Sneak Peek: CQ 75:1 (2017)

The first Covenant Quarterly issue of 2017 is now published. 2016 marked the 40th anniversary of the Evangelical Covenant Church‘s vote in favor of women’s ordination. Four decades later, how is the denomination doing? This issue considers the past, present, and future of women’s ordained ministry in the Covenant.


Lenore M. Knight Johnson

Lenore M. Knight Johnson

Lenore M. Knight Johnson, assistant professor of sociology at Trinity Christian College, presents the results of the forty-year study on Covenant clergywomen.

“While the ECC has made important strides in relation to its stated position on women’s ordination, I argue that a combined focus balancing structural and cultural change is necessary for the denomination to truly break through the barriers clergywomen continue to encounter in their service to the church.”

From “Four Decades Later: Credentialed Clergywomen in the Evangelical Covenant Church


 

Kelly Johnston

Kelly Johnston

Covenant pastor Kelly Johnston surveys the pioneering ministry of Covenant clergywoman and theologian Jean C. Lambert (1940-2008).

“In 1989, on behalf of the board, Lambert wrote ‘an open letter to each woman seeking to obey Christ’s call to ministry in the Covenant Church, both volunteer lay workers in local congregations, and pastors, missionaries, and staff ministers.’… Lambert’s words were both stark, speaking in plain terms about the reality of sexism in the church, and encouraging, expressing solidarity with Covenant women as ministers of the gospel. She admitted that all women in ministry in the Covenant Church were ‘pioneering in a treacherous wilderness.'”

From “Jean C. Lambert: Covenant Pastor, Theologian, Pioneer


 

Denise Kettering-Lane

Denise Kettering-Lane

Denise D. Kettering-Lane, associate professor of Brethren studies at Bethany Theological Seminary, evaluates Philipp Jakob Spener’s beliefs and practices regarding women’s roles in Christian ministry.

“If anything, Spener’s correspondence to women substantially increased over the course of his life. Thus throughout his life he consistently adhered to the notion that developing a more involved laity would result in an improved church, and he recognized that women were part of that laity. While publicly conforming to many social conventions, privately Spener regularly encouraged women’s activities in his correspondence.”

From “Philipp Spener and the Role of Women in the Church: The Spiritual Priesthood of All Believers in German Pietism


Read the complete issue here.

Sneak Peek: CQ 73:3-4 (2016)

The latest issue of the Covenant Quarterly is now published. This special double issue celebrates the 125th anniversary of  North Park University and North Park Theological Seminary, with a particular focus on the seminary. 


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Philip J. Anderson

Philip J. Anderson, professor emeritus of church history at NPTS, contextualizes North Park’s origins within the competing educational ventures pursued by free church Swedish immigrants, 1885–1916, each advocating divergent pathways with respect to ethnic identity and American assimilation.

“Nyvall, however, vigorously disagreed with Risberg’s views of Americanization, saying that ‘in all things personal Risberg and I were one, but in school matters and in matters of denominational interests we did not agree.’ His role in the unfolding stormy discussions of schools and possible mergers led to the conviction that the Covenant needed its own school if the denomination was to have a future and if Swedish-American people were to shape their own cultural and religious lives.”

From “On the Beginnings of North Park University: ‘Risberg’s School’ and Covenant Ministerial Education, 1885-1916

 

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Scott Erickson

Head of the Phillips Brooks School in Menlo Park, California, Scott Erickson presents the rich educational philosophy of NPTS founding president David Nyvall.

“For Nyvall, the life of the mind never required a choice against faith… Cordoning off intellectual challenges was not Nyvall’s vision. Instead, Christian character would be developed in young people through their liberal education. Christian faith and a liberal education should have a constructive relationship in the Christian university… Nyvall wanted to inspire young people to welcome critical intellectual reflection in the context of their Christian faith.”

From “North Park at 125: David Nyvall’s Enduring Impact on Christian Higher Education

 

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C. John Weborg

C. John Weborg, emeritus professor of theology at NPTS, reflects on his decades of experience as an NPTS student and professor.

“The communication of the infinite value of a person’s humanity is gospel. It is not the entire gospel — and we cannot fail to preach and teach the full intellectual content of the faith — but it is the beginning… In order to get a hearing for the gospel, whether from the SBNR [spiritual but not religious] or East Germans, we must first come as fellow human beings. In meeting human to human, the Holy Spirit will show the other that we can be trusted with the deeper matters of their lives. Effective pastors… do not make the mistake of respecting the fully human and calling it secular humanism.”

