Northern Responds to Pastor’s Needs

3 New Intensives on Leading during the Pandemic

When COVID-19 shut down the world, we received emails, phone calls, and messages from pastors looking for resources on how to adapt their gatherings, how to steward money during the economic crisis, and how to respond to global grief.

In response, Northern provided three summer online intensives taught by Hugh Halter (Mission Innovation), Gary Hoag (Faith & Finances) and Nijay Gupta (Philippians: Faith & Joy in Difficult Times). 73 students learned from these theologian-practitioners about how to lead their congregations during the pandemic.

One of those students is Veronica Alexander, a member and pastor-in training at Covenant United Church of Christ, a 3,000-person congregation on Chicago South’s Side. When COVID hit they had to innovate quickly, so Veronica enrolled in Hugh Halter’s class, Mission Innovation. Veronica writes, “This class provided a new way of doing ministry outside of the church setting (building). We talked about different ways to transition our church to a new way of doing ministry.” 

While taking the class, a new missional imagination stirred inside of Veronica for what church looks like outside of Sunday. “After this class, I thought about developing a network of ministries to have resources for people in need.” Now Veronica is dreaming about what it means to not just gain new members to her church, but to teach members how to be disciples.

Another student is Caryn Rivadeneira, Director of Care and Worship Planning at Elmhurst CRC (Elmhurst, IL). Her role and the church is new and COVID has stretched her gifts in an “interesting variety of ways!” Caryn had experience in the Christian financial sector, but she wanted a refresher for her family goals and her pastoral role, so she enrolled in Gary Hoag’s course on stewardship. Caryn writes, “So many of the folks we help are absolutely buried in shame about their financial situation. It’s wonderful to have resources that look forward with hope rather than back with guilt.” During the seminar, Caryn and the rest of the class were given biblical principles for financial stewardship that are easily forgotten in a culture that values accumulation.

Joshua Pickett, Facilities Manager and Event Coordinator at Duluth Vineyard Church (Duluth, MN) sat in Dr. Gupta’s class on the book of Philippians. The study on Philippians gave him insights into Paul’s wisdom and steadfastness during suffering. As Joshua described so well, “2020 has been hard and at times a very painful year.” In the midst of that pain God has been faithful to him and his congregation. “I have seen Jesus meet me in that over and over again. I have also seen Jesus do amazing things in the people around me. The course on the book of Philippians this summer was so timely for me personally!”

Northern is looking forward to providing more micro-courses for the Church as needs arise. Be on the lookout for more opportunities as we grow our reach and resources!


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