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of the Evangelical Covenant Church


Churches working together to transform lives and communities by starting new churches, strengthening existing churches and developing missional leaders.

e-News • June 2015 •

God is Raising Up Workers for His Harvest

On May 30, five couples from the Midwest Conference were recommended for church planting at the Covenant’s Church Planter Assessment in Burnsville, MN. Before being invited to the assessment, each couple completed pre-assessment work and interviews with MWC staff, attended ECC and/or MWC gatherings, and developed a relationship with their respective Regional Church Planting Group. Over the next few months, these planters will attend the Church Planter Training Intensive and work to gather teams of 30 adults prior to launching a new Covenant Church. Pray for God to surround each planter with a healthy, missional team. If you know people in the target communities who might want to know more, contact Brian Johnson at

Left to right: Bruce McGregor, assessor; Paul Lupito and Jamie Veeder (to be married July 12), called to plant in Lawrence, KS; Brian Johnson, assessor; Evan and TeAnna Brown, called to plant in Aurora, CO; Dan Pietzryk, assessor; Tammy Swanson-Draheim, assessor; Marc and Christine Jefferson, called to plant in Aurora, CO; Sophia and Jeremy Kolb, called to plant in Omaha, NE; Elise and Mark Hawke, called to plant in Erie, CO

Hospitality that Energizes

Delegates reflect on hospitality experiences during a World Café exercise at the 2015 Annual Ministry Celebration.

When have you been most energized by someone’s hospitality? Who was there? What did they do? How did you contribute? This question launched the delegates of the 2015 Midwest Conference Annual Ministry Celebration into a quick World Café interaction as a prelude to the Saturday morning business session. The responses of participants in the World Café were recorded and some significant themes immediately emerged. Hospitality that rejuvenated and uplifted people had the following qualities:
  1. There was a genuine personal interest in someone.
  2. Those who hosted took the initiative and created a sense of warmth and acceptance. 
  3. The hospitality was often unexpected.
  4. There was a generosity, even extravagance, to the hospitality that showed sacrifice and care for those being hosted.
  5. Nothing was expected in return.
  6. People were made to feel valued and included.
Hospitality is such a strong Biblical theme. One does not have to venture far into the Gospel to encounter stories of hospitality and redemption. Hebrews even declares some have entertained angels unawares through the hospitality shown to strangers (13:2). May we, as the people of God, continue to exhibit qualities that startle the world with warmth, grace, and hospitality that opens doors of redemption!
A big thank you to all who participated in the World Café. Also, a big thank to you to John Madvig and Guy McCaslin who were responsible for the artisan coffees that were made available during the café experience!

Left to right:  Guy McCaslin, Steve Weis (AMC Lead Coordinator), and John Madvig

Our Intimidating, Compelling Journey

Who could have envisioned that, in the Des Moines suburb of Urbandale, two congregations with incredible ethnic differences would be forming one church? When a young Eugene Kiruhura showed up at Urban Heights worship as the first of many East Africans, who could have known that Covenant medical missionaries, Drs. Gwen and Mike Luepke, would be there to translate? 
So it has been a journey of surprises, but clearly led by the Spirit. Eugene learned English, and God kept him at The Heights where an East African fellowship formed. Then, a year ago, Eugene envisioned a Covenant church and requested space to worship on Sunday mornings.    
With request granted, they selected leaders, and Eugene began working on his bi-vocational ministry license. By September, we had joined our children in Sunday school and began worshiping in English at 9:30, followed by simultaneous Sunday school and East African worship. Eugene is now licensed through the Evangelical Covenant Church.
The Urban Heights pastors, Alan Johnson and Todd Asper, are working at revitalization through small groups, vibrant worship, outreach ministries, youth engagement, restructured governance, and the centrality of prayer, and it was during prayer that the Spirit planted the idea of one church with two congregations.   
The concept was immediately intimidating, but compelling, and grabbed the hearts of all three pastors. Expanding conversations ensued, and by May of 2015, both leadership teams committed to “developing relationships and structures that will keep us together despite leadership or other changes.” A joint steering team is now working through eleven critical items like governance, finances, communication, and mutual respect. 