From “Inhabiting a Dwelling Place: Reflections of a Seminary Student & Professor

 

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Al Tizon

Al Tizon, executive minister of Serve Globally for the ECC and affiliate associate professor of missional and global leadership at NPTS, offers a list of the ideal characteristics found in a well-educated seminary graduate.

“Inherent in quality education is developing the ability to think critically, to question assumptions, and to be willing to abandon beliefs that don’t hold up in the crucible of honest investigation. Theological education is no exception, as we help students to question their assumptions about God, truth, church, and mission. If I may boast, I can deconstruct, interrogate, subvert, and turn tables with the best of them. However, if at the end of a student’s harrowing theological journey their love for God has not been deepened and strengthened precisely by the transforming process of quality education, then we have failed.”

From “The Graduate

 

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David Kersten

Dean of NPTS David Kersten writes about strategic initiatives in process to ensure a strong future for the seminary.

“The ongoing need to keep seminary education affordable and our institutional operation sustainable has led to innovative solutions. Working with Covenant Trust Company (CTC), National Covenant Properties (NCP), and the financial division of the ECC, as well as North Park University, we are in the process of developing the North Park Plan — an interest free lending strategy meant to keep overall lending costs low for our students while increasing per student tuition revenue to the institution.”

From “Strategic Initiatives: Planning for the Future

 

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Gary Walter

Evangelical Covenant Church president Gary Walter examines the viability of continued seminary education.

“Yet even in this era of uncertainty in theological education, I am certain of this: NPTS can be, and must be, a pace-setter among schools preparing leaders in service to the mission of God in the world. My macro view is that the seminaries with meaningful futures will be committed to a particular framing concept: Not merely to theological education but to missional theological education. A commitment is more than an implicit hope; it is an explicit frame of reference.”

From “I Believe in the Future of North Park Theological Seminary

 

View and download the full issue and individual articles here. Over the upcoming weeks, Forum will be hosting discussions about each article and posting related content. Sign up for email notifications and join the conversation.

Sneak Peek: CQ 74:2 (2016)

The summer issue of the Covenant Quarterly is published! The issue focuses on aspects of racial justice and injustice and features articles by Bo H. Lim, on biblical and contemporary exile and migration, and Ramelia Williams, on the Covenant Church’s pursuit of racial justice in the 1960s. These articles are paired with two sermons: one by Catherine Gilliard following the killing of Michael Brown and a second preached in 1963 by Covenant pastor Douglas Cedarleaf (1914-2000), in print for the first time with introduction and annotations. The issue concludes with the “North Park Seminary Faculty Statement on Race and the Justice System.” View and download full issue and individual articles at covquarterly.com. Here’s a sneak peek.


Bo H. Lim

Bo H. Lim

Bo H. Lim, university chaplain and associate professor of Old Testament at Seattle Pacific University, offers fresh readings of Israel’s exile that in turn resource contemporary ministry to immigrant communities.

“Engaging the topic of immigration through the lens of exilic biblical texts provides an opportunity for Christians who are deeply committed to the Scriptures to engage of most pressing issues of our day. For a denomination that self-identifies as an immigrant, Scriptural, and missional people, an understanding of the biblical exile is fundamental to living into its mission… Given that as of 2015, 244 million international migrants live abroad and these numbers continue to climb, the church must develop resources to minister to these populations.”

from “Exile and Migration: Toward a Biblical Theology of Immigration and Displacement”

 

Ramelia Williams

Ramelia Williams

Recent NPTS graduate Ramelia Williams surveys the Covenant Church’s involvement in the civil rights movement at the denominational and congregational levels.

“Initially discouraged by the minimal involvement among Covenant congregations, the more I researched the more I appreciated the remarkable courage required to fight prejudice in a racially hostile society. My research bears witness to the leadership of the Holy Spirit in the church and denominational leaders that defied the status quo and proclaimed through their actions the presence of the kingdom of God on earth.”

from “The Evangelical Covenant Church’s Response to the Civil Rights Movement, 1963–1968”

 

Douglas Cedarleaf, n.d., CAHL 5611

Douglas Cedarleaf, n.d., CAHL 5611

“Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done,” a powerful 1963 sermon by Covenant pastor Douglas Cedarleaf (1914-2000), is printed in transcription with a historical introduction.

