Efrem Smith Nominated to Lead Pacific Southwest Conference

CHICAGO, IL (January 22, 2010) – Efrem D. Smith has been nominated to replace Evelyn M.R. Johnson as superintendent of the Pacific Southwest Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC), it was announced today.

Smith, who currently serves as senior pastor of Sanctuary Covenant Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, will stand for election during the Pacific Southwest Conference Annual Meeting April 23 at Mission Springs Camp and Conference Center located near Santa Cruz, California. If elected, Smith will be installed during the 125th Annual Meeting of the ECC in St. Paul, Minnesota, in June.

His selection by an 18-member search committee follows a months-long search process that began last fall shortly after Johnson announced that she will conclude her service as superintendent this year. His nomination also has received the unanimous endorsement of the ECC Executive Board.

“Upon meeting Efrem, you will find him to be a person of great humility and reliance on God,” writes Will Davidson, chair of the Conference Executive Board, in a letter to conference churches. “Efrem has described his vision for the future of our conference as a ‘kingdom’ vision. His personal and ministry commitment to God’s mosaic is unwavering. We are confident in his leadership as we seek to change lives and transform communities.”

Smith, 40, received his Bachelor of Arts degree in theater arts from Saint John’s University. He earned his Master of Arts degree in theology from Luther Theological Seminary and is completing work on his Doctor of Ministry degree at Bethel Seminary.

Smith was the church planter when Sanctuary Covenant was created in 2003. Previously, he served as associate pastor at Park Avenue United Methodist Church in Minneapolis; as youth pastor at Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church in Tipp City, Ohio; as urban director at the Minnesota Fellowship of Christian Athletes in Minneapolis; as program coordinator at Hospitality House Youth Directions in Minneapolis; and as admissions counselor at Saint John’s University in the College of Saint Benedict.

“It was not an easy decision for me to decide step away from being the pastor of Sanctuary Covenant Church,” said Smith during an interview following a worship service this past weekend at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois, where he was the guest preacher for the weekend.

“I have a deep love for that ministry and its values,” he said. “I just see this opportunity to serve the Pacific Southwest Conference as an opportunity to be a part of multiplying the spirit of that ministry. When I look at the focus on church planting and multiethnic churches and just the mosaic mission that is the Pacific Southwest Conference, I feel like it is Sanctuary Covenant Church multiplied. So, this was no easy decision for me – my heart is so much connected to Sanctuary. But, I feel like the broader mission of Sanctuary is moving itself throughout the Covenant. To be able to serve in a region of the Covenant in this way, I am just humbled and honored by it.”

“Efrem’s gifts will amplify the entire ministry of the conference and the ECC,” says ECC President Gary Walter of Smith’s selection. “Given the team already in place in the Pacific Southwest Conference, there is no doubt we will build on our impact as one of the leading missional forces in that part of the country.”

The search committee, composed of the Executive Board plus five additional members, worked “diligently and prayerfully to discern God’s person for this key leadership position” in the conference, Davidson notes. “At every step of this journey, we clearly felt the presence of the Holy Spirit.”

In addition to Davidson, search committee members include: Stanley Long, John Engstrom, Joy Champion, Pamela Christensen, Chris Hushaw, Bill MacPhee, Yohsuke Miki, Kathie Norman, Pat Stark, Max Villalobos, Cameron Wu Cardona, Pablo Anabalon, Sean Curtis, Jim Holst, Valerie McCann Woodson, Steve Wong, and Walter. Robin Honnette served as executive assistant to the committee.

Smith has been active in the Northwest Conference where his church is located, the Minneapolis Urban League, the national chaplains committee of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, and serves on the Board of Trustees of North Park University in Chicago.

He and his wife, Donecia, have two children, Jaeda, 13, and Mireya, 10.

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