North Park Focused On Local Church Connections

CHICAGO, IL (March 8, 2013) – North Park University has ramped up its efforts to connect with local Evangelical Covenant churches, says Mark Olson, the school’s senior director for church relations and outreach in the office of the president.

Olson indicates North Park will be working more closely with Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC) camps, looking to increase the number of college preparation seminars, increasing contact with church leaders, and “developing a more robust strategy to reach out to new pastors, church plants, and other congregations that are new to the denomination.”

While holding the title of director of church relations for more than a decade, Olson previously also oversaw undergraduate and graduate admissions as well as financial aid. The focus of his position changed because, “The president (David Parkyn) wanted to invest more energy and staff time in strengthening our relationship with churches and church leaders,” Olson says.

In recent months, North Park student worship teams have led worship at several junior high and high school retreats at Covenant camps around the United States. They also are helping to support and enhance camp programming. “We’re asking camp leaders, ‘How can we help you with what you want to accomplish?’ ” Olson says.

Olson also is looking to schedule more seminars on how to choose a college. The process of picking a school to attend can seem overwhelming, and the college seminar provides a lot of practical advice. North Park has presented this seminar in several hundred Covenant churches since 1990.

For North Park, the rapid growth of the ECC has been both a blessing and a challenge. “We are serving students we never would have reached before because of the growth of the Covenant,” Olson says. “At the same time, we are finding people across the country who are surprised to discover that the Covenant has a university.”

Working with denominational leadership, the university is developing new strategies to welcome new churches and new pastors to the Covenant while creating greater awareness of what North Park has to offer.

The school has an excellent record of preparing students for careers and vocations, but the university also has a greater purpose, Olson says. “As we prepare students for graduate school and the workforce, we also equip them to lead a fuller and richer life – what our mission statement describes as a life of significance and service,” he says. “I am amazed and inspired by what I learn through conversations with recent graduates as to how that has unfolded in their lives.”

Olson adds, “We are committed to serving the ECC and the broader Christian church by preparing students to be committed members of Christian communities and participate in God’s redemptive and transformative work in the world.”

Click here to contact Olson.

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