“I am asking at this moment for you to decide in your own soul whether or not you can mix up God’s will with our keeping a tenth of our population submerged. Do you want to pray with me that God will sharpen the teeth of Bull Connor’s dogs? Do you want to pray with me that more black men will be shot in the back? Do you want to join me in prayer that the fire hoses be made ever greater in their pressure so we can mow down these people and put them back in their place where they belong? Now if you choose this road, you have a right to do this and defy the law of America. You have a right to do this and defy the law of God, if this is your wish. But no one has ever defied the law of God and found peace.”

from “Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done”

 

Catherine Gilliard

Catherine Gilliard

Catherine Gilliard is co-pastor of New Life Covenant Church in Atlanta, Georgia. Her sermon “Watching, Not Waiting,” was preached after the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

“Sadly we, the church, have also been far too silent about the tension arising in our nation—and far too silent about the present signs of God’s kingdom breaking through, even as the violence increases. The voices speaking about injustice are rarely people of God who bring the hope of Christ into the dialogue. It’s as if we too truly believe that there is another answer to the sinful activities that sustain injustice other than the power of Christ…. What is the redemptive story we offer local communities in this time when a great healing is needed?”

from “Watching, Not Waiting: A Sermon for the First Sunday of Advent”

 

This issue concludes with a statement by North Park Seminary faculty on race and the justice system.

“As faculty and staff of North Park Theological Seminary we join our voice to those of our university, denomination, neighborhood, city, and nation and declare unequivocally: Black lives matter. We affirm the dignity of every human being as made in the image of God, created to flourish physically, emotionally, spirituality, socially, culturally, and economically. As one body in Christ, if one part of the body suffers we all suffer; if one part of the body cannot breathe, none of us can breathe.”

from “North Park Theological Seminary Faculty Statement on Race and the Justice System”

 

View and download full issue and individual articles here. We will be hosting discussions on these articles and related topics here at Forum in the coming weeks; be sure to sign up for email updates and join the conversation.

Sneak Peek: CQ 74:1 (2016)

Our upcoming Covenant Quarterly issue engages the congregational vitality initiative of the Evangelical Covenant Church. In it John Wenrich, director of Congregational Vitality for the ECC, roots vitality efforts in the person and work of the Holy Spirit. Covenant pastors Ryan Eikenbary-Barber and Corey Johnsrud share the results of their respective doctoral research assessing the impact of the vitality pathway as a whole and of the Veritas seminar in particular. Here’s a sneak peek.


John Wenrich

John Wenrich

John Wenrich currently serves as director of congregational vitality for the Evangelical Covenant Church. He has recently been nominated executive minister of Start and Strengthen Churches for the ECC.

“A Chinese proverb says, ‘The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right name.’ Churches often have an easier time telling the truth about Jesus than they do about themselves. Telling the truth about our current reality and trajectory is no less a work of the Spirit than a powerful miracle, sign, or wonder—a lot less glamorous to be sure, but no less significant. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of power and the Spirit of truth. Power and truth must go hand in hand in congregations as they do in the person of the Holy Spirit. Power without truth is dangerous; truth without power is lifeless. Power without truth is abusive and arrogant; truth without power is dry orthodoxy.”

from “The Holy Spirit and Congregational Vitality

 

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Ryan Eikenbary-Barber

Ryan Eikenbary-Barber is lead pastor of Bethany Covenant Church in Mount Vernon, Washington. His Doctor of Ministry research at Luther Seminary investigated the impact of the vitality pathway on a single Covenant congregation.

“The vitality pathway helped us navigate our way through new realities. We began to seek the continual conversion that Darrell Guder advocates. Bethlehem employed both servant and transformative leadership styles to help guide the congregation forward. We were inspired by Heifetz’s, Grashow’s, and Linsky’s teachings on adaptive leadership. We sought deep cultural change instead of cosmetic tweaks. We understood congregational change to be a spiritual practice, not just an exercise in human autonomy. Conflict led to change, which ultimately led to growth.”

from “New Life at Bethlehem

 

Corey Johnsrud

Corey Johnsrud

Corey Johnsrud is pastor of adult ministries at Redwood Covenant Church in Santa Rosa, California. He earned his Doctor of Ministry degree from Luther Seminary, researching the efficacy of the ECC’s Veritas seminar.

