenty-two booths will be set up representing a different Latin American country where people can learn more about the culture, ask questions, and sample food. Native costumes and music from the different countries also will be featured. Hispanic pastors from metro area churches will share their testimonies and brief gospel messages, according to La Bendición Pastor Juan Lopez.

The celebration will conclude with a time of prayer for Latino nations and the United States. Although the countries each have their unique identities, they have experienced similar histories, Lopez says. “As Hispanics, we share the same heritage of conquest and independence, the same language, and many cultural roots that unite us.”

The festival also represents the continued shared ministry between La Bendición and Redeemer Covenant, who hope the event will serve as an outreach to the Twin Cities Hispanic communities. This is the second year for the event, which was a huge success last year, says Lopez. The city and police department have expressed interest in participating in next year’s event, Lopez says. “Passports” will be available for a donation of $5 per person or $10 per family. The
event will be held from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit the Redeemer Covenant website or email Lopez.

Copyright © 2010 The Evangelical Covenant Church.

Twin-Cities-Gospel-Choir-smallFirst Covenant Church in Minneapolis hosted the Annual Covenant Founder’s Day Worship Service on Feb. 21. Around 400 people attended the special worship event.

Themed “Growing Together in Mercy,” the service focused on prayer and giving as a response for the people of Haiti. A special offering at the service raised $6,123 for Covenant World Relief.

“I was deeply moved by the several hundred people that came from both Covenant Churches and non-Covenant churches to pray and give on behalf of the people of Haiti,” said Dan Collison, lead pastor at First Covenant Church in Minneapolis. “It was a living expression of mercy!”

The speaker for the service was Gary Walter, president of the Evangelical Covenant Church. Music was led by the First Covenant Worship Arts Team and special music was performed by the Twin Cities Community Gospel Choir.

Worship Experience to Support the People of Haiti. On Sunday, February 21, at 6 p.m.

First Covenant Church is hosting an event called “Growing Together in Mercy: A service of prayer and giving. A response for the people of Haiti.”

The worship will be led by the First Covenant Worship Arts ministries and is sponsored by the Twin Cities Covenant Ministerium. This is the designated worship experience for the Annual Founder’s Day in which our focus on Haiti will demonstrate our passion for Christ’s mission to a world in need.

Gary Walter, President of the Evangelical Covenant Denomination will be the guest speaker and a free will offering will be taken to support Covenant World Relief in their earthquake recovery work.