But structures exist for relationships, so joint potlucks, shared communion, common Sunday school, combined ministry, language classes, and informal fellowship are forming the relationships necessary for the “one church.” The decision to expand an Urban Heights retreat to include the East African congregation, now called Shalom, was the best thing possible!   
With regular worship cancelled, a significant group came together in an amazing Twin Lakes weekend featuring a combined worship team that had us singing in both languages, along with the foundational, Spirit-empowered preaching of Urban Heights attendee Rev. Celestyne DeVance. Times at meals, at the waterfront, around campfires, and traveling together were perfect for connecting with old friends and making new.       

We asked, “Should this be an annual event?” And several responded, “Let’s do it again this fall!” 
To which we say, “Pacing, my friends—pacing.”

Alan E. Johnson serves as pastor of the Urban Heights Covenant Church in Urbandale, Iowa. Photo (left to right):  Pastor Alan Johnson, Elaine Johnson, Rev. Celestyne DeVance.

SHIFT: The Curriculum is now available!

The ECC's Make and Deepen Disciples team has produced a brand-new opportunity for Covenant Churches. SHIFT: The Curriculum is a 6-week, intergenerational opportunity for the whole church and includes resources for adults, youth and children. Our hope is that your entire congregation will wrestle together and grow in their faith. Please consider using this curriculum as a church-wide series in either late summer or early fall of this year.

The 2015 Covenant Annual Meeting is being held in the Midwest Conference. There's still time to register!

2015 MWC Fall Pastors Retreats

Eastern Retreat
Carol Joy Holling Retreat Center
Ashland, NE  
October 5-7, 2015
Speaker - Mark Novak

Western Retreat
Franciscan Retreat Center
Colorado Springs, CO
October 19-21, 2015
Speaker - Remy Diederich

Registration details coming soon!


From Our Superintendent


What an exciting time in our conference as we witness churches living into our shared mission! Through your prayers and support, our church planting movement has taken off. We have been blessed with gifted and willing church planters, granting us the potential to start six new churches within the next year!

Working alongside our new churches are established churches seeking to live missionally and embrace the diversity of their communities. When different cultures join in worship and fellowship, it is a true reflection of God’s kingdom.

Thank you, churches, for continuing to look forward to all that God can do through our conference!



We invite you to consider a special gift for the mission of the Midwest Conference. Visit Midwest Conference Donations.

Prayer Calendar

Download the July-October 2015 Prayer Calendar, also available on our website.

Church Plant Update

Click here for the most recent church plant update and prayer list. Thank you for your continued prayers and support!

Free m&m's!
Pastors, Superintendent Tammy would enjoy meeting with your leadership team to share about the MWC Mission & Ministry. She'll even provide a tasty visual that will encourage leaders to learn the conference mission statement! Contact Tammy at to invite her to an upcoming meeting.

Upcoming Events

Gather 2015 (ECC Annual Meeting) June 25-27
Sheraton, Kansas City, MO

CHIC July 12-17
University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN

CKS Regional Church Plant Group August 20, 7:00 pm
First Covenant, Salina, KS

Denver Metro Church Plant Group September 22, 7:00 pm
Grace Covenant Church, Lakewood, CO

Fall Interviews (Credentialing)
September 28-29, Omaha, NE
October 26-27, TBD, CO

Fall Pastor/Spouse Retreats
Eastern, October 5-7, Ashland, NE
Western, October 19-21, Colorado Springs, CO

NoCo Regional Church Plant Group TBA

KC Regional Church Plant Group TBA

Triennial July 28-31, 2016

Cov Orientation Schedule

July 7-10
North Park Theological Seminary
Registration closing soon!

July 13-17
North Park Theological Seminary
Registration closed

Register for any of the following:

Sept 28-Oct 2
Pilgrim Pines, NH

Oct 26-30
Mission Springs, CA

Nov 16-20
Lake Beauty Bible Camp, MN

Dec 1-4, 2015
Kingdom Cov, Miami, FL

SPE Opportunities

Sabbath Retreat
September 27-30
Memphis, TN
Application deadline August 1

The Art of Pastoral Leadership
(experience includes all 3 dates)
October 26-28 Racine, WI
January 24-25 Chicago, IL
April 18-20 Racine, WI
Application deadline August 6

What's Happening?

Is your church planning a mission trip? Celebrating an anniversary? Hosting a big event? Send pictures of your event to to be shared on Facebook and in the e-News!

Employment Opportunities

Seeking Employment? See if any of these opportunities are right for you.

Quick Links


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Phone: 402-334-3020 or 1-888-871-3020
The Midwest Conference is a mission association of Covenant churches in Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, western Missouri, Nebraska, Wyoming
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