Pastors Changed but Administrator Stayed 50 Years

STILLMAN VALLEY, IL (June 8, 2016) — When Karen Carlson started working as secretary at Valley Evangelical Covenant Church in 1966, there was no office for her at the church so she typed bulletins on an electric typewriter at a local carpet store. She copied bulletins on a mimeograph machine at home.

karen carlsonThis past Sunday, after 50 years, Carlson retired as the church’s office administrator. Over that time, she had to adapt to the individual styles of multiple pastors as well as technological changes that may seem small now, but which, at the time, were significant.

Carlson worked with seven pastors: Emmet Swanson, Wayne Peterson, Bill Holmlund, Dolan Rundquist, Steve Tousseau, Don Holmertz, and Rick Lindholtz, as well as interim pastors Arthur Carlson, Paul Johnson, Jack Lundbom, Steve Anderson, and Bill Orris. That’s not counting several full- and part-time student ministry pastors.

Shortly after Carlson started, then-pastor Swanson asked her to assemble the church’s first newsletters, which she also typed at the carpet store and copied on the mimeograph at home. “Several pastors later, a word processor and a copy machine was the way to go, and those should be at the church so that both the pastor and I could use them,” she said. “The next pastor wanted us to use computers, so I had a whole new system to learn. As things changed, I learned to make the changes because I didn’t want to give up my job. I felt like I was given that opportunity by the Lord, so I would pray for his help to get me through each change.”

“We estimate that Karen has prepared worship folders for more than 2,500 Sundays, over 550 newsletters, 50 annual reports, and numerous special occasion bulletins, letters, etc.,” said Lindholtz, the church’s current pastor. “She has done many other things for the church, not merely as a job but as service to the Lord.”

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Stan Friedman

Stan Friedman is the news and online editor for the Covenant Companion and is grateful for the opportunity to serve in a job that combines his newspaper and pastoral ministry experience. He has been to 15 Bruce Springsteen concerts in four cities and listened to “Thunder Road” an average of at least once a day for 41 years.

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3 Comments

  1. Congratulations Karen on serving your church family and God! You and I have similar stories even though yours is a little longer than mine. I will complete 35 years this month at Countryside Covenant Church in McPherson, Kansas, and have had the privilege of working on the team here with five full-time pastors and numerous associates and specialty pastors. The first pastor I worked for was Dolan Rundquist, and I would take the roughed out bulletin home, cut a stencil on my typewriter and then would go back to the church to use the mimeograph machine. Oh the stories we could tell about those feisty things. My goal was to always have more ink on the paper than on me. You have no doubt seen lots and lots of changes in the church office over the years. Blessings to you now on your retirement!

  2. Way to go Karen Carlson. Your faithfulness in the work of the Lord these 50 years encourages us to keep working faithfully. May the Lord continue to bless you in your retirement.

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