By Stan Friedman
NORTHBROOK, IL (June 24, 2013) – The Congolese gave Ray Dahlberg the name Tata Boboto (Father of Kindness). It is a trait that would be affirmed by missionaries and members of national churches throughout the world.
“He was a calming and serene presence in a storm, whether it was a Congo evacuation or challenges in any places in the world,” says Curt Peterson, executive minister of world mission of the Evangelical Covenant Church. “Whenever people speak of him, they talk about his wisdom and great love for people, for God’s word, for Christ, and the church.”
“He always made you feel like you were the most important person to be commissioned as a missionary,” retired Covenant missionary Karen Benson wrote in response to a Covenant News Service story that Dahlberg, 82, had died Friday.
Similar observations will undoubtedly be spoken again Tuesday night at his memorial service, which will be held at 7 p.m. at Northbrook Covenant Church at 2737 Techny Road in Northbrook, Illinois. Visitation will be observed from 6 to 8 p.m. tonight at the church.
Dahlberg was born December 5, 1930, in Chicago, Illinois. He married Nancy Kristofferson on September 11, 1954.
Dahlberg earned an associate’s degree at North Park Junior College and a bachelor’s degree at Mankato State College. He also graduated from North Park Theological Seminary.
Dahlberg served as youth pastor at two Covenant congregations, Cuyler Covenant Church in Chicago, and Salem Covenant Church in Minneapolis.
He pastored the Evangelical Covenant Church in North Mankato, Minnesota, and First Covenant Church, in Portland, Oregon.
He served as superintendent of the North Pacific Conference from 1973 until 1978, when he was elected executive secretary of World Mission. He ministered in that role until his retirement in 1998. He later served as visitation pastor at Northbrook Covenant Church.
Dahlberg’s tenure guiding World Mission was marked by expansion and innovation. The number of Covenant mission fields grew from seven to 12 – adding France, Germany, Laos, Russia, and Spain. The number of people attending national churches went from 59,000 people to 167,000.
“He was a strategic steward of Covenant resources,” Peterson says. That included working with and developing partnerships.
His vision led to the creation of the Confraternity of Hispanic Covenant Churches (CIPE), and he initiated the denomination’s first global consultation on church planting, says Peterson. “The consultation mobilized and encouraged national churches in extending the kingdom through evangelism and the church,” says Peterson.
He also opened the door to partnerships with church bodies in Europe and formed the mission and theology committees of the International Federation of Free Evangelical Churches. Additionally, he oversaw the initial development of Christian Radio for Russia.
The expansion and innovation were fueled by a strong sense of God’s call. In a 1987 Covenant tract entitled “Our Mission in the World God Loves,” Dahlberg wrote, “Jesus provided the atonement. We must provide the people to tell the good news everywhere.”
In addition to his wife, Dahlberg is survived by two daughters, Lyn Hedstrom and Kris Gallegos; and two sons, Mark Dahlberg and Scott Dahlberg.