Reader Responses to News Stories

By Don Meyer

CHICAGO, IL (April 29, 2011) – Every week we receive comments from readers on stories published as part of the Covenant online news report.

Readers have the opportunity to post personal reflections and responses that are attached to individual stories, and can also post comments on our Covenant Facebook page.

Reader feedback is helpful to our Covenant News Service staff as we seek to identify and publish stories of interest to a broad spectrum of readers.

Following are comments gleaned from recent stories, edited in some cases for length. To read a particular story of interest, click on the headline.

Midwest Celebrates – and Makes – History

Anna Marie Peterson writes: Hallelujah, the highest praise to him who directed, prepared, and selected you for this position. Willie and I salute you for your service to God, your dedication, perseverance and this appointment!

Demolition of Former ECC Office Building Nears End

Arleen Johnson writes: I’m sad to see the pictures of the demolished building where I enjoyed working from 1948-1953! Fortunately, my memories are not destroyed with the physical building.

Spoof Welcomes Midwest Superintendent-Elect

Diane Grant writes: What a creative and energetic group you will be working with, Tammy! I know you are up to it!

Becky Erickson writes: What an appropriate welcome for you, Tammy. Only wish I could have been there. I rejoice with and for you. Holding you in my prayers.

Marilyn Floodeen writes: Congratulations, Tammy! I am so happy for you. God bless!

Rod Toews writes: You becoming the superintendent of the Midwest Conference will bring expressions of joy to your parents in heaven. Your journey began here at Peninsula Covenant Church and has now led you to serving a very large constituency in the conference. Your friends here in Redwood City congratulate you and wish you God’s richest blessings in the days and years to come.

Delegates Elect Ivanoff to Lead Alaska Region

Daniel Johnson writes: Some 110 years ago, Curtis’ great-grandfather, Stephen, was a close colleague with my great-uncle and Covenant missionary, Dr. F. Julius Quist in Unalakleet, Alaska. They traveled around America together promoting mission work in Alaska. I first met Curtis while working at Covenant High School in the early 1980s and have marveled at how God has used him in the same way he used Stephen. It is my hope that the Covenant Church of Alaska under Curtis’ direction will continue to thrive in God’s service while pursuing our shared dream of proclaiming the gospel to the people of Alaska and across the sea to the people of Russia.

Phil Carlson writes: Congratulations. You will be great in the position. How nice to see your election was confirmed in the Anchorage Covenant Church, one of the churches (dad) Rev. Paul B. F. Carlson built in Alaska and held the first service there Sunday after the great Alaska earthquake. We often remember the boat trip you took us on to Bible camp up river. Thank God for the “old mission plane” dad flew to the villages.

John Kepler writes: Having had opportunity to be with Curtis’ father, Glenn, during his struggles with cancer; seeing Curtis as a five-year-old; reconnecting when he was in college; and then being reunited with him again at a Midwinter some eight years ago, I think his election as field director is blessed by the Lord. His father told me during my last visit with him, “I want my son to be raised a Christian, to have a Christian education.” My goodness, God has given Glenn even more than he could possibly have imagined.

Cyclist Raises $2,300 to Help Fight Human Trafficking

Paul Wilson writes: What a great thing to do! I just read the article – learning about your efforts for the first time – while a young girl who has just been rescued is en route to our restoration center. Without people like you, slavery continues. With people like you – who take action – girls are freed and restored. Readers, don’t just say: “Isn’t that great what Preston did.” Think of something creative you can do and/or get generous. The bad guys are building a multi-billion-dollar business betting that you won’t act.

John Tanagho writes: Thank you, Preston, for reminding us that we can all do something to bring healing and restoration to the survivors of modern-day slavery. May we all do something to end slavery in our lifetimes.

Jeffrey Jones writes: Thanks, Preston, for a wonderfully creative video of your trip. New Day is such a good cause and continues to help many.

Colleen Chase writes: Preston – what a great way to raise awareness and funds! Paul Wilson said it well: “they’re betting no one will stand up for the victims.” Yes we will!

