Friday, June 22, 2007

President Palmberg's Report

Glenn Palmberg brought his report to the Covenant today in his quiet and halting and, often, very humorous style:12, 500 conversions across the Covenant this year. 2006 saw a 3% overall attendance growth in Covenant churches around the country. 2006 Covenanters gave $2.4 million to World Relief. 81 CHIC attenders accepted Christ, 527 sensed God's call to ministry. CHIC is molding the future of the Covenant Church. 1,817 youth paced 2.5 tons of food for hungry children. CHIC student offerings collected $101,000 for the start of a Christian school in the Sudan. Covenant website has 35,000 visitors per/month with 300,000 pages accessed per/month. Glenn celebrated web work without understanding how it works, but glad there are those who do. Glenn's report on the Ordered Ministry highlighted both the SPE program and women in ministry. The theme for the Covenant Midwinter Conference will be: Character; when no one else is looking. World Mission is on the rise again with 2,624 churches affecting a membership of 277,000 persons. Glenn made a spirited defense of the Covenant owning 2 hospitals in that they are cash-generators for the Covenant Church. National Covenant Properties loaned $27 million to 44 church projects in 2006. Covenant Estate Planning passed $400 million in asset management in 2006. $245 million is designated for future Covenant causes through CEP. North Park University has strong enrollement and faith, with a strong chapel program and student body interest in biblical studies that continues to grow. North Park Theological Seminary also continues to grow with 5 new faculty and enrollment growth. Church Growth and Evangelism statistics look like a mountain climb. Covenant has grown by 53% in the past 10 years, making the ECC one of the fastest growing denominations in the country. ECC is the 3rd most diverse denomination in the USA. Churches started prior to 1990 have experienced a decline in attendance over the past 17 years. A new department is being innaugurated called Compassion Mercy and Justice, with the intention of elected Deborah Blue as the new Executive Minister.
The challenges we face are: 1. Giving to budget decreases each year, 2. The issues of the environment and global warming are now part of the evangelical agenda. Our young people will not be a part of a church that does not face the environment seriously, 3. Immigration is an issue that must be clarified by our following of Jesus. It is a family-value issue, 4. Racism remains another real issue that must be called out as a sin. Covenant churches are either involved in both evangelism and compassion or are involved in neither compassion nor evangelism. "Good works create good will that create oppotunities for good news." Ray Johnston, Bayside Covenant Church. Glenn highlighted the Covenant chaplains serving in war zones around the world today.
Glenn's report was a tender recitation of ministries of compassion, mercy and justice. He highlighted tender palces of faithfulness. He advocates for the oppressed and minorities. The two impressions I received are that there is no one, strong driving vision, but a celebration of diverse and lcoal initiatives and organizational health. The other sense I receive as a middle-aged European-American is that we are not really needed. It is the chapter of ethnic and gender diversity dominates most agendas for leadership and placement.


At 1:19 PM , Blogger Dan said...

Thanks for the updates and personal observations.

"The other sense I receive as a middle-aged European-American is that we are not really needed. It is the chapter of ethnic and gender diversity dominates most agendas for leadership and placement."

This is an amazing observation. Are you receiving that sense as something radiating from others or is this a sense that is originating from within you as you observe the agenda and leadership placement process shift?

At 7:27 PM , Blogger donnjohnson said...

Good question Dan, I'd guess it's a bit of both. It seems like many churches really desire to have a leadership team that looks like a Target ad. But I also guess God is saying "step back, it's time for others."

At 8:04 PM , Blogger drgtjustwondering said...

Although gender is given much more up-front play than it used to get, it is still true that, in general, our congregations lag far behind the denomination's stated position on gender, and, I suppose, ethnic equality - although I see the latter in a far more positive light, primarily because we have adoped so many ethnic congregations with ethnic pastors already firmly in place.

And given our stance on congregational polity (which I heartily endorse), I don't see much change happening very soon in the area of gender. It takes a very long time for things to filter down to the individual congregation - and of course, the majority of our existing pastors need to be on board, as well.

All of this is to say that I resonate with your feeling of not being needed. I know too many well-qualified women pastors who have gone without a call for a long, long time. They have felt un-needed (and un-wanted) for years.

I also think it may be germane for you to include 'young' in your list of descriptors, because I certainly think that is increasingly true. Although it may be the season for ethnic and gender diversity, that is not true for age. I just heard at dinner last night that the young married kids of a family in our church would like their (very well-known) aging pastor to resign so that more younger families would be attracted to their church in Orange County! That is very hard to hear.

Okay, after all that discourse, please hear this and please know this: you are needed right here, you are wanted right here. You are God's person for this congregation at this point in its history and our call committee had the wisdom and the grace to see that. You, my friend, are the poster child for a middle-aged, Euro-American who is in the right place, providing the right leadership. We all give thanks to God for that truth.

Blessings on the rest of your time in Oregon. Things are holding steady here at home and things in my family are remarkably improved this week, for which we thank God.



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