By Stan Friedman
IRVINE, CA (June 23, 2012) – Roger and Joanne Olsen, who met and married at the Ravenswood Covenant Church in Chicago, Illinois, were presented the T.W. Anderson Award this morning for their years of selfless contributions to the church and their neighborhood.
The award was presented at a special ceremony during the Saturday morning business session of the 127th Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Covenant Church.
The couple met while attending the church’s youth ministry. Since then they have engaged in ministry that has ranged from doing janitorial work to starting the Awana club in the 1960s. Roger has been involved with the club, which emphasizes scripture memorization, nearly every week since.
A lot of adults who did not attend Ravenswood Covenant – but attended Awana – tell Roger and Joanne they learned the Bible through that ministry.
Roger says he loves doing all kinds of ministry, but working with children is by far his favorite. “I act more like a kid a lot of the time,” he muses.
“They have, week after week, gathered neighborhood kids and lay leaders in order to memorize scripture, sing songs, and play games and go on camping trips, lake trips and many more activities,” wrote one person in his nominating letter.
“I can’t even imagine the thousands upon thousands of cups of Kool-Aid and plates of cookies and plenty of hugs Joanne and Roger have given to the kids of our community,” says their pastor, Phil Staurseth. “Many of the kids grew up and left the neighborhood, but occasionally they find their way back, even if just for one service, and more often than not they tell the story of that man and that lady, Joanne, who quietly loved them, who took time for them, who shared their faith and their lives.”
One person who contributed a nomination letter noted that the Olsens didn’t care just about the children attending Awana – they also cared about the families, too.
Roger has served in just about every capacity possible in the church. He explained how this invaluable experience made him almost indispensable: “It’s because I’m so old they put me on the committees – because I know where everything is.”