Gillan Nominated to Lead ECC Women Ministries

Beth Ernest writes: What a wonderful choice to lead Women Ministries. Meagan brings a wealth of experience, as well as a healthy spirituality and an excitement about God. She is both a good listener and an articulate speaker. We can expect great things to continue as the baton passes from Ruth Hill.

Daniel Johnson writes: This is great news for women’s ministries in our Covenant denomination! Meagan is the perfect choice for serving in this important role. I look forward to the way she will inspire women of all ages across the Covenant to grab hold of an important ministry – abuse, trafficking, immigration, whatever area they feel passionate about – and respond to the challenges they pose. Very exciting!

Diana Trautwein writes: WOW! I am thrilled and impressed. Meagan is a fabulous choice and I look forward to what God will do through her and CWM in the years ahead. Such amazing women we’ve been gifted with in the leadership of this important area of our denomination. Ruth’s shoes will be tough to fill – but Meagan Gillan will step right up and right in. Thanks be to God.

Deanie Youngman writes: It was a pleasure to meet you yesterday at Holmstad chapel. God bless you as you serve in this new ministry.

Phil and Jonna Axelson write: Meagan, I’m thrilled to learn that you will be the new director of Women Ministries. You are uniquely prepared. Blessings as you assume your new role. Ruth, it was great to see that SPU honored your service in their recent homecoming issue. Well deserved! Thanks for all you’ve brought to the Covenant over the years. You are deeply appreciated and loved! May the Lord continue to use and increase the effectiveness of our women worldwide!

Rita Kay Lochner writes: What wonderful news! Last time we prayed together, Meagan, you desired community and involvement. God has answered the desires of your heart. You are the one God has chosen for a time such as this. My prayers will follow you!

Walter Contreras writes: Congratulations! I know you will be used by God. May God bless you real good!

Gwen Patrick writes: Meagan! What a great surprise for me to find out you’re the new CWM frontrunner nominee! What a total blessing you will be to women – nationally and internationally! God bless you and your family.

Sheri Cross writes: I was so excited to hear about your nomination! I can’t think of anyone more gifted or passionate to lead Women Ministries! It appears that Scott’s call to Illinois was also God’s good idea for you! I miss having you here in Arizona, but am thrilled for your new adventure! Count on my prayers!

Anna Marie Peterson writes: Congratulations! Along with many others, I am looking forward to continuing the wonderful work of Covenant Women Ministries. I have only met you once, but look forward to seeing you again and ministering with you as we continue our WM journey and contributions for the kingdom.

Carlson Reflects on Years as Midwest Superintendent

Kevin Swanson writes: Thanks, Ken, for your support and encouragement that extended to those of us outside of the Midwest Conference. May God continue to give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation that you may know him better.

News Received of Paul Bjorklund’s Death

Randall Surey writes: Paul was my confirmation pastor at the old Austin Covenant Church in Chicago. It was during those years that my faith grew and I first began to sense a call to ministry that would ultimately lead to North Park Theological Seminary and 30-plus years of service as a Covenant pastor (and counting). I will always remember him for his beautiful singing voice and for the time when he suggested to my elderly grandmother that we might not be speaking Swedish in heaven! Well done, good and faithful servant Paul.

Julie Bromley writes: I will always remember Pastor Bjorklund as a cheerful and warm-hearted servant of God. Peace to his memory and to those who mourn his passing.

Jim Anderson writes: Paul was a good friend, sharer of good times, and a confidant for many years, especially during the last years of his Austin ministry in Chicago and later in Seattle. We have lost a valued colleague and pilgrim along the way. Blessings to his dear wife, Beatrice, and his daughters.

