Covenant Men
Of the Pacific Northwest Conference

Our Story, and a Challenge for Our Future

By Dick Lundberg and Mark Safstrom

The Covenant Men of the Pacific Northwest Conference (formerly North Pacific Conference) have been gathering for fellowship and ministry on an organized basis since 1941, although men’s ministry had long been happening on an informal basis since the conference was organized in 1890.  Early goals for the Covenant Men were established by several outstanding leaders including Rube Fredeen, Roland Johnson, and Glen Odman. These men also identified a list of six goals for all who participated in our ministries: 

Prayer – to establish prayer as a lifestyle for men, individually and corporately

Witness – to equip men to witness to the Gospel

Report – to promote communication with the men’s board

Support – to create supportive relationships between churches and between men

Serve – to inspire men to service

Projects – to organize joint projects between churches in the NPC

From the 1940s to the 1960s, the men had been meeting for fellowship at various banquets throughout the Northwest.  Along with the festivities, the special needs of missionaries and pastors would often be addressed.  The men would take on these needs as challenges and opportunities.  Thus the service aspect was evidenced early on in the agenda of the Covenant Men. 

 

In 1956, Rube Fredeen arranged for a fall retreat at Garland Mineral Springs Lodge in Index, WA.  That was the first annual retreat, which has continued almost every year until the present, currently held at Cascades Camp in Yelm, WA.  The first regular event of which we have record, was a banquet and business meeting held in Selah, WA before the conference annual meeting in 1957.   At that meeting, Rube Fredeen announced plans for the 2nd annual retreat. 

 

The retreat has been the main fellowship event of the Covenant Men.  At the 1968 retreat at Warm Beach Presbyterian Camp, Rube announced the “strict” protocol that would be followed at these gatherings.  He introduced this each year by dramatically flashing his impressive 4-inch pocket watch and commanding the men to turn off time until they went home.  Once they returned home, they would start time by ceremonially submitting to their wives and family, and telling them how much they cared for them.  As an added order, the men were also told by Axel Fredeen to continue to practice the “Beautitudes” that they learned at the retreat. 

 

At these retreats the men have valued and sought out inspired preaching.  Among our speakers have been several of our Covenant leaders:  Milton Engebretson, David Horner, Jay Phelan, Paul Larsen, Lon Allison, and Mark Novak.  We have also sought out ecumenical relationships with other notable men:  Bob Vernon, Los Angeles Asst. Police Chief, Dan Dehaan, chaplain of the Atlanta Braves, and Mark Lee, Whitworth University Professor, to name a few.  Overall, our retreat programs have consisted of “Fellowship, Fun and Food,” often referred to as “Man Food.”   

 

The greatest project opportunity of all those undertaken by the Covenant Men was presented to them at their 1965 retreat held at the Presbyterian Mountain Camp, Buck Creek.  For a decade the men had been holding the retreat at various locations in the Northwest.  At Buck Creek they developed a mindset that they would like the Conference to own a similar camp for its youth.   The majority of the men wanted a camp with a “mountain/ranch type of atmosphere.”   This concept differed radically from Covenant Beach Bible Camp (which had been established in 1931 in Des Moines, WA).  They conveyed this to the Conference's Camping Board.   Consequently the Camping Board found a mountain/ranch that was representative of those qualities.  It was located near Leavenworth, WA.  However the Conference did not have the $45,000 necessary to purchase this site.  The price consisted of two 20-year loans, of about $20,000 each and a cash amount of about $7,000.   

When this information was presented to the men gathered at Buck Creek , they voted to commit to assume the payoff of the entire amount.  With that commitment, the Conference agreed to purchase the camp, which was later named Circle C Ranch.  The CM organized to pay off the cash amount immediately, and set up a pledge system to pay off the remainder.  With commitments of between $3 and $10 per month from at least 100 men, they reasoned that they to could pay off both loans within 20 years.  That would equate to a sacrifice of one day’s lunch money every month.   Both loans were paid off by the Covenant Men within the time prescribed.

 

In addition to providing the money for the purchase, many men volunteered to take on tasks to improve the Circle C Ranch. This amounted to at least 13 major improvements and hundreds of minor projects during the period of ownership.

 

Here comes a moment of serendipity:  in the 1980s, an ambitious vision developed for the Conference to pool its resources and build a larger, regional camp to serve all the churches of the Conference.  Covenant Beach and Circle C Ranch were thus sold to make this possible.  The sale of Circle C alone amounted to ‘in order of $1,000,000’ toward the purchase of our present camping facility, Cascades Camp!!!

 

After the consolidation of these properties, the Covenant Men immediately began to recruit volunteer effort for projects at Cascades Camp.  They planned and constructed the RV campground on Liberty Ridge.  This amounted to burying water and electrical lines to each RV site.  The men also outfitted the recreation building with much improved lighting and sound and media facilities.  

 

Collaboration with our sister churches in Alaska has also long been a special concern of the Covenant Men.  This started in 1980 by volunteering and contributing to the Covenant’s Radio Station, KICY; the Missionary Aviation Repair Center, (MARC); and the remote village churches Evangelical Covenant Church of Alaska (ECCAK).  Among the projects, they volunteered construction work for the churches at Scammon Bay, Bethel, Shaktolik, Koyuk, and the Unalakleet Bible Camp.  They also helped to install KYKD, an FM Radio Station at Bethel and Radio Station KCFA at Eagle River.

In the mid 1980’s a volunteer program was set up jointly between ECCAK and MARC called Village Ministries.  This was headed up by a full time volunteer, Dave Peterson, from Colorado Springs, CO.   A home contractor, Dave decided to move his entire family to Alaska and divide his time between MARC and ECCAK.   He concentrated on the ECCAK churches and parsonages in the villages of western Alaska, the “bush country.”   This went on for two decades, during which time Covenant volunteers came from all over the USA, including numerous volunteers from our NPC.  They built 3 needed churches at Elim, Golovin, and Mountain Village.   They also helped with renovation and repairs at many other of the bush churches and parsonages.   Volunteers also helped with many different aspects at KICY Radio.  There was also a serendipity factor here, as our volunteers met, worked with, and enjoyed the fellowship of our friends in these villages.

 

In recent years, the Evangelical Covenant Church has re-organized its Alaska ministries.  Each Covenant conference in Canada and the lower 48 United States has been challenged to take on the maintenance of a church in a specific village in Alaska.  The Pacific Northwest Conference is focusing our present efforts on the Village of Scammon Bay.

          

At present, we want to encourage the men in the conference to prayerfully consider how they can rally the men of their churches to mobilize for continued ministry, particularly with the following possibilities:

 

1.      MARC – funding and volunteer help

2.      Amundsen Educational Center, a trade school with Bible studies – support;  

There is a vital need for such a school in Alaska for youth graduating high

school and who do not go on to college

3.      KICY – funding and volunteer help

4.      Christian Radio for Russia – support

5.      North Park Seminary student scholarships – CM has a built in endowment fund with National Covenant Properties,

the interest of which is used to provide gratuities to future pastors

6.      Cascades Camp – ongoing development

                       

This is a challenging agenda, but is it an unrealistic undertaking?  We do not think so.  If we can draw on the same mindset and long-term vision used by the men who sacrificed their financial resources toward the purchase of Circle C Ranch, we should be able to do these things and more. 

We hope you and the men of your church will join us!!


 

 

 

 

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