“There is a strong tendency in the Covenant ethos that values friendship over mission. That is demonstrated especially when there are hard conversations to be had or difficult directional decisions to be made. We generally seek to preserve friendship over mission. If we are truly to live into the missional ecclesiology that I believe is at the core of our DNA as a denomination, we have to recapture the tension between mission and friendship. If we continue to value relationship over mission we will continue to see our established congregations, for whom the Veritas seminar was developed, languish and decline. Alternatively, if we embrace the wind of the Spirit and the gifts given to the church, we may yet see healthy, missional congregations emerge.”

From “Healthy Missional Churches: An Exploration of the Impact of the Veritas Seminar on Congregations


 

Sneak Peek: CQ 73:3-4 (2015)

Chaplains comprise approximately 10% of the Covenant Ministerium, serving in diverse institutional contexts from hospitals to corporate offices. In the upcoming issue of the Covenant Quarterly, due for publication November 30, 2015, four Covenant chaplains offer theological reflection on their ministry, with relevance for all pastoral caregivers. The issue features articles from Robert L. Hubbard, Tim Fretheim, Joel Jueckstock, and Kyle Vlach. An additional piece from author & editor Amy Simpson considers the church’s role in caring for families suffering from mental illness. Here’s a sneak peek.


Hubbard

Robert Hubbard, Jr.

Robert L. Hubbard, Jr. (PhD, Clarmont Graduate School) is emeritus professor of biblical literature at North Park Theological Seminary. Ordained by the Evangelical Free Church of America, Hubbard served four years active duty as a U.S. Navy chaplain, including a tour in Vietnam, followed by twenty-six years in the Naval Reserve. He and his wife Pam live in Denver, Colorado, are the parents of two grown sons, and have one grandson.

“Further, the incarnation reminds us that we must be people living in genuine communion with God. To represent God to humans (and humans to God, too) we must intimately know God. Through that relationship, cultivated by worship, Scripture, and prayer, our understanding of who God is grows. It’s the only way that we, like angels and prophets, can be on intimate terms with God….A chaplain’s representing the living God effectively – demonstrating God’s love and mercy, or speaking or acting on God’s behalf – requires an ongoing relationship with our Lord that profoundly shapes our outlook, our attitudes, and our very personhood.”

From “Chaplaincy: Incarnation in Action

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Tim Fretheim

Tim Fretheim has served for twenty-three years as chaplain at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital of Vancouver, British Columbia. Prior to chaplaincy ministry, he served for fifteen years as a Covenant minister in various capacities, including parish minister, church planter (whose plant only grew two feet tall), and Teamster (in good standing!). He and his wife Marcia, a spiritual director, live in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, and have three adult children.

“The challenge for chaplains is to learn how to reach out to people that have delusions with religious content, both in the hospital and in the community. These persons can be behaviorally difficult and disruptive. They may require a great deal of time from the pastor. A congregation might be apprehensive and fearful about such a person. Thoughtful preparation will need to be given to ministering to a person with these needs. But the studies mentioned above indicate that positive spiritual coping benefited these people, allowing them to live a richer life.”

From “Many Will Come in My Name: Spiritual Care for Persons with a Delusion of Grandiosity with Religious Content

Simpson

Amy Simpson

Amy Simpson is the award-winning author of Anxious: Choosing Faith in a World of Worry and Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church’s Mission (both InterVarsity Press). She’s also a personal and professional coach, senior editor of Leadership Journal, and a frequent speaker. You can find her at AmySimpsonOnline.com and on Twitter @aresimpson.

“Individuals and families affected by mental illness need help and support. They routinely find themselves on their own in the dark, unsure of how to get the help they need. Many often find themselves in crisis, and when they do reach out for help, they run into stigma and fear that alienate others from getting involved. Many people believe there is nothing churches can do to help. They are wrong.”

From “Supporting Families Living with Mental Illness

Jueckstock

Joel Jueckstock

Joel Jueckstock (MDiv, Bethel Seminary) is a Covenant pastor serving as supervisor of Spiritual Care Maple Grove Hospital and adjunct professor at Bethel Seminary while in the final stages of doctoral work at Luther Seminary. Joel and his family live in St. Paul, Minnesota, and worship at Salem Covenant Church.

Vlach

Kyle Vlach

Kyle Vlach (MDiv, Bethel Seminary) is a Covenant pastor, licensed marriage and family therapist, chaplain, and Clinical Pastoral Education supervisor at United Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota. He lives in St. Paul with his wife and daughter and is a member of First Covenant Church.

