Walking Where Jesus Walked
On June 1, 2015, thirty-four travelers from the US and Canada boarded a plane for the Holy Land. Participants watched the story of Jesus come to life as they visited sites from significant moments in scripture. Lives were clearly touched as the group retraced Jesus’ steps and interacted with those walking the same paths today.
We were made aware that the earliest churches—house and cave churches—sprang up immediately after Jesus’ resurrection, filled with eye witnesses to Jesus’ life and resurrection. This realization on our part is a powerful adjunct to the stories written in the Gospels and Acts, previously our foundational source of faith. To interact with the physical descendants of these witnesses, to hear their oral histories, to see the actual places where Jesus taught and healed supercharges our faith and makes it much more vivid.
- Lee and Ellen Robinson, Centennial Covenant Church, Littleton, CO
Unlike many tour groups, we traveled to the West Bank and the Golan Heights in an effort to understand the Israeli-Palestinian conflict today between real people with a history and story that is not always shared accurately by the media. This conflict was made even more real by seeing razor wire, walls and checkpoints that limit movement of people by virtue of their religion or ethnicity...As a history teacher, I loved walking where Jesus walked, being where he might have preached, and visiting places where miracles occurred.
- Pam Norlen, First Covenant Church, Omaha, NE
We were most impacted during our visit [to the Church of the Ten Lepers]. First, by how far Jesus had to walk to get to this place. Our Savior deliberately went out of his way from his regular route to seek out those that he ministered to here...Also, we were impacted by how much our Palestinian brethren showed the love of Christ to us. These people were very poor, yet they gave 34 people food and drink, and then they gave us gifts. We were truly humbled by their generosity.
- Bill and Lynda Klymochko, Faith Covenant Church, Winnipeg, Manitoba
We were struck by how rugged the countryside is and how difficult it would have been for Jesus and his disciples to get from place to place. In scripture you read about Jesus being at a certain place and then in a few verses he is in another place. But to see how far apart some of the locations were and how difficult the walking would have been to get from place to place really had an impact...We were also impacted by the people we met and heard from. It was so good to hear their stories and understand in small part another perspective than what we normally hear.
- Rod and Betty Banks, Evangelical Covenant Church, Wausa, NE
What we’d really like to convey to others who might be taking a future trip to Israel: You may go like us, thinking the highlight would be to walk where Jesus walked and see the historical markers of His ministry. But our highlight was seeing where He is walking today, with His people, whether they are Israeli or Palestinian, citizen or refugee, resident or tourist, wealthy or downtrodden. We saw peace seekers and forgivers of past wrongs who want to live their lives as Christ’s followers, and we want to do that, too!
- Jody and Tom McClellan, Centennial Covenant Church, Littleton, CO
to read full insights from participants.
Photos throughout article contributed by Dan Olson, Bethlehem Covenant Church, Waverly, NE; Hanne Johnson, Faith Covenant Church, Winnipeg, Manitoba; Pam Norlen; Bill and Lynda Klymochko; Jody and Tom McClellan
Gather '15 Highlights
This year's Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Covenant Church was held in Kansas City, MO. Below are some of the many ways the Midwest Conference was blessed by the event. You can also watch sessions or download the delegate summary for additional details.
Experience Kansas City
Before the start of the Annual Meeting, delegates and guests were invited to participate in the Experience Kansas City tour. Throughout the tour, participants were introduced to several ministries that local Covenant churches partner with in serving the community. Check out what MWC participants had to say about the event:
It was striking to see the variety of ways that people and churches were working together with the same goal of "living into and grasping the plan of Jesus." Needs not always apparent to the casual observer are being met due to diligent relationship building, trial and error, and seeking gaps of need where the church could step in and help.
- Karen Holdeman, Community Covenant Church, Omaha, NE
The tour of Kansas City ministry partnerships was a powerful experience! I wish the whole ministerium could have dropped what they were doing to join us in hearing the stories of visions becoming ministries of hope and caring. We heard from ordinary folks who joined together, dreamed, worked and sacrificed...tried and failed and tried again...and now are making a difference in KC!
