MINNEAPOLIS, MN (October 18, 2010) – Cities Metro, a major local lifestyle publication, has named First Covenant Church pastor Dan Collison as one of the Metro 100 “compendium of people, places and things making a positive impact right here.”
The magazine normally focuses on the arts, nightlife, music, fashion and restaurants.
Collison is the only figure representing the area of religion to be mentioned in the article, which appears in the current issue. On the web page, his picture appears along with photographs of models sporting clothes by local fashion designers, shoes – and the state’s oldest tree.
Collison was ranked number 96 in the listing.
In choosing Collison, the magazine writes, “Numbers are down, buildings are crumbling or being sold off, communities are disengaged – the last decade wasn’t kind to the Christian church. Which is why we need more pastors like Dan Collison, whose vision for the 21st century American church involves collaboration, community, cultural awareness and engagement in the arts.”
Collison made the list as a virtual newcomer to the Twin Cities. He has served as the congregation’s lead pastor since July 1, 2009.
An editor of another magazine had suggested that Collison contact Metro and see if they were interested in doing a story about how he had moved his family from the suburbs to live near the church in the inner city area.
“I have a deep commitment to contextualized ministry and serving the community,” Collison says. “I spent my first six months walking around the neighborhood getting to know the context.”
When Collison met with a Metro reporter in one of the neighborhood’s coffee shops, he discussed what was happening at the church as well as the six affirmations of the Evangelical Covenant Church, including its emphasis on friendship with God, the early 20th century Covenant theology of Paul Petter Waldenstrom (Christ’s work on the cross was about renewing the love relationship with God, not satisfying his anger), and the denomination’s commitment to social justice, including racial reconciliation.
Several months before, Glenn Beck uttered made “that outrageous comment,” says Collison, referring to the popular commentator’s declaration that social justice is “a perversion of the gospel.”
The magazine was intrigued that “part of our mission is to engage the arts in worship and mission,” Collison says.
Since Collison began serving the congregation, at least 50 new people have started calling First Covenant their spiritual home. The 135-year-old historically mono-ethnic church also is becoming increasingly multi-ethnic.
The church recently hired gospel singer Robert Robertson as artist-in-residence, started its first-ever multi-cultural gospel choir, and initiated a bus ministry to pick up local college students for Sunday services.
Collison, who previously served 18 years as a worship pastor outside the Covenant, says the assistance of the Northwest Conference and denomination has been critical to the revitalization work. “I could never have done this without the denomination and conference – they have undergirded the work here.”
He also credits the congregation, which has been doing the difficult work of doing ministry differently.