MINNEAPOLIS, MN (June 21, 2018) — Harold Spooner and Robert Owens, two retiring ECC leaders who have helped guide the denomination to be more multiethnic and expand its commitment to ministries of justice, were honored during the opening worship service of the 133rd Annual Meeting tonight.
Spooner was instrumental in starting and developing Sankofa, a four-day bus journey in which participants are paired with a partner of a different race or ethnicity as they travel through historic sites of importance to the civil rights movement. He also has mentored leaders through the African American Ministers Association, and worked to start health-care clinics and enabling residences for adults with developmental disabilities.
He has held numerous positions in the Covenant, including president of Covenant Initiatives for Care, vice-president of community impact for Covenant Retirement Communities, and staff member-at-large for Love Mercy Do Justice.
In his remarks to the gathering, Spooner acknowledged the pioneering ministry of previous influential African American ministers in the denomination such as Willie Jemison, Jerry Mosby, Henry Greenidge, Debbie Blue, and Catherine Gilliard. They are, he said, “folks whose shoulders I stand on. God has allowed me to be in the company of people who have truly loved him, and want to see the church be better, who truly have called the church out to be its very best self, and all I can do is say thank you to them.”
That company has included Owens, currently the superintendent of the Southeast Conference.
Owens was the first pastor in the Covenant to plant an African American church, New Life Covenant Church in an under-resourced neighborhood of Atlanta.
Owens is a past recipient of the Irving C. Lambert award, which honors excellence in urban ministry, and also was the first recipient of the North Park Theological Seminary Alumni Award.
“I’ve made three great decisions in my life,” Owens said. “The first is my relationship with Jesus Christ, the second is marrying my wife, and the third one is becoming a part of this church. The road has not always been easy. The path has not always been clear. But what I can say is that when I talk about the Covenant—of all the denominations that I’ve been privileged to be around, we have intentionality in this body. We seek to do the will of God, we want to do missions together, and even though we don’t always agree, there is relational capital in this church. So I’m grateful for the opportunities to serve in the capacities I’ve served in.”
He added that his life verse is, “’He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 1:6). So I leave you with this my sisters and brothers who have been faithful on the journey and who have done incredible mission work around the world and at home. He who has begun a good work in us, he will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”