- Roxanna Bergfalk, First Covenant Church, Omaha, NE
A huge thank you to Sara Wrablica of Hillcrest Covenant Church in Prairie Village, KS, and many others for organizing the tour! Read more about the Experience Kansas City tour here
MWC Pastors Ordained in the Evangelical Covenant Church
Ordained to Word and Sacrament: Mark Habluetzel
of Hope Covenant Church, El Dorado, KS; Karl Helvig
of Centennial Covenant Church, Littleton, CO; Greg Reiner
of First Covenant Church, Mason City, IA; Allan Serrano
, Director of Latino Church Planting (Midsouth Conference)/Director of Hispanic Church Ministry (Midwest Conference).
Ordained to Word and Service: Jesse Bolinder
of Harbert Community Church, Harbert, MI.
MWC Superintendent Tammy with ordinands Mark Habluetzel and Joan Hayward (SEC)
MWC Missionaries Consecrated/Commissioned by the Evangelical Covenant Church
Consecrated Missionaries: Chris and Jenny Hoskins
of First Covenant Church, Omaha, NE. Long-term missionaries to Ecuador.
Commissioned Missionary: Max McClure
of First Covenant Church, Salina, KS. Short-term missionary to the Czech Republic.
The ECC Welcomes Siloe Covenant Church into Covenant Membership
Siloe Covenant Church, the first Spanish-speaking Covenant congregation in Kansas City, KS, was welcomed into Covenant membership. Siloe is served by Pastor Jose and Lupita Sanchez.
Children Offer Encouragement to MWC Church Planters
The children attending Gather joined in the celebration as they prayed over Midwest Conference church plants and pastors. They drew pictures and wrote words of encouragement that were then sent to each church plant. We are so blessed to see God at work in the lives of our children!
When Disaster Strikes
When I was invited to participate in the Humanitarian Disaster Institute’s (HDI) Disaster Ministry Conference in June, a variety of images and events went through my mind—the recent floods in Colorado, Hurricane Katrina, the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the unthinkable destruction and loss of life surrounding the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Though I knew faith-based organizations had responded to each of these events, I struggled with the question, What does local church response look like when faced by disasters of massive proportions?
The HDI conference was a helpful reminder that church disaster ministry encompasses preparation, response, and recovery, and the local church can respond in ways that complement the efforts of larger organizations and governments. The church establishes relationships before disaster strikes and is present for the recovery process long after FEMA trucks leave. The conference also served as a reminder that disaster ministry is deeply tied to our call to compassion and justice. It is often through disaster that vulnerabilities and injustices in the community are revealed. By tending to areas of social vulnerability long term, the church can treat disaster ministry as more than just patching holes in the light of a catastrophic event. In turn, our participation in disaster ministry is part of our identity as Christians and one way we live out our missional call to join God in making things whole.
For more information, please contact one of the Midwest Conference representatives for the event: Brian Wright, LifeSpring Covenant, Loveland, CO; Tracy Hilts, Living Hope Covenant, Colorado Springs, CO; Deb Bonsall, Salem Covenant, Oakland, NE.
Brian Wright serves as Interim Director of Connections at LifeSpring Covenant Church in Loveland, CO.
Alaska Partnership Project Update
The Midwest Conference is in partnership with the Mountain Village Covenant Church located in Mountain Village, Alaska, where Pastor Don Cross and his family currently serve. Last fall, Midwest Conference churches began raising money to replace the family's unreliable 4-wheeler. Together, churches raised over $4000 and the Cross family was able to purchase the vehicle below. You can read Pastor Don's update here
. Thank you, churches, for your generosity and partnership!
Left to right: Jared, Kadyn, Katelyn, Fei and Pastor Don
Your church has amazing music, a great youth program and is conveniently located. So why aren't the neighbors flocking to church? MissionInsite
provides demographic information and analysis of your church's neighborhood to help you learn about the makeup and trajectory of your community. The Midwest Conference has purchased the ability for all of our churches to access this service at no cost to individual churches. We invite you to take advantage of this resource to identify ministry opportunities waiting just outside your door. Click here
to get started today!
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to register for upcoming webinars:
- Maximizing the Power of PeoplePlot - August 19, 2:00 pm EDT
- Orientation - August 20, 2:00 pm EDT
- Discover Ministry Opportunities - August 27, 2:00 pm EDT
2015 MWC Fall Pastors Retreats
Carol Joy Holling Retreat Center
October 5-7, 2015
Speaker - Mark Novak
Franciscan Retreat Center
Colorado Springs, CO
October 19-21, 2015
Speaker - Remy Diederich