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January 29, 2016

Pastor and Prophet

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Rev. James Sundholm C'67 S'72

“I could talk at great length about the role the Seminary professors played in my life,” Rev. Jim Sundholm said on Tuesday night while accepting the North Park Theological Seminary Award for Distinguished Service. Learn more about the award its previous recipients.

CHICAGO (January 29, 2016) — On Tuesday night in front of a thousand ministers of the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC), Rev. Jim Sundholm, a graduate of North Park University in 1967 and North Park Theological Seminary in 1972, was described as both a pastor and a prophet.

The introduction was made by the Rev. Dr. David W. Kersten, dean of North Park Theological Seminary, as he presented Sundholm the North Park Theological Seminary Alumni Award for Distinguished Service alongside North Park University President David L. Parkyn and Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Mary K. Surridge at the annual Midwinter Conference of the ECC.

Sundholm has served as a pastor to many communities, and also provided a prophetic voice in the commitment to urban and intercultural ministries that have had a profound effect in the shaping of North Park and the ECC.

“Throughout his vocational arc, Jim led us more deeply into the commitment of justice,” Kersten said, recalling when Sundholm moved to Minneapolis in the 1970s to pastor a church focused on urban and intercultural issues and was a pioneer in the Sankofa movement. “Jim is someone who has had a powerful life of public ministry, as well as a deep personal prayer life that has sustained him.”

Sundholm is also the former director of Covenant World Relief (CWR) and executive director of the Paul Carlson Partnership from 1999 to 2009. Known for his dedicated leadership and deep concern for the poor, Sundholm led CWR in responding to the devastation created by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

“I could talk at great length about the role the Seminary professors played in my life,” Sundholm said on Tuesday while accepting the award. He recalled a conversation with a former professor, Dr. Henry Gustafson, on the Gospel of John. Partway through the conversation, Gustafson reached across the table and asked Sundholm, ‘When will you give God your mind as much as your heart?’ As Sundholm shared on Tuesday, “That was my second conversion.”

Mary Surridge, Rev. James Sundholm, President David Parkyn, Rev. David Kersten

Vice President for for Development and Alumni Relations Mary K. Surridge, Rev. Jim Sundholm, North Park University President David L. Parkyn, North Park Theological Seminary Dean Rev. Dr. David W. Kersten

Sundholm has traveled extensively to Africa, developing relationships with the emerging Covenant Church in South Sudan and Ethiopia. Today, he lives in Vashon, Wash., with his wife, Carol.

“On behalf of over 25,000 alumni at North Park, we offer our deep admiration to Jim for his work in the Covenant Church and to the relief and renewal efforts across the world,” said Surridge. “We are thankful to you and Carol for your devotion to God, and for the model it presents to all of us as we seek to do God’s work.”

The Seminary Alumni Award for Distinguished Service, established in 2014 and delivered annually at the ECC’s Midwinter Conference, recognizes Seminary alumni who have made significant contributions in their fields while living lives reflective of the core values and mission of North Park Theological Seminary. Learn more about the award and previous recipients.


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