Retiring Leaders Honored; Cecilia Williams Nominated for LMDJ

By Stan Friedman

DENVER, CO (January 28, 2015) – Leadership transitions were a key component of President Gary Walter’s Covenant Update Tuesday afternoon at the Midwinter Conference. Video.

Curt Peterson concludes his ministry as Executive Minister of Serve Globally, which gives oversight to Covenant World Mission, Covenant World Relief, and Paul Carlson Partners. Peterson completes 12 years (3 terms) this summer.

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Peterson received a sustained standing ovation of thanks as Walter outlined a number of Peterson’s key contributions that have significantly advanced the work of God on five continents through both a high capable missionary team and a greatly expanded network of partnerships with national churches. Peterson thanked the ECC for the privilege of serving and representing the ECC in this role.

Peterson will continue in his role through August 2015. The nominating process for the next executive minister is underway.

Next, Walter recognized Debbie Blue, founding executive minister for the ECC’s newest mission priority, Love Mercy – Do Justice. Blue will complete her second term (8 years) of service this summer. Blue also received a sustained standing ovation of appreciation as one whose leadership helped root this priority into the fabric of ECC mission and ministry to “join God in making things right in the world.”

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Walter then announced the ECC executive board nominating process had unanimously identified the nominee to be on the ballot for election at the ECC Annual Meeting. He asked Blue to make the announcement of the candidate.

To much enthusiasm from the assembly, Blue announced that it is Cecilia Williams, who currently serves as director of ministry initiative for LMDJ. Blue expressed her excitement over her prospective successor by saying, “I’m overwhelmed with joy; it’s a slam dunk.”

“I want you to know I do love Jesus, and I love his church,” Williams told the audience. “I am honored, and I am deeply, deeply humbled at this call to continue to serve him and to serve the Evangelical Covenant Church.”

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In her current position, Williams has worked closely with local Covenant congregations and regional conferences, as well as Covenant Initiatives of Care, to identify, initiate and develop a variety of sustainable projects. She previously served as an associate and interim senior pastor at Sanctuary Covenant Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

She also has served as a program coordinator and director for a number of nonprofit institutions as well as graduate teaching at Bethel Theological Seminary, where she also served as an interim director for multicultural affairs, and as associate dean for intercultural student programs and services at Bethel University’s College of Arts and Sciences.

“Throughout our prayerful and careful process, it was exciting to see our candidate emerge with absolute consensus,” said Sue Poston, chair of the Nominating Committee. “The whole committee echoed the words of one member saying ‘Praise God!’ What a privilege to play a role in this selection process and see a glimpse of God’s work up close.”

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Committee members, whose work was unanimously ratified by the full Executive Board, included Michael Emerson (Houston, Texas), Mark Seversen (Kansas City, Kansas), David Danielson (Rochester, Minnesota), Juana Nesta (Brentwood, California), Stacey Heimkes (Gilbert, Arizona), Will Davidson (board chair, San Ramon, California), Alice Lee (Missouri City, Texas), Jeff Houston (McPherson, Kansas), and Sue Poston (committee chair, New Brighton, Minnesota) as well as Walter, Dick Lucco, executive director of ministry development; and Rebecca Gonzalez, executive director of operations.

At the end of his presentation, Walter also honored Klyne Snodgrass, professor of New Testament at North Park Seminary, who retires this year after 41 years of service. Once again, the assembly stood for an extended ovation of appreciation. Snodgrass gave a charge to continue to be a denomination shaped and sustained by a deep commitment to the first of the Covenant’s Affirmations, the centrality of the Word of God.

Photos by Mike Nyman


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