HINSDALE, IL (October 22, 2018) – Lars Stromberg, pastor of Hinsdale Covenant Church, hopes “The 5101 Podcast,” which he recently launched, will give Covenanters another way to stay connected while hearing different voices on issues and ministries throughout the denomination he loves.
Stromberg’s family ties reach at least as far back as 1901 and include several ministers, including his grandfather Jim Hawkinson, whose ministry included serving as executive secretary of the former Covenant Publications department (now Covenant Communications), and editor of The Covenant Companion. Stromberg named the podcast after the previous address of the Covenant Offices, which was 5101 N. Francisco in Chicago.
Guests have included Cindy Wu discussing refugees; pastor Devyn Chambers Johnson on the move to encourage churches to invite four more women preach in the congregation than they did the previous year; Jim Condap, president of the Association of Covenant Camps and Conference Centers, discussing Covenant camping, and Jodi Moore, who partners with Start and Strengthen Churches on developing rural ministry.
Stromberg says, “I want people to hear what God is doing in the midst of a lot of areas of the Covenant, testimonies of his work in and among people, and also to learn of different initiatives that are happening in the Covenant that we can all hop in on. I’d like to focus on some of the grassroots creative ministries. They need to be celebrated.”
Stromberg says he started the podcast, which is not officially connected with the ECC, in response to the growth of the Covenant. He is excited about the increasing ethnic diversity and growing numbers of new Covenanters. But that growth also has meant that there are looser personal connections and more opinions on what it means to be Covenant. Those opinions are now often shared on social media, which Stromberg believes can be helpful but which also has contributed to divisiveness.
“Back in the spring, as we were walking up to the Annual Meeting, there was a lot of tension online about what is the Covenant. People were saying, ‘This is the Covenant.’ Or ‘No, this is the Covenant,’” he recalls.
“I found myself losing confidence in the social media forum for a place to have honest conversation,” he says. “I found myself complaining about it, and I don’t want to stay in a place of complaining. I wanted to do something constructive.”
Stromberg hopes the podcast will help strengthen connections. “I think we need more of actually hearing others’ voices,” he says. “Every study says that if you can actually hear people’s voices in conversation, your empathy meter automatically goes up, and you see that we’re not against each other.”
He adds, “I want the podcast to be as if I met one of my colleagues at Midwinter and we have a conversation.” Those colleagues would include those who don’t always have an official opportunity to share differences of opinion.
The podcast isn’t just for colleagues, Stromberg adds. “This is really for anyone in the Covenant who wants to be more widely connected and to hear diverse voices lifted up.”
“I have deep rootedness in the Covenant,” Stromberg adds. “This is the kind of thing my grandpa Jim Hawkinson would have loved. This is the kind of thing he did.”
Stromberg emphasizes what the podcast won’t be: “I don’t want it to be a format where I’m trying to convince someone where to stand on a certain issue.” He adds, “I really don’t want it to be about me. I want it to be about us as Covenanters. I want other people to be blessed by the Covenant as much as I’ve been.”