Jerry and Lis Chichester write: Pastor Paul Bjorklund was probably the best and nicest minister you could ever meet. You could not find a man more compassionate, generous and interested in peoples’ lives. No matter the subject you presented to him, he would listen and make his thoughtful comments, always so kind and understanding. And he would give a hearty laugh, if it amused him. Paul had a curiosity and a willingness to try new things. It was so enjoyable to help him with his computer and hear about his interest in writing. We had fun talking about Finland where his ancestors came from and his trips there and to Sweden, as we had lived in both countries. We admired Paul so much – he was always fun to be around. With Beatrice at his side, he could face anything. It is still hard for us to realize that we won’t hear Paul’s great laugh and see his happy face again. But that makes us more thankful for the memories of him. Paul will be greatly missed, but we feel fortunate to have known him for these last 17 years – he taught us so much about life and set an example for us all.

David Jobe writes: I will never forget the times Paul and I shared in attending Julota at Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Seattle.

Memorial Services Pending for Jerry Reed

Paul Wilson writes: I am among the many who always received an encouraging word from Jerry – one that fueled my faith and caused me to wonder at the goodness of our Savior. His witness will continue to whisper in the ears of all of us in whom he invested.

Tom Collins writes: The first time Lynda and I met Jerry, he was passing through Houston and stopped with us on his way to Chicago. When we offered him a bed our son would have slept in, he declined saying, “I can sleep on the floor. I am used to that.” That was the beginning of the many times he enriched my life by sharing insights on missions, evangelism and discipleship. Since 1986 Jerry has given me encouragement to follow through in church planting and teaching evangelism. He has been a friend to me. He and Nancy have enriched our lives over dinner and weekend trips to bread and breakfast houses. I will miss Jerry’s affirmation, his spirit of helping so many people at the drop of the hat, his passion for discipleship and his persisting effort to bear fruit for the Lord Jesus Christ and his Good News.

Dave Bos writes: One of the ‘good guys’ goes to meet our Lord! Pat and I really appreciated the Reeds! They will be missed!

Bruce Finfrock writes: A great and Godly man leaving a legacy and example for many to follow. He will be missed only a short while until we meet again.

Memorial Service Set for Elaine Swanson

Daniel Johnson writes: Elaine Swanson was a wonderful woman of God. She and Harry were a blessing to so many people. I was blessed to have her be a spiritual presence during my childhood at First Covenant Church and much later in life as I returned to Jamestown. She continued to be a true witness for the Lord, with a radiant smile and attitude that only comes for a deep relationship with the Savior. Peace to her memory.

Shirley Gustafson writes: I remember many wonderful times with Harry and Elaine. I always loved them, and I called your mom “Lovely Elaine.” We have kept in touch at Christmas and through Marilyn, and I was praying for your mom. May God bless her memory.

Caring Bridge Website Created for Jerry Reed

Jodi Mullen Fondell writes: We are sad to hear of this news. We will pray for God’s spirit of grace and healing to descend upon you and that you will feel surrounded by the community of faith. You have blessed so many others in your lifetime, us included, and now it is your turn to receive the blessing that many would like to pour out onto you. May God bless you and keep you. May his healing hand be upon your body and your spirit.

Jim and Beve Swanson write: Sending our love. Remembering you in prayer.

Paul and Cheryl Bengtson write: Our love and prayers are flowing up and out for God’s special blessings during these coming days. Cheryl’s mom, Ruby Johnson, lives at Mt. Miguel and has been keeping us posted. May you be encouraged to hear the words in the distance, “Well done, good and faithful servant…” We love you and know that we will enjoy fellowship again.

Denise Johnson writes: So many fond memories of your cheerful presence when you stopped by our 3311 West Foster Avenue (Chicago) office. Thinking of you these difficult days and hoping you feel God’s presence throughout.

Doreen Olson writes: I am with you in spirit and prayer. Mark and I pray that the peace of Christ will surround and uphold you, and God’s healing presence will be sensed by you each moment. Our love to you and your family.

Rick Mylander writes: May you wake up every morning with your mind, your heart, and your life stayed on Jesus. This will be Gail’s and my prayer for you both. Deep peace.

Viv and Ernie Johnson write: Thanks for being such good friends as we remember our trip to China. Be assured – our prayers are with you.

