Stromberg Recommended to Lead Northwest Conference

CHICAGO, IL (December 6, 2010) – Mark Stromberg has been recommended to replace Jim Fretheim as superintendent of the Northwest Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC) when Fretheim retires next year.

Stromberg currently serves as associate superintendent of the conference, focusing in areas of leadership development, revitalization, strategic planning and church health assessment. He also handles legal, financial, property, and other administrative issues.

“Mark is very passionate about the people and churches in the conference,” said search committee chair John Stewart of Stromberg’s selection. “He is a humble man, sincere in his call.” Steward and his wife, Kris, serve as co-pastors of First Covenant Church in Worthington, Minnesota.

Stromberg also has been part of the team developing new directions for conference ministries over the past three to four years, Stewart pointed out. “There was no preference shown because of his involvement with the conference,” Stewart emphasized. “However, what we’ve heard from our churches is that they like the direction we’re going – the emphases on church planting and revitalization, our children, youth and families – and they want to keep that momentum going.”

That sentiment was echoed by Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC) President Gary Walter, who characterized Stromberg as “a proven leader who knows the conference and the entire Covenant very well.

“The conference has solid momentum right now, building on the leadership of Superintendent Fretheim and the whole team,” Walter observes. “This continuity will only reinforce it. The whole of the Covenant is grateful for the ministry of the Northwest Conference.”

Fretheim also is pleased with the continuity of vision that Stromberg’s selection affords. “I am very pleased that the conference and the team will continue to pursue the vision and God’s leading under Mark’s leadership. It is a good day for the conference as we continue to trust God.”

Stromberg’s selection by a 15-member search committee concludes a nine-month process that began in April when Fretheim announced he would not seek another term. Bylaws call for the conference executive board to serve as the search committee, says Stewart. To ensure broad diversity in a number of areas, additional members were added to the committee.

The conference executive board met with Walter in mid-July to outline the search process. A letter was sent to all conference churches in late August describing the search process and requesting input – what churches desire in a new superintendent as well as recommendations of individuals as potential candidates.

Approximately 35 names were received by the committee, which studied biographical profiles for each one. The board met with Walter in October to review information for all candidates and develop a list of finalists. Interviews were conducted last Friday with a decision reached on Saturday afternoon.

“I was deeply impressed with the committee’s work,” Walter said. “It was thorough, rigorous, and done both carefully and prayerfully with a breadth of perspectives and candidates. The members served with distinction, particularly evident in their hunger to be open to God’s leading throughout the process.”

Stromberg received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Bethel College, a Master of Divinity from North Park Theological Seminary, and a Master of Arts from Bethel University Graduate School. He was ordained by the Covenant to Word and Sacrament in 1989.

He served as a development pastor at Countryside Covenant Church in Clearwater, Florida, and as associate and then senior pastor at Brookdale Covenant Church in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, before working in areas of recruiting, training and marketing for two companies in the late 1990s. He then assumed a position as pastor of ministry development at First Covenant Church in Minneapolis before joining the Northwest Conference staff as director of administration and church development. He moved into the position of associate superintendent in 2003.

He has played a significant role in advancing the mosaic of the conference – while serving as director of church planting, he initiated the calling of the first church planters of color in the conference as well as the first women church planters in the region.

“I am honored to be the candidate,” Stromberg said today. “As a child of the Northwest Conference, this is particularly meaningful to me. The conference staff and board, working with many leaders throughout the conference, have worked hard to develop a vision for healthy, missional churches. We also have endeavored to encourage, enable and equip leaders – both lay and clergy – as we believe this is the best way to empower healthy, missional churches.”

Stromberg will stand for election during the Northwest Conference Annual Meeting next April in Mankato, Minnesota. If elected, Stromberg will be installed during the ECC annual Meeting in June at Estes Park, Colorado. He would assume his new responsibilities July 1, 2011.

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