By Stan Friedman
ROCKFORD, IL (June 26, 2014) — Lou Setter says, “Most people would tell you that I don’t have any great intelligence level, but I do have the gift for encouragement.”
That’s where he would be wrong. The people who nominated the 2014 winner of the T.W. Anderson Award say that not only does he possess a great gift of encouragement, but it also comes with wisdom.
The Covenant has presented the award at each Annual Meeting since 1985 to recipients who have demonstrated outstanding lay leadership in the denomination. The award is named in honor of the only layperson ever elected president of the denomination.
“Lou was the person I turned to for sound biblical and professional help when my wife and I started Carpenter’s Place,” said Allan Barsema. The holistic ministry that helps the homeless in Rockford rebuild their lives has become a national model.
“Lou was invaluable in facilitating the initial strategic planning sessions, recruiting initial board development, assisting with staff and program development,” Barsema added. Setter also served for 12 years as board president, from its founding until 2012.
Setter, who is the vice-president of logistics for Bon-Ton/Bergners stores, has been a member of First Covenant Church in Rockford since 1980. He has held multiple leadership roles in the church and helped launch and support many of its ministries.
Setter played a key role in launching two of the church’s key ministries, The Park, which offers day camp to at least 50 kids a day for several weeks each summer, and a block party called “Party at the Park.”
Setter is quick to say the vision for The Park came from Ryan Johnson, a Covenant pastor who was interning at the church. Like with other projects in which he’s been involved, Setter says his favorite thing is to come alongside others and help them develop their work.
The church had a large playground area that had been dubbed The Park. Johnson and others envisioned it as a place where the church could meet the needs of neighborhood children, many of whom were low-income and had few recreational opportunities.
“We as a church had developed some short-term mission trips for adults, and those mission trips were going to places such as Mexico and Ukraine, and then we saw we have a mission field right here in Rockford,” Setter says.
The ministry runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. from the second week in June to roughly the last week of July. It serves students in first through fifth grades, offering times to play, hear Bible stories, and have a nutritious lunch. “Because the kids who come fit the demographic, we also qualified to provide free school lunches,” Barsema says.
Setter also has assisted with international missions. When Karl and Darla Ruiz started a ministry to help a town in Ukraine build a church, Setter says, “It was great to be able to come alongside them.”