Robert and Yvonne Huse write: We have prayed for you for years as your names have come up in the Prayer Calendar, and now we will be praying for you daily as you face what future God has in store for you. We have used your discipleship course in our years of ministry and we recall the good times we had with you when we visited Ecuador. Even folks in Canada are praying for you!

Edward Delgado writes: Our CHET staff and families continue to uphold you in our prayers. These we know are difficult times for all of you. We pray for traveling mercies for family that is traveling great distances to be with you.

Javier and Connie Carrillo write: Father, I pray that you lift your servant Jerry from this illness and give peace to his loving family.

Eugenio and Pia Restrepo write: Queremos expresar nuestro compromiso de oracion en estos momentos de sufrimiento…nuestro deseo es que el Senor les fortalezca y que So poder se manifieste! un fuerte abrazo.

Alan E. Johnson writes: May God’s loving arms enfold you! Jerry, I will never forget the training on discipleship I learned from you via a pastor’s retreat. I think of you often as I continue applying what you taught. Both of you are role models – your love and inspiration remains!

Walter Contreras writes: We are praying for you. We love you muchisimo.

Dave Bos writes: Sorry to hear of Jerry’s condition. Will be praying for you!

John and Miriam Notehelfer write: Our thoughts and prayers come your way while you are walking through this new and untested adventure. There is that special grace that comes and takes over – never too early and never late – that ‘shalom’ and calm when the Lord completely takes over, takes our hands, and walks us through on the bridge over troubled waters. We love you so much and ‘want to sit with you.’

Jon Ireland writes: I’m so sad to hear of Jerry’s passing – his impact and fingerprints are all over my life, ministry, and marriage. He coached me thru my first sermon ever, took me backpacking into the Oaxaca mountains, made me write a paper on “authority” because I was a little rebellious, and pushed my VW bus all the way from the Mexico City airport to Arboledas at 3a.m. What an angel from God! He will be missed.

Ulla and Bertil Svensson write: Thanks for all you have done for God’s mission around the world. We include you in our prayers in these difficult times.

Karen Palmberg writes: My love and gratitude for your lives and Jerry’s lived out before us as a true testimony of God’s grace and mercy to our world is so heart felt. It was such a blessing to be with you, Nancy and Jerry, for a short visit at Mt. Miguel less than a month ago and to reconnect with Kathy. Years have passed since we were last together, but in God’s family, time is irrelevant and love and relationships don’t end. Love and tears.

Daniel Johnson writes: I first knew Jerry as a fellow student at Wheaton College. Even in middle age, Jerry was anxious to study and learn new things. Years later, Jerry was my professor at North Park and his total focus was in showing people how to come to the Lord. He had an example that we wished to emulate. Now he is with his Lord. Blessings to his family, and peace to his memory.

Walter and Nancy Zurfluh write: Our sympathy and prayers are with you. May God give us his comfort at this time.

Gordon and Hope Donoho write: Hope and I are shocked to hear the news of Jerry’s home going. We had not heard that he was sick, so this is a shock to us. May the love and comfort of Jesus Christ be yours and your families in this painful and challenging time. We will always cherish the times we had together in Mexico City being part of a wonderful mission team there. Much love and comfort.

Roy and Joni (Hicks) Bicker write: You and Jerry were among “our” earliest missionary ambassadors as young people at Pasadena Covenant. Missions conferences always included your visits or slide presentations to help us pray with more specific purpose and petition for you and those you were called by God to serve and reach for his kingdom. May our Lord Jesus fill the void in your hearts as a family, and know we are asking God
for divine comfort to sustain you in these difficult days.

Alberto y Cristina Ruiz write: Aquellos que tuvimos el privilegio de conocerle podemos valorar la hermosa persona que Dios había formado en Gerardo. Guardo en mis recuerdos hermosos momentos de conversaciones personales que me ayudaron inmensamente en momentos muy difíciles dentro del ministerio. Le doy gracias a Dios por habernos bendecido con la vida de Gerardo. A la familia Reed, a quien amamos entrañablemente, deseamos que el consuelo de amor que solo pueden recibir de Aquel que les ama como ninguno de nosotros lo puede hacer, sea ese bálsamo consolador en estos momentos de duelo.

