Out and About

Covenant Annual Meeting Report

The skies cleared by Tuesday, June 20, over Tacoma, Puget Sound, and the lovely campus of Pacific Lutheran University for the enjoyment of the delegates to, and the observers of, the 1989 Covenant Annual Meeting.

This was the third Annual Meeting I have attended representing Pietisten, In Sturbridge, Massachusetts (1987) and in Chicago (1988), my partner, Sandy Johnson, and I concentrated on obtaining subscriptions while selling T-shirts and tapes of Bill Wahman singing Swedish Songs of the Covenant Heritage (which are readily available). At this meeting, without my partner and discouraged by administrative resistance, rather than setting out our wares on the card table loaned to me by Carl and Marcia Blomgren of Vashon Island, I focused on personal conversations with friends and acquaintances while covering the meeting as a member of the press. I also found it possible to work in a couple of basketball games in this heavy schedule.

As a nondelegate, I was free to miss as many meetings as I wanted. Though I have attended my share of meetings and services through the years, some of my best memories are of the meetings I have skipped. This goes back at least as far as ninth grade when my mother caught me playing ping-pong with my best friend in the church basement during morning service. At the gathering in Tacoma I was free to come and go as I pleased. The pleasures of freedom matched the exhilaration of stolen moments in the past.

I was delighted to discover that Mrs. Margit and Dr. Olle Engström, Rector Emeritus of Lidingö Seminary and distinguished participant in the ecumenical activities of the World Council of Churches for 35 years, were present as observers and guests. The highlight of the week for me was lunch with the Engströms and the interview printed on pages 10 and 11 of this issue.

Many readers are aware that the Covenant Church of North America has not participated in the World Council of Churches. Though former President Milton Engebretsen was a leader in ecumenical conversations with a number of evangelical bodies (see his account in "Ecumenism in the Evangelical Covenant Church," The Covenant Quarterly, Vol. XLVI, Nos. 2 and 3, May/August 1988 (Amicus Dei, presented to Karl Olsson), pp. 178-191, some American Covenanters have been disappointed with their church's lack of participation as a body with the Christian churches, including the Mission Covenant of Sweden, who make up the World Council of Churches. At the meeting last year in Chicago, a motion to dissolve the Committee on Interchurch Relations, which indicated to many a retreat from ecumenical conversations, was defeated by the assembly.

A motion was brought to the floor of this meeting to study, explore, and educate our fellowship about the World Council of Churches. The motion, brought by delegate Tom Sharkey, Pastor of Youngstown, Ohio Covenant, was amended to include study of the National Association of Evangelicals. After some discussion, the motion as amended was put to a vote and defeated by 284 to 236. A majority of Covenant administrators voted against the motion.

Feelings about this issue run deep. There is much opposition to the WCC among Christians who think it is communist, anti-Christ, Roman Catholic, or all three. As Olle Engström points out, this is as unfortunate as it is untrue. The motion was defeated, though it called for study only.

Although President Larsen's sermon on Wednesday evening, "Renewing Our Covenant with Each Other," was a stirring word calling for tolerance and forbearance of one another, it contained no word about renewing a covenant with other fellowships. Without that dimension it is difficult not to think cynically that the concern of the sermon was really upon getting Covenant churches and members to cooperate more fully with the plans of the administration.

One especially delightful discovery for me at the Covenant Annual Meeting was the recently published book, Son of the People, by C.V. Bowman, president of the Covenant from 1927 to 1933. The book is Bowman's autobiographical writings, which have been collected by the family, discussed carefully among themselves, edited by Lois Bowman Michealson in consultation with Vernon B. Westberg — both grandchildren of Bowman, and published with the help of the Hawkinsons: translation by Eric G. Hawkinson, foreword by his publisher son, James, and epilogue by his historian son, Zenos.

In conversation with Mark Olson, a great grandson of C.V. and author of the introduction, I was privileged to hear of the thoughtfulness and care the descendants of Bowman exercised in publishing the book. The pictures alone are worth the price of $12.95, plus tax. Bowman has given us much of value, including his wonderful description of life in Marbäck Parish in the mid-nineteenth century. Son of the People is available through Covenant Press. It is easy to order by calling: 1-800-621-1290.

Mission Meeting June 1989

Dr. Paul Holmer preached at Pietisten's Second Mission Meeting. (See Volume II, Number 2, 1987, for an account of the first.) The meeting was held at Community Covenant Church, Minneapolis. Dr. Holmer's text was Philippians 4:4 and his sermon title was "Rejoice in the Lord Always." Among other things, he pointed out that only an Apostle could order someone to rejoice.

Perhaps it was by virtue of Apostolic Succession, for, in spite of Paul Holmer's disclaimers, many people left the mission meeting rejoicing more in the Lord than when they came

Professor Zenos Hawkinson, assisted by David Hawkinson, led the Bible study: "Is Anything Beyond Our Reach? Genesis 11:1-9 and The New Science." Zenos stimulated thinking by comparing modern science prior to the new "chaos science" to the tower of Babel — an attempt to become absolute. The confusion and difficulties created by absolute science, he suggested, can be alleviated by a new understanding of the fact of indeterminacy.

To pietists who dislike absolutes and distrust creeds, other than as confessions of faith (this certainly does not include all pietists but it does include the editors of this journal and many of you), this is a tantalizing idea. Its value may be fraught with danger for some of us who will want to find proof of what we are looking for. With regard to what that might be, I can only speak for myself. Some things which come to mind are: reassurance that there is freedom in life and in the universe; reassurance that all human powers are limited and that the possibility of total control does not exist; and reassurance that ignorance remains in even the smartest, best organized human beings.