“Effective pastoral care requires that the caregiver recognize not only the priority of divine agency but also one’s own agency, seeking to align oneself with God’s work. The task of reimagining a ministry of active presence is not necessarily concerned with the ‘what’ of incarnational ministry but with the ‘how,’ specifically the ways in which the pastor’s agency can be best aligned with God….If the pastor is without a sense of agency, self-awareness, and capacities for ministry, her potential will not be fully actualized. Pastors may better partner with the ministry of the Triune God through increased awareness of the self in ministry.”

From “Claiming a Substantive View of Presence: The Significance of the Pastor’s Self


Sneak Peek: CQ 73:2 (2015)

When we read Scripture, we necessarily do so from a particular socio-cultural location. What difference would it make if we were to examine this location and its impact on how we read? What would it look like to attempt to read the text from outside one’s own cultural context? Is such a practice possible? Desirable?

The next issue of the Covenant Quarterly, due for publication Monday, August 24, explores the practice and possibilities of intercultural biblical interpretation. This inaugural online issue includes contributions from Max Lee, Nilwona Nowlin, Erik Borggren, and Bruce L. Fields. Here’s a sneak peek.


Max Lee

Max Lee

Max Lee is associate professor of New Testament at North Park Theological Seminary. He blogs at Paul Redux.

“What better way can we love our neighbor than to take steps to learn about the cultural histories that shaped their identities and somehow, in the process, empathize with their struggles and make them our own? What better way can we love ourselves by letting our neighbors help expose our invisible presuppositions and prejudices? And what better way can we love God than when we, as a united community of diverse believers, learn from one another’s readings of Scripture so that we can obey its teaching with greater faithfulness?”

From “Reading the Bible Interculturally: An Invitation to the Evangelical Covenant Church and Evangelical Christianity


Nilwona Nowlin

Nilwona Nowlin

Nilwona Nowlin is the administrative specialist for governance for the Evangelical Covenant Church. A graduate of North Park Theological Seminary (MA, MNA), Nilwona is an active member of the Christian Community Development Association and serves on the launch team of Kingdom Covenant Church, Chicago.

“The story of Joseph offers resources for African and African American reconciliation. Joseph’s being sold into slavery by his brothers finds a parallel in the history of African Americans. Despite the years of pain, shame, and marginalization his brothers caused, Joseph was able to forgive them and be reconciled to them. Is a similar reconciliation possible between African Americans and Africans today? My paper pursues this question, drawing from the Joseph narrative…so that, as with Joseph, God may continue to take what was meant for evil and turn it into something good.”

From “To Save Many Lives: Exploring Reconciliation between Africans and African Americans through the Selling of Joseph


Erik Borggren

Erik Borggren

Erik Borggren is assistant pastor of Lincoln Square Presbyterian Church, Chicago, and spiritual formation coordinator for North Park University’s University Ministries. The focus of his work in discipleship and spiritual formation is the intersection of imagery, art, literature, liturgy, and social justice.

“This call to faithful submission and hope-filled resistance, especially in light of unjust powers, can be communicated in a way that is oppressive, even destructive. However, acknowledging that Christ is the true King…enables the church to reimagine submission, resistance, and the church’s cruciform identity through the lens of Japanese gaman, ‘to endure the seemingly unbearable with patience and dignity.’ Far from passive silence, a call to Christian gaman is a call for the church through worship to ‘discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect’ (Romans 12:2).”

From “Romans 13:1-7 and Philippians 3:17-21: Paul’s Call to True Citizenship and to Gaman


Bruce L. Fields

Bruce L. Fields

Bruce L. Fields is associate professor of biblical and systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he chairs the biblical and systematic theology department. Dr. Fields’ Eaton-Jones lecture, delivered February 16, 2015 at North Park University, appears in this issue, revised for publication.

“The fulfillment of the hermeneutical task requires serious study of the biblical text to determine its message. The task, however, is not complete until there is the careful communication of the message to an audience in its situatedness. If the analysis of one or the other is awry, the hermeneutical task is impeded. The fulfillment of both requires multiple participants. If the Black church and its hermeneutic are not given voice in the analysis of both the biblical text and the sociocultural environment, the hermeneutical task is dramatically hindered. It is hindered not only for the Black church but for the entire church.”

From “The One and the Many: What Can Be Learned from a Black Hermeneutic