I had the privilege of attending my denomination’s Annual Meeting, held in beautiful Portland, Oregon, a few weeks back. I brought Mercy with me and she participated in the Covenant Kids program they provided while I attended the meetings. Doug took the boys with him to his Dad’s house for the weekend, and they had a ball too! The weather could not have been better during our stay and both Doug and I were reminded of how much we love the city of Portland!
I was honestly prepared to be a bit bored at this event. Having never attended before, I had in my mind that it would consist of long, drawn-out sessions that would not be altogether engaging. This was not my experience at all. I loved the event and was moved to tears on more than one occasion as our larger church “family” celebrated God’s work together.
I had the opportunity to sit with dear friends from Los Angeles, and to see their church-plant in Long Beach officially recognized as a new Covenant Church. I was also thrilled to have their pastor, John Teter, lead us in our corporate morning Bible study. It was one of those “worlds colliding” sort of moments, as I thought back on the many years of friendship we have shared with John and Becky, and to see that God has led them on a path into the Covenant church thrills me!
I also rejoiced with Daron and Kristin as Alive Covenant Church was officially welcomed and recognized as a new Covenant Church in nearby Poulsbo. Kristin and I were roommates one year in college, and I can still remember the charge given to them at their wedding (a total fairy-tale wedding I will never forget!) as they sought to follow God’s call to seminary. Their wedding was a commissioning of sorts for a life together in ministry, and seeing them and their FIVE beautiful children, with Kristin’s parents, on the stage was a beautiful picture of those prayers being fulfilled.
I enjoyed dinner by the pool with a Covenant church-planter and his lovely family from Helena, Montana, who happens to be an old friend from high school who I had not seen SINCE high school. Matt’s journey into the Covenant denomination is one that likewise brings me great joy and delight!
I also had the privilege of being present for the recognition of those commissioned and ordained, and to celebrate those callings during the ordination service. I watched as a new fellow-pastor friend in Seattle, Leah Klug, received her stole. I cheered for John Frye, a blogging friend I had never met in person until that night, who is newly a part of our denomination. And I watched as always with deep admiration as one of my heroes, Brenda Salter McNeil, received the laying on of hands as one newly ordained. It is my hope that I will be ordained at next year’s Annual Meeting in St. Paul.
And speaking of blogging friends, I managed to make my way over to Brad and Cheryl Boydston to introduce myself, having followed Brad’s blog for quite some time now. Cheryl and Brad have just returned from time teaching in Guam, and Cheryl laughed when I introduced myself via the blog connection. It really can be a very small world.
Other highlights included lots of time spent reconnecting with old friends and making a few new ones, lounging by the Red Lion pool while Mercy swam to her heart’s content, sharing a hotel room with my daughter for three days, and loving every minute spent running around in downtown Portland with the crew from L.A.
Our denomination’s president, Gary Walter, made a point to emphasize that, in an age of denominational decline, the Covenant is not followoing suite. In his words: “We are growing. We are growing younger. We are growing more diverse. We are growing in conscience.”
We used to joke in L.A. that I should have an “I Love the Covenant” t-shirt made. If I had one, I would happily wear it.