As many of you may know, late last week at the Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Covenant Church in Omaha, NE, First Covenant Church of Minneapolis was involuntarily removed from the roster of Covenant churches by a vote in executive session for being found out of harmony with the ECC on matters pertaining to human sexuality and pastoral credentialing.
First Covenant’s staff and multiple community and neighborhood ministries will continue to operate as a church in their own historic building in Minneapolis.
We know that people have many differing opinions on this issue, often very strongly held, and North Park’s community is no different. Though this was a matter of church governance, having to do with ordination and the congregation’s membership in the denomination, I want to reassure you that it does not change North Park’s mission in any way.
The university’s mission is to educate every one of our students in the liberal arts and professional studies, and to prepare them for lives of significance and service. Our mission is heartily embraced by our dedicated faculty and staff. This mission has also been affirmed by our denomination since 1891.
Our student population is one of the most diverse and intercultural in the entire nation. We deeply value that distinctive characteristic, and we are building on it for our bright future as a Christian institution of higher learning. We welcome, love, educate and support all students who accept our invitation to learn and grow on the campus at North Park.
In the North Park University report to the ECC Annual Meeting, I shared some of the following remarks:
“Dynamic in our Christian identity, with a mission founded in 1891, we are centered in the world-class city of Chicago, distinguished by the rich diversity of our intercultural student community, and dedicated to preparing ALL of our students for their lives of significance, and lives of service. This mission has never been more relevant or more imperative than it is today, and your support of that mission is now, more important than ever before.”
“At North Park University, we are prepared to elevate the visibility of our school and focus on the three core distinctives of our Christian identity…our strategic Chicago location…and the rich tapestry of the diverse student population that we serve.”
”The intensely competitive marketplace of higher education will require us to be 100% focused on the recruitment and retention of our students, the relevant and excellent educational opportunities we provide for them, and the ways we must be devoted to supporting the needs of every student who enters our gates, accepting our invitation to study, to live and learn on the campus at North Park.”
“We have an extraordinary opportunity, and a corresponding responsibility. Students who choose North Park, will have much demanded of them in the classroom and on the campus. All of us have the responsibility to support and sustain every one of our students, in every way that we can.”
“I renew to you, the promise I made one year ago – to do all I can to serve the students and the mission of North Park University.”
“We are counting on your help. The Kingdom of God comes through the front gates of our campus every year. And we are deeply impacting the future through Christian higher education. We must help all of our students develop their unique identities and exceptional gifts — find and pursue their callings — and step into the world prepared to lead and serve in the 21st Century.”
“God has sustained our mission and our institution for more than 127 years. May He guide us now, as we love, educate and champion our students and our mission.”
These remarks, along with the very positive report delivered by Dean Kersten regarding this past year’s activity at the Seminary, were well received and affirmed at the meeting.
I look forward to our continued work together as we advance the mission of North Park University.
With gratitude and respect for all you do,
Mary K. Surridge