Robert L. Owens has been serving in ministry in the Covenant for the past forty-four years as a pastor and most recently as the superintendent of the Southeast Conference. He retired in August.
Choose and Choose Again is a mosaic of personal stories collected by author and Covenant pastor J. Kevin Butcher, who founded Hope Community Church in Detroit, Michigan. The stories he shares (as well as his own testimony) display the complexities of people who live their lives as prisoners and prostitutes, as well as those who are lawyers and in business.
It’s no longer dawn in the digital age. We are well into the full heat of the day and the shadows of miscommunication grow long as the hours pass. I think back to the 1998 movie You’ve Got Mail.
Sometimes people call me “the social enterprise guy.” I used to chafe at the label, but now I embrace it as I’ve become convinced that enterprise and economic development are critical to the ministry of mercy and justice—and a helpful corrective for church in the neighborhood.
Last summer an explosion destroyed part of Minnehaha Academy, a preK–12 school operated by the Northwest Conference. Staff members Ruth Berg and John Carlson were killed and several others were injured. President Donna Harris reflects on what their community has learned in the past year and how they have drawn together.
A number of years ago I overheard an interesting conversation at my local Starbucks. From what I could gather, it seemed that a sincere Christian was struggling to field questions from an ardent atheist: How can you take the Bible seriously when there are inconsistencies within it? How can you trust a God that would command genocide? Partly I was tempted to chime in, but truthfully, I didn’t have great answers to the questions myself.
Recently Devyn Chambers Johnson, co-pastor of Community Covenant Church in Springfield, Virginia, hosted a daylong seminar called Talking with Children about Race. She invited fellow Covenanter Rukiya Davis from Windsor Mill, Maryland, to be the presenter. Davis earned a master’s in Christian ministry from North Park Theological Seminary and recently earned her master’s of social work. “From my perspective,” Davis says, “there aren’t a lot of clinically trained people who work with children and families in need inside the church. I want to advocate for people who are caught up in the foster care or assistance systems.”
I was team teaching second-grade Sunday school. Another teacher asked the class, “Does anyone know what Lent is?” A quiet boy who rarely participated raised his hand excitedly. “Lent is the stuff you find in your belly button!”
The book called out to me. That’s all I can say. I’d heard about it in passing, then one day I saw it on my colleague’s desk. Perhaps it was the phrase “I’m perfect” that was scribbled out and re-written “The Imperfect Pastor,” that struck me. But I still didn’t read it. Several years later, it sat languishing on my nightstand until I finally had enough wisdom (or desperation) to pick it up.
What comes to mind when you think about Fred Rogers? The zip-up sweaters and lace-up sneakers? The trips out into the neighborhood, where we meet people who do interesting jobs and make everyday things?
Count and report. Count and report. My initial days as a church planter felt urgent. Not only was I full of vision, I was eager to prove that the vision my co-pastor husband and I shared was a vision that could reach a lot of people.