The Bible's reassurance — the Tower of Babel story is a case in point — of these matters is pretty much relentless. Because of God's Grace, towers of Babel do not work and, in their carnage, creative relationships among people reemerge as at Pentecost We find, as a result, good cause and favorable conditions to "rejoice in the Lord."

We also rejoiced for the wonderful soup and bread prepared by Anna (Gunny) Carlson. We rejoiced also in the children who came and were cared for by Elizabeth Elde and Jenny Duncan.


Sport Report

Text: "Bodily exercise profiteth little." Paul of Tarsus.

Motto: The real game is the game you're in.

The sports scene is so huge, it is difficult to decide what is significant for Pietisten readers. The myriad fronts of this huge scene could serve as an example of what Jesus meant by "many" when he said, "In my Father's house are many mansions."

The reporter's interests are admittedly local. For that, our apology is that this is precisely the particularity to which we are committed. This is the meaning of our motto: 'The real game is the game you're in."

Since the Twins are out of the pennant race and this fan is wondering what they are doing in the front office trading away our team, there is not much to report on that front. The Minnesota Timberwolves (if you haven't heard of them yet, we hope their impact on the NBA will soon catch your attention) are busy building a team. Many of us have our fingers crossed, hoping that in spite of early season losses, the Vikings, having signed Carter, Browner, Jordan, et al. will yet establish themselves as a powerful contender.

The North Park Vikings and the Minnesota Gophers both continue to have football teams but neither has aroused much hope or enthusiasm at this point. The only chance for rejoicing on those fronts will be a pleasant surprise. It is a situation that calls for Epicurean restraint. The Epicurean formula, according to Sterling P. Lamprecht (Our Philosophical Traditions, p. 83), is Happiness equals Achievement over Ambition (desire, hope). The closer the ratio is to one, the greater the possibility of happiness. Using this formula, we have eliminated hope for the success of the NP Vikings and the Gophers from our denominator.

We acknowledge a lack of passion in this matter. It is not a pietist posture but we can only stretch ourselves so far. This brings us to the news that matters. An account of the final softball game of the season for the Pietist Vikings of Bethlehem Church, Minneapolis.

The Pie Vikes closed the year with two victories. The season had its valleys. The final victory was gratifying as it represented revenge on the Minnehaha Methodist Mounties (so named in remembrance of the 240,000 miles John Wesley rode on horseback preaching the Gospel throughout the British Isles) who defeated the Pie Vikes by one run earlier in the season, This report will bring you current on Pietist Viking athletic endeavors. We present it to you as news you may not have gotten through the other wire services.

Pietists Dismount Mounties

(Reprinted from The Bethlehem Star)

August 1, 1989

This time the Pie Vikes were the inspired ones. Fans will recall how the Minnehaha Methodist Mounties nipped the Bethlehem Pietist Vikings the last time the two teams met. Not so this time.

Behind predictably fine pitching by Vern Lodien, stingy defense, and solid hitting, the Pie Vikes decisively disposed of the Mounties 11-4 in the final game of the season — a game played now because it was rained out on its originally scheduled date.

The Mounties managed one run in the top of the first. Bethlehem came back with three in their half of the inning. Jon Schoenrock led off with a triple and John Lundeen drove him home with a single. Captain Jim Clausen followed with another single and Bob Sjoberg drove both runners home with a hustling triple.

Vern and the defense shut out the Methodists in the second and third innings. John Lundeen smashed a solo homer in the third, giving the Pie Vikes a 4-1 lead. The Mounties came back with three in the fourth to tie the game. In the home half of the inning, Bob scored on Vern's sacrifice fly, putting Bethlehem back in front, 5-4. After shutting out the Mounties in the top of the fifth, the Vikes pounded hit after hit until they had amassed six runs. It took a fluke play by the Mounties to end an inning that featured more hitting than can be specified.

Both teams were blanked in the sixth. Consequently, the Pie Vikes took the field in the seventh, holding a commanding seven-run lead. When the Mountie lead-oE man reached first by beating out a ground ball and the next hitter reached first safely by luckily dribbling the ball where no one could get to it, leaving runners on first and second with no outs, one Pie Vike standing in right field began to feel anxiety build in his chest. Would the Mounties catch the Vikings once more?

Not this time. Recalling the way young Carl Olaf Rosenius dug in and took charge when Methodist Missionary, George Scott, was deported from Sweden in 1842 after founding Pietisten [Readers may know that George Scott raised the funds for Pietisten in America during 1840-41, But the disgruntled Swedish Consistory, annoyed at Scott's missionary efforts among Swedish Lutheran Christians, prevailed on the government to send him back to England. Scott left Rosenius in charge of Pietisten. (See Karl Olsson, By One Spirit, pp. 42ff., especially p. 46, p. 51, and footnote 10, p. 660) j, the Pie Vikes, in like manner, dug in.

On the next Mountie swing of the bat, second baseman, Jim Carlson, made a great running catch deep behind second base for one out, wheeled, threw a strike to shortstop Andy Lundheim covering second, and nailed the runner who had presumed the ball would drop in for a base-hit. With two outs and a lone base runner at first, the anxiety in the chest of the right fielder began to subside.

One more Mountie stepped up to the plate. He hit a grounder to Vern Lodien, season-long standout, who fielded the ball cleanly and rifled the pill to Bill Hunstock at first for a fitting final out of the season.

Coach Clausen gathered the lads together to congratulate them on a fine game, to thank them for the season, and to announce that he wishes to retire as coach. Pie Vike joy was great but it was tempered by realization of the big shoes that must be filled. Perhaps, as P.P. Waidenstrtim proved to be an excellent successor to Rosenius as editor of Pietisten upon the death of the latter in 1868, a new leader will be raised from the ranks of the Pie Vike faithful. May it be so. PJ