ST. PAUL, MN (June 26, 2010) – Delegates attending the 125th Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Covenant Church on Friday honored three denominational leaders who are transitioning from long-held positions.
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Charles Walles, president of Covenant Trust Company (CTC), will retire at the conclusion of 2010. Walles has worked with CTC for 19 years, joining in 1991 as a financial services representative for the Mid-America region. He was named vice president for marketing in 1995 and became president in 2001.
“I’m not really retiring,” Walles told the delegates. Rather, he is going “on sabbatical” to the next ministry into which God is leading him. He also joked that he waited to retire until the Annual Meeting was in Minnesota so that the certificate he received would note that it was given to him in his home state.
Before joining Covenant Trust Company, Walles served on the North Park University Board of Directors and served as chair of Plymouth Covenant Church in Plymouth, Minnesota. He currently serves as chair of Anchor Covenant Church in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.
Evelyn M.R. Johnson will conclude her service as superintendent of the Pacific Southwest Conference on July 1. She started in the position in 2000. The conference became much more multi-ethnic under her leadership.
Johnson and her husband, Phil, are moving to Chicago, where she will serve as special assistant to President Gary Walter. She will formally begin serving in the position August 16. Walter addressed Johnson and quipped that she needed to report for work at 8:30 a.m.
In her new role, Johnson “will help frame, process, and follow up on matters that reposition the Covenant for effective ministry into the future,” according to Walter. Among her duties will be development of several task groups that will explore the most strategic, efficient and effective means for carrying out the work of the denomination.
In brief remarks to the delegates, Johnson stressed the importance of cooperative ministry.
Dr. John (Jay) Phelan will step down from his position as president and dean of North Park Theological Seminary at the conclusion of the 2009-2010 academic year. Phelan has assumed a faculty position as senior professor of theological studies.
From 1981-1986, Phelan served as university dean of students and assistant professor of New Testament. He then served as pastor of two Covenant churches in Florida and Kansas before returning to Chicago in 1994 as executive director of Covenant Publications (now Covenant Communications). He became president and dean of the seminary in 1996.
Under Phelan’s leadership, seminary enrollment increased from 119 students in 1996 to 279 last year, due in part to the implementation of the Presidential Scholars Program and, more recently, a partnership with a full-tuition scholarship program offered by the Kern Foundation. Additional students have been enrolled through SemConnect, the seminary’s distance learning program.
“I think I’ve had the best job in the whole Covenant,” Phelan said. He explained that he has had the privilege of helping people consider whether God was calling them to attend the seminary, walk alongside them during their time at the school, and then later as they served in ministry. He added that he was even more excited about the opportunity to teach.