Chicagoland Churches to Join in Unity Service

Thelma Lawson writes: I have been to every one of the Celebrations of Seven Last Words. When Pastor P (Pointer) first presented the idea to us as a church, we new that it was God-inspired to bring unity throughout the Covenant. And this God has done. I praise God for using Pastor P and for him not being afraid to step into the water of the unknown – truly trusting God. It has blessed me and many from the very first date to now. Cannot wait to hear “the mighty women” as you know we were first at the tomb. What a word.

New Space Allows Ministry to Continue Growing

Marisol Medina writes: Praise the Lord for Iglesia del Pacto Renacer’s faithful members. It would have been easy, and even understandable, for this congregation to give up and resign themselves to their cramped space. However, their passion for growing God’s kingdom within the Latino population burns hotter than ever. May they outgrow this new space even quicker!

Patty Shepherd writes: It is wonderful to read how God is moving and using the Renacer congregation to reach the surrounding Latino community. May they be blessed in their new facilities!

Demolition of Former ECC Office Building Begins

Joey Ekberg writes: Looks as if my old Church Growth and Evangelism desk space was the first to be demolished.

Vera Shader writes: Like everything in life, it is sad and yet wonderful. Good memories associated with the old executive building. But, the hospital will bring healing to many. So, God bless each juncture.

Arleen (Youngbird) Johnson writes: Memories from five years of my life spent in that building (1948-53) are pleasant, and it’s hard to look at the demolition pictures. The building was new and adequate then. I’m glad Covenant hospital will be using the property.

Japan Update: Missionaries Remain Safe

Renee DeGraaf writes: Praise God for their safety!

Hundreds Gather for Prayer Service for Family

Chaplain Kimberly Beach writes: It was my pleasure to visit and pray with the family in Durango. Please keep us updated on their recovery. We continue to lift them in prayer.

Nelson Recovering Nicely Following Transplant

Paul Bischoff writes: Jerome, my bishop and my brother, glad to hear of your recovery. I miss you – we all miss you and continue to pray for a complete healing. Looking forward to when we can be together.

José M. La Luz writes: How wonderful to hear that you are recovering and that you are following your physician’s orders and taking care of yourself. You are a blessing and a friend. Please take your time and continue to take it slow and easy until you are ready to return to us. The Lord bless you and keep you.

Catherine Gilliard writes: We are so thankful, Jerome, that your work on earth is not done. We are also so thankful that you have JoAnn as your life companion to support all that you must continue to do. Enjoy this season of recovering knowing how much each day of life is a gift in itself. We continue to pray for your complete healing and for your strength to be renewed.

Genoa Giles writes: We are so glad to hear that you are following doctors’ orders and recovering well. Continue to recover and blessings on your mate who is taking such great care of you.

Reflections on Ministering to Japanese in Need

Ronna Husby writes: Blessing on you as you minister to those who are hurt. May God give you his strength and peace as you serve. I am praying for you!

More Than One Way to Keep Church Doors Open

Jim Anderson writes: A truly encouraging story of ecumenical cooperation in that wonderful part of the world called Aroostook County. Well done!

Timothy Stohlberg writes: Wow. I thought I was way off the radar here in “the county.” The good folks in Houlton are a small, but kind congregation. There are many questions about the future, but today it is good to be remembered and God’s work in a small place celebrated.

Recovery – for Addicts and Congregations

Victor Goldschmidt writes: We praise God for what he is doing in Jamestown and using his servants like Pastor Rick and Judd, both loved brothers in Christ in this ministry. Oh, that the Holy Spirit would shake every congregation the way he has touched Zion Covenant!

Carol Noren Johnson writes: This is an amazing story of how creative God is in answering prayer and meeting needs.

Covenant Pastor Leads Firefighting Team to Chile

Dave and Ann Swanson write: Congratulations, Henoch! That’s a great gift to our friends in Rancagua. We would like to go back again – 13 ventures to Chile are not enough. But we have to admit that another trip may have to be just a visit to see friends rather than a working trip.

Craig Anderson writes: Great work, Henoch! Warm memories of our friendship in the Central Conference. You have always looked for ways to serve Christ. You are to be commended. Warm greetings.

Summer Donations to Support Camp in Russia

Dave Bos writes: Very exciting! Great accomplishment. Congratulations Dave and God bless!

Haiti: How to Sustain Rebuilding Effort

Ronna Husby writes: I love Amanda’s attitude! She really has the right perspective.

Chrissy Palmerlee writes: Thanks, Kelly and Lynda, for your support of Covenant World Relief and for the poor and the marginalized around the world.

Lynda Delgado writes: How quickly and easily we forget our neighbor and the good Samaritan. Thank you for reminding me.

Memorial Service Planned for Dorothy Lake

Dave Eaton writes: Dorothy’s gift of hospitality will always be remembered from a young Army guy who soaked up the love and attention in Springfield, Virginia, and who later became a Covenant pastor in large part due to the encouragement of Bruce and Dorothy. God bless you Bruce and girls and your families.

Margaret Johnson writes: I have great memories of Dorothy in our Covenant Women and daily vacation Bible school in Springfield, Virginia. Arnold and I were charter members and appreciated both Dorothy and Bruce Lake’s work and friendship.

Teter Assumes New ECC Evangelism Role

Cris Hushaw writes: I can’t think of a more gifted evangelist and faithful leadership couple than John and Becky. I’m super excited to see how the Lord will use them to sharpen and challenge our churches towards love and good deeds in evangelism. Way to go my brother!

New Enabling Residence Opens in Michigan

Donald Krutsinger writes: Although this is a difficult time to start new homes – since there are waiting lists of people looking for funding to get into residential services – it would be great to see more Covenant Enabling Residences spread throughout the different conferences of the Evangelical Covenant Church. There are many church members looking for Christian environments where their children can live. We should not limit ourselves to large million-dollar homes since most community facilities rent homes or apartments in settings that would be integrated into the community. There are many churches with old parsonages or houses they have invested in for future expansions that would make great locations for group homes. I would love to be involved in starting homes within the Kansas City area since there are a lot of good churches that would find a need for that type of Christian group home.

Award Honors KICY as ‘Industry Pioneer’

Phil and Jonna Axelson write: Congratulations on receiving the well-deserved award for faithful and pioneering ministry.

Paul Hanson writes: My dad, Ralph P. Hanson, would be thrilled to know about this as he was one of the founders of KICY and served as secretary of World Mission at the time it was envisioned and begun. It is interesting that Margaret Zylstra Davidson has just died at about the same time. Her first husband, Art, was also extremely instrumental in getting this station off the ground in the early years. There are a number of stories of how, by the providence of God, that KICY is still on the air. It is truly a miracle. It happened because it is what God wanted. Congratulations.

Chuck Anderson writes: Dennis and Candace are products of Kalamazoo Covenant and are praying parents. Keep up the great work!

Lois Carlson Bridges writes: Congratulations and may the Lord continue to bless the ministry of KICY! It’s so interesting to me having known Ralph Hanson and Art Zylstra. Ralph and Gert Fondell, also pioneers of KICY, are my son’s wife’s parents. I shall not forget our visit to Nome several years ago.

Arleen Johnson writes: My sister-in-law, Erma (Johnson) Bergstrom, assisted musically and janitorially at the station while she was a nurse at Nome’s Methodist Hospital many years ago. I was Ralph Hanson’s secretary at the World Missions office (1948-53) and was also acquainted with Ralph and Gert Fondell, so was in touch with KICY. Our near neighbor now, Ernie Hansen, was an early director at KICY. It is so significant that the early Alaska missionary, Karlson, felt called to Russia — and now KICY is reaching far into Russia!

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