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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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:
- There was a genuine personal interest in someone.
- Those who hosted took the initiative and created a sense of warmth and acceptance.
- The hospitality was often unexpected.
- There was a generosity, even extravagance, to the hospitality that showed sacrifice and care for those being hosted.
- Nothing was expected in return.
- 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 y
ou 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
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
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
